While there may be some argument as to the similarities between indoor and outdoor fireplaces, they are not the same and are not interchangeable. Indoor units are designed with sustaining warmth and interior concerns in mind, but outdoor units do not have to share in those concerns. However, exterior fireplaces must be designed to limit and avoid accidental fires. Beyond the differences in purpose, there are several distinct variances between interior and exterior units.
Indoor fireplaces, while large when compared to living rooms, would actually be quite small outside. Outdoor fireboxes need to be larger to give off sufficient heat, which makes the entire piece larger than indoor units.
Damper and Hearth Construction
While interior designs require a damper to sustain inside temperatures, this is not a concern for outdoor systems which means that a damper is unnecessary. However, because it is an outdoor unit, the hearth has to be designed at an angle to keep water, snow and ice buildup outside of the firebox.
Height of Firebox Opening
Also, outdoor fireplaces are manufactured with their fireboxes raised, making them about 1 ½ foot above the ground. While there may be some safety measure in the design, the final consensus is that it is a design decision, which puts the fire at eye-level with those seated around it.
While indoor fireplaces are constructed from a variety of materials, many outdoor systems use stone or brick because of their weather-resistant qualities. While there are prefabricated models available, masonry construction is far superior and likely more durable.
Chimney Caps and Fire Prevention
While fireplaces are designed to keep the fire within the firebox and chimney, outdoor units require a bit of extra precaution. Therefore, many people install chimney caps and use fire grates to prevent embers from igniting nearby brush and landscaping.
Indoor and outdoor fireplaces are not interchangeable. The purpose and use of each require different construction and precaution. Therefore, before choosing an outdoor option for your patio, contact a local contractor to answer any of your questions.