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The Knowledge Center >> Sharpen Up on Gas Fire Pit BTUs

Sharpen Up on Gas Fire Pit BTUs

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Many of you ask: What is a BTU? Here is a general rundown of fire pit BTUs.

BTU stands for British thermal unit, and is a unit measure of energy. One BTU is equal to about 1055 joules, and represents the heat needed to warm one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. In this case it is used to describe the heat value of fire pit fuels: one standard cubic foot of propane equals about 2,500 fire pit BTUs, and one cubic foot of natural gas yields approximately 1,000 fire pit BTUs. The higher the BTU, the more heat is generated. A fire pit that operates at a maximum of 30,000 BTU will put out twice the heat than a fire pit putting out a maximum of 15,000 BTU.

Another way to consider this is by BTUs per pound. Propane gives off about 21,000 BTUs per pound, so a 60,000 BTU fire pit using all burners combined on high will put out 60,000 BTU an hour, and the fire pit will use somewhat less than 3 pounds of propane per hour.

Many other variables determine fire pit BTU amounts and heat output. Fire pit fittings, including the ring and the type, contribute to the efficiency of fire pit use. The size and length of the fuel pipe or hose, the quality of the orifice that mixes air with the fuel, and the pressure in the line will also have an effect on how much heat is created. Fire pit BTU output varies greatly for each size and shape of fire pit burner, especially in relation to fuel type and tank size. See our Crystal Fire Burner Fire Pit page for more information about BTUs and Outdoor GreatRoom fire pits.

While natural gas may be less expensive, in many cases it has a lower fire pit BTU output than propane, and you may find yourself turning up your natural gas fire pit BTU regulator to achieve the amount of heat you need, causing the fuel container to empty faster and thus cost more overall. However, with some of the larger burners, a much higher BTU is reached when used with an NG line than would be possible with any size of LP tank. Because of this great variation, we highly recommend becoming acquainted with the burner system of your fire pit of choice, and consider all of your fuel options before you make a decision as to which fuel to use.

Outdoor Greatroom Company

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