Frequently Asked Questions for Contractors

If you're a landscaper, gas plumber or other tradesperson working with a customer on a fire feature installation, you're likely to field a lot of questions. Below, we've collected a list of common questions for your reference, as well as answers and resources to help guide your client through the process. Making the install process as smooth as possible will ensure you get repeat business and recommendations in the future. If your customer is still in the early stages of the process, our Fire Pit Buying Guide is a great starting point for them.

How much heat will this fire pit create?

It varies greatly, as gas fire pits are technically decorative appliances. How much heat you feel will depend on the wind and how close you are to the fire pit. The heat comes from the flame itself instead of radiating from hot coals like with a wood fire. Some large fire pit kits are rated for up to 400,000 BTUs and put out a great deal of flame and heat, but more commonly gas fire pits range from the 50,000 - 125,000 BTU range. While the BTU ratings display the potential for heat output, warmth will still be relative.

Are gas fire pits safe?

The short answer to this question is: 'Yes'. However, this is an important question and needs a longer answer than we can fit in this FAQ section, so we have a full post just on this topic. Ensuring that your customers feel confident and secure in their choice of fire feature is key to success.

Should I use natural gas or propane?

Natural gas is safer and more convenient in the long run, if available in your area. Some refer to this as city gas. Where natural gas isn't available, many homes are running on large propane tanks which work equally well. If using a smaller portable BBQ tank, you will be limited on the size of the fire pit or kit it can support (approximately 100,000 BTU's max and the tank will last about 4 hours). Both natural gas and propane will produce great flame performance, but if possible we recommend using natural gas as it is safer (due to the weight of propane), burns cleaner, and you won't have to worry about refilling a tank.

Which fuel type is less expensive?

It varies by region, but overall the costs of burning each fuel type are rather similar. Choose whichever is easier to access and suits your needs. For larger fire pits that cannot be used with a portable propane tank, consider the costs of running a gas line to the fire pit location as well.

Do we need to use fire brick?

While it certainly won't hurt, fire brick or metal liners are not needed with gas fire pits. The heat rises into the air quickly and poses much less risk of damage or cracking to the inside of the fire pit. 

Can we put the fire pit inside a pergola or in a three-season room?

Usually, yes! However, be sure to check the fire pit manual where they specify the clearance to surrounding structures and how many sides need to be open for airflow. We've got an in-depth guide to installation to help your customers understand their options.

Should I use lava rock or fire glass?

Unless it's otherwise stated in a product's manual, this is entirely up to the customer. This is normally a purely aesthetic preference. Lava rock is more economical but fire glass can give you a cleaner and more contemporary look. If using artificial logs, use lava rock as a base underneath. Just make sure the burner is completely covered by a thin layer of glass or rock, and if you're using propane and fire glass, you must use at least half-inch thick glass so the gas can rise.

How big will the flames be?

The average will be about 12 to 24 inches, but some larger kits can put out 30-inch tall flames with the proper gas supply.

Do I need to buy a cover?

It is always recommended to cover the fire pit when not in use, and some warranties will require it. The components are made to withstand the elements, but it can be costly if water gets inside the burner and gas line. It also helps keep the fire pit clean from leaves and other debris. If your client is in need of a primer on fire feature maintenance, feel free to point them toward our preseason and end-of-season checklists.

How long will these components last?

It depends. A residential fire pit in the Midwest may last longer than one in a salt air environment or at a hotel that is used constantly. Components made from stainless steel or brass will oftentimes have very long or lifetime warranties. Working parts like electronic igniters, valves and flame sensors are normally warrantied anywhere from one to three years but can last much longer depending on the environment, maintenance and usage. You can point your customer toward our post on the longevity of fire pits if they are in need of more info.

Which ignition system is best?

  • Match light fire features are dependable and economical, but not always allowed by local code and have no flame-sensing feature.
  • Spark ignitions are battery powered and provide the convenience of not needing a manual lighter; however, these don't often last outside very long.
  • Electronic systems are commercial grade, require power and can be controlled via a switch, timer, remote or app, making them the best choice of ignition if budget is no concern.

Do electronic fire pits have a lot of issues?

High-quality electronic fire pits are now very reliable, though they do require periodic maintenance and service simply because there are more working parts. 

How do I control an electronic fire pit? Can I use home or pool automation?

Most turn on or off based on whether or not they are getting power. Because of this, there are many options to control it and automation can almost always be used if desired. Many fire feature manufacturers have custom apps for easy control.

Can I roast marshmallows?

Though not a cooking appliance, gas fire pits can be used to roast marshmallows or hot dogs. You will notice a difference in taste, as roasting via gas can have a more unnatural flavor than wood. But be sure to clean up any drippings that fall in and be careful so as to not clog the burner ports.

Can I control the height of the flame?

Nearly all fire pits have a gas valve that is adjustable, but they can only be turned down slightly in order to have a strong enough flame to stand up to wind and keep the flame sensor hot (if equipped).

Other Fire Pit Questions

If you or your customer have questions that we haven't addressed here, our product expert team is available to offer their assistance. You can contact us by phone Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time or via email. We're ready and waiting to help you with your next project.