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Wood vs. Gas Fire Pit

Here is a close comparison between wood-burning fire pits and gas-burning fire pits showcasing each of their advantage and disadvantages to determine the better pick for you.

These are friends sitting around a fire pit toasting marshmallows.

You may wish to add a fire pit to your house for entertainment and outdoor cooking options. You will be wondering which fuel to select. So which is more suited to your needs, a wood or a gas fire pit?

Wood-burning fire pits are cheaper than gas fire pits and allow cooking. They are, however, more work to light, not clean-burning, and more likely to cause fires. Gas is easier to operate and more environmentally friendly but more expensive, and a gas line can be dangerous.

Are you confused about which option to choose? Let’s examine the merits and demerits of wood- and gas-burning fire pits in more detail so that you can make an informed choice.

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An In-Depth Examination of Wood vs Gas Fire Pits

The Cost of Wood vs Gas Fire Pits

This is a close look at a wood-burning fire pit with firewood inside.

Costs vary considerably, depending on how fancy a fire pit you want and which contractor you go to, but expect to pay from $500 to $1,300 for an installed 5’ x 5’ wood-burning stone fire pit.

Gas comes in considerably more expensive, with an installed  2½’ x 2’ gas fire pit table coming in at $900 to $3,800.

The disparity in size is because wood-burning fire pits need to hold large logs, whereas gas fire pits do not.

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If you are in a remote rural area, firewood will probably be more available. In contrast, it may be easier to get hold of gas, whether propane deliveries or an extension to your existing natural gas line, if you are in an urban area.

Wood will still usually be cheaper, though.

Both types of fire pits will add to the resale value of your home.

Fuel and Environmental Effects of Wood vs Gas Fire Pits

This is a close look at a gas-burning fire pit.

Woodfire pits burn dry wood, whereas gas fire pits burn propane gas or natural gas.

In both cases, you will need somewhere to store the fuel. In the case of wood, you will need somewhere that stays dry, away from the house (to reduce the risk of a termite infestation).

Ordering the wood (or chopping it yourself), stacking it in storage, and carrying it to the fire pit throughout the year adds to the labor involved with a wood fire pit. What’s more, cutting firewood can be dangerous.

In the case of propane gas, you may need a storage tank, which can be anything from 15 to 100 gallons. This tank will not add to the aesthetics of your yard, and you may want to look into ways of disguising it with creative landscaping.

Or, you may decide to have a plumber run a natural gas line from your house. Doing so adds to the overall cost and the need to get legal approval.

Wood is a renewable resource, whereas gas is not. However, gas is the more environmentally-friendly choice, as it burns cleaner and puts fewer emissions into the atmosphere.

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Gas fire pits produce about 99% fewer emissions than wood-burning ones.

Because gas burns cleaner, it is also a better option for anyone with asthma, as the particles from burning wood can cause trouble. Creosote on wood, being a tar substance, can also produce harmful chemicals when burned.

Installation and Maintenance of Wood vs Gas Fire Pits

This is a woman putting a piece of firewood in the wood-burning fire pit.

A wood fire pit must legally be at least 25’ away from any flammable structures.

Gas fire pits don’t have the same legal requirements as the law considers their appliances, but a professional must competently install the gas lines to the fire pit.

A wood fire pit could be done as a DIY project, although it would still be a good idea for a professional to build it for safety reasons. A gas fire pit must be installed by a professional.

Local ordinances may either prohibit open burning or have a burn ban at certain times of the year. These prohibitions apply regardless of fuel type. Additionally, you may have to have a permit for any outdoor fire pit, depending on where you live.

Always have a gas system checked for any leaks that could cause an explosion. Make sure to perform routine maintenance on the fire pit and the gas lines. Nevertheless, properly installed gas fire pits are incredibly safe.

Woodfire pits can be a fire hazard, as sparks can spread. Make sure to extinguish the fire each time completely.

You can convert almost any wood fire pit To a gas fire pit simply by installing an insert. Inserts cost $100-$400, depending on size.

Using a Wood Fire Pit vs Using a Gas Fire Pit

This is a backyard patio with a gas-burning fire pit.

A wood fire pit necessitates building and lighting a fire, whereas you can generally light a gas fire pit with nothing more than the press of a button.

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A gas fire pit will also burn continuously once lit, whereas a wood fire pit will require logs to be added from time to time.

Woodfire pits hold the soot and ash from burning the logs, and you will have to shovel this out.

In contrast, a gas fire pit burns without producing ash or soot and will need you to wipe down the outside and cover it to protect it against rain or snow.

The experience of a wood fire pit is very different than the experience with gas. Woodfire pits give off a distinctive smell and sound from the logs crackling. Because of burning cleaner, gas fire pits will not leave smoke odors on clothes.

If you are looking to cook on your fire pit, be aware that while you will be able to heat hot chocolate and toast marshmallows over a gas fire pit, experts do not recommend full-blown cooking.

Gas systems typically do not produce enough heat to give a satisfactory cooking experience. So if you are looking to do barbecue over your fire pit, go with wood.

The higher heat output also makes wood fire pits more suitable for late-night entertainment, as they will keep your guests warmer.

You should never use a gas fire pit to burn wood. The intense heat generated will cause your fire pit to crack.

You will have to extinguish a wood fire properly to ensure that the embers do not flare up again. A gas flame will go out immediately.

The Pros and Cons of Wood Fire Pits

This is a close look at a backyard with a wood-burning fire pit.

The Pros

  • Cheaper
  • Faster installation time
  • Adds to the look of the home
  • Better experience
  • Emit more heat
  • Allows cooking
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The Cons

  • Wood storage area  required
  • Not clean burning
  • Harder to light
  • Work needed to keep it burning
  • Can cause fire hazards
  • Regular cleaning  required
  • Typically larger          

The Pros and Cons of Gas Fire Pits

This is a close look at a backyard that has a gas-burning fire pit.

The Pros

  • Clean burning
  • More environmentally friendly
  • Quick to light
  • Runs continuously
  • Fewer fire hazards
  • Typically smaller

The Cons

  • Large, unattractive fuel tank
  • More expensive
  • Longer installation time
  • Gas lines can be dangerous
  • Emit less heat
  • Not suitable for cooking


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