Whether it takes you back to camp, clambakes on the beach, or other fond summertime memories, there’s something special about gathering around a crackling fire. Building a fire with logs in the backyard isn’t for everyone, and some communities don’t allow it. A gas fire pit may be the solution. It creates the same ambiance and fosters the same camaraderie.
Gas burns cleaner and safer than wood, and gas fire pits come in a variety of sizes and designs to complement different backyard decor. Check out these top models to find the best gas fire pit for your outdoor space.
- BEST OVERALL: Endless Summer 30″ Outdoor Propane Gas Fire Pit
- BEST PORTABLE: Outland Living Outdoor Portable Propane Gas Fire Pit
- BEST FIRE BOWL: AKOYA Outdoor Essentials Fire Pit Table Bowl
- BEST FIRE TABLE: Outland Living 44-Inch Outdoor Propane Gas Fire Table
- ALSO CONSIDER: Bond Manufacturing 63172 Newcastle Propane Firebowl
- ALSO CONSIDER: BALI OUTDOORS Gas Fire Pit Table
Before You Buy a Gas Fire Pit
Gas fire pits have some distinct advantages over wood fire pits. Gas, whether propane or natural, burns cleaner than wood. That means it doesn’t produce choking clouds of smoke, making for a more pleasant experience. With automatic ignition systems, gas fire pits are also easier to light.
Still, gas fire pits may not be the right choice for everyone. Most run on 20-pound propane tanks that users must refill every time the gas runs out. However, some gas fire pits connect directly to a whole-house propane tank or natural gas line. This setup requires the assistance of a licensed plumber who must seal and test the fittings for leaks.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Gas Fire Pit
Gas fire pits come in various sizes and designs, and some produce more heat than others. How you envision using it will determine what kind you need. Between backyard entertaining and wanting a bit of outdoor atmosphere, fire pit designs cater to different needs.
There are several different styles of gas fire pits, each with advantages and benefits. Some types will work better for your outdoor space than others.
- Masonry fire pits are permanent fixtures for a lawn or patio. They generally remain in place year-round, though some are lightweight enough to be stored indoors when not in use.
- Fire pit tables feature the fire pits themselves as well as a surrounding surface that functions as a table. Some fire pit tables feature covers, so you can use the entire surface as a table when the fire pit is not in use. These are larger than most pieces of patio furniture so they require some space, such as a larger deck, patio, or yard.
- Tabletop fire pits are small and easily moved. They sit on top of a patio table as a centerpiece does.
- Portable fire pits come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They don’t need to stay in a fixed location. Users can move them as needed.
- Fire bowls feature a concave bowl-shaped design and sit either on the ground or on a tabletop.
Size and Shape
A gas fire pit’s dimensions run the gamut from tabletop models that measure just a few inches high and wide to ground-level fire pits that measure 3 feet in diameter and include a perimeter of natural stones, cinder bricks, or cast concrete.
Some gas fire pits come with sleek exteriors that complement patio decor, while others feature a kit designed to convert an existing wood-burning fire pit to gas. Different shapes including round (which is traditional for ground-level pits), oblong, and square contribute to the overall aesthetic.
Gas fire pits are rated for heat output in BTU (British thermal units). The higher the BTUs, the more heat the fire pit will produce. You’ll find fire pits with BTU outputs that range from around 15,000 to 100,000 BTUs, depending on size, but most average 30,000 to 60,000 BTUs.
Choosing a fire pit solely on heat output can be a bit deceptive. Many other factors affect how much heat you feel emanating from the pit, including the outside temperature, wind speeds, and how close you sit. For the best results, position your gas fire pit in a spot where strong winds can’t reach it.
The three basic ways to light a gas fire pit are manually (or “match light”), spark ignition, or electronic ignition. Each way has its benefits. The type you choose may be regulated by local fire codes, so call your local fire department if you have any questions.
- Manual ignition/match light: Just as it sounds, a manual ignition gas fire pit requires a lighter or a match to ignite the gas every time you want a fire. Although this might take a bit more effort, it’s one of the most reliable methods because there’s very little that can go wrong. Just turn on the gas and apply the flame.
- Spark/automatic ignition: A spark ignition features a push-button igniter that provides just enough spark to ignite the gas, similar to the ignition on an outdoor gas grill.
