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A Guide To Fire Pit Burners

Product Reviews
Table of contents

Types of Fire Pit Burners

A Guide to Fire Pit Burners – Gas Fire Pit Burners come in many different shapes and sizes, however, there are only two types of Burners available on the market. Either type can be used for domestic or commercial fire pits.

  1. Standard Fire Pit Burners are the original type of burner. The gas escapes through holes in the burner tubes and filters up through the lava rock or fire glass with the flames dancing upon the surface of the fire media creating a natural-looking flame footprint. The flame pattern depends on the shape of the burner and the distribution of the gas holes buried beneath the fire media. 
  2. Fire Pit Burners with Nozzles are the latest technology. Two of the best examples are Bullet Burners by The Outdoor Plus and Torpedo Burners by HPC Fire for more information on these head over to the linked pages. Gas is forced out of nozzles producing taller, spectacular flames, however as the Fire Pit Burner Nozzles or jets do not get buried beneath fire media, visually, this creates a very different flame. These burners are handcrafted with a price point to match. 

 

A Guide To Fire Pit Burners - Comparison Of Fire Pit Burner Types

            Standard Burner                                  Non-Standard Burner Type

 

How Does A Gas Fire Pit Burner Work?

We all know what the gas burner on a grill looks like, so it’s logical enough to think that’s how a fire pit burner works, but that is not the case. Unfortunately, many fire pits that you see are not set up correctly.

Standard burners should be buried under the lava rock or fire glass, following the manufacturer’s recommendation is important. 

Insufficient fire media exposes the fire pit burner ring to overheating. If the gas ignites too close to the burner it creates hot spots and warping, ultimately damaging the burner requiring its replacement. The intense heat could even burn holes in the burner!

Fuel type affects the depth of fire media covering the fire pit. Natural Gas and Liquid Propane have different properties. Natural Gas is lighter than air and can easily escape up to the surface where it ignites. Liquid Propane not so much. Too much fire media can cause back pressure, an accumulation of gas within the fire media, or even below the pan in the void beneath.  These potentially hazardous situations should be avoided at all costs.

As previously stated, Fire Pit Burners with Nozzles force the gas upwards in a jet-like fashion like a Bunsen burner you probably used in school!  The nozzles are visible above the fire media.

Propane fire pit burners are fitted with an air mixer that optimizes the ratio of propane to air, allowing for the correct, cleaner, and more efficient burn. The air mixer is installed beneath the burner requiring a supply of air to allow for its correct function. This is why a pan is necessary in a Propane Fire Pit, along with a ventilated void within the structure, below the pan. 

 

Fire Glass / Lava Rock Levels in a Standard Fire Pit Burner

 

What size Fire Pit Burner should I choose?

Once you have determined the type of burner you want, you can go about selecting the size of burner you need, this is the most important part of your project and it is not just about its physical dimensions. All burners are given a BTU rating which tells us how much heat they generate and how much gas they use.

For guidance:

To get the best flame possible with an existing gas supply you need to match the BTU rating of the burner to the BTUs and the gas pressure available at the location of the fire pit. Choosing the burner by its physical dimensions alone will not provide an acceptable flame if it is not adequately supplied with gas.

A Guide To Fire Pit Burners BTUs and Your Gas Supply

With a Domestic Gas Supply, we strongly recommend using the services of a qualified gas technician to get this bit right.

Your domestic supply is calculated to provide enough gas for all the appliances in your house. Spare capacity is a requirement when installing additional gas appliances and can be calculated by your gas technician. Depending on the spare capacity (BTUs) your fire pit burner BTUs may be limited unless you can increase the domestic gas supply.

Ensuring the correct gas pipe size for the length of the gas run and the BTUs is also vital for a successful fire pit! An existing gas pipe might limit the BTUs of a burner.

If you are at the project stage you can ensure that the gas feed is appropriate for the size of the fire pit you want!

For more details on this read our short article on Gas hard piping size and Gas Fire Pit Flame Height – How to get a good Flame.

The takeaway is not to fall into the trap of thinking bigger burners equal bigger flames. If you don’t have a sufficient gas supply bigger burners mean smaller or even no flames. Match the burners’ BTU rating to those you have available and you won’t go wrong.

Using a 20 lb Propane Gas Bottle to Fuel your Fire Pit

This is one of the easiest ways to fuel a gas fire pit. There are no gas supply pipes to consider, however, you are limited by the maximum BTUs a propane bottle can supply and the Propane Regulator capacity.

To make this easy for you and to ensure you don’t end up with a fire pit that won’t function, manufacturers sell tried and tested Fire Pit Kits that are compatible with a 20lb Propane Cylinder. Simply choose the size and shape that best suits your fire pit.

How long will a 20lb Propane Cylinder last with a Fire Pit

A 20 lb propane gas bottle contains 430,000 BTUs so if you are running a 12″ diameter, 92,000 BTU/hr rated burner, then you will get about 4 1/2 hours of burn on ‘full throttle ‘ per bottle (430,000 divided by 92,000).

An 80,000 BTU-rated burner running at about 2/3’s throttle (roughly 50,000 Btu) you would get about 8 hours of burn time.

At the other extreme, connecting a 36-inch, 440,000 BTU Burner to the same gas bottle – which you would never do because you probably would not even get a flame – would, in theory, empty the gas bottle in less than an hour!

Outdoor Installations and Warranty

For an outdoor gas fire pit, we always recommend high-quality stainless steel fire pit burners, they are very durable when set up correctly and here at The Magic of Fire, are eligible for a Lifetime Warranty. Black steel burners are cheaper but not long-lasting and offer no such Warranty’s. Nozzle burners like the Triple S Brass Bullet Burner are manufactured from brass which also carry Lifetime Warranties.