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Fire Features FAQs

by N. Miller March 06, 2018 9 min read

Fire Features FAQs

Fire pits tables are increasing becoming a necessary component of every backyard.  Fire features come is all kinds of styles and sizes. Here we have complied answers to some of the most frequently asked questions when researching for a Fire feature. If you have have a questions not answered here, please feel free to call us at 1 (855)-523-7077

 

Table of Contents

 

What are the different types of ignition systems?

  • Match-Lit – Striking a match or electronic handheld lighter and placing that near the burner while slowly turning on the gas valve.
  • CSA Match-Lit – CSA is a commercial certification that is sometimes required for use of a fire feature in a commercial location but can also be used residentially.
  • Push-Button (or Spark) Ignition – Push and hold a button which generates a spark while turning on the gas to light the pilot flame.
  • AWEIS (All Weather Electronic Ignition System) – This ignition system is wired for use with a switch or remote and includes a safety feature that shuts off gas flow when no flame is detected. The ignition system can be used in all types of weather and will keep the feature lit or automatically relite if blown out.  An electronic connection is required to run the unit.
  • CSA On/Off – Same as the AWEIS system but carries a CSA certification for industrial use but can also be used for residential. An electronic connection is required to run the unit.
  • CSA High/Low– Same as the CSA On/Off system but includes the control of flame height via remote. The remote-control system is certified for industrial use but can also be used for residential.

What are the options for Turning Fire Features On/Off ?

Here is a list of the possible devices that can be used to turn Automated Fire Features On and Off:

  • On/Off Switch – a simple wall switch that controls High Voltage (120VAC or Higher) Power going to the transformer or power supply which supplies Low Voltage Power to the fire feature.
  • Timer – Mechanical (Wind-Up) or Digital Timer is used that controls High Voltage Power going to the transformer or power supply which supplies Low Voltage Power to the fire feature.
  • Emergency Stop Switch – Emergency Stop Switches are generally used during emergencies. They are meant to be used as a Secondary method for turning the fire feature on/ off.
  • Remote Control (RC Kit) – There is a remote control kit available which is mounted in a weatherproof junction box and comes with two handheld remotes. When you buy the remote control it is configured to your specifications.
  • Smartphone / Tablet – Smart Phone Remote Control is available which looks similar to the RC Kit but it does not come with handheld remote controls as the controls are configured in your Smartphone or tablet and it functions using your Wi-Fi network.
  • Swimming Pool Controller – You can turn on/ off your fire feature with the help of a pool controller. Talk to your Swimming Pool Contractor about this option for more information.

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What is a BTU?

  • A BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. It is the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one-degree Fahrenheit at a specific temperature. Fire features can be compared by the amount of potential heat output.

 

What is COR-TEN Steel?

  • COR-TEN steel is a high strength steel that is highly resistant to weathering. The term COR-TEN has been trademarked for use to generalize weathered steel.  The steel is used in architecture and sculptures.  The weathering properties gives it a unique look and eliminates the need to paint the structure.  The steel will gradually turn orange to black in color over an extended period.  The coloring can be stopped by placing a clear coat of paint over it.  It is not advisable to touch the steel as it will have a thin rust layer and can transfer the color causing a stain.  The steel can discolor concrete but can be power washed away. 

 

Comparison of Natural Gas vs. Liquid Propane

  • Natural Gas PROs
    • Costs less
    • Lighter than air and dissipates into the air after burning.
    • If your house/ business uses natural gas, then you can directly connect it to your fire feature.
  • Natural Gas CONs
    • It must be hard piped to your fire feature through an underground service line.
    • Natural gas is not available in every area.
  • Liquid Propane PROs
    • Liquid propane contains more carbon dioxide than natural gas and burns hotter.
    • Liquid propane can be used independently of natural gas lines or appliances.
    • It can be used in areas where natural gas is not available.
  • Liquid Propane CONs
    • Liquid propane is usually more expensive than natural gas.
    • It requires refilling of a small portable tank from a local source or contracting with a propane company to refill larger permanent tanks.

 

What do I need to use propane for my gas fire feature?

  • You will need an air mixer and a burner pan if you want to use propane for the fire feature. Your propane line will also need a regulator.  An air mixer is necessary to blend propane with ambient air to create a clean, efficient fuel.  The burner pan is necessary to ensure the proper amount of spacing for your air mixer to gather air to mix with the propane, allowing proper burning.  The burner pan is also designed to prevent fuel from settling below the pan and burner causing an accidental explosion or flare up. 

Do gas fire features produce more heat than wood burning fire features?

  • Wood burning fire features generate more heat than natural gas, but they are close. There are a lot of advantages of burning natural gas or propane over using wood.  If your house is equipped with natural gas you can add a feed to your feature and reduce the cost of purchasing or locating firewood.  Natural gas burns clean and does not generate ash or burnt odors.  Gas fire features do not produce sparks/ embers which lead to wildfires.

 

Does a larger fire ring mean taller flame height?

