FirePit: In The Lab & Out In The Wild
Dispatches from The BioLite Community
Thousands of FirePits are in use this summer and as we head into Labor Day Weekend, we’ve rounded up a series of reviews, photos, and videos that show FirePit in all its glory AND address some really great questions you’ve sent our way since launch.
Editor & Gear Testing
OUTSIDE MAG | A Former BioLite Critic Finds “The Best Portable Grill Ever”
“I’m not a fan of BioLite’s original product, the CampStove… after trying and failing to find a use for the slick-looking package, I’d written off the brand entirely. And then I saw the FirePit. Instead of trying to turn fire into a phone charge, it simply sets out to make a really good flame. I like fire. And I love the FirePit...
To test it, I cooked steaks for me, my girlfriend, and our two spoiled mutts. Starting with the fuel basket in the raised position, I filled the chimney with natural lump charcoal, then used the FirePit’s fan to help get that going quickly... Once the fire was cool, I was able to slide open a hatch in the bottom of the pit, and easily empty all the ash into a metal bucket. Burning a fire after cooking meant that all the grease was cooked off, and the inside of the pit is a bit ashy, but not sticky or gross.” Full review (with lots of steak and potatoes) here.
WIRED | A Great Way to Exercise your Pyromaniac Tendencies
“I set the fan to low and used kindling to start a fire with wood lumps in the lower rack setting. Once the charcoal started burning, I ramped up the air a little bit to get a little char on my chicken and veggie kabobs. The skewers fit perfectly across the grilling grate, and they finished cooking in a few minutes. After I was done, I just slid the cooking grate over, added a few logs to the hot coal base, and turned down the air.
The battery has a remarkably long life. Over a week of evening wood fires on low power, I only needed to charge it once. The app lets you know how long the battery life will be at each fan setting. At full charge, it has approximately 26 hours at low power, and at max power, about three. I grilled for an hour and had plenty of battery to last through the rest of the evening.” Rating 7/10 | Full review here.
LIVING SURVIVAL | VIDEO | Super Easy & Super Quick Bonfire
Ben packs a LOT into this 15-minute demo including startup, bluetooth app overview, and even cooking up some burgers and chicken. Editors note: around the 5 minute mark, you’ll see Ben throw some big pieces of wood in there, bypassing our recommended coal-bed method. The result is you see some smoke, but you also get to see how the fan can crank that fire into nearly smokeless in a matter of minutes. Or as Ben says, “RIP-ROARING”
**Honorable mention: Digital Trends named FirePit Product of The Year after some memorable grill-time that included burgers, fresh corn, and grilled limes (seriously, try a squeeze in your next beer)**
User Reviews & Photos
How easy it is to start the fire? How long does it take to cool down? Can you really cook with it?
Good news: fellow FirePit users have some answers for you. Check out detailed reviews below and hear about tips on charcoal, burning when you’ve got close neighbors, and even an unexpected application of the powerpack when not in use (wet dog dryer?).
“We live where houses are right next to each other, no driveways, and this is perfect for hanging out in the backyard. The air jets work exactly as advertised, eliminated smoke and helped burn everything down to ash quick.” ~ Kyle K
“This is by far the easiest fire I have ever started and the floating fire effect is really cool. The iPhone app installed and works flawlessly. I will now be able to add a campfire where I could not before such as the beach and a local winery where I can keep the fire low and it won’t bother anyone because of the lack of smoke. I am never disappointed with BioLite products and the Firepit is no exception. Thank you for another great product!” ~ Justin
“We use it on a weekly basis (FirePit Fridays) and everyone loves it. Favorite part is the Hot to Cold process. Dump the hot coals/ash and turn the fan on HIGH and it's packed up and in the solar cover in under 10 mins. Charge it up and its ready to go again.” ~ Gary
"I've used my FirePit twice now. Both times for cooking. The fans make a huge difference in how long it takes the charcoal to ash over and be ready for cooking. Easily cuts the time in half, if not more.” ~ Eric
“We've had three nights of fires so far...and it has been awesome. Best campfires we've ever had. Start up is so much easier, and once started it gives almost no smoke. All for similar to or less than you'd pay most standard fire bowl.” ~ Chris
Read all FirePit Reviews Here.
