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A Complete Guide to Building A Gas Fire Pit

  1. Fuel Type/BTU Usage
  2. Ignition Type
  3. Burner/Enclosure Shape and Size
  4. Fire Pit Burner Pans
  5. Enclosures
  6. Fire Pit Media
  7. Accessories
  8. Installation Graphic

Gas Fire Pit Guide - A Complete Guide to Building A Gas Fire Pit

So you’d like to build your own gas fire pit and you’re not sure where to start? This is the right place to be. Building a gas fire pit has many features that make it more desirable than going with a traditional wood fire pit:

  1. Ignition is easy, regardless of your ignition type (more on that in a bit).
  2. No Cleanup- with no wood burning there are no ashes to worry about cleaning.
  3. Don’t worry about having wood to burn, and at roughly $3.40 per hour to run (based on average natural gas costs in the US) it’s very affordable.
  4. Temperature control- with a steady supply of gas, controlling the temperature of your fire pit is much simpler than archaically fiddling with different amounts of logs.

Now you’re ready to plan your DIY fire pit? Start here to make sure you’ve planned for everything you need.

  1. Gas Type/BTU Usage
    • The first step in the process is deciding what fuel type you’ll have to supply your gas fire pit, and then figure out your BTU usage and amount of heat you’d like. There are two options for fuel type:
      • Natural Gas - The most common choice for outdoor gas fire pits is natural gas. Most people already have a natural gas supply for their house, so having a gas plumber run a line from the house to a gas fire pit is the easiest way to provide fuel to your fire. Most natural gas lines are already regulated for the right supply pressure for your fire pit, at a minimum of 3.5” W.C. and maximum 7.0” W.C.
      • Liquid Propane - Also referred to as LP, or just propane; frequently people wish to supply their gas fire pit with propane, which is perfectly acceptable. However, there are a few more stipulations to be aware of when choosing propane. First, you must decide between a standard 20 lb. propane tank (most commonly used to supply gas grills) or, if you live in a rural area you may have a large propane tank that also supplies your house. In both cases, you must ensure that these are regulated to supply pressure of a minimum 8.0” W.C. and a maximum of 11.0” W.C.; while also ensuring you have included an air mixer to your burner setup. Propane must mix with air in order to create an efficient burning fuel.
        • For a standard 20 lb. propane tank, the largest burner ring size compatible is 18” due to the amount of gas supply needed for larger rings. So, if you’d like to have a 24” or larger ring, you must use a larger propane tank, or natural gas. Also, you will need a regulator hose for your propane tank to connect with the gas shut off valve.
        • For larger propane tanks, any size of burner ring is acceptable- so long as you’ve met the aforementioned requirements.
    • BTU refers to British Thermal Units, which is a standard measure of energy capability. It’s not a direct equivalent of heat measure, but it correlates with how much gas you will be using.
      • Higher BTU capability usually means higher heat output. Our burners range from 60,000 to 400,000BTU.
        • For a reference, high end grill burners burn around 25,000 BTU, so 60,000 is quite a bit of heat as a starting point.
  2. Ignition Type
    • The second step to consider is how you want to ignite, or turn on, your gas fire pit each time you want to use it. There are (3) different ignition types:
      • Match Light - These are the most common, and most basic forms of ignition kits. This ignition system works by controlling the gas shut-off valve manually with a key, allowing gas to flow to your burner, and then lighting your burner manually with a match or a lighter. Upon shut-off, you would simply close the gas valve with the key to extinguish the flame.
        • Both of our FPS and MLFPK systems utilize match-lit ignition systems.
      • Spark Ignition - These systems ignite in the same fashion most gas grills do, utilizing a small push-button that sends a manual spark at the surface of your burner in order to ignite the gas.
        • Both of our FPK and FPPK systems utilize a push-button ignition system. For both, the gas shut-off valve will come already hard piped- you can view their specifications in their respective installation/operation instructions.
      • Electronic Ignition - The electronic (or Hot-Wire Ignition) systems are the top of the line ignition system; they feature the easiest control over your gas fire pit, allowing you to control it via light switch or remote control (sold separately).
        • The HWI units will come hard piped and assembled, featuring the burner shape and size you choose, with a matching pan configuration, and the assembly box (containing the ignition components) attached in a water-proof casing below the pan. Along with needing a connecting gas line, the HWI units will require an electrical outlet.
  3. Burner/Enclosure Shape and Size
