Which are the best fire pit burners currently on the market?
Fire Pit Burners are a very straightforward appliance from a technological standpoint. So it is pretty surprising that there is so much misinformation about them, even from reputable sources.
This article will provide the low down about how a fire pit burner works, what different kinds of burners are available, and what are the best fire pit burners that suit your needs.
Putting aside the shape of fire pit burners, which we will address a little later, there are two types of burners currently on the market, conventional burners and burners with ‘nozzles.’
It may surprise you to know that neither are the ‘best fire pit burners’, it really comes down to which style of flame pattern you prefer.
On our website, the ‘nozzle’ burners options are the Bullet Burners manufactured by The Outdoor Plus and the Torpedo Burners manufactured by HPC Fire.
Burners with nozzles create a bigger flame, and for ‘bigger,’ you should read ‘taller.’ However, it is a very different style or shape of flame when compared to a conventional burner.
The nozzles work similarly to squeezing the end of your garden hose to create a more powerful water jet, the nozzles creating a jet of flame.
So what size flame can you expect from a nozzle-style burner?
HPC’s marketing tells us that we can reasonably expect a flame of between 22 and 26 inches. The Outdoor Plus state that the minimum flame height that you can expect from a correctly installed Bullet Burner would be 18 to 20 inches.
A significant difference when utilizing nozzled burners from standard burners is that the nozzles, which stand proud of the gas ring, must not be covered by lava rock or fire glass.
Correctly installing a conventional burner necessitates burying the Burner under the lava rock or fire glass.
Torpedo Burner ( Nozzle ) – Standard Burner
The nozzle burner clearly projects individual jets of flame that shoot up from the fire pit surface. The conventional Burner produces a very different style of flame.
We are regularly asked, ‘should I use a nozzled burner’ as if there was some technical reason for selecting a nozzle burner over a conventional one.
There is no technical reason whatsoever to select a nozzle burner over a standard burner; it is purely a matter of which flame style you prefer.
When informing customers that there is no technical reason for choosing a nozzled burner, customers frequently ask the second question, “don’t they use less gas?”
‘More flame less gas’ is a marketing statement attached to nozzle burners, but it must be interpreted correctly.
It is really saying that if you wanted to create a flame as tall as a nozzled burner using a conventional burner, you would need a much bigger burner with a much higher BTU rating, which would, of course, use more gas.
The essential point to bear in mind is that all burners, nozzled and conventional, have BTU ratings. If you were to swap out a 100,000 BTU-rated standard burner for a 100,000 BTU-rated nozzled burner, you would be using exactly the same amount of gas.
Customers often want to buy a nozzled burner to improve the poor flame size that their current standard burner creates. When we point out they have the same BTU rating, or maybe the nozzle burner has an even higher BTU rating, the customers understand that this is not the solution.
Ninety percent of poor flames result from a mismatch between how much gas is available and the BTU rating of the Burner, nozzled or conventional.
The burner size that you select, or more precisely the BTU rating of the Burner you choose, is dictated by the amount of gas you can provide, not the size of your fire pit.
If you only have a 100,000 BTUs available and connect that to a 200,000 BTU-rated burner that you choose because it fills the large fire pit structure you built, the result will be disappointing, to say the least!
For more details on this concept, please see the following article.
Conventional Burners operate in a very different manner from nozzle burners.
Covering the Burner with lava rock or fire glass forces the gas as it leaves the burner ring to percolate through the lava rock via all the little nooks and crannies.
This short journey creates an irregular footprint of flame as the gas ignites close to or on the lava rock or fire glass surface.
The process creates the mesmerizing ‘fire dancing on glass’ effect and a completely random shaped footprint of the fire, rather than a very controlled shape.
The vast majority of fire pit pans and inserts are about two inches deep, requiring approximately two inches of fire glass or lava rock to cover the Burner and finish flush with the top of the pan.
On larger-sized fire pit inserts, this can require a lot of fire glass and becomes quite expensive.
Using lava rock as a filler to cover the Burner and topping off with a layer of your favorite fire glass is perfectly acceptable. Lava rock is cheaper and lighter than fire glass, so you get better coverage per pound.
Important Note If Using Propane:
Propane is a heavier gas than air; therefore, it is less inclined to percolate through the lava rock or fire glass, so we must help it on its way.
Utilizing nothing smaller than 3/4 inch ( HPC’s recommendation ) lava rock or fire glass as the filler creates larger gaps between the filler media, making an easier route for the propane to the fire glass surface.
If, when lighting your current propane fire pit, you find it does not ignite immediately, then suddenly ignites with a huge ‘whomp’ of flame, this may be caused by the propane struggling to rise to the surface of the fire media.
Increasing the size of your lava rock or fire glass filler may well reduce the big ignition flash.
Shapes of Fire Pit Burners
Burners are available in an extensive range of standard shapes.
Round or circular burners are ideal for both circular and square fire pits. They also fit into hexagonal, octagonal, and triangular-shaped fire pits.
Square burners are perfect for square fire pits and reach a little deeper into the corners of the fire pit than a round burner.
Linear Burners produce a single line of fire in narrow fire pits and are often used to delineate areas.
Rectangular-shaped fire pits can utilize either a Rectangular Burner or an ‘H’ burner, depending on your personal preference. Remember that a Rectangular Burner will usually