Fire Pit Table Buyer's Guide
- Firegear nicolock fire pit
It's time to spice up your patio furniture, and what could be better than adding fire? A table with fire in the middle is no longer reserved only for high-end restaurants or luxury courtyards. With a wide selection of styles available, you can bring the ambiance to your own backyard.
Fire pit tables (also known as fire tables, tabletop fire pits, and patio fire tables) are a great way to save space and add a striking focal point. We'll go over some common questions and the options available. You will also find brand recommendations and maintenance tips.
What is a Fire Pit Table?
- Firegear Key West Bistro Fire Table
A fire pit table is a combination of a fire pit and an outdoor dining table. You get the best of both worlds - patio furniture with fire! The tables come in a variety of styles and materials. The fire feature is often in the center of the table and the base may include an enclosure to conceal a fuel tank for propane models.
The tables come in different shapes and heights to suit your outdoor dining space. Some are made to accommodate chairs at sit-down dining height. Others are standing bar height. Regardless of height, all fire tables provide a significant surface area to allow drinks or plates to rest.
The tabletops are a work of art and come in many different materials. A common option is glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC). GFRC can be finished in many different colors and can also mimic the look of natural stone or reclaimed wood. Other tabletop materials include aluminum, tile, and glass.
Firepit tables can burn wood, natural gas, or propane gas for fuel. The ignition options include match lit, push button, and electronic ignition. We'll cover ignition and fuel systems in more detail in the following section.
Pros and Cons of Fire Tables
The table top fire pit is becoming increasingly popular in outdoor spaces. Their aesthetic appeal is obvious. They are beautiful, striking, and instantly enhance the atmosphere of your gathering. They do have some drawbacks, however, including the fact that they are more expensive than standard fire pits.
On the positive side, they are great for entertaining since they combine a fire pit and a table into one piece. They are available in a wide range of styles and finishes that allow you to craft a more custom look. Unlike traditional fire pits, they can be installed on a combustible surface like a deck and provide a closer view of the flames. Also, the gas model, often called a propane fire pit table or a propane fire table, typically has a built-in storage component to conceal a propane fuel tank or gas line.
Because the flames are at table height and burners designed with closer proximity to food items, these units are limited in the amount of heat they produce. It is typical to see gas fire pit tables limited to approximately 65K BTUs maximum. They also require lower flame heights for the same safety reasons. Although there are safety features built-in, the tables may not be ideal for homes with small children, especially if they are left unattended. Cast stone or GFRC models of fire tables are designed to have a semi-permanent installation because of their weight. Stamped steel or aluminum tables are light enough that two people can move them with ease. These models are also the varieties that usually offer propane cylinder storage, making them truly portable.
If you're ready for a statement piece for your backyard, a fire table is an excellent investment. This is especially true if you enjoy the atmosphere a fire gives but want something more elegant and less time-consuming. Fire tables are very easy to operate and convenient to maintain.
Is a Fire Pit Table Safe?
- Napoleon Kensington Square Patioflame fire pit table
One of the first questions that come to mind is the issue of safety. Like all fire features, there are some risks, but there are several safety features and accessories that provide an extra layer of protection. Fire tables are often considered safer than wood-burning fire pits. However, there are some guidelines you should follow to minimize any risk of burns.
Most models require a gas shut-off valve during installation. Accessories like an emergency stop valve allow you to instantly shut off multiple gas fire appliances with the push of a button. Gas supply timers automatically shut down the fire feature at preset intervals. Many models also offer glass wind guards that help keep the flames from blowing too much in the wind and overheating the table surface.
In addition to the safety features, here are some important safety tips to follow when using the fire table:
- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper clearances.
- Never leave a fire pit table unattended.
- Supervise children when they are near a fire table in operation.
- Refrain from sitting on the table or leaving flammable material unattended.
- Use caution when operating since the tabletop may get hot.
- Do not lean over the unit to light the fire.
- Do not burn trash, paper, or any solid fuel in the gas burning models.
