While looking into a flickering flame is undeniably mesmerizing, the second benefit of fire is the toasty warm glow from the heat generated. This is often one of the main considerations when picking out the type of fire pit you want to incorporate into your outdoor space.
If your aim is to have a firepit that will keep your guests cozy into the night or in chillier temperatures, then it pays to spend a little time considering your options. In this article, we will take a close look at the heat-generating potential of the latest fashionable upgrade to the humble campfire, the fire pit table. Whether you are considering a permanent fixed gas-fed model or a more rustic wood-fired approach we have you covered. Read on to understand more about what to expect in terms of heat and our recommendations for some of our favorite fire pit table examples.
Fire pit tables can give off some serious heat dependent on their size and source of fuel. Options range from gas burning to wood-fired inserts with sizes and designs to suit just about any taste. Gas-powered options have ease of lighting while wood-fired variations reach some of the hottest heat.
What is a Fire Pit Table?
Fire pit tables come in a whole variety of styles. Essentially, they are outdoor furniture that combines both table and firepit. They are normally square or rectangular with the flames being contained within the center of the piece.
A fire pit table can use a variety of fuels. The less complicated versions contain a bowl, normally cast iron, stainless steel, or precast concrete sunken into the table which can accommodate wood or charcoal fuels.
The more modern upgrades include an easily adjustable flame fed by natural gas, propane, or bioethanol.
Do Fire Pit Tables Give Off Heat?
All fire pit tables that have a real flame at the center will generate some level of heat. The design of the fire table and the fuel burnt though will have the biggest impact on whether those around it feel or benefit from that heat.
Some fire pit tables are designed purely for aesthetic appeal and as such will comprise of a significant depth of table around the flame meaning people can sit close to the table without feeling uncomfortable. Those that burn gas can be controlled by a regulator to keep flames lower or turn up the heat.
Conversely, a woodfired fire pit table can be stacked with logs to increase heat or deflectors used to direct heat outwards and maximize warmth for those sitting around.
Some fire pit tables can burn hot enough to allow for open-flame cooking with the addition of grills or cooking plates.
Do Table Fire Pits Keep You Warm?
Ultimately it depends on the model you choose and what you are looking for from your fire pit table.
Some large models are designed for the aesthetic appeal of a live flame for light and ambiance rather than generating heat and may be used in warmer climates. Alternatively, some log-burning versions are solely designed to ensure everyone remains warm and definitely make a great option to prolong an outdoor evening.
It is worth remembering though that by very design a fire pit table places distance between the person and the fire as the table surface runs around the outside. This does not need to mean anyone goes cold though it is just a matter of ensuring the central fire burns hot enough or heat is deflected outwards.
How Much Heat Does a Fire Table Produce?
The heat generated by fire pits is often referred to in BTUs (British Thermal Units). The ins and outs of what exactly a BTU is can get a bit scientific but as a very general rule of thumb 1 BTU is the heat required to raise 1 pound of water by 1 single degree Fahrenheit.
Now if that is still going over your head a good baseline is the higher the BTU value the hotter the heat.
The heat output of a fire pit table can vary widely based on a number of factors such as fuel, atmospheric temperature, and design. As a rough indicator though anywhere between 40,000 and 50,000 BTU will heat a small to medium space while those designed for large outdoor seating areas will need to reach a staggering 200,000 BTUs.
The first big contributor to the level of heat is the fuel used. Below we break it down by common fuel sources.
A natural gas fire pit table will have a dedicated line and will burn the same natural gas that operates your home’s gas boiler or stove.
Natural gas generates a lower number of BTUs per cubic foot than propane though and as such you will need to turn a natural gas up higher (and burn more gas) to reach the same output of heat you could get with an alternate heat source.
Both a natural gas or propane mid-size fire pit table can be comfortably expected to churn out somewhere in the region of 30,000 to 50,000 BTU
The other gas option is bioethanol. However, this emits much less BTU than propane or natural gas alternatives. Fundamentally bioethanol burns much less intensely and as such generates much lower BTUs. As such bioethanol is nearly primarily used more as an aesthetic and light source and is unlikely to be a fuel source for anyone seeking serious heat.
This is the reason that bioethanol is the preferred fuel source for those who are looking for indoor real flame tables. Bioethanol is not hot enough to scorch roofs and doesn’t create soot and smoke like a wood-fired alternative.
By far the hottest burning fuel option is wood. Choosing an energy-dense, aged, hardwood log allows for super-hot burning temperatures. Furthermore, while gas options will have a max setting, wood-fired options can continue to be stacked as long as there is space in the burning area of the table.
By comparison, while a good mid-size gas fire-pit table could put out 50,000 BTU, an equivalent wood-fired model using good quality logs could be stacked in a way to exude as much as 100,000 BTU. Effectively the BTUs can continue to rise as long as there is space for more fuel.
What Else Can Improve the Heat from my Fire Pit Table?
Another way to ramp up the heat that actually radiates out from your fire pit table’s flames is to incorporate some material to absorb heat and radiate it outwards. Without something to re-direct heat the majority of heat from your flames rises directly above it and dissipates.
Your guests won’t be sitting atop your fire pit or you would be dabbling in BBQ-ing your friends! Instead, they sit around the table and we want to direct as much heat out to them as possible. Options to achieve this can include incorporating lava rock, fire glass, or sand inserts that absorb the heat and then radiate it more evenly into the surrounding space.
In addition, some fire pit tables include deflectors which are normally pieces of metal that work to direct the heat outwards instead of just upwards.
What Fire Table Gives Off the Most Heat?
We have hunted the web for some of the hottest fire pit tables, both in terms of heat generation and aesthetic appeal.
First up we have the Lausaint Home Gas Fire Pit Table available on Amazon. While the majority of propane fire pit tables available exude a respectable 50,000 BTU, this model incorporates Lava rocks to increase the radiant heat and generates a very respectable 55,000 BTU.
It has over 4 out of 5 stars based on owners’ reviews, is easy to light, and has a reasonable depth of table surface around the flame to place food or drinks. A great choice all around for providing heat when outdoor socializing.
A second option is the Inn Finest 32” Wood burning fire pit table, also available on Amazon. While many wood-burning options are more akin to fire bowls, this contender has a good depth of table surface around the sunken fire-burning area. As mentioned above the BTU generation of a wood-burning fire pit table is ultimately more than that of a gas version. It really comes down to how many good quality hot-burning fire logs you can place into the recess.
The large fire pit insert in this table allows for plenty of firewood and will ensure serious heat is generated for those gathered around.
Is a Fire Pit Table Worth It?
In a word yes! Having looked at hundreds of models and makes of fire pit tables when researching this piece and reading countless reviews I can wholeheartedly say I am a major fan of the fire pit table.
They look elegant and provide a real focal point for outdoor space design while being practical in providing both light and heat. Yes, a fire pit or campfire alone can radiate heat but the practicality that a fire pit table affords of having a handy ledge to place drinks and snacks without having to place them on the ground or hold them awkwardly in your lap is an absolute genius as far as I’m concerned.
In a world where it feels like just about everyone has a burner or fire pit, a fire pit table offers up something a bit more unique. I’m personally all about multi-functional pieces of furniture and the fact that many include inserts to allow the full table to be used by day before sliding back the cover to light your fire as the night air chills is just perfect.
While a fire pit table, regardless of fuel type, is likely to come in at a higher price point than the more basic fire bowl or burner options just remember you are effectively buying two pieces of furniture in one. Also, think of the money you will save socializing at home in the comfort of your own yard rather than propping up busy or congested downtown bars.
So really all you have to ask yourself is wood or gas burning?