- Electronic ignition: As this is the most advanced of all ignition systems, all you need to do is flip a switch (it might be located in your home) or even push a button on a remote, and an electronic ignition system will light the fire pit.
Propane comes in tanks as small as 1 gallon, which typically power tabletop fire pits or a portable fire pit that would go along to tailgating events and on camping trips. But typically it is more convenient to connect a gas fire pit to a 20-pound propane tank to keep from having to change it so often.
If you aren’t thrilled about the look of a propane tank or the cord that snakes along the ground or patio to connect the fire pit to the tank, a licensed plumber can connect the fire pit to a whole-house propane tank (200- to 500-gallon capacity) or to your home’s natural gas line. Keep in mind: This is not a DIY project. Both connections require a licensed plumber.
Gas fire pits inherently present a couple of dangers. There’s the risk of burns from someone touching a hot portion of the pit—especially a concern when small children are around. The safest fire pits feature an outer casing that remains cool to the touch.
There’s also the risk of an explosion from a gas leak. Some pits come with a safety shutoff that turns off the gas supply if the fire goes out.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, a gas fire pit should be well designed, easy to operate, and, above all, safe to be around. The following models made the list for meeting a variety of heating and design needs. One is sure to be a good addition to your backyard.
For an attractive fire pit that produces enough warmth to keep everyone toasty after the sun dips below the horizon, check out this option from Endless Summer. This table-style fire pit produces a hardy 50,000 BTUs of heat on a 20-pound propane tank that tucks neatly out of sight in the sleek steel cabinet beneath the fire bowl.
A spark ignition makes for a quick fire-up. Then flames dance among 12 pounds of green fire glass (included) that fill the fire bowl and produce a shimmering flame effect. When the fire pit is not in use, an included steel insert covers the fire bowl to convert it into a regular table for added utility. The unit weighs 80 pounds, measures 30 inches by 30 inches square, and stands 25.14 inches high.
- Tank is hidden inside the base
- Pit can be covered to create a table
- Sleek addition to a backyard
- Easy to assemble
- Protective cover is not very sturdy
Bring out the fire pit and pull up a chair with this compact and portable option from Outland Living. Featuring high-quality steel construction and a push-button igniter, this smaller unit, despite its size, produces a whopping 58,000 BTUs of heat.
This fire pit comes with 5.5 pounds of lava rocks, in addition to a steel cover and carrying straps for easy transport. It measures 21 inches in diameter and stands 9.5 inches high, so it’s simple to stow in a garage, utility room, or closet when not in use.
- Compact size
- Produces lots of heat for a small unit
- Carrying straps included
- Lava rocks may not hide all the tubing
AKOYA’s fiber concrete fire pit bowl makes a great focal point in an outdoor living space. This model emits 50,000 BTUs of heat on a 20-pound tank of propane. One tank will provide 10 hours of burn time at the highest setting or 28 hours when used on low.
AKOYA’s fire pit measures 30 inches in diameter and 7 inches tall. At just 20 pounds, it moves with relative ease around decks and patios. The kit includes 10 pounds of lava rocks, a protective cover, and a stainless steel burner lid.
- Stylish and contemporary look
- Lightweight and easy to move around
- Comes with a protective cover
- Not great against harsh weather
Measuring a full 44 inches long, Outland Living’s fire table does double duty. As a full-size coffee table, it can hold drinks and plates, while its oblong center fire pit sets a relaxing mood with dancing flames that flicker across 15.5 pounds of Arctic ice fire glass (included). The cabinet beneath the fire bowl conceals one or two 20-pound propane tanks, so there can always be a spare tank ready to go when the other runs out.
With a push of the spark ignition, the fire table produces 35,000 BTUs of heat. It weighs 96 pounds, measures 32 inches in width, and tops out at 23 inches high. A tempered-glass insert (sold separately) maximizes table space when the fire bowl is not in use.
- Large table area around the edge
- Holds up to two gas tanks
- Great for large parties
For the ambiance of an open flame, 40,000 BTUs of heat, and a striking design, consider this option from Bond Manufacturing, which can fit nicely on a deck or patio. The propane tank hides conveniently inside the Envirostone-covered base. Measuring under 20 inches square and just over 29 inches high, this unique fire pit weighs 44 pounds.
