Is 1/2 Gas Line Sufficient For An Outdoor Fire Pit? 4 Items

silver outdoor fire pit on brown elevated backyard overlooking green trees and mountains

As you plan for your outdoor fire pit there are numerous considerations. How much does a fire pit cost? What is the fire pit going to be faced with? Will you buy a premade unit and connect the gas or will you install a wood burning fire pit?  What are the permitting requirements in your area?  If you have decided to put in a natural gas or propane fire pit, and you have an existing gas stub, you probably have a few more questions. First and foremost is 1/2 gas line sufficient for an outdoor fire pit?

Why Is A 1/2 Gas Line So Common?

Home builders will often pre-plumb a gas stub to the back of the house when they initially build the house.  Depending on the neighborhood you live in, it most likely is natural gas, but sometimes it’ll be propane.  It’s far more common to be natural gas, but in some communities there is community propane plumbed to all the homes. 

In states like Texas, you can usually tell by the color of your gas meter. If it’s gray, you have natural gas.  If it’s brown, you have propane.  However, if you’re unsure, contact your utility provider for clarification. It’s important to know which you have because this will determine the operating pressure and who will be hooking up the gas lines themselves. The common pre-plumbed line is usually a 1/2 gas line.

Is 1/2 Gas Line Sufficient For An Outdoor Fire Pit?

You might have heard that a 1/2 gas line is not enough to power an outdoor fire pit. Let’s dive into this myth a bit further. A 1/2 gas line is not usually sufficient to run much other than a barbecue grill.  However, don’t lose hope yet as many fire pits have similar BTU ratings to barbecue grills.  There are many factors which will determine whether the 1/2 gas line is sufficient.  

4 Factors To Answer Is 1/2 Gas Line Sufficient For An Outdoor Fire Pit?

First, the BTU rating for the fire ring you have selected is important to have on hand.  Next, how many other gas appliances you already have in your house and their BTU ratings.  Also, the rating of your meter itself.  Determine whether you have natural gas or propane. All these aspects will determine whether the 1/2 gas line is sufficient.  

In the home, propane operates on a higher pressure than natural gas, so smaller plumbing sizes equal more combustible gas.  This means a smaller propane line can accommodate a larger load when compared to natural gas.  However, the existing rating of all appliances in the house, and the volume your meter is capable of delivering to the home will also impact whether or not your 1/2 inch gas line is sufficient for your outdoor fire pit.  

Who Can Tell You Whether Your Existing Gas Line Is Sufficient?  

If you have propane, contact your propane supplier and they will be able to guide you in the process.  Generally speaking, the propane supplier has oversight of the entire gas delivery system throughout your home.  The propane supplier has plumbers they use for all propane work and all propane work should be coordinated through your propane supplier.

When it comes to natural gas, you can contact any licensed plumber. Then tell them that you are looking to add a fire pit. Next, they can do an audit of your existing system and determine the BTU Load you can safely add to the system.  

diagram showing answer to is 1/2 gas line sufficient for an outdoor fire pit as being complicated due to overall backyard usage from other items such as pool heaters or tiki torches
This diagram from J&M Services shows a typical backyard using gas.

What To Do If Your Gas Line Is Not Sufficient

If your 1/2 gas line is not sufficient for the load you plan on adding to the system, you have a couple of options. First, there is running a new gas line from the meter itself to the fire pit location.  This can get expensive depending on the meter location and fire pit location.  However, sometimes this is the only option. 

If your meter does not have sufficient flow to handle the additional BTU load, you sometimes need to upgrade the meter itself.  Usually upgrading the meter is not a huge expense, as the gas company wants you to use more gas.  However, when you need to upgrade the line from the gas main to the gas meter, this can be a significant cost.  

If you have natural gas, always start with your plumber.  A licensed plumber can guide you through the various ways you can make your system operational. So is 1/2 gas line sufficient for an outdoor fire pit?  The answer depends on your existing system and what BTU rated ring you plan on adding for a fire pit.