While written reviews are clutch, we know that seeing is believing; here’s just a few of the thousands of FirePits out in the wild, submitted by members of the BioLite community:
Inside The Tech with Ryan
Two of the most common tech-related questions we get about the FirePit is: 1) Why is there a fan? And 2) Why isn’t there a TEG? Let’s dig into those.
Q1: Why Is There A Fan?
In the quick 60 second video above, Ryan, BioLite's Director of Engineering, talks through the prototype development process that went into the FirePit, with primary and secondary combustion being at the core of our engineering challenge. In a nutshell: a highly efficient fire requires a more uniform mixture of gases and a steady injection of oxygen, making the FirePit’s internal fan the rockstar of our airflow process. The forced air it creates gets distributed along the fire through the 51 air jets located in both the lower and upper region of the pit (hello, primary and secondary combustion), burning off particulate matter before it can escape the fire. A common misconception is that the fan blows the smoke away in some sneaky way – it’s not. It’s actually creating a vortex inside the pit that enables the fire to combust the smoke, giving you more fire per log (pretty neat.)
Q2: Why Isn't There A TEG Inside the FirePit?
Most folks who ask this question have an existing relationship with our CampStove or BaseCamp which both feature a thermoelectric generator that produces electricity from the heat of the fire which, in turn, powers the internal fan and can offer power-out to charge devices. The FirePit does not – and that's on purpose. Here’s why:
1. FirePit is designed to radiate heat, not concentrate it. If you look at the designs of the CampStove and BaseCamp, both feature a burn chamber that has a vertical cylinder that shoots flames upward like a supercharged burner on your stove at home. This is designed for cooking/boiling and optimal for a TEG as it concentrates the fire into a really small space around the probe for heat exchange (especially if you’re placing a pot or skillet on top). The FirePit, on the other hand, is designed to radiate heat outward like a campfire and the x-ray mesh burn chamber sits horizontally rather than vertically, meaning the flames disperse across a broader surface area. The result is a highly watchable, great group campfire, which is the core promise of FirePit, but a burn design where only a small portion of the flames would actually hit the probe.
2. Tech for tech's sake would've made FirePit 2-3x more expensive. Sure, we could have gone ahead and put a TEG in anyway but it would have made the unit closer to $400-$600 and for only a few watts. When we dug into why our community resonated with the TEG-solution so much, we understood it was because the auto-charging offered a level of self-reliance that our off-grid users really wanted. With that in mind, we designed a solution that took into account two key realities of FirePit use cases: keeping it outside, and the benefit of daytime….
3. Solar was a smarter off-grid energy solution
Taking a page out of existing grills and fire pits out in the world, we anticipated that many of our users would be storing the FirePit in their backyard our outside somewhere nearby when not in use. This meant two things: a) it needed protection and b) it was often going to hang out in the sun, not in use, for days at a time.
4. Enter the Solar Carry Cover. Knowing that auto-charging through off-grid energy was a feature our community wanted, we designed a solar carry cover that could offer protection from the elements, make the firepit easy to transport, and recharge the powerpack easily in between burns. This offered a host of valuable solutions to our end-user, at a price point that made a much more sense than hundreds of extra dollars for a TEG.
And so far, the community agrees:
“On my first camping trip with my FirePit I left immediately for my camping trip. I was able to use the solar panel to charge the battery pack without ever needing to plug into an actual outlet. The cover itself fits great and looks like it will last quite a while.“ – Eric S
“I purchased the solar carrying case as well, and was very happy about it's efficiency to charge the power pack and charge our phones.” - Roger P.
“The battery on the fan has been at full (4 lights lit) the entire time, so either we aren't using it very hard or the solar charger in the cover is doing a nice job keeping it topped off; I haven't plugged it into an outlet once yet.” -James
“Cooked sausages, steaks, and s'mores over it with the kids. The solar cover charged up the battery, and after 3 hours of use, the battery did not show any drain.” - Sharon
Got A FirePit in the Wild? Show Us How You Grill
Send Us Your FirePit Pics (with subject line: FirePit In Action) over this coming Labor Day Weekend and you could be featured in an upcoming Instagram Story (and yeah, you could win some swag).