Fire Bowl Buyer's Guide
- Round fire bowl on a backyard deck
Fire bowls are a quick and easy way to bring atmosphere and warmth to your outdoor spaces. The fire itself creates a focal point to gather around and the bowl structure will look nice even when it is not in use.
Another bonus? No assembly required.
Pre-assembled fire pits, like fire bowls, are easy to set up and start enjoying. They're also made from durable materials and come in a range of styles.
What is a Fire Bowl?
A fire bowl is similar to a fire pit, but it often comes preassembled and sits off the ground on a pedestal. The bowl itself can be metal or concrete and comes in many shapes (including square). Many models come with gas fuel options for ease of use.
- Round firebowl
You will find a variety of sizes ranging typically from 20 to 50 inches wide. Available shapes include round, square, rectangular, or urn-shaped. In general, gas models have more configurations and customizable options.
This includes different burner shapes (H-burner, S-burner, Penta-burner, and Trough-burner). The burner shape determines the flame pattern for a gas-fueled fire bowl. You can also decorate gas models with glass media, lava rocks, fire stones, and glass logs.
- Propane tank enclosure
Larger models offer built-in storage for a propane tank if using propane fuel. Propane and wood-burning models tend to be more portable since they do not need to connect to a gas line.
Some of the models even incorporate a water feature for a dramatic display. Many of these are meant to complement an outdoor pool. (The water passes through the fire bowl and sprays or flows into the pool like a fountain.)
Wood burning models operate as a basic fire pit and are easy to care for. Some wood-burning models include the option of converting to propane or natural gas. But note, gas models are not backward convertible to burn wood in the same way.
Fire Bowl Materials
It's probably obvious that fire bowls are made from heavy-duty materials. They are, after all, built to hold fire. Some of the options include steel, cast iron, textured concrete, and something called Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete or GFRC. The GFRC has the flame-resistant qualities of concrete but looks like natural stone.
- Endless Summer Propane Fire Column
GFRC comes in a range of colors, but even the metal options come with strikingly artistic finishes like this Ohio Flame Fire Chalice.
When To Consider a Fire Bowl?
Fire bowls are an excellent solution if you would like to enjoy a fire pit without having to build one yourself. You can also choose the style and size to suit the space that you have. It's also a quick way to add multiple fire features to enliven a pool area or large outdoor space.
Is a fire bowl right for you? Here are some advantages:
- Fully assembled
- Made from heavy-duty materials
- Designed to allow for water drainage
- Has built-in storage space option for propane tank
- Both wood-burning and gas-burning models available
- Advanced control options including BlueTooth or remotes for some gas models
There are also some possible disadvantages to consider:
- Limited heat output if used in larger spaces
- More expensive than a standard DIY fire pit
- Can only customize with decorative media accessories
What Styles Are There?
Whether your style is traditional or modern, rustic or whimsical, there is a fire bowl that matches your unique vibe. The gas-burning models tend to have more available styles, but even the basic wood-burning models have a nice selection to choose from.
Wood-Burning Fire Bowls
- Wood fire bowl
If you're looking for a wood-burning fire bowl, you could opt for this classic cast iron fire pit. Or if you want to show off some artistic flair, you could go with this eye-catching fire flower model.
You even have the option of a fire globe instead of the bowl shapes that are open on top. The globe does a better job of shielding the fire from wind or rain and helps keep sparks at bay.
Gas-Burning Fire Bowls
These models combine the ease of a gas-fueled fire with a wide range of styles. Classic styles include models like this simple round design or this small angled bowl. Many of these options also come in different colors.
An oil-rubbed hammered finish gives a beautiful look to this round fire bowl with a stainless steel gas burner. A similar finish is also available for this rectangular fire pit.
- Bobe Water and Fire Square Bowl
And if you want to get really fancy, you can add water. Models like this Mesa Series Fire and Water Bowl turn your fire pit into a water feature. Perfect for a pool, the combination of the fire and running water takes the drama up a notch.
Gas-Burning Fire Urns
Looking for something taller and more narrow than a typical fire bowl? This American Fyre Urn uses either propane or natural gas and has room in the bottom to conceal a propane tank.
- American Fyre Designs Fire Urns
You can elevate the flames with this 58-inch high model featuring a lovely urn and pedestal. And if you want something smaller, here is an elegant Amphora gas urn.
Gas burning fire bowls have three main types of ignition systems. Manual ignition is the most basic but must be lit by hand each time. Push-button ignition uses a pilot valve to ignite the flames when the button is pushed. Electronic ignition is the largest category and has different characteristics depending on the brand.
As the name implies, this burner system does not have an ignition aid and must be lit manually. It is by far the most simple and reliable, consisting of a fuel feed line, the main burner, and a valve to allow flow to the burner.
The system is lit using a match or lighter and requires the use of specified media. Usually, a combination of fire glass and/or lava rock is used as a base. While the system is reliable and easy to use, there are some drawbacks.
For example, it is more dangerous if the gas is accidentally left on since the gas can escape without being lit by a pilot flame. It also cannot be linked to a handheld remote control (although you can integrate timers to control the shutoff.)
Manual ignition gas fire pits are also not allowed in some areas due to regulations or codes.
