An outdoor fireplace, also called ’outdoor fire pit’ or ’chiminea’ is a non-combustible, self-contained, manufactured cooking unit. The typical outdoor fireplace features components made of cement, steel, or stone designed to withstand intense temperatures. Outdoor fireplaces are supported off the ground by non-combustible "legs."
Grills vs. Outdoor Fireplaces
Outdoor fireplaces are commonly confused with grills. While regular grills may provide some form of heat, they are covered with a lid most of the time and the purpose of a grill is not to provide heat. The intended purpose of a grill is for cooking or grilling. Outdoor fireplaces closely resemble an indoor fireplace in style and they are multi-functional. Not only are outdoor fireplaces used for cooking, they also provide a significant amount of heat, and mesmerizing visuals, just as an indoor fireplace does.
Different Sized Outdoor Fireplaces
Large stone, concrete, or stucco covered outdoor fireplaces are fairly heavy, so they tend to remain stationary. Some are low to the ground, while others are high. Some are wide, while others are narrow. Regardless of their size or height, these types of outdoor fireplaces can be costly. There are several budget-conscious alternatives to choose from. Smaller copper or metal designs are also available. These smaller outdoor fireplaces don't look like their larger cousins, but they are mobile, round and easy to use. They also provide enough heat for smaller groups.
Small outdoor fireplaces are similar in design to a wok or bowl. The actual unit sits atop a metal stand and it is covered with a top when not in use. Like stone/stucco versions, small outdoor fireplaces also burn wood. Other versions include small to medium, square or rectangular shaped fireplaces that look like small furnaces. Most are mobile and they may include a screen or top instead of a ’chimney’ like the stone versions.
Looking to Save on Outdoor Fireplaces
If you're looking for the best value, smaller, mobile outdoor fireplace versions made of copper or metal are your best bet. Keep in mind that most mobile versions should not be used on wood decks because they may sit too low to the ground.
Outdoor Fireplaces Similar to Indoor Fireplaces
If you're looking for an outdoor fireplace that commands attention and adds a beautiful touch to the landscape, stone or stucco versions are closer in appearance to indoor fireplaces. They also offer the most in the way of ’extras.’ Because of their size, some are constructed to function as an entire outdoor kitchen complete with countertops, shelving and storage space.