When it comes to creating an outdoor sanctuary there's nothing like the warmth and ambiance of a firebowl. Whether rounded or angular, standalone or integrated into other landscape design elements, a firebowl quickly becomes the focal point of any outdoor living space.
Choosing the design and finish of your bowl is only the first step, however. There are other things besides style you will have to consider as you install your firebowl. For instance, one decision that must be made early on in the process is whether your bowl will be fueled by natural gas or small refillable liquid propane tank.
Both flame sources have their advantages – each will produce wonderful dancing flames – and most firebowls can be installed using either. Ultimately your choice will be driven by your own preferences and what you hope to achieve in your outdoor living spaces.
Here are four considerations to ponder as you integrate a firebowl into your landscape.
Natural gas is fed into a firebowl by a line that attaches to your home's main gas feed. The convenience of an everlasting fuel source must be balanced against the desire for portability. With a gas installation, a firebowl will almost always be fixed in place unless you re-install it elsewhere.
When you choose propane it's a simpler matter to move a firebowl to another part of your yard or property. That's because liquid propane comes in tanks that will need to be refilled and so are quite portable. Moving a large firebowl will still be a challenge but one that can be solved with brute strength.
Both natural gas bowls and bowls set up for propane install easily. The former typically arrives ready for installation with fixed piping while the latter come with a hose extension and quick connect fittings. Because firebowls fueled by propane don't require a hard line connection they can be less expensive to install.
3. Cost & Efficiency
Natural gas tends to be less expensive than propane and depending on your location the difference may be stark. But you can't calculate the cost of using a firebowl using the cost of fuel alone! While natural gas has the advantage where price is concerned, liquid propane is the clear winner in terms of efficiency and as a result the cost to use your firebowl for the season may be roughly the same.
4. Other Considerations
For many homeowners who already have a gas feed to tap into, fueling a firebowl with natural gas makes more sense from the perspective of convenience. There are no tanks to monitor or refill, which means never having to deal with a fire that sputters out midway through a party. There's also no physical tank that must be hidden or camouflaged.
That said, a liquid propane tank can be housed in an enclosure designed to match your firebowl. Instead of standing out, it serves as an elegant end table, becoming a seamless part of your outdoor décor.
Once the practical considerations are settled then it's time to think about design. That's a challenge all its own as there are firebowls for every style sensibility, from traditional to modern. Luckily for you, choosing between the many shapes, sizes, and finishes available is the fun part.
As the Director of Technical and Training, Jeff Tew is an invaluable thought leader and resource for trade professionals. With more than 25 years of career experience in Manufactured Stone Veneer (MSV), he works with masons, builders, architects, and others in the construction industry to help design and build beautiful projects. As a firm believer in MSV as one of the industry's most efficient and resilient materials, Jeff knows it can be used to define unique and captivating spaces and buildings through proper planning, detailing and testing. Drawing on his experiences as a contractor during trainings and consultations, Jeff focuses on helping pros build healthy wall systems using MSV while meeting building code requirements and working safely on residential and commercial job sites all across North America.