- Lower the flame height if it is windy or if you are hosting young children.
- Do not operate the unit in extreme weather such as rain or high winds.
- Wait until the appliance is completely cooled down before covering.
- Stop the unit if there are unusual odors or if you smell gas.
- Make sure none of the vent openings or pilot igniters are clogged or obstructed.
- Do not store extra propane tanks near the unit.
- Have the unit serviced before use if any burner component has been underwater for any period of time.
Fire Table Styles
- Firegear linear burner system
Whether you are looking for traditional, modern, rustic, or something in between, there is a fire table style for you. The tabletops and pedestals come in various shapes including round, octagonal, square, and rectangular. Choose from several materials and finishes to match your decor. You can also select an ignition system and fuel type that works best for your space.
The materials used for the tables are fire-safe and complement a variety of styles. Glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) is a popular choice because it is versatile and comes in several finishes. For example, American Fyre models are made with GFRC and come in six finishing options - including two that look like reclaimed wood.
- Outdoor Greatroom Sierra Fire Pit Table
Concrete can also be paired with tile or stone, like this more rustic Sierra Fire Pit Table. For ultra-modern designs, browse our selection of linear fire tables.
For fuel options, choose between wood-burning, propane gas, and natural gas. Wood-burning models function similarly to traditional fire pits and do not give as much control over flame height.
Many of the gas models come in both propane and natural gas options. Propane is convenient since many of the tables come with a built-in enclosure for a propane tank. If you want the fire table to be a permanent feature, you can also consider installing a natural gas line to the unit.
Gas Fire Pit Table Burners and Ignition Systems
Gas fire table burners and pans come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, depending on the size and shape of the table, of course, as well as the flame pattern you prefer. The burners and pans are typically constructed from three primary materials: black steel, stainless steel, and brass. These materials vary in quality, durability, and cost, which often correspond with the type of ignition system built into the appliance.
There are three main ignition systems for gas fire tables: match lit, push-button, and electronic. Burners used in fire pit tables with a match lit ignition system, may be manufactured from black steel or stainless steel. Black steel is essentially ungalvanized mild steel that is unpainted. Black steel can last for up to two to three years if unprotected and up to a decade if properly covered. Stainless steel is more costly but significantly more durable. It can easily last for 6 to 8 years uncovered or decades if covered while not in use.
For fire pit tables featuring more complex, automated ignition systems like a push-button or electronic ignition system, you'll find that the burners and pans are constructed from either stainless steel or brass. The stainless steel burners come in various grades of durability, from a standard 430-grade to grades with more corrosion resistance like 304-grade or 316-grade. While more costly than black steel burners and pans, these burners will last twice and even triple the lifespan of black steel burners.
For those looking for a premium fire table burner, the ones constructed from brass is the way to go. Brass offers superior heat and corrosion resistance in comparison to steel. Brass burners typically offer thicker wall fittings and tubing, making it the longest-lasting and most costly material for your fire pit table burner. If gas fire pit tables aren't your thing, you could also go with a wood-burning option.
The wood-burning models are lit with a match like a standard wood burning fire pit. Unlike the gas models, wood burning models typically use either 18 to 16-gauge stamped steel in lower-cost fire pit table models or 1/8" to 3/16" plate steel for the higher end bowl models.
- Lighting a row of matches
Match lit ignition involves a gas valve and a match. Simply place a lit match over the burner and open the gas valve to ignite the flame. The simplicity makes the system low-maintenance and cost-effective. You also don't have to worry about batteries or electrical supply. Match lit systems usually allow variability of the flame height simply by adjusting the gas valve position. However, there are some drawbacks to the simplicity that make it less fail-proof.
For one, match lit systems require you to open the gas valve every time you use the fire table. In the event that the flame is blown out or extinguished, gas could continue seeping from the valve. Some systems have a safeguard that shuts off the gas if the flame goes out, but not all units are equipped with this extra feature. It is always recommended to install a safety device to stop gas flow during an outage scenario. Match lit ignition systems are also restricted in some areas, so always check with your local authorities before you purchase one.
