When summer arrives, the British public’s love for the outdoors becomes apparent. Every spare moment is spent in any area (no matter how small) that offers warmth from the sun.
Come the evening, however, things change. In this country, we’re not blessed with tropical climes that enable us to stay outside into the early hours. Because of this, outdoor fireplaces have become an increasingly common fixture in back gardens.
Chances are, you’re reading this because you’ve never before invested in a fireplace that is intended for outside use. So, without further ado, we’d like to present the ultimate, pocket-sized guide to outdoor fireplaces.
Characteristics of an outdoor fireplace
Outdoor fireplaces are usually made of stainless steel or stone and have several options for fuel. The two most common are:
• Gas – just like indoor fireplaces and usually fuelled by gas canisters or supply from a natural gas line
• Wood burning – offers the natural, cracking, popping fire you’d expect from any kind of stove
Modern outdoor fireplaces are designed to put out a significant degree of heat, measuring anywhere between 30,000 to 100,000 on the British Thermal Unit (BTU) scale. Despite this impressive output, you won’t particularly want to spend long January nights crowded around them, but they’re perfect for making a chilly evening on the patio very comfortable indeed.
Advantages of outdoor fireplaces
An outdoor fireplace can be a fantastic investment for any home garden. Here’s why:
• They’re safe. Outdoor fireplaces from reputable manufacturers are built with a safety-first mindset. Because they’re usually gas-based, they also have a much more controlled burn compared to a real fire.
• They’re flexible. If you light a real fire in your back garden, you have next to no control over how much heat it outputs. With a gas outdoor fireplace, you’ll have the benefit of a thermostat which will let you set it ‘just so’.
• They don’t produce smoke. Anyone who has persisted with a chiminea will know how much of a pain they can be when it comes to smoke. Gas-fuelled outdoor fireplaces provide heat and look attractive – that’s it. There’s no annoying smoke that will simply make everyone move indoors.
• They help you make the most of the summer. There’s something special about sitting outside during the warmer months as the sun sets and darkness takes hold. With an outdoor fireplace, you can do so for longer.
• They bring families together. The old adage of families gathering around the fire still rings true when it comes to spending quality time together, and with an outdoor fireplace, you can do so more regularly in a setting that is refreshingly different from the distraction-filled living room.
Disadvantages of outdoor fireplaces
Outdoor fireplaces aren’t for everyone and before committing to a purchase, we advise reading the following cautionary notes:
• They don’t offer quite the same flame as real fires. If you love the idea of a roaring, cracking fire in your back garden and opt for a gas-fuelled outdoor fireplace, it won’t offer quite the same primeval sense of achievement as rubbing sticks together.
• The British weather. Ok, so this may be a little unfair on the fireplaces themselves, but if you happen to live somewhere where Mother Nature isn’t particularly kind – even during the summer months – you may not get enough out of your investment in an outdoor fireplace.
• They require professional installation. Just like most fireplaces, you wouldn’t want to undertake the installation of an outdoor unit yourself. They should always be installed by qualified professionals, and that may push the budget too far for some.
How to find the right outdoor fireplace
Hopefully, we’ve given you enough food for thought in order to come to your own conclusion about whether or not an outdoor fireplace is for you. If you’ve decided it is, you may now be wondering how to find the right one.
Firstly, you’ll need to set a budget and decide whether you want a wood burner or gas-fuelled fire. The latter are usually a fair bit more expensive, so allow for that.
Next, pick a spot in the garden in which you’ll be able to enjoy the fireplace conveniently and safely. Measure up and head to your local fireplace showroom for professional advice. You’ll find the right outdoor fireplace in no time.