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Outdoor gas fireplaces vs wood fireplaces

How to choose between a wood or a gas fireplace

So you’ve decided on an outdoor fireplace, that’s great! But now comes the big decision, will you choose wood or gas-fuelled?

An outdoor fireplace is the ideal finishing touch for an outdoor living area but before deciding on the finer details of design and style, you need to decide how you will fuel it. This is a big decision as your fireplace fuel will have a big impact on ongoing costs, maintenance, and enjoyment.

Depending on your priorities, wood and gas fires each offer an appealing set of advantages. Before you settle on one over the other, you should consider the following:

  • Heat output
  • Efficiency 
  • Convective or radiant heat
  • Aesthetics and landscaping design
  • Atmosphere 
  • Climate 
  • Durability

As outdoor fireplace experts, we’ve had many people ask about the difference between wood and gas fireplaces over the years. So to help you choose between a gas fire or a wood fire, we explore the pros and cons of each — and in which settings each one is the more suitable choice.

Outdoor gas fireplaces

With toxic asbestos, gas leaks, and carbon monoxide, the history of gas fireplaces has not slowed their popularity today. As safety restrictions have tightened and gasfitting techniques have improved, gas-fueled fires have become increasingly common. 

Now, gas fireplaces are renowned for their convenience and relative safety. Providing a heat source at the flick of a switch, they are an easy solution for busy homeowners.

Pros of gas fireplaces:

  • Subtle flames with no sparks. 
  • No lingering odours. 
  • Easy to ignite and clean.  
  • Flues are not required. 
  • Fewer council restrictions.

Cons of gas fireplaces: 

  • Expensive installation of gas lines or replacement of LPG bottles.
  • Less ambience. 
  • Cooking ability is limited to specialized models.
  • Convective heat focuses on the air, not people or furniture so can't be relied on to keep you warm.

When to choose a gas outdoor fireplace

Provided you have ample ventilation, meet council requirements, and enlist a certified gas-fitter, gas-fuelled fires bring many benefits. 

Some of the most common applications for these include:

Warmer climates

Since the heat of gas fires is convective and not radiant, it warms the surrounding air first and is great for taking off the chill. For this reason, they are better suited to warmer climates where the priority is to make the most of the summer months or to create an ambience on a cooler night.

However, it’s worth noting that in the chilly winter temperatures, a gas model may not be the best way to warm your guests thoroughly. Before investing, assess how much use you’d like to get out of the fireplace and if a more powerful heat source would increase your outdoor living hours.

Families with children

The ability to switch the fire on and off quickly means families with children may like the no-fuss option of a gas fire. With gentle flames and often the presence of a double glass heat barrier too, the relative peace of mind of a gas fire is attractive to any parents with energetic toddlers. 

Dense urban areas

If your outdoor space is more enclosed, a gas fireplace could be the most appropriate solution. They don’t produce as much smoke and, provided the space is adequately ventilated, they don’t require a flue so your close neighbours may appreciate you using a gas fireplace over a wood-burning one.

Outdoor wood fires

While some people might prefer to press an electronic button, the ritual and experience of lighting a traditional wood fire is guaranteed to generate a sense of satisfaction. 

When you think of an outdoor fireplace, chances are you picture a warm, crackling flame with everyone gathered around toasting marshmallows. If it’s that atmosphere you’re looking for, a wood-fuelled model is, without a doubt, the superior option.

Pros for wood fireplaces: 

  • Radiant heat that concentrates on guests. 
  • Cooking capabilities. 
  • Romantic feel and nostalgic campfire smell. 
  • A striking design statement.
  • Stunning surrounds made of masonry, stone, concrete, or brickwork.
  • Free fuel source, for some.

Cons of wood fireplaces: 

  • Lingering smells and smoke in congested urban areas.  
  • Requirements include a flue, fireproof casing, and hearth. 

When to choose an outdoor wood fire

If you’re still unsure if a wood fireplace is the best choice for you, here’s a closer look at some of the most common reasons we’ve seen for people to choose a wood-burning fireplace. 

Creating spectacular outdoor spaces

If design and style are important to you, you can’t go wrong with a wood-burning fireplace. The bold silhouette, interesting textures, and luxurious finish a wood burner offers are unparalleled. 

If you have a vision for your landscaping design and home, you need to choose a fireplace that complements it. With all the possibilities in our wood-burning range, we're sure you'll find something you love.

Colder climates

With the most powerful heat output, a wood fireplace is a clear winner for colder climates. If you want to maximise the heat production for those crisp winter evenings, we recommend opting for a dry hardwood like manuka or gum which have higher heat content and burn for longer. 

When it comes to an outdoor fireplace, you need to be confident that it will do the job it’s designed for. If heating your outdoor space is high on your priority list, you can’t look past a wood burner.  

Entertaining guests

The old-school romance, cooking features, and unrivalled experience of a wood fireplace are hard to beat. So if you’re a big entertainer and love hosting guests in and outside your home, a log burner is a must-have. 

The next time you have a gathering, imagine dazzling your friends and family with an unforgettable dining experience, and what pairs better with the clinking of glasses than the ambient sounds of a roaring flame? 

More outdoor living ideas

If you want to level up your outdoor experience, why not consider some of these popular additions? Pairing one of these with your outdoor fireplace would achieve the ultimate outdoor living space, complete with everything you need to enjoy it all year round. 

Cooking grill

A cooking grill allows you to prepare and cook food without having to leave the party. For example, our swinging cooking grill makes it easy to cook all kinds of food at a safe distance from the flames. 

Pizza oven

Who doesn’t love a woodfire pizza? If you’re looking for an outdoor feature that is both practical and theatrical, a pizza oven ticks all the boxes. Whether you have ample space or a small backyard, you’re sure to find one that fits perfectly with your needs. 

Fire pit 

A large built-in fireplace won’t be suitable for every outdoor location, in which case, a fire pit is an excellent blend of warmth, practicality, cooking capabilities, and style. The circular design of fire pits encourages guests to gather around, making your backyard the number one place to be. If smaller specifications are what you need, our fire pits are only 150kg, with 700mm high and 1100mm diameter.

If you’re sold on the idea of a traditional wood-burning outdoor fireplace then why not check out our range of fireplaces? From the compact Mini Burton to the traditional Douglas and the commanding Twin Peak, we have a range of designs to suit. You can download our digital catalogue to familiarise yourself with the entire range or browse our gallery for inspiration.

For more advice and industry expertise, ask our friendly team today. We can help you to determine which type of outdoor fireplace is most suited to your space as well as guide you through the whole process from design, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance. Before long, you’ll be enjoying the comfort and charm of your very own outdoor fireplace.   

See our range of outdoor fireplaces

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