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Choosing Between Fixed or Portable Fire Pits

When it comes to making an addition to a backyard living space, one of the first things many people think of is a fire feature. Fire pits are an incredible way to add value and functionality to your outdoor space. Not only do they provide warmth and depth, but they also serve as focal points to gather. Whether you’re having a beer with friends, entertaining the neighbors at a backyard barbecue, or simply roasting marshmallows with your kids, a fire pit is a multipurpose installation that adds aesthetic appeal and undeniable function to your yard.

However, deciding that you’d like to include a fire pit in your outdoor design is the easy part. Once you’ve added it to your wishlist, you must make a few other decisions. These include the capacity and form of the installation. Namely, should I opt for a fixed, unmovable design, or go with a mobile model?

Both options have their pros and cons. Understanding what you want from your fire feature is the key to deciding what type is best for your living space. 

Fixed Fire Pits

When it comes to fixed fire pits, there are a few aspects to consider. 

Most of the variation comes in the material and design of the pit. You also must decide on your preferred ignition source. CMU/concrete, stucco, paving block, and brick or stone are some of the best options. These choices allow for a variety of aesthetics and finishes without compromising durability of function. Nowadays, fire pit design ranges greatly from modern designs to more naturalistic or organic styles. Choosing the right finish will help you to fully integrate your fire pit with the rest of your space.

Equally important as the material composition and design of your fixed pit is the ignition source. Wood burning pits offer the natural experience and aesthetic of smoke and scent. Many people love the experience of stoking a fire and watching as it dwindles throughout an evening. For those who appreciate a more rustic, or organic feel, this can be a great choice. 

However, gas fire pits, while lacking in some naturalistic effect, offer lower maintenance, cleaner burning options. Propane and natural gas produce less mess than wood burning fixtures. They leave none of the “bonfire smell” that many people dislike in comparative ignition sources. Your choice is likely to come down to your desired aesthetic, maintenance level, and vision for the form and function of your fixed fire pit.

fire pits are lit in a backyard living space

Portable Fire Pits

When it comes to buying a movable fire pit, some may be inclined to run out and purchase the first available option. However, spending a little more on a portable fire pit will go a long way. Making an investment will stand the test of time, prove to be practical, and serve you and your family well. 

There are a handful of brands that offer quality portable fireplace options. Breeo, offers several options from their simple X Series 24, to their Firemaster Package. They boast sleek designs which aim to reduce smoke. Smoke is a large source of frustration for many with mobile pits. This is because they require wood, coals, or other similar material as an ignition source.

Solo Stove boasts compact designs and efficiency. It is meant to burn easily with little effort, and designed to be taken with you wherever you’d like to enjoy a campfire. This is great for individuals looking for a simple, compact addition that puts practicality first. 

Biolite is another super compacted, smokeless option meant to be taken with you wherever you desire. The design focuses largely on function. However, it is also great for those looking to store their pits during inclement weather or the cold and wet seasons.

Lastly, Blue Sky is a brand offering pits meant for both the patio and your family’s next camping trip. The backyard models come in a “Peak Stainless Steel” finish, as well as matte black, screened, and unscreened iterations.

Choosing the brand and model of your portable pit is contingent upon your intended use. Also important is the level of portability desired, as well as the importance you place on its aesthetic value. What may work for a modern backyard in temperate southern California could be impractical for those living through a cold, wet winter in the midwest. 

The Pros and Cons of a Fixed Fire Pit

Like many aspects of design, the choice between a fixed or mobile pit comes down to what values are most important to you. Neither option is perfect for everyone. A large allure of fixed fire features is the customization. Your family can choose material and design, as well as the ability to opt for a smoke free, hassle-free ignition source such as propane or natural gas. Fixed pits also define an area of the space that is exclusively for the enjoyment of gathering with others. This creates a designated space to relax and congregate.

Conversely, a fixed fire pit’s inability to move may pose problems to families whose priority lies in the versatility. If being able to change up your space is important, fixed pits will not work. Once a fixed fireplace is installed, that area is permanently dedicated to the fire pit. In areas where weather does not always allow for gathering around the fire, some may feel that a fixed fire pit does not best serve their needs. Finally, fixed pits are expensive to repair and install. Additionally, like all aspects of design, they run the risk of going out of style. As building materials and aesthetics evolve, what may have been great once could be unsightly in a year or two.

The Pros and Cons of Portable Fire Pits

Moveable pits solve some of the problems presented by their fixed counterparts. Portable options can be moved around the space to accommodate changing spaces. Cleaning is often simpler and quicker to perform. The unit can be taken with you even after you leave the property. Unlike fixed fire places, movable pits are often sold under warranty from the company. They can be easily replaced and serviced should issues with your model arise. However, this isn’t the perfect solution for every one.

Movable pits nearly always require wood burning or single option fuel sources. This means that, though smoke can be reduced, it can never be fully eliminated as can be done with gas. Most movable units are crafted from metal which can get hot and pose safety risks to small children or pets. Moveable pits require seating that works in conjunction with the unit, which can prove difficult to accommodate. Pits may need to be elevated from their surface with a heating pad or tray. 

What Do You Want From Your Fire Pit?

Ultimately, both fixed and movable pits offer their own set of pros and cons. Making your choice should be based on what matters most to you in an outdoor fire installation. If functionality, portability, and ease of repair all rank high on your list, you likely will find yourself happier investing in a quality movable unit. However, if you dream of a fully integrated fireplace that is customized to your space, you’d likely be happier going the extra mile to have a fixed pit installed.

Luckily, no matter where you fall on the spectrum there’s guaranteed to be an option available to help you enjoy all the comfort, warmth, and gathering power of a great backyard fire pit. 


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