What is better, a propane or wood firepit?

Buying the right firepit can make a real difference in campfire enjoyment, and propane fire pits are becoming very popular.

Like with wood-burning fire pits, propane versions have pros and cons to consider before making a final buying decision, so check out my findings below!

Pros and Cons of Propane Fire Pits

Here are the benefits and disadvantages of using a propane fire pit over a wood-burning unit:

Propane Fire Pit Pros:

  • Lights fast with no effort
  • Turns off immediately-no waiting for embers to burn out
  • Easily regulate flame and temperature
  • Safer – No ash to clean or blow around dangerously
  • No smoke in your eyes or odor on clothing
  • Creates a peaceful, quiet ambiance
  • Many models double as an outdoor table when not in use
  • Cleaner and easier to store or transport

Propane Fire Pit Cons:

  • Heat doesn’t radiate as far as a wood-burning unit
  • Not ideal for roasting/grilling
  • Propane tank need continual refills
  • Internal components need cleaning/maintenance
  • Crackling and dancing flames and warm ambiance of a real wood fire is lacking

Cost of Running a Firepit on Propane

The first cost of a propane fire pit is the initial purchase price. Different styles mean costs can range widely.

Portable Propane Fire Pit Cost

You can expect to pay between $100-$300 for a portable propane fire pit you hook up to an external LP tank via a long hose. These fire pits look like a large camp stove and are ideal for RV or camping trips.

Portable firepits are smaller, lightweight, and often come with a bag for storage or transport.

What makes this type of propane fire pit beneficial is the flexibility. You can bring one 20-pound LP tank and move it about to a grill or outdoor shower water heater at your campsite as necessary when you aren’t using the firepit.

Permanent Propane Fire Pit Cost

Larger, more permanent, propane fire pits that are decorative and include an integrated or hard-lined LP gas tank can range from $200-$1500 in cost.

Many fire pits of this type are square or rectangle and have a wide ledge around the central fire zone. The fire zone often has decorative stones, lava rocks, or glass beads on top of the propane burner that increases the beauty of the propane-gas flames.

Most permanent propane firepit styles have a cover that fits over the central fire zone to protect the components when not in use and allows you to convert the unit to a full table for outdoor entertaining.

This type of propane fire pit is best for a backyard or patio space. You can choose a smaller unit that’s easier to move about your yard or have a permanent firepit installation that becomes part of your home’s landscape design.

Cost of Running a Firepit on Propane

Propane is not free, and you’ll need to consider the cost of refilling LP tanks into your overall propane fire pit cost.

Here’s an average cost breakdown of different size portable propane tanks for both initial purchase and refill:

  • 10 lbs. – $30 /$12 Refill
  • 20 lbs. – $75 /$22 Refill
  • 30 lbs. – $95 /$28 Refill
  • 40 lbs. – $150 /$35 Refill

The cost to buy large propane tanks for permanent hard-lined fire pits can range from $400-$700 for a 100-pound tank, to $1,200-$1,800 for a 500-pound tank. Large tank propane gas refills average about $2.50 a pound.

Propane tank “pound” ratings are not the weight of the tank when full. The most common-size 20-lb. tank holds 4.7 gallons of liquefied propane and weighs around 38 pounds when full.

How Long Do Portable Fire Pits Burn?

How long a propane fire pit lasts is determined by the size of the LP tank you connect to it and the unit’s heat output, or BTUs. The higher the BTUs, the faster the propane will run out.

Here are average burn times for propane tanks on a 58,000 BTU firepit on high flame:

  • 10 lbs. – 3.75 hours
  • 20 lbs. – 8 hours
  • 30 lbs. – 11.5 hours
  • 40 lbs. – 15 hours
  • 100 lbs. – 37 hours

Propane or Wood Fire Pit?

Propane fire pits are ideal for people who love sitting around an outdoor fire but dislike all the mess, skill, and smoke that having a wood fire entails.

I hope this information helps you make the best fire pit decision for your camping or backyard entertaining needs!