REVIEW – Who doesn’t like to sit around a cozy fire pit on a chilly evening outside? How about a fire pit that you can pack up and take with you? How about one that will also let you cook on it and is designed to radiate heat out to the sides and create less smoke? That is what the BioLite FirePit+ promises so let’s see if it can make good on its promises.
What is it?
The BioLite FirePit+ is the second iteration of a portable firepit created by the BioLite company. This new fire pit is portable and promises an upgraded battery for longer burn times, upgraded body to provide more radiant heat, and upgraded high-temp enamel coating for durability and easier cleaning.
What’s in the box?
The FirePit+ came well packed in two layers of cardboard boxes (one outside shipping and another interior retail box), plus air padding and cardboard keeping metal parts from touching. I had to take two pictures to show everything in the box. I will be starting with the left picture first.
- At the very top is the fuel rack where you can place wood or charcoal.
- Two handles that must be installed by the owner onto the fire pit box. Screws, washers and lock nuts are already screwed into the sides of the handle for shipping.
- Grill rack
- One micro-USB cord – used for charging the power pack
- One power pack
- One fire pit
- Fuel: Burns firewood or charcoal
- Upgraded body design radiates heat outward
- Upgraded high-temp enamel coating for durability and easy cleaning
- Upgraded 12,800 mAh battery for longer burn times
- Burn time: 30hr on LOW, 14hr on MED, 7hr on HI
- Dimensions: 27″ x 13″ x 15.8″
- Weight: 19.8 lbs
- USB Rechargeable Powerpack
12,800 mAh runs the fan for your fire for up to 30 hours on a single charge. Detach and recharge easily via USB.
- Air Jets Improve Combustion – 51 airjets inject the fire with oxygen along key locations. This creates a more uniform temperature and mixing of gases inside the fire which dramatically improves combustion.
- Folding Legs – Makes portability a snap. Combined with the Carry Bag (sold separately), you’re ready to go from the backyard to the beach in no time.
- Grill Grate – Cook hibachi-style meals using the removable grill grate. Fuel rack adjusts to accommodate two types of fuel – wood or charcoal.
- X-Ray Mesh – Allows head to radiate out with a 360° view: glowing embers at the bottom, the gasifying wood in the middle, and the flames coming out at the top.
- Bluetooth Integration – You can control that fan intensity right from the FirePit’s powerpack or from your hand with the free BioLite Energy App for Android and iOS.
Design and features
The BioLite FirePit+ achieves its near smokeless and efficient fire capabilities by having a power pack that attaches to the side of the grill. This power pack is USB rechargeable and blows air through the bottom tube of the firepit. There are also two holes near the top of the fire pit that will also blow air.
The picture above shows the right side of the power pack. You can see there is a rubber cover that covers the USB port and a micro-USB port. The micro-USB port is used to charge the power pack. The USB port can be used to have the powerpack charge any of your portable electronic devices like your phone or tablet should you wish to do so. BioLite offers a storage bag with a solar panel on top that will let you recharge the power pack in full sun. If you were to go camping for several days, this would be a great option to keep it topped off during the day and possibly charge your electronic devices.
In the middle is the power button. The LCD display below the USB port cover will show the fan speed. Pressing the power button one time will show the battery level on the right (four levels) and turn the power pack on so you can start charging devices out of the USB port. Pushing the button twice turns the fan on low speed, three times medium speed, four times high speed, and five times turbo speed.
This is the back of the power pack. It has three brackets with one at the top and two at the bottom that are used to attach the power pack to the pit. The hole on the left side is where the air comes out of the power pack. Notice there is a grey rubber grommet around the air hole. This is to provide a good seal between the power pack and the pit for the air to flow through properly. I am guessing that rubber must be extremely heat tolerant.
The two bottom brackets have notches in them to allow them to hook on to the bottom brackets of the side of the fire pit.
The top bracket has two hooks built into the middle that are controlled by a button on the top of the power pack. Pressing the button in, releases the hooks and lets you remove the power pack from the pit. To mount the pack, you simply hook the two bottom brackets onto the bottom of the side of the fire pit and press the top part of the power pack into the side of the pit until you hear the two hooks in the top bracket click into place.
This is a picture of the button on the top of the power pack that you press to release the hooks on the top bracket.
Finally, here is the power pack mounted on to the side of the fire pit ready to fan some flames!
Setup was pretty simple. It is a matter of charging up the power pack, installing the two handles, and inserting the bottom fuel grate.
The picture above shows the micro-USB plugged into the pack and the USB port is plugged into a USB charger. The pack came with a 50% charge. The third LED is blinking and will turn solid as it goes to 75%. When all four LEDs are solid orange, the power pack is fully charged.
I took the picture above to show you how the feet fold up on the pit for easier storage. They rotate down and a pin will pop into the small hole at the top of the leg to hold it in place. The legs felt very solid and sturdy.
Next, I had to install the handles. One handle was longer than the other depth-wise. That one went on the side where the power pack goes to give your hand more room to grab the handle. Each handle came with four screws, four washers, and four lock nuts. The only tool I needed for this entire setup process was a Phillips head screwdriver. I next took some more detailed pictures of the fire pit to show you how it looks.
