Outdoor Fireplaces VS Fire Pits

Outdoor FireplaceWhile many of you enjoy the comforts of a traditional, cozy indoor fireplace, some of you may opt for the luxury of an outdoor fireplace or fire pit that compliments your patio, adds charm to your outdoor space, and provides warmth on chilly nights. However, how do you know which appliance would be best for your outdoor space – a fireplace or a fire pit? Before you get lost in the endless sea of possibilities and begin shopping around, it’s important to understand the differences between outdoor fireplaces and firepits, so you can make an informed decision about which one would be the best fit for your outdoor setting.


Fireplace: Outdoor fireplaces are large, permanent structures built with a firebox to contain the fire and a chimney to ventilate smoke. They are typically rectangular in shape, but can also be round, oval, or square. Outdoor fireplaces also allow for a variety of design elements including a mantle, decorative tiles, a hearth, fire screens, etc.

Fire pit: Outdoor fire pits are basically a hole with raised walls. Typical fire pits are round in shape, however, they can be built in other shapes as well. Fire pits are portable and can be located anywhere on the property, since they don’t require a chimney.


Fireplace: Outdoor fireplaces can be any size, typically as small as 3 feet wide x 2 feet deep x 4 feet tall and as big as 15 feet wide x 4 feet deep x 15 feet tall. However, you want to make sure that it is proportioned to the size of your yard. For example, if you have a smaller yard, you will not want a massive fireplace as it will create less room and be overbearing.

Fire pit: Fire pits are much lower to the ground and smaller in size. If you plan to be seated around you fire pit or want to put your feet up, your fire pit should be 12 x 14 inches in height.


Fireplace: On an outdoor wood burning fireplace, the chimney must be 2 feet taller than any and all adjacent structures. Gas fireplaces, on the contrary, do not do not require a chimney but do require a gas line, which needs to be piped to a connection point on the house.

Fire pit: Fire pits do not have chimneys, so chimney codes and regulations do not apply. However, if you choose a gas fire pit over a wood burning fire pit, you will also need a gas line that connects to the house.

Here is a more simplified list of the other differences between outdoor fireplaces and fire pits:

Outdoor Fireplaces.

  • Are taller, which helps block wind and provides more privacy
  • Require building permits and code regulations
  • Can burn wood, propane, and gas
  • More expensive than an outdoor fire pit
  • Stationary

Outdoor Fire Pits.

  • More people can gather around it, since it’s open on all sides
  • Can burn wood and gas
  • Less expensive than an outdoor fireplace
  • Provides less privacy
  • Will not block wind

At Valley Chimney Sweep & Restoration, we offer chimney sweep services in the western suburbs of Chicago. With years of experience in the field, we know exactly what works and what doesn’t. If you do opt for an outdoor fireplace and need us to come out and perform an inspection or cleaning, feel free to contact us! We answer our e-mail daily and are available by telephone Monday-Friday from 8am to 5pm and on Saturday 8am to noon.

Back To Blog

“They were very prompt, professional, willing to spend the extra time to discuss all details. Definitely would call again and highly recommend to others. Reasonable price for the work done after comparing to several other competitors.”

‐ Ibrahim M.

Plainfield, IL

8940 B Route 34
Yorkville, IL 60560

(630) 553-5995


Service over 30,000 clients across the western suburbs of Chicago