- No assembly required
- Easy to to light and extinguish
- Adjustable flame size
- Interior metal parts prone to rust
Grab a glass of wine and gather around the fire with friends with this affordable fire pit table from BALI OUTDOORS. The push-button spark ignition system and control knob help get the fire going in no time, and the unit produces a considerable amount of heat at 50,000 BTUs.
An included lid converts the surface to a dining table or game table when the fire pit is not in use. Storage space underneath will hold the required 20-pound propane tank in addition to other patio supplies. This fire pit measures 28 by 28 by 25 inches. At just 50 pounds, it’s portable as long as there’s an extra set of hands to help move it.
- Doubles as a dining or game table
- Storage area in the base
- Clean gas burning
- Flame control knob can be flimsy
Whether you’re entertaining or just enjoying a relaxing night at home, a propane fire pit makes a great addition to any backyard. Compared to wood-burning fires, gas fire pits are easy to light, burn clean, and don’t emit any potentially dangerous sparks.
For a versatile gas fire pit that can double as a table, consider the Endless Summer Gas Fire Pit.
If you live in an urban area, be sure to check your local regulations to ensure that gas fire pits are legal in your municipality
How We Chose the Best Gas Fire Pits
In our search for the best fire pits, we considered the most important aspects such as style, size, shape, heat output and tank size. With such a wide range of products in the market, our top picks highlight some of the most outstanding options in their categories. Large table-size units can have their lids removed to reveal the fire pit and keep users warm, and smaller decorative options add an exquisite atmosphere to the backyard.
Our list of recommendations includes several styles to choose from, with classic stone sculptures and sleek modern black metal tables among several others. All of our picks stand out from the competition in terms of heat output and safety and are able to provide adequate warmth to users while remaining easy to use and robust enough to operate safely.
Safety Tips for Using a Gas Fire Pit
Any time you have a live flame, a measure of danger exists. Still, by following all of the manufacturer’s safety instructions and checking with your local fire authority before installing a gas fire pit, you can reduce the risks.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Follow all of the manufacturer’s safety instructions. Keep children away from a fire pit while it’s burning and immediately afterward until it cools down.
- Keep a water hose or a portable fire extinguisher handy in case someone places something flammable too close to the fire pit and it catches fire.
The Advantages of Owning a Gas Fire Pit
A fire pit offers warmth and atmosphere and could make your backyard the go-to spot in the neighborhood. While wood fires are rustic and soothing, gas fire pits offer some advantages.
- Gas fire pits do not emit the sparks common with wood-burning fire pits.
- Gas burns clean, so you can enjoy the warmth of a fire without trying to dodge the smoke.
- Gas fire pits light quickly and easily—no need to gather kindling or nurse a tiny flame until a fire starts. Just push a button for instant fire.
If this is your first time shopping for a gas fire pit, you probably have some questions.
Q. Do gas fire pits keep you warm?
All fire produces some warmth. Smaller gas fire pits (starting at around 15,000 BTUs) will produce beautiful flames but not an appreciable amount of heat. If your main goal is to produce heat, go with a model that packs at least 35,000 BTUs or more.
Q. Can you cook hot dogs over a gas fire pit?
Cook hot dogs and toast marshmallows, but be careful not to let them drop into the fire pit, or there will be a mess to clean later. Use a long stick or skewer, such as these Briout Telescoping Marshmallow and Hot Dog Skewers, that extend up to 45 inches, so you can stay safely away from the flames while your dogs are roasting.
Q. Can a gas fire pit get rained on?
A little rain shouldn’t hurt a gas fire pit, but it can lead to moisture buildup on the inside, which can make it harder to ignite later. Left out in the elements on a continuous basis, a gas fire pit—at least the metal fittings—might rust and corrode. Some pits come with covers, but if yours doesn’t, consider purchasing a cover, such as the Porch Shield Fire Pit Cover that will keep rain, dirt, and debris from getting in the pit.
Q. Can gas fire pits run continuously?
Do not allow the fire pit to burn unless an adult is present. A gas fire pit will continue to burn until the gas runs out—when using a standard 20-pound propane tank, that’s typically about 4 to 6 hours.