Having a balcony fire pit is a good idea on the surface but requires careful consideration to use safely. Unlike other outdoor features, you’re dealing with open flames, so it’s vital to plan things properly.
So, if you’ve been thinking about getting a fire pit for your apartment balcony, condo or house, you’re in the right place. This guide will cover everything you need to know to get started.
Why Get a Balcony Fire Pit?
A fire pit is more than just a way to keep warm, although that’s the main reason to get one. They’re great if you plan to host outdoor gatherings and are ideal as a central feature in a social space.
You generally can’t (or shouldn’t) cook food on a fire pit because it can cause damage and clog the pit up with food and fat. That said, s’mores will work just fine!
Considerations Before Buying a Fire Pit for an Apartment Balcony
Along with the usual practical considerations, there are a few things specific to fire pits that you must check before buying. These include:
Fire Safety Laws
Your HOA or rental agreement might have rules about fire pits on balconies. Regardless, there are usually state laws concerning the use of open flames in outdoor spaces.
A popular one in the US (and elsewhere in the world) is the International Fire Code. Its rules are used in 42 US states, and there are slight variations in the remaining 8.
The 2 most important rules are:
- No fire pits within 10 feet of a combustible structure (e.g. something made of wood) unless your balcony is attached to a 1 or 2 family dwelling.
- Your balcony must have a sprinkler system.
You’ll also find rules about LPG tanks, which are a common fuel source for fire pits.
In short, check the regulations before you go out and buy a balcony fire pit.
Size and Type
There are several types of fire pit, some of which are more suitable for balconies than others. Similarly, there are different fuel sources, including gas and hard fuel. We’ll cover the most relevant types below.
Why is this important? Well, you should choose a type that has readily available fuel. If you live rurally, firewood might not be a problem. But if you’re in a city, LPG might make more sense.
Fire pits can get pretty expensive when you start looking at bigger models. If you want a small fire pit for your balcony, it’ll cost slightly less.
Of course, you should only really invest in a fire pit if you’re going to use it. They might look nice, but an unused fire pit isn’t exactly the nicest balcony decoration.
Is it Safe to Have a Fire Pit on a Balcony?
Providing you’re careful about your setup, it can be perfectly safe to have a fire pit on a balcony. You should check it’s allowed in your local regulations, and you should ensure you always have a fire extinguisher on hand.
As a rule, a balcony fire pit would be safest on concrete or stone balconies. You should avoid fire pits on wood balconies for obvious reasons.
Also, keep any combustible furniture away from the fire pit. This includes:
- Wood furniture
- Wicker or bamboo
- Soft furnishings
- Plastic (it’ll melt rather than burn)
If completely removing furniture isn’t an option, keep it a few feet away from the fire pit. LPG fires don’t spit and crackle like solid fuels, so these are generally safer options in more compact spaces.
Best Types of Balcony Fire Pit
Below are some examples of the best fire pits for use on balconies. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list but is meant to give you some inspiration about the most suitable styles and sizes for balconies.
1. Outland Living Firebowl
This portable fire pit is designed for camping or transporting in an RV, but this means it’ll be ideal as a mini fire pit for a balcony. It has a diameter of 19 inches and is 11 inches tall. Granted, building regulations will still apply, but its small size means it’s much easier to use on a balcony.
It runs on propane gas (LPG), a much cleaner fuel source than wood or charcoal. You get a gas hose with the fire pit, but obviously you need to buy your own gas tank.
The only real downside is that it’s quite expensive for its size. That said, it produces quite an intense flame, so is overall a good choice for small balconies that can’t fit a normal size fire pit.
- Good size flame.
- Uses LPG.
- Compact – ideal as a mini fire pit for a balcony.
- Quite expensive.
2. Pop-Up Fire Pit
If you want a more budget-friendly model, this pop-up fire pit could be the one for you. However, you do sacrifice nicer design features for the sake of an inexpensive model.
This balcony fire pit is essentially a metal box on legs. It uses wood or charcoal, so doesn’t burn as clean as LPG. But, the elevated design does meet various fire safety regulations. Better still, the legs collapse, making it a great portable fire pit.
But, if you plan to use it on a balcony, you’ll need to invest in some extra products. It has a mesh grille on the bottom, meaning embers and soot can fall through. To stop this from being a problem, you’ll need an ember guard, which is sold separately.
- Pop-up design.
- Entry-level price.
- Uses wood.
- Needs extra products to work properly.
3. Sunnydaze Outdoor Fire Pit
The Sunnydaze Cosmic Outdoor Fire Pit is a standard design that’s mostly enclosed. As such, you can use it to cook food because it’s great at retaining heat. It also means it’ll be great as a balcony heater.
It’s 21 inches tall and has a 29.5 inch diameter, so is on the bigger side. There’s a spark screen included, meaning you won’t have to worry about singing furniture (or yourself).
Despite its size, it’s a very reasonable price. The only real downside is that it uses wood or charcoal as fuel. While this is great for cooking food, it’s difficult to use in more urban areas.
- Larger balcony fire pit.
- Great at retaining heat.
- Reasonable price for size and features.
- Uses wood or charcoal.
4. Bali Outdoors Propane Fire Pit
If fuel source is a concern, propane is the best way to go. It’s cleaner and easier to handle, providing there aren’t many restrictions on storing LPG canisters. This large fire pit is propane-fuelled and would look great on modern balconies.
It’s 25 inches tall and 28 inches wide, so it’s on the larger side. However, its flame is relatively small. As such, it’s less about providing heat and more about atmosphere. The smaller flame might be beneficial in some circumstances, though.
Overall, there’s very little negative to say about this fire pit. It’d look great on a balcony and its low heat output means it should be allowed under most fire safety regulations
- LPG fuel.
- Smaller flame could suit balconies.
- Has storage space.
- Flame is more about look than heat.
5. Tabletop Fire Pit
For those on a strict budget who want atmosphere more than anything else, this portable fire pit could be the right option. It’s ideal as a mini fire pit for a balcony because it’s only 6.5 inches tall.
As such, if fire regulations are strict in your area, you could set this mini fire pit up. It’s essentially a candle without the wax, so is the best of both worlds. It uses isopropyl alcohol as its fuel source, which you get as gel canisters.
Despite being so small, it gets hot enough to cook s’mores. The only difficulty is trying to put the flame out. To do so, you’ll need to use a metal pan or something, as there’s no way to turn it off.
- Great mini fire pit for a balcony.
- Should fly under fire safety regulations because it’s not much more than a candle.
- Still hot enough to cook s’mores.
- Can be difficult to put out.
6. Fire Pit with Water Feature
This is less about a specific product and more about an interesting range of items. A fire pit with a water feature could look great on a balcony or decking, providing you have the infrastructure, of course.
Fire pit fountains can get pretty expensive, and you’ll obviously need to run a water pump. Some are self-contained while others feed into a stream or pond. If this sounds like something you want, make sure you shop around for the most suitable model.
The main problem is the price. A fire pit with a water feature can be very expensive because of all the parts it needs. However, if your budget stretches, it’ll look great.
Choosing a fire pit for a balcony can be challenging, particularly due to building regulations. But, if you’re confident you’re allowed one, a small fire pit for a balcony is a great way to add atmosphere.