    • The third step to consider is what shape and size you’d like for your burner, and ultimately your fire pit enclosure. There are a number of different shapes to choose from, and all of them (except only the linear burners with trough pans) will require a 6” difference between burner and pan/enclosure inner diameter.
      • Round - A common choice, round burners are great and fit with round pans. Sizes range from 6” to 48”
      • Penta - A new, unique shape, penta burners fit either round or square pans/enclosures and range from 12” to 36”
      • Square - Another common choice, square burners fit square pans and range from 12” to 24” and fit square pans
      • Rectangular - For rectangular fire pit enclosures, available from 12” - 24"
      • H-Shaped - For longer, more narrow rectangular fire pits, available from 18” to 48” and fit rectangular pans
      • Linear T-Burners - For narrow fire pits, linear burners range from 24” to 96” and fit trough type pans that do not need to be 6” larger.
        • The size and shape of your burner should help you determine the shape of your overall fire pit enclosure, or vice versa.
  4. Fire Pit Burner Pans
    • Fire pit burner pans sit directly below your burner, to provide support and proper placement for the components. As mentioned previously, a pan is a requirement when dealing with propane in order to properly allow the air mixer to combine with the propane. Natural gas on the other hand doesn’t necessarily require a burner pan. We do, however, highly recommend them and here’s why:
      • They provide support for your burner ring, ensuring that it is level and mounted at all times.
      • They drastically reduce the amount of fire pit media you’d need to use. Most often people would like to fill their fire pit with lava rock, rest their burner on the lava rock, and then finish with more lava rock or fire glass. That is an acceptable setup; however, that setup requires an awful lot of lava rock that ends up costing quite a bit. Also consider that lava rock will not last forever (fire glass will) and so you may end up spending more on that setup than just investing in a pan to begin with.
        • Also, consider that the lava rock setup is a pain to have if you ever need to maintenance your fire pit, you’d have to dig out all of the lava rock.
      • Pans also aid in water drainage in your fire pit. Because our pans feature weep holes, water drains easily through and away from your burner. Lava rock is porous and tends to hold onto water longer than a pan, so when your burner rests directly on the lava rock you risk compromising the durability.
  5. Enclosures
    • Fire pit enclosures are the structures that surround your burner and house the fire pit. They can be made from a number of non-combustible materials, based on your preference. Shape and size should hinge on your burner size and shape, or vice versa.
      • Specifications for the location of your enclosure are as follows:
        • Required, 36in2 total venting on the sides. Usually, 18in2 on two opposing sides.
        • 48” away from any overhead structure or combustible structure.
        • 12” away from combustible decking, if used
  6. Fire Pit Media
    • Fire pit media is required for all gas fire pits. Fire pit media helps hide your burner from plain sight, as well as protecting it from rain, debris, and other elements. Fire pit media includes:
      • Lava Rock - larger, natural looking rocks. Lava rock is durable, however, it will not always last forever; sometimes it will deteriorate over time. Also available are ceramic fiber river rocks that feature the natural rounded shape of river rocks.
      • Fire Glass - smaller, diamond-like crystals of tumbled glass that comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. Fire glass tends to run a little more expensive than lava rock; however, fire glass is guaranteed to last a lifetime.
      • Fire Logs - Custom designed ceramic fiber fire logs are specially designed to withstand the high heat of a gas fire pit, and will last virtually forever.
  7. Accessories
    • Gas fire pit accessories can include vinyl covers, hard burner covers, glass wind guards, and timers/remotes.
      • Vinyl Covers - Highly recommended, vinyl covers will protect your fire pit from rain, debris, and other elements while it is not in use; it can greatly increase the life of your fire pit.
      • Burner Covers - A bit more limited in choice, hard burner covers fit into the opening of your fire pit to only protect your burner, while allowing you to still admire your fire pit.
      • Glass Wind Guard - Tempered glass walls, constructed to protect your burner from wind, and keep young children away from the flames.
      • Timers and Remotes - These accessories provide extra functionality for your fire pit by allowing you extra control via shut-off timers or multi-purpose remotes.

Standard Fire Pit Installation Graphic

Fire Pits Direct Burner Assembly width=

Want further instruction? Check out HPC's Installation/Operation Instructions

 


 

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