We’ve got a log burning and a propane fire pit in the yard, but do they make natural gas versions, and are they any good?
Manufacturers do make natural gas fire pits, but unlike propane models with cylinders, your natural gas fire pit will need to be professionally connected to your household gas line. After this, it will be cheaper to run and burn cleaner than a propane fire pit.
Let’s dive down into the subject of natural gas fire pits in more detail, and discover how much they are to buy and run, how warm they keep you, how much soot they create – and whether they’re any better than a propane version…
Are Natural Gas Fire Pits Worth It?
Both propane and natural gas will give you a lovely, warm fire in your yard. If you already have a gas supply piped to your property, a natural gas fire pit is certainly worth considering.
Why is this? Well, you’ll never run out of gas as you won’t need to buy or refill a cylinder. You’ll never have to worry about the fuel running out, so you can always sit back and relax in front of your natural gas fire pit!
However, if you don’t already have a gas line, you’ll have to pay to have one installed. Even if you have gas piped directly to your home, you’ll probably need to hire a qualified contractor to run the pipe to the fire pit.
This can be costly, so you may decide that it’s cheaper to stick with propane cylinders. The other advantage of propane is that you can (although with some difficulty and effort) change the location of your fire pit. If you want to be able to move your fire pit at some point, stick with propane.
Can A Fire Pit Run On Natural Gas?
Yes, a fire pit certainly can run on natural gas. If you already have a gas line to your property, it’s a convenient and cost-effective way of running a fire pit. You’ll never need to worry about running out of fuel, and you’ll simply pay for the usage with your usual bill.
Natural gas burns more cleanly than propane, which is a reason why many householders prefer it to propane, which is a bit sootier.
How Much Is A Natural Gas Fire Pit?
We took a look at some of the gas pits currently on offer at Lowe’s, to get an idea of the price range. The lowest-priced fire pits start at around $600. This is for a faux rattan fire table.
If you want a large, marble fire pit, you’re looking at closer to $3,000. This seems like a lot; however, if you’re turning your patio into a real, year-round outdoor “room”, it’s worth investing in a good quality and reliable source of heat.
Just remember when you’re choosing your natural gas fire pit, that there may be extra installation costs on top of the price of the unit. This is because unless you have a working gas line already running to the exact spot, you’ll need to pay for a professional installation.
Do Natural Gas Fire Pits Keep You Warm?
A gas fire pit will give off some heat, yes. You can huddle close to it in the winter (without fear of sparks) and it will certainly take the edge off the cold. However, we’ll be honest: it won’t give off the level of heat that you’d get from a wood-burning fire.
However, this lower burning temperature can be an advantage, as a fire pit won’t cause any heat damage to your patio floor. There’s no risk from sparks or excessive smoke. As a compromise, propane can burn hotter than natural gas.
Which Is Better a Natural Gas Or Propane Fire Pit?
To be honest, there isn’t a huge difference between a natural gas and a propane fire pit. Which you go for will largely depend on what’s available in your area and what’s the most practical for your yard.
You can get great designs for both natural gas and propane fire pits, and the latter often come with special cupboards or chests to hide the canisters. Look out for fire pits that can be converted, in case you switch from one fuel source to the other at some point.
If you have a small fire pit and you think you’d like to move it around occasionally, propane is the better choice. Yes, you’ll need some sort of wheels and a helpful friend, but you can move a propane-fueled fire around. If you go for natural gas, it will be connected to the gas line and won’t be able to be simply unhooked and moved.
If, on the other hand, your fire pit is forming the center point of your outdoor living area, you probably won’t want to move it any more than you would your living room wood burner! In this case, it may be worth your while to have a gas line installed to the fire pit if you don’t have one already.
This can be cheaper to run, as natural gas tends to cost less than propane. Once you’ve paid for the upfront installation fees, your running costs may be less. There’s also the convenience: you won’t need to keep ordering more cylinders and keeping an eye on the gas level. The natural gas fire will just keep on burning.
There are other factors to take into account, too. These can be:
- The usage cost of the gas
- How clean-burning the different fuels are
- How safe the different types of gas are to burn
- Which is the most eco-friendly option
We’ll take a closer look at these factors.
What’s Cheaper Natural Gas Or Propane?
In general, propane is more expensive than natural gas, although the costs can fluctuate. If you already have gas hooked up in your yard, this will generally be the cheaper option for your new fire pit.
Does Propane Produce More Soot Than Natural Gas?
Propane has a bit of a reputation for being sootier than natural gas. However, if your fire pit is producing black soot, the chances are there’s a problem, and it’s something you’ll need to check out.
Propane will produce soot if the air to propane or oxygen to propane ratio isn’t right. Make sure that you have the right connection piece and regulator, and that they’ve been correctly installed.
It could simply be that some elements of the assembly have become dirty or blocked over time. If you think your burner assembly needs a clean, watch this short film that takes you through this pretty simple process. Just always make sure the gas is disconnected before any exploratory repair or cleaning work takes place.
If you see black smoke coming from a gas appliance, this is something completely different! Shut down the gas and call for an engineer, as this could be a sign that it’s sending out carbon monoxide. This is dangerous, even in an outdoor setting.
Which Is Safer Natural Gas Or Propane?
Propane is thought to be safer than natural gas, as it has a far narrower flammability range: in other words, it’s less likely to ignite.
However, with any gas source, treat it with care. Make sure everything is properly connected and that the gas is switched off when not in use.
You can always look after your fire pit and other gas-fueled appliances by having a gas-certified technician inspect them regularly. This will help to make sure that everything is running safely, and you can simply relax in front of your fire pit.
On a slightly different note, propane is also a greener option. Yes, natural gas literally burns cleaner, but it gives off more methane. Propane burns hardly any greenhouse gas, so if you’re looking for a more eco fuel source, this is the one for you.
Costing about the same amount to buy as a propane or wood-burning fire pit, a natural gas model will then set you back a little more for professional installation to your household gas line.
After this though, with the cost of natural gas commonly lower than propane, and with the former burning cleaner – you should find the ongoing expense of running a natural gas fire pit is less than both propane and wood versions.
Ultimately, it all depends if you’ve got the natural gas piped to your home in the first place though. 🙂