So you have your fire pit and enjoy having the fire, but find it so much effort to make sure the wood is available and then lay the fire, keep it alight and clean up afterwards. It sounds like you are ready to consider an outdoor fireplace kit to convert you fire pit to an outdoor gas fire pit. There are kits available to do this, and you can employ a professional to do the job for you. Gas fire pits look exactly like traditional wooden fuelled ones. If you were to buy a new fire pit you may well have the option to choose gas or propane along with the choice of surround material and color!
First of all you need a burner to fit into your fire pit. Measure the size of your pit and allow some room around the edge for safety. Now depending on how big your pit is you may have to decide how many rings you need for your new gas powered pit. Most 12inch rings are single, whereas a 48″ ring will probably have 4 rings. What this means is that as the flames come off the rings so more rings gives a larger pit more flames and a more even fire effect. Square and rectangular burners can also be found, if you cannot find the appropriate size then find a manufacturer who will custom make one for you.
Burners can be black or stainless steel, stainless steel may well last longer, but be more likely to be visible. The choice is really dependent upon the style of your fire pit. Try to find a supplier who manufactures quality burners with pre drilled holes rather than punched holes. Other quality issues can occur with welding and the placement and fitting of the gas hoses to the burner. The quality of your burner will affect the overall effect of the gas fire pit, so it is worth going for quality over price.
Manual or electronic ignition systems- Electronic ignition systems are by far the easiest way to get your fire pit going. Systems are available for using remotes to start your fire! Although if you prefer good old matches you can install manual systems too.
The burners should be placed between 4 and 8 “from the surface of the pit and always on a flat surface (this is especially critical for propane installations) – you can buy a burner pan to suit your pit for this purpose. You can also use concrete, earth, sand, metal, stones, rocks, bricks or any non combustible materials The holes through which the gas escapes can be placed facing up or down, although it is strongly suggested that if you are using a propane fire pit you place the holes down to make it easier to light the burners and have an enclosed metal burner pan. The space around the burners should be filled with a non combustible material such as glass, lava rock, ceramic or stone, log effect sets or a combination covering the burners by about 1″ but more in the center. The material can be moved around over the burners to create the flame effect you prefer using a suitable fireplace poker.
The material you choose to use around your burner will change the overall effect of your gas fire pit. For a traditional look you can choose log effects or lava rock. For a modern effect you can opt for glass. The glass is available in a large selection of colors and as well as sizes of glass pieces. You can choose to mix a few colors together or you could be creative and arrange your glass colors in a pattern – maybe your house number of initials or even a character! The amount of glass you need will depend upon the size of your pit but as a guide to fill to a depth of 1″ a 24″ tray would need around 80lbs of glass. An option to save money would be to use glass on the very top, and use cheaper lava rock or stones around the burner. This has the added advantage of allowing more air to get to your burner and give you a better flame. Fire pit glass needs to be specially made for fireplaces as regular glass will just blacken. One of the advantages of glass is that it is easily cleaned- just take it out and wash it for a gleaming fireplace.
Having an outdoor fire pit without having to do any work sounds so appealing, just make sure that a qualified gas professional does the installation. You can decide what to have and have great fun arranging your glass or lava rock and look forward to many hours enjoying your gas fire pit without having to work up to it first!