  • The short answer is no. Using a larger fire ring creates more area of flame. The height of the flame is dependent on the amount of gas being supplied to the burner.  If the gas pressure being supplied to the burner does not measure up to the BTU requirements, then the flame will spread across the burner but reduce in height.

 

Can I fill my fire feature with pea-gravel?

  • Pea-gravel can be used only for natural gas applications. Pea-gravel is not recommended but if its applied in the same manner as lava rock then it could suffice. The media used to fil the fire feature should not be porous as to not absorb water.

 

Can you place a fire pit on a deck?

  • You should NOT put a wood burning fire pit on a deck. Wood burns at a higher temperature than gas and give off embers.  These embers can catch their surroundings on fire.  The heat can also burn or ignite the deck depending on the construction materials.  Propane burns at a lower temperature and is cleaner but can still create thermal damage to the deck surface.  If it is legal to place a fire feature on your deck, there are fire mats that can be placed under the fire feature to help protect the deck surface.  Pavers can also provide a thermal barrier to protect the deck surface but can get burn marks on them. 

 

 

Can I use a spark lighter to light my fire feature?

  • The best practice for using a handheld lighter is to ignite the lighter first. Bring the lit flame to the burners and slowly turn on the gas until lit.  Stand back and slowly increase the gas flow until the desired size of the flame is obtained.  Propane is lighter than air and can create a cloud of gas if the valve is turned on before introducing a spark/flame.  The cloud can then flare up and cause flash burns if you are not careful.

 

Do you sell propane tanks?

  • We do not sell propane or natural gas tanks. We recommend you sourcing a local supplier.

 

Why does my propane fire die down after some use?

  • The propane reaction from liquid to gaseous form at the regulator is very cold. As the gas reaction occurs the tank begins to get very cold and the tank begins to sweat. The sweat can turn to ice.  As the tank cools down and freezes up this can halt the chemical reaction from occurring and the flames will become smaller and smaller.  Some Solutions for preventing your propane tank from freezing are to place the tank into a large plastic tub filled with water to cover approximately 1/3 of the tank.  The water will help insulate the tank and prevent it from freezing.  Although the water will become very cold it will not allow the tank to freeze.  Refreshing the water after a couple of hours can also bring new life to the feature. 
    Another idea is to us a UL rated electric blanket.  If you wrap a blanket around the tank you can avoid the need for a water tub.  If an electric blanket is used it should have a cotton cover or sheet placed between the tank and the blanket in case any ice does form.

 

How much media do you need for your fire feature?

  • With proper gas pressure you should only need enough media to cover the burner by one inch. The placement of the media can vary per burner so you will need to check the products owner manual for correct depth and volume to use. 

 

What is Fire Glass?

  • About Fire Glass:Fire glass is made of color infused tempered glass. Tempering is the process of strengthening material by repeatedly heating and then quickly quenching.  The process created compression on the surface and tension on the interior resulting in multiple times the normal strength of the material.
    Fire glass is tumbled to polish and smooth out rough edges.  Its designed for high-heat applications and will not discolor, melt, burn or produce toxic fumes, ash or smoke when used properly.
    Fire glass creates more heat than lava rocks or glass logs and the reflective nature of the glass helps radiate 3-4 times more heat.

 

What are the types of Fire Glass?

  • Accent Fire Glass:This is made up of smaller, non-uniform pieces of glass that are chipped off large glass bricks. The pieces are then tumbled to smooth rough edges and polish the glass.  The glass comes in a variety of colors to give you the personal touch.
  • Reflective Fire Glass:This glass features a more mirrored finish on one side giving more texture to the color of glass selected.
  • Smooth Fire Glass:This glass features smaller, irregular pieces that are tumbled and polished to resemble jellybeans or marbles. The coloring is consistent with a slightly translucent finish.

 

What are Lava Rocks?

  • About Lava Rock: Lava rock is an organic material formed from volcanic magma. As the magma cools down gases escape the surface creating the porous look.  Lava rock is guaranteed to be safe for use in your fire features due to its volcanic origin.  The rock is maintenance free and can withstand extreme temperatures.  Lava rock can vary in color and composition due to how its formed so if you are looking for uniformity along your fire features it is wise to purchase a batch in bulk so you can replenish the material with the like.
  • Placement: For safety reasons you should always handle lava rock with gloves. Lava rock are irregular in shape and often have sharp edges that can easily cut yourself. 
    Check with the owner’s manual before you place lava rock in your fire feature.   The first step to place the lava rock is to pour the material onto the ground.  This will allow dust and small pieces to fall out of the pile.  Pick up the pieces separately to avoid clogging the burners with rock dust and broken pieces and place a layer of rock approximately one inch above the burners or as the owner’s manual instructs.  Start with the smaller pieces at the bottom of the pan and finish with larger dramatic pieces at the top.
  • Wet Lava Rock:Lava rock is porous and can trap water. Turning the fire feature on with wet rocks can cause the water to boil and potentially pop or burst.  The best way to handle wet lava rocks is to start your fire on a low setting for 15-30 minutes to allow the water to slowly burn off.  Once the water has evaporated and there is no longer any sizzling or signs of water then you may slowly increase the flame to the desired setting.

 

 

 



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