A great deal that is almost ‘smokeless’


Photo: Andrew Couts/Gizmodo

At the core of my soul I want to hate BioLite’s FirePit+, but I’ll be damned if it’s not my favorite gadget I’ve used this year.

You see, I am one who appreciates simplicity, and you don’t get any simpler than fire. You can start one essentially anywhere (not recommended), no fancy gear is required. So when it comes to fire pits, my instinctive response is to prefer the “it’s a fire pit because there’s a circle of rocks on the ground” variety. Even the overpriced junk steel fire pits—the round kind you can buy just about anywhere—are preferred over anything fancier. God forbid anyone introduce rechargeable batteries into the equation.

And then I tried the FirePit+.

At $250, it costs exactly $250 more than I spent laying rocks in a circle in my backyard, but now that I’ve used it for several months, I can say it’s easily worth that much or more. No other gadget I’ve used in recent times has been so satisfying to use and didn’t inspire my friends and family to run out and spend some money.

BioLite FirePit+What is it?

A fan powered fire pit that reduces smoke and doubles as a grill.

Price

$250, or $400 with all accessories.

Like it

Sturdy construction, easily portable, greatly reduces nuisance smoke.

Not fun

Less smoke means less heat, a little small for some occasions.

Solid, compact and portable construction

The BioLite FirePit+ (the company’s second-generation fire pit) promises more than just roast marshmallows and something to help you tell better ghost stories. The heart is a small fan powered by a 12,800 mAh battery, which clips easily to one end of the fire pit and is intended to make it easier to start a fire and, most importantly, keep the smoke out of you. to keep eyes. The fan box also includes two ports, one for charging the battery with a micro USB cable and a standard USB port for charging your phone or whatever.

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All in all, the FirePit+ is about the size of a medium-sized cooler and weighs about 20 pounds – hefty, but small and light enough to tuck in the trunk for an overnight camping trip or a parking spot on the ski slopes. At approximately 17.5 inches long and approximately 7 inches wide (from the inside of the lip), the fire cavity (the actual pit portion of the FirePit+) easily accommodates standard size (16 inch) logs, and nothing will hold you back. against om tuck in a little longer if you don’t mind them sticking out at the top.

The long sides are made of attractive black metal mesh so you can still see the flames inside, and it has handles at both ends for portability. It also has four folding legs, a wood grate in the bottom to let air around the burning wood or charcoal, and a removable grate on top to grill whatever you want.

Not quite ‘smokeless’, but pretty close

The fan, which has four speeds, promises to eliminate all but the worst of fire pits: all that damn smoke blowing in your face wherever you sit. And it really works! No, it doesn’t create a “smoke-free” fire, but it’s pretty close.

How the fan works: Levels 3 and 4, the highest fan speed, blows enough air into the fire cavity to provide the flame with enough oxygen to get going. Honestly, this feature is a bit like magic: the fire starts so easily you look like a goddamn boy scout. Even when the sticks and wood were a little damp, the fire was beautifully healthy within minutes. Levels 2 and 3 keep the fire going while eliminating almost all smoke. And level 1 easily burns the fire, but you’ll probably have a little smoke swirling around and mocking you.

Now if you’re building a fire like me (with a crumpled newspaper), the FirePit+ isn’t powerful enough to clear all the smoke on startup – paper just smokes way too much, even with the fan running on level 4. But when only wood is burning, I’m always amazed at how little smoke swirls around to harass me and my guests.

Battery life for days

Fortunately, the FirePit+ doesn’t mess with companion apps or anything like that. Instead, it sticks with tried and true buttons – or rather, button. There is only one. Press it once to start the fan and click it again until you get the fan speed you want. Hold and press to turn it off. That is it.

Photo: Andrew Couts/Gizmodo

In terms of battery life, BioLite promises 30 hours on the lowest setting and 7 hours on the highest. When I tried to do my own tests I actually failed – the first time I fell asleep before the fan turned off on level 4. The second time I gave up after more than 7 hours passed and I had to go to sleep. So I don’t have any specific battery life figures to give you. But based on real use, I can say that the battery hasn’t run down in the last six months while I’ve enjoyed some backyard flames. (Side note: absolutely no one should be using this thing exclusively on level 4 – you just burn a whole pile of logs because it acts like a goddamn incinerator when the fan is on that high.) Usually, I had it set to level 2, which was enough for me juice for several hours of outdoor gatherings.

In addition to the standard FirePit+, BioLite also sells a number of accessories, including a cast iron griddle that spans the top of the firebox, a barbecue lid, and a set of cooking utensils (knife, tongs, spatula), all of which were provided by the company. in the review kit I received (retail: $400, including the FirePit+). You don’t need any of this to enjoy the FirePit+, but I have to say it all came in handy on a camping trip this summer when I wanted to cook some scrambled eggs and sausage for me and my friends in the morning.

Less smoke = less heat

There are only three things I don’t like about the FirePit+. First, the downside of eliminating smoke is that it also reduces the amount of heat the fire gives off to the sides. I’ll admit I’m not 100% sure about the physics behind the smoke-reducing fan, but noticeably less heat comes out of the FirePit+ when the fan is set to slightly above level 2. It doesn’t matter if you’re just going to light a fire for atmosphere . But during the winter months, when we all just hang out outside because of the never-ending pandemic, heat becomes much more important, meaning you might want to stick with level 1 and tolerate a little more smoke.

Second, I have to worry about this thing, which is annoying. I have two other fire pits, one that is just a few bricks in a circle, and the other is one of those aforementioned crappy round pressed steel fire pits that are everywhere now. I don’t care either – I don’t take them to the garage to make sure they don’t get watered, nor do I worry if they show a little wear and tear. The FirePit+ is different – it’s fun. And while I’ve certainly left it in the rain a few times to no avail, it’s still a device I have to take care of, which bothers someone like me who doesn’t want the things I have to dictate my brain space.

Photo: Andrew Couts/Gizmodo

Third, it is a bit small. This is both positive and negative. Positive because it’s just the right size to make it portable, while it’s not so small that you can’t make it your main fire pit, especially if you have limited outdoor space. Negative because, well, sometimes you just want to make a big bonfire – a really raging inferno – and this thing just isn’t going to make it. But it’s not made for that either, so I can’t really pin the thing down because it’s not as big as a small car, which is roughly how big I want my fires to be from time to time.

The FirePit+ is almost too beautiful – almost

Like I said, I didn’t want to like the FirePit+. But I really do, in spite of myself. It’s portable, sturdy and works better than I expected. It may not be 100% “smokeless” – but it’s much closer to smokeless than even BioLite itself promises. Despite my haphazard care, he keeps well for months. In fact, it works so well and looks so good, both my friends and my brother got one for themselves after using it at my house. I have taken it on camping trips and put it in my garden and on my patio. And while I may complain about heat loss or having to put it in the garage or shed to protect it from the elements, sometimes that’s the price we pay to have nice things.


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