If you're looking to add a warm and welcoming focal point to your back yard, you may want to explore the pros and cons of propane vs. natural gas for an outdoor fireplace. Both flame sources have advantages and disadvantages, and ultimately the choice will come down to your own preference, but if you keep the following facts in mind, the decision should be fairly easy.
The first difference to consider is portability. Propane comes in tanks that can be attached to a grill or fireplace, meaning the whole operation can then be moved depending on where you want the focal point of your backyard gathering to be located. Natural gas, on the other hand, is fed to the fireplace by a gas line that attaches to your home—so it's likely that if you choose this option, your fireplace will need to be stationary.
Next up is cost. Natural gas definitely has the advantage here, coming in at one sixth the cost of propane in some areas. Additionally, natural gas is often seen as more convenient than propane, since you'll never need to run to the gas station or convenience store for a tank of the stuff.
In terms of efficiency, propane has the advantage, providing about 2,500 BTUs, with the same volume of natural gas proving around 1,000 BTUs.
Depending on your specific situation, and perhaps most importantly, whether your fireplace is stationary or not, propane or natural gas may be the right choice for you. Whichever fuel you choose, you're sure to enjoy many hours of warmth and lively conversation around your backyard fireplace.
See also: Deck and Patio Design Ideas
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