If you’re not in an area that has natural gas readily available, or you don’t have the option to connect to your house supply you can still have a stunning modern fire feature. This article will cover some of the benefits, drawbacks and basics of a propane concrete fire pit.
Firstly, What’s The Difference Between Propane and Natural Gas?
Natural gas consists of mostly methane. It also contains propane, butane, and a few other gases too. Natural gas comes from underground shale deposits. You may have heard of the controversial method called fracking to release the gas from the underground. So, propane is actually refined natural gas. It burns cleaner and hotter than natural gas, so it is considered a much more efficient gas fuel. Propane is also much more available than natural gas because after it is liquified, it’s easy to store in tanks and transport. For example, propane can be delivered by truck to a remote home that doesn’t have natural gas lines available.
About Propane – How long does a tank last?
We get this question a lot. It does depend on the size of the tank you are using and the BTU rating on your burner. For popular 60K BTU fire pits you get 8 – 10hrs of run time, if you’re burning it on a mid range flame height. If you crank it all the way up you’ll likely get around 6hrs burn.
How Many Gallons of Propane in a 20 Pound Tank?
A 20-pound propane tank is the most common size tank. A 20 lb tank is the typical size tank for barbecue grills and the ones you can get in the easy refill programs at Home Depot and gas stations. A 20 lb propane tank holds 4.5 gallons of propane.
Advantages of Propane Gas:
– Setting up is easy
– No need for new landscaping work, if you are not plumbing directly to an onsite tank
– Instant backyard upgrade
– Emits warmer heat than natural gas
– Easy refill (bottle switch programs)
– Mobile – you can change up your patio layout
– The connection hose is visible
– Emits warmer heat, but it comes in lower BTU options so you can get more fuel time out of a standard 20lb propane tank.
– Higher BTU fire pits need bigger onsite tank
– Propane tank is visible (a side table or tank cover may be needed to hide it)
– Need to refill tanks
What do you do with the Propane Hose?
One of the biggest design concerns we hear about with a propane fire pit set-up is how do you hide the hose? The hose itself is nondescript. It’s usually either a dark grey or a black, so it’s one of those things that most people pass over visually. Some options:
- Clever incorporation into a yard layout (along paver edge)
- Place the fire pit on a rug, make a hole in the rug and snake the hose under it to the propane tank
- Are you on a deck? Make a hole in the deck right below the unit and run the hose under
Check out the hidden hose in the photo below. It’s tucked off along the brick pavers.
This is another big concern when designing your new patio. A propane tank is somewhat large and usually unsightly. Depending on your set-up you can have a few options.
- Tuck it behind the furniture
- Hide it in the midst of some potted planters
- If you have the hose length it could go around the corner of the house for example
- Place the propane tank into a propane tank side
We offer stylish companion side tables that hide the propane tank as an optional add-on item. These side tables are usually selected in the same color to the fire pit.
All of DreamCast fire pits are low profile and designed to not house the propane tank. There’s a couple reasons for this. Primarily it’s because our firepit is designed to be part of your social gathering area with your club chairs and sofa set. To house a 20lb tank we’d need to raise our fire pits far higher than would be comfortable with outdoor furniture. The lower a fire pit the more warmth you get. We’ve found that 15″ is the ideal height for a concrete fire table. Most fire pits that hide the propane tank well are dining table height.
You also need consider ease of access and ventilation for a propane tank. This means you need to incorporate vents and a stainless steel removable panel or doors, that can detract from the minimalist organic aesthetic of a concrete fire pit.
There are fire pits on the market that use a very small sideways propane tanks. Keep in mind that these hold a very small amount of fuel. For the fire pit to provide any reasonable fuel time the flame height on these units is small in order to compensate. These small propane bottles are also fairly expensive (in comparison to a standard 20lb) to replace.
We’ve found that the 20lb tanks are much more user friendly for refills, give great run time, and the trick of hiding them is not too hard! The trade off for a little bit of planning is the perfect concrete fire pit.