A Complete Guide to Building Your Perfect Gas Fire Pit
Summer is coming right around the corner and one of the best hangout spots might be your backyard. A DIY gas fire pit is a simple and easy way to prepare for those fun summer nights filled with s'mores, love, and laughter. We understand that preparing for your at-home hangouts can be stressful. Why wait until all your planning is organized when you can start preparing now? One of the biggest difference between a gas fire pit and a traditional wood fire pit is that you’re not burning wood. It’s much more affordable when you’re burning about $3 an hour compared to using a gas tank that lasts 15 hours for $20. Building something for the first time can be daunting. There’s so many areas to consider when you’re trying to build a fire pit.
Here’s an easy checklist for you to have while you’re looking for the perfect fire pit to have in your backyard. It’s everything you’ll need to build that perfect at-home fire pit. you can easily print out and check off the list as you go. The great part about building a gas fire pit is the wide selection you can choose from. You can customize the perfect fire pit for your home.
Before you begin:
- Check your homeowner’s association in your city to ensure fire pits are permitted in your neighborhood
- Find a spot with an open area away any trees and fire hazards
- Place a flag on the spot for a couple of days to test the wind direction to make sure it is away from any potential fire hazards
- Decide what type of gas fuel you would like to supply your gas fire pit. There are two types of fuel you can use:
Natural Gas: Natural gas is the most common fuel people use their fire pit. This is the best option if you already have natural gas in your home. All you would need to do is have your gas fitter come in and attach a line from the house to the fire pit. Your gas fitter can easily check and make sure that the supply pressure is right for your fire pit. Not sure if your gas plumber knows what he’s doing? Ask him what the W.C. is. Not sure what it is? It’s pretty much the amount of pressure that is being utilized to distribute gas. The supply pressure for this has to be minimum of 3.5” W.C. and maximum 7.0” W.C.
Propane: Liquid propane is another option you can use to supply your gas fire pit. You can buy a 20 Lb propane tank that you generally use in your gas grills. It’s also possible that you’re using a large propane tank that supplies your home. You may want to take a look at your gas source to see if you’re either using a natural gas supply or a propane tank. If you’re using a propane tank, don’t forget to include an air mixer in your burner set up. Propane has to mix with air so that your fire pit can burn fuel efficiently. The supply pressure should ideally be a minimum 8.0” W.C. and a maximum of 11.0” W.C.
If you’d like to use a 20 Lb. propane tank, the largest burner ring size you can use is 18 inches. Any ring larger 18 inches would need much more gas supply. You would need a larger propane tank or natural gas supply. You will also need a regulator hose for your propane tank if it connects with the gas shut off valve. A regulator hose pretty much controls the flow of your propane. People generally also use it for their gas grill.
- Choose what type of ignition you’d like to use to turn on your fire pit. There are 3 different types of ways you can turn on your fire pit:
Match Lit Ignition System: Ever turn on your kitchen stove and there was no fire? You’d turn on your stove only to smell gas fumes until you’ve lit the stove with a lighter. It’s the same exact thing when you have a gas fire pit. This is the most common ignition system you can use. All you need to do is use a key to turn on the fire pit. It’ll manually allow gas to flow in your burner. Then you’d light a match or use a lighter to ignite a flame.
Push Button Ignition: This is much easier than a match lit system. All you have to do is push a button. Simple as that. Push button that manually sparks your burner to ignite the gas.
Electronic Ignition (HWI) - Electronic systems are much more advanced than just lighting the flame. An electronic ignition gives you much more control over your fire pit. You can use a light switch or a remote control to turn on the gas fire pit.
- Pick what shape and size you want your burner to be. Picking the right shape and size of your burner really involves how big or small you want your gas fire pit to be. We recommend measuring approximately how big you’d like your gas fire pit using a measuring tape. You might want to consider buying chairs first so you have an idea of how much space you’ll need to set your patio. All the shapes will need a 6 inch difference between the burner and pan/enclosure inner diameter. This doesn’t include linear burners. There are a number of different shapes and sizes. Feel free to take a look at the options below:
Round: fits with round pans. Sizes fran from 6” to 48” inches
Penta: fits round or square pans. Ranges from 12” to 36” inches
Square: fits square pans. Range from 12” to 24” inches
Rectangular: Fits rectangular pans. Ranges from 12” to 24” inches
H-Shape: Fits great for longer narrow rectangular fire pits. Ranges from 12” to 24” inches
Linear T-Shape: Fits 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.
- Provide support for your burner with a burner pan. A pan sits right below your burner. You need a pan when you're dealing with propane so that the air mixer properly combines with the propane. A burner pan gives your burner ring the right support it needs to keep the ring mounted and leveled. It also reduces the amount of fire pit media you’d need to use. Some people like to fill their burner ring with lava rock and then finish with more lava rock or fire glass. You are free to do this, but it does cost more money when you have to buy more rocks. Buying lava rock can get quite expensive. Why buy fire glass when you can buy a burner pan? It also can be a hassle to dig out all the lava rock if you wanted to fix something. Imagine dropping something in between those rocks and you have to dig to find it. Pans also help drain water in your fire pit. Lava rocks are porous and tends to hold water longer in the pan, which can cause molding and durability.
- Find a compatible fire pit enclosure structure that surrounds your burner. Choosing an enclosure is based on the shape and size of your burner. Your burner manual should tell you why type of enclosure you’ll need for your enclosure. You need venting on both sides so it’s required to have the structure be 48 inches away from any overhead structure or combustible structure. 12 inches away from combustible decking, if use.
- Choosing a Fire Pit Media. This is personally one of our favorite parts in building a fire pit. Fire pit media hides your burner from plain sight and protects it from rain, debris, and other elements. There are three types of medias you can use: lava rock, fire glass, and fire logs.
Lava Rocks: Lava rocks are very porous and don’t really hold very much heat. They hold water when wet and must be dried before use. They also break down over time.
Fire Glass: Fire glass will last a lifetime. It’s generally a little more expensive and comes in a variety of sizes. Fire glass can hold and radiate heat even after the fire is turned off.
Fire Logs: Ceramic fire logs are designed to withstand the heat of a gas fire pit. It lasts virtually forever.
- Consider buying some additional accessories. These added accessories will help protect your burner from wear and tear. Take a look at some of the accessories we suggested:
Vinyl Covers: Protect your fire from rain, debris, and other elements when you’re not using the fire pit; it can greatly increase the life of your fire pit.
Burner Covers: Fits into the opening of your fire pit to protect your burner, while allowing you to still see the fire pit.
Glass Wind Guards: Tempered glass walls are made to protect your burner from the wind and keep your children away from the flames
Timers and Remotes: These accessories make it much more convenient for you to control your fire pit via shut-off timers or multi-purpose remotes
We understand that putting all of the components to putting your fire pit together can get confusing. With the large amount of options to choose from, it we hope that this buyer’s guide will make your life a little easier.