When it comes to outdoor entertaining areas, outdoor fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular, with more and more New Zealanders incorporating an outdoor fireplace, fire pit or pizza oven to their outdoor sanctuary.
When considering an outdoor fireplace, deciding whether to go wood-fired or gas is a decision you shouldn’t take lightly. Fans on either side will claim theirs is the best. From subjective reasoning to practical rationale, you're either in the club, or you're out. Even the backyard favourite, the BBQ, isn't immune to the heat of the debate. But which is best for an outdoor fireplace?
When it comes to ambience, the natural charm of an outdoor wood fire is hard to beat, as one might argue that the crackle and hiss of wood-burning slowly to embers set a better mood. However, try lighting a fire to the sound of "you're doing it wrong" and suddenly flicking on the gas igniter seems like the more hassle-free option.
In this blog, we will identify two very important and rational points that you should consider when making the decision on whether to choose wood or gas.
Which is cheaper - Wood or gas fires?
When it comes to costs, it is fair to say that going for wood when picking an outdoor fireplace is the better choice. A gas fireplace can cost an additional upfront cost of $4,995 for natural gas, plumbed into a supply. Ongoing costs for gas are pretty steady as you will need to consider monthly fuel costs. However, for wood burning, you can forage local resources for some free firewood if needed or fork out for some special timber.
So what kind of wood should you be looking at, and what do the comparable costings look like? Well, our humble Manuka will set you back around $180 per metre cubed, it pays to note that this choice of wood does kick out a fair amount of heat, so you might need to use less to achieve comparable temperatures. The good old fashioned Macrocarpa is $100 but kicks out around 2/3rds of the heat that Manuka does.
Gas doesn't have this issue and according to Genesis Energy will cost you around 5.63 cents per kWh, which is very comparable to the cost of a wood burning fire. When comparing the two options based on the cost which includes a gas unit, installation and running costs, wood-burning would just win this round.
Which is more convenient - Wood-fired or gas?
When looking into convenience, this one is a hands-down win for gas. With no lighting process to go through, minimal ongoing maintenance, plumbed in fuel and no ash to sweep away gas is certainly the choice for those looking for low-maintenance and easy fireplace ownership. You can even get WiFi activated gas fireplaces for ultimate convenience.
Gas flames are also a lot easier to control compared to wood-fired outdoor fireplaces. The flames are easier to turn on, off, up or down. If you need to turn the fireplace off in a hurry, then choosing gas means it is as simple as a turn of a button.
Depending on where you are situated within New Zealand, the location may also dictate which type of outdoor fireplace you have. If you're in an urban area, or in a region with frequent fire bans, then a gas fireplace will produce less smoke and will be less of a risk. However, it's always worth investigating with your local authorities around the exact requirements in complying with the ban as most of the time it's OK to use an outdoor fireplace even when a ban is in place. If you're at all unsure please feel free to contact us and we'll be happy to assist if we can.
One of the biggest joys of choosing a wood-fired outdoor fireplace is that you are able to cook deliciously succulent meals. Unfortunately, cooking is not possible on a gas outdoor fireplace as the fat can drip down onto the gas unit. So if you want to amaze your guests by grilling appetisers on the open fire while they warm up on a cooler New Zealand evening outside then wood is the only way to go. Handily, every Trendz Outdoors wood-burning fireplace comes with a stainless steel cooking grill as standard perfect for outdoor entertaining.
So, with no clearly defined good or bad type of fireplace, the only real conclusion is that no matter which fireplace you go with you'll be the winner regardless! Our customers have been enjoying their Trendz fireplaces for many years if you would like to check out their installations and be inspired for your custom outdoor fireplace project then download our style guide for some ideas.