- Mocha American Fyre Designs Match-Lit and Push-Button Ignition Systems
Push Button Ignition
A step up from manual ignition, this type of fire pit uses a spark ignitor or glow lighter for ignition. The system typically works by using a safety pilot valve. The user first pushes in the control button to start sparking the ignitor or heating the glow element. Then, the control valve can be turned on to light the gas.
While more costly than manual ignition systems, the price differences are reasonable and many consumers will prefer this type of system for the added safety aspects.
- Emergency stop key for gas fire pits
As mentioned before, the characteristics of electronic ignition systems vary by brand. The basic premise is that the system builds on the automation of the push-button ignition system by adding a fully electronic gas valve and ignitor.
Depending on the brand and model, the ignitor may be a spark type, hot wire, or hot surface ignition. The valve will have a control board that controls the operation of the ignitor and detects the presence of heat once the burner has lit.
Because they are more sophisticated, this type of burner is the most expensive. The big advantage of this type of system is the control options. Many systems offer on/off or flame control remotes, control via a wall switch, and even control via an app from a smart device or integration into home automation systems.
- Warming Trends Brass Fire Pit Burner
Buying a fire bowl with a quality burner is essential if you want your gas burning fire bowl to last a long time. Obviously, the burner comes into direct contact with the flames, so you want something that stands up to high temperatures over and over. Steel and brass are common materials to ensure longevity.
Black steel is unpainted mild steel that has not been galvanized. (Galvanized steel is not ideal for high heat.) Mild steel burners are most common for basic match-lit ring burners and T burners. They are low cost, but they don't last as long as the other materials mentioned below. If you cover the burner when it is not in use, you could expect it to last up to a decade. Uncovered and exposed to the elements, it may only last 2-3 years. However, most fire bowls are manufactured from commercial-grade stainless steel.
Stainless steel comes in various grades such as 430, 304, 316. Stainless steel is the most common material used in the construction of fire bowls. Although more costly than mild steel available for some, longevity is doubled or even tripled. This is especially true if you keep it covered when not in use.
Brass burners are a premium product. This material offers both superior heat resistance and corrosion resistance over stainless steel. This is because brass does not rely on the naturally occurring surface-only finish of stainless steel.
Unlike stainless steel, if the surface of the brass is marred, it does not affect the longevity of the product. While very durable, brass tends to be the most costly burner material of all.
Are you ready to start shopping? Here is a list of some of our top recommended manufacturers. These companies are known for their quality and value. You will find a range of styles for both wood-burning and gas-burning fire bowls.
- Firegear specializes in outdoor fire features. They've been in business for over 15 years and combine quality products with excellent customer support.
- Bobe (pronounced BOW-BAY) is dedicated to fire and water features. Whether you just want a fire or are hoping to combine fire and water, Bobe is the place to find beautiful focal points.
- American Fyre Designs is also well known for its outdoor fire models. Many of their fire pits and urns are constructed from GFRC which provides durability with a variety of finishes.
- Hearth Products Control offers many options for backyard fire designs. They sell full fire bowl kits as well as gas inserts and fire and water features.
- Prism Hardscapes specializes in handcrafted products and a custom patina-finishing process. Their fire bowls come in several shapes and each model comes in multiple color options.
- Installing propane tank for firebowl
One of the advantages of fire bowls is a straightforward and simple installation. However, if you are installing a gas-burning model, you may need to do some extra planning to allow for the installation of a natural gas line. Hire a professional to install any necessary gas lines.
If you plan to hook up to an old gas line, we recommend having it professionally inspected before use to make sure everything is working safely.
Propane models typically come with some sort of housing for the tank. It is wise to use an appropriate protective enclosure for the propane tank to prevent overheating.
Care and Maintenance
- Vinyl firebowl cover
The best step you can take in extending the life of your fire bowl is to get a protective cover. These are available in both rigid or vinyl styles and help keep moisture and debris from corroding or damaging your fire bowl. Keep the bowl clean from debris when not in use.
If you have a gas-burning model, regularly inspect the gas line for loose connections. Replace any faulty components like the knobs or gas valves promptly.
Most fire bowls come preassembled and are large enough that they will ship via freight. Typically the shipping company will contact you to schedule a date and time for delivery. You will need at least two people to receive the package. Make sure you inspect the entire delivery before signing off on the shipment.
If you do notice any damage or missing parts, contact the manufacturer immediately and they will instruct you on how to proceed with replacements.
- Prism Hardscapes Firebowl
If you're excited about creating a gathering spot in your outdoor space, a fire bowl is an excellent choice. They are beautiful, durable, and easy to install. And the many styles and fuel options mean you can find something that fits your aesthetic and your budget.
If you have any questions about fire bowls or other outdoor fire features, reach out to us! Our NFI Certified Specialists are happy to help!
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Fire Bowls Q&A with the NFI Certified Specialists* Please Note: All customer questions are answered by our NFI Certified Specialists free of charge!
from Frederick, MD asked:
April 11, 2020
I have a wrought iron fire pit that has a bowl that is removable, approximately 22 inches wide, that is rusting out. I need a replacement bowl.
Unfortunately, we do not carry any replacement bowls this size. The best option would be to call the manufacturer directly.
on April 13, 2020