This is no right or wrong answer. It depends on your design ideas, available space, and your budget. But keep in mind, more Btu is not always better.
If you have a small space, you don’t want to overwhelm it with a large, flaming pit. And if you have a large space, don’t expect that even a powerhouse btu fire pit burner can keep the whole group perfectly toasty. Think about what’s important to you and how much you’re willing to pay for that. A high Btu item may begin to feel cost prohibitive if propane is your fuel source.
As you shop for a burner, know that the Btu rating reflects the maximum amount of heat output when the flame is turned all the way up. Typically, gas fire pits are operated somewhere between mid-flame and maximum flame. So, if your fire feature burner is rated for 48,000 btu, you won’t likely be burning it at that “full-on” rate.
What Is Your Goal?
Gas fire pits typically range from a low of 48,000 Btu to 300,000 Btu. A good balance between heat output and gas consumption is around 90,000 Btu to 125,000 Btu.
Many factors affect how much heat you will enjoy. Is the weather windy or damp? Is your fire pit sheltered from the weather by shrubbery or the sides of a house? Do you live in a relatively warm area where a fire pit can take the chill out of the evening without expecting it to do all the heavy lifting?
The reality is that gas fire pits don’t really provide adequate heat if it’s really cold out. You will need warm clothes and additional sources of warmth to sit outside comfortably.
So, if the fire pit isn’t a primary heat source, perhaps it’s better to think of it as the anchor for a space and to provide ambiance. Family and friends can gather around this focal point and bask in the glow of the flames. There is something almost magical about that and that thought can guide your planning.
Who Are You Entertaining?
If you will mostly be having intimate evenings for two–gazing at your partner across the fire with a glass of wine and good conversation–then 48,000 btu should get the job done.
Thinking in terms of 4-6 people for more lively discussions? Then you’ll want to bump up to 90,000 btu. For many households, this size will be sufficient.
However, if you have a big outdoor space, and you anticipate larger groups that want to grab a chair and share in the joy of fellowship, consider a 125,000-200,000 btu burner.
Btu burners that exceed that level, can only be accommodated by natural gas or whole-house propane tanks. So, if you’re determined to make a splash with a large display of flames, you’ll need that sort of capacity.
Convenience and Cost
If a propane tank will be your fuel source, a bigger Btu burner means more trips to refill the tanks. That not only involves more time; it also involves more money.
If you’re using natural gas, refilling tanks won’t be a concern and it’s much cheaper to operate than propane. But choosing a larger burner than you really need will still cost you unnecessary money.
If you want a closer look that compares Btu sizes and costs per fuel type, check out our article, “How Much Does It Cost to Operate a Gas Fire Pit?”
Still Have Questions?
To sum it all up, for most gas fire pits 90k BTUs is sufficient. You may want to opt for 125k BTUs to 200k BTUs if you have a larger outdoor gathering space. If you have a small space that will typically be enjoyed by two people, then 45k BTUs may be a good choice.
If you’re still confused about which burner is best for your DIY fire pit or fire table, feel free to contact Celestial Fire Glass. We can help walk you through the planning process so that you get the right burner for your project.