Jan. 6, 2020
BRINGING THE HEAT
This is the time of year when Phoenicians are required to post photos online, gloating about another gloriously mild winter in Arizona (while our friends and relatives back East are bracing for another arctic blast). But with nighttime lows this month in the mid-40s, living your best life outdoors might require a little help - and a little heat - from external sources. So, in the spirit of creating perfect outdoor moments, here are 5 options for keeping warm on your back patio this winter:
Made of clay or metals, these moveable fireplaces resemble pot-belly stoves. They burn wood, gas, or propane (depending on the model you choose). Chimineas serve as elegant decor, even when they’re not in use. Online reviews suggest you get what you pay for, especially with chimineas constructed from clay.
Pros: Entry-level price point. May be moved (when cold) to different parts of your backyard.
Cons: limited heat projection
Price: An entry-level clay chiminea starts at $60.
Whether it’s a permanently constructed yard structure or a self-contained fire feature, a fire pit is the ultimate gathering point for larger groups. Unlike directional heat sources, a fire pit radiates heat outward toward all who gather around its flames. Stone fire pits can be constructed to blend in with your outdoor architecture and design. Self-contained versions can be placed wherever you like on any given evening. The difference between the two is similar to the difference between a built-in barbeque and a portable outdoor grill. Larger, professionally constructed fire pits can include wraparound bench seating, drink shelving, and coordinating hardscape such as flagstone or pavers. The only limit is your imagination (and your budget).
Pros: 360-degree heat radius, great for large groups
Cons: Heat cannot be directed toward any one particular area of your yard
Price: Self-contained models start at $100.
A mainstay of resorts and restaurants in the Valley. The ubiquitous patio heater puts heat on all who sit below its warming tower. Patio heaters are effective in taking the chill out of the air, but tend to be somewhat utilitarian in design. It’s not to say they look bad – they just look like outdoor appliances rather than integrated design elements. They feature a matchless starting process, plus the ability to adjust the heat output. Many models come with wheels, allowing them to be easily hidden away during the summer months. With a reasonable price point and the ability to easily move them to different parts of your patio, patio heaters are one of the best all-around values when it comes to outdoor heating solutions.
Pros: Functional. Moveable.
Cons: Limited aesthetic value
Price: Starting at $140
The outdoor fireplace is a statement feature that can be constructed as part of the original patio design or built as a backyard upgrade. A well-designed fireplace is beautiful, day or night, on or off. It also doesn’t require that you sit beside it to be able to enjoy it. A fireplace works wonderfully as a heat-generating gathering point as well as a background source of light and ambience. Because they are not moveable it’s important to carefully consider its location before you have one built. A gorgeous fireplace tucked in the far corner of the yard away from the patio might ultimately be ignored by guests. But a well-placed fireplace will become the social hub of your backyard.
Pros: May be integrated with patio design
Cons: Price, space requirements. Not moveable.
Price: Outdoor fireplace kits start a $1,300
TABLETOP FIRE FEATURE
If you’re looking for an eye-catching and budget-friendly heat source, there are a number of tabletop fire feature options. The smaller size (compared to other heat sources) makes them perfect for smaller gatherings. They can be placed in the middle of your patio table like a centerpiece, giving off modest heat but providing beautiful flames.
Pros: Wonderful aesthetics. Modest entry-level prices.
Cons: Limited heat output. More form over function. Proximity to open flames.
Price: Starting at $60
Heat sources are commonly fueled by wood, natural gas, or propane. When choosing your heat source, keep in mind that wood-burning fireplaces, firepits, and chimineas are subject to Phoenix’s No Burn Day restrictions. If you do opt for wood-fueled heat, you can check the No Burn Day hotline: 602-506-6400. Or go to cleanairmakemore.com/noburn