Push Button Ignition
Push-button ignition offers a step up in safety features and automation. Instead of lighting the gas flow with a match, these systems have a built-in spark igniter. All you need to do is push the button. The units are also equipped with a thermocouple or flame rectifier that shuts off the gas if the flame goes out.
Push-button systems are usually battery operated so you don't need to hook them up to an electrical power supply. Some push-button systems allow only on and off operation, but many will include a turn dial that will allow flame height adjustment in steps.
Fully Electronic Ignition
- Fire table controls
Electronic ignition systems are even more automated. They rely on a spark igniter or hot surface igniter to light the burner. Instead of using a battery pack, these ignitions come with a 120-volt or 24-volt system controlled by remote or smartphone app. The 24 volt systems are ideal for installation near pools or water features, where low voltage systems are required by code. As with push-button systems, the electronic ignition shuts down whenever the flame goes out.
The downside of these systems is that they are more complex, expensive, and require a dedicated power circuit. If convenience is a priority, it's hard to beat the ease of fully electronic ignition systems. However, their added complexity means there are more parts that could fail and the system is pricier overall.
Must-Have Fire Table Accessories
Once you decide on a fire table model, it's time to decorate! Media like fire glass, lava rock, logs, river rock, etc. allow you to customize your fire table and turn it into a work of art. Other add-on accessories include control options like the ability to operate the fire table from your phone.
- A handful of fire glass
Decorative media is one of the highlights of gas fire appliances, and fire tables are no exception. The owner's manual usually includes specific details about how much decorative media to use and how to place it around the burner. You can also use this decorative media calculator to get a ballpark of how much fire glass you should buy.
Optional controls add to the safety and convenience of your fire table. Emergency stop valves and stop timers like the ones discussed in the safety section above add a layer of protection. Other features like the iFlame kits let you control your fire table via a smartphone app.
The popularity of outdoor living spaces and fire features is on the rise, and manufacturers are offering more and more models to meet the demand. Here is a list of recommended tried and true brands that consistently offer excellent products.
- Firegear - has been in business for over 15 years. They specialize in outdoor fire features and offer several models of fire pit tables. Their free, real-person technical support is a helpful bonus.
- American Fyre Designs - is another brand known for its high-quality outdoor appliances. They carry a large selection of fire tables and bowls. Their tables are made with glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) and come in a variety of finish options.
- Hearth Products Controls - is based out of Dayton, Ohio and they distribute throughout North America. A leader in safety technology, they offer both custom and off-the-shelf fire features. Their outdoor collection offers a quality selection of fire tables for both residential and commercial spaces.
- Real Flame - has been selling fireplaces for more than 30 years. They focus on offering quality, stylish fire appliances for a fair price. Their outdoor line includes a wide range of beautiful fire tables in many shapes and styles.
How to Install a Fire Table
If your model requires gas lines or electrical supply, these must be installed by a qualified professional. Read and follow the manufacturer's guidelines for proper clearances and assembly. Depending on the type of fire table, you may need professional assembly and inspection to make sure the unit is working properly.
Before installation, plan out the area where you intend to put the fire table. You should never install it underneath a roof or overhang that is less than 6 feet above the top of the table. Choose a low traffic area where you and your guests can enjoy it without having it constantly in the way.
Contact your local code office or read up on your local codes to make sure your appliance meets the restrictions. If using electricity, you will also need to comply with the National Electrical Code. Note that you must use all properly grounded electrical components and a weather-proof covered receptacle.
Fuel conversion kits are available if you wish to convert your unit from natural gas to propane or vice versa. The conversion must be done by a licensed plumber or professional installer.
- Lighting a match-lit gas fire pit
Fire tables are heavy and can be cumbersome to assemble. If doing the assembly yourself, enlist at least one other person to help you lift the components. We also recommend wearing gloves to help protect from the sharp edges. Turn off the gas supply prior to installation and follow the detailed instructions outlined in the manual.
After assembly, turn the gas on and inspect for any leaks. Carefully monitor the fire table and test the different settings to make sure everything is working as it should.
How to Operate a Fire Pit Table
Fire table operation varies depending on the ignition system and the controls. If your unit has automatic ignition, do not try to light the unit by hand. The manual will have specific instructions for your model, but here is a general overview.
Control Knob Models (Push Button Ignition)
Open the manual shut off valve supplying gas to the fire table. Next, turn the control knob to the "HI LIGHT" position while pressing the ignitor button. The burner should light promptly. If it doesn't light after 5 seconds, turn off the gas knob. You can try relighting the burner after 1 minute of waiting for the gas to clear.
If it does not light the second time, turn off the gas and do not keep attempting to light. At this point, you should call a professional or the manufacturer for assistance in troubleshooting.
Some control knob models do not have a built-in ignition system and must be lit with a match. If this is the case, follow the basic steps listed for the key valve model below. The only difference is that the gas will be turned "off" and "on" with the push button instead of the key.
Key Valve Models (Match Lit)
Start with the gas valve turned to the "off" position. Light a match and place it so that the lit end is over the burner. (Never hold the match in your hand when turning on the gas!) You can also use a long-stemmed butane lighter. Use the key to turn the gas valve to the "on" position. The flame should light.
Only use the key that is designed for the gas control valve you are using. Forcing the valve when it is stuck or using improper tools could result in a gas leak or delayed ignition. Like the control knob models, turn off the gas if the unit does not light within 5 seconds. You can wait 1 minute and try to light the burner a second time. If it doesn't light the second time, turn off the gas and contact the manufacturer.
All-Weather Remote Models (Electronic Ignition)
These units have automatic ignition and are not lit with a match or handheld lighter. Switch the controls on both the unit and the remote to the "remote" position. Press the "on" button on the remote. You should hear an acknowledgment beep from the unit and the fire table will light. It usually takes about 10 seconds for the unit to light.
If the flames won't turn on after several tries, turn the gas supply off to the unit. Refer to the troubleshooting portion of the manual or contact the manufacturer.
Care and Maintenance
- Cleaning products
Since fire tables are outdoor appliances, take special care to protect them from the elements and debris buildup. Protective covers are a good investment to help keep out rain and snow. Regularly clean out leaves and debris. A thorough inspection of the burner and fire components should be done annually.
Always shut off the gas and allow the unit to cool completely before inspecting it. We also recommend you wear gloves to protect your hands. Check that the venting openings and main components are unobstructed. Inspect the burner and other visible parts for any rust or damage. If anything needs replaced, order the matching part and do not replace any of the components with substitute materials.
With the gas on, make sure the burner flames are blue at the base with a yellow tip and the pilot has a steady flame that encircles the flame sensor.
Concrete is porous and can be discolored with liquids such as acids or oils. Clean up spills immediately. You can wash with mild soap and water. Stubborn stains may require a vinyl brush. A masonry sealer applied yearly can help preserve the finish on your table. Watch for any hairline cracks, as this can be a serious sign of damage.
Since the tables are large and heavy, your model will likely ship via LTL freight. It will be carefully packaged to protect the unit and ignition parts. The shipping company will contact you to arrange a date and time for the shipment. You will need to have at least two people to accept the delivery.
Do a thorough inspection of the table and the fire components before signing off on the delivery. If you do notice anything wrong or missing, report it to the manufacturer. In some cases, you will need to reject the delivery if there is damage in order to comply with limited warranties.
- Napoleon Muskoka Rectangular Patioflame
Fire tables add a unique ambiance to your outdoor space. Available in so many styles, with additional accessories and decorative accents, they prompt people to gather around and linger. With the proper safety precautions, installation, and maintenance, you can enjoy your fire table for years to come.
Check out our new selection of fire tables to find the perfect one for your yard today! If you want more information or have questions, check out these helpful articles, or contact one of our NFI Certified Technicians.
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