This first picture shows you the side of the fire pit that is opposite of where the power pack would be installed. It has a metal mesh to allow the heat to radiate out of the pit. This same mesh is on the two main sides of the fire pit.
This is the side where the power pack will install. You can see the three mounting brackets and the place where the hole in the power pack to blow air into the pit is installed. The rubber grommet around the air hole in the back of the power pack seals nicely against the extended hole of the pit.
This is the inside of the fire pit. You can see the tube at the bottom with air holes on the top and sides. The air from the power pack goes into the side of the pit and into the tube.
I took this picture to show the two holes near the top of the side where the power pack mounts. More air will come out of those.
Now this picture does show the one concern I had about the fire pit. You will notice the finish on the bottom towards the power pack and the bottom of the side seems different than the rest. The rest of the metal on the pit has a glossy finish while these ‘grey areas’ are rather rough. I am not sure if this was intentional or a mistake in the finishing process. I guess time will tell if I start to see rust or some other issues in the metal in those parts.
This is the interior of the fire pit with the fuel grate in its bottom position. There are four legs on the bottom of the grate that allow it to stand suspended above the air tube. Notice the handles standing up on the sides of the grate.
You can take those handles and hang them up on the sides of the fire pit to bring the fuel grate closer to the top of the pit. This is the position you would want the grate to be in if you were using charcoal to grill food.
I took the picture above to show the hooks at the top of the pit to hang the fuel grate near the top of the pit.
The picture above shows the side view of the food grate. The two hooks go under the small mesh lip of the fire pit. The middle lower piece of wire is used as a stopper to keep you from pulling the food grate all the way off the pit.
In the picture above you can see the food grate mounted and slid all of the way back towards where the power pack would be. That middle wire keeps the food grate from falling off and would let you adjust the coals as necessary for grilling.
Now you can see the fire pit with the grate in the upper position and the food grate in place.
At the bottom of the fire pit there is an ash door. You simply grab the small lip of the door and slid it forward to allow you to dump the ash from the pit.
I also took a picture to show you the bottom of the grill with the ash door closed.
The above picture is showing you one of the side tubes for the air flow. There is a tube on each side near the top and one on the bottom in the middle. This gives the firepit a total of 51 air jets to circulate the air around your fire.
Now that I have it all set up, let’s light a fire. The first thing I did was to download the BioLite Energy app on my iPhone. When you first start it up it asks you if you want to connect to a BaseLantern or a Firepit. I clicked on the firepit and I was presented with the screens below. I captured two screen shots.
The first shot on the left shows that I have turned the fan on the low setting. Note that in this setting I have over 25 hours left of run time. On the right capture, I set the fan on max and I now have just under four hours of run time. I like how it adjusts the time based on the fan speed. As I move the pointer to different settings the fan will wind up or down and the available time will slowly count up or down.
The first thing I did was to set up some kindling and use a fire starter cube to get my fire going. I lit the fire starter cube and immediately set the fan on level 2. The wood caught very quickly. I have a video below showing the initial flames. You can hear the fan running. That could be a turn off for some people, but it did not bother me. I plan to use this around a pool we will have in the backyard with a waterfall, so I am sure that will mask the sound.
I then added some more wood and set the fan on high to get it going. Once it was going, I set the fan back on low speed. Below is a video of the low speed fan.
Next I set the fan speed to medium.
Here is a video of the fan on high.
Finally, I set the fan on max.
I then let the fire burn down to ashes. BioLite recommends setting the fan on high towards the end to encourage a full burn down of the wood. The air circulating did an excellent job of keeping flames going on the remaining wood in my pit.
When everything was burned down, I really only had ashes left. It made the cleanout of the firepit very easy to do. There were no large lumps left.
Overall I found that the FirePit+ worked exactly as it should. Heat radiated out of all three sides really well. The fourth side where the battery pack was did block some of the heat, but I could still feel it on the sides. The fan can be a bit noisy. You will want to be sure to put the fuel grate in the center of the fire pit and be sure it is not touching either end. If you don’t, you can get some vibration noises.
What I like
- I like being able to control the fan with an app while I stay comfy in my chair.
- I like that it can act as a fire pit and as a grill with charcoal.
- I like that I can get wood to burn down to complete ash for easy cleaning.
- The firepit is easily moved and easy to store.
- The fan is rechargeable via USB-C so no batteries to replace.
- It really radiates heat well.
- The battery pack can be used to charge up your cell phone or tablet.
What needs to be improved
- The finish on the inside of the bottom of the fire pit is questionable. It seems the powder coating is not consistent.
- The fan can be a bit noisy in quiet environments
- They should offer a basic cover for the fire pit.
The Biolite Energy fire pit does a great job of burning wood and radiating heat out to the sides. I had to sit several feet back as the heat from the fire was pretty intense. In the dark it would look like the fire is floating above the ground. It is very portable and I think it would be perfect for RVers, and people who camp next to their vehicles. It would also be awesome on a beach. I do think they have a few quality control issues. Reading reviews from their site, I saw other people complain about the finish on their grill. Only time will tell if it will impact the grill over time.
Where to buy: Biolite Energy, REI, and Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided by BioLite Energy
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