Patio Heating: Outdoor Fireplace, Fire Pit, or Chiminea?

Patio heating, whether you use an outdoor fireplace, fire pit or chiminea, will extend your entertaining and barbecuing season well into the cooler seasons of autumn and winter. These products are safe, affordable and offer a cozy alternative to retreating inside when the weather turns cold. Additionally, outdoor heating devices offer distinction and decorative options to your home's outdoor living area, extending its comfort for you and your family.

Outdoor Fireplaces

You can easily extend the use of your deck, patio or outdoor garden through the use of an outdoor fireplace when the weather turns cold. These units provide the warmth and coziness of a real wood fire. Put your favorite logs into an outdoor fireplace and listen to it cackling and enjoy watching the flames as you entertain your family and friends. Although some assembly is required, these units are easy to use, affordable and attractive, adding beauty and additional comfort to your home and outdoor living area. Outdoor fireplaces have spark arresters so there is no need to worry about flying hot embers.  Prices range from approximately $175 for basic models to approximately $1050 for the more exotic, electrically controlled model with hidden controls.

Fire Pits

Another option to help prolong your patio, deck or outdoor garden use is by using a fire pit to keep you and your guests warm when autumn and winter arrive. These units are very portable for use in almost any outdoor activity at home or away.  They are light, easy to use and can be taken to the beach, or on a picnic. Lift the wire top, put in kindling and your favorite logs, apply a flame, replace the top and enjoy a slow burning, comforting heat. Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces will burn either wood, charcoal or wooden logs. Minimum assembly is required. Prices for these units range from approximately $50 to $3,000 or higher for the more ornate, designer versions.


Chimineas were originally clay, open fire pots which were imported into the U.S. from Mexico. They have gained popularity and undergone changes into models made of cast iron and aluminum. These cost more than their clay cousins, but hold up much better. The cost of a Chiminea depends on whether it is made of clay, fibreglass or metal and will depend on the quality of the unit. Expect to pay more for a better unit.

These distinctive and ornate heaters can complete your outdoor entertaining by keeping you and your guests warm throughout the cooler evenings at a minimal investment. Put some crumbled newspaper in your Chiminea, add some wood and in 10 minutes you will have a unit which delivers tremendous heat. The unit's unique design allows air to be drawn in through its open mouth and up through its chimney. The pot-bellied shape insures heat is dispersed all around to those standing nearby. Most units come with a grated door to close off the mouth of the unit, and a spark arresting device for the smoke stack. Some units do not incorporate these features, but they can be added. There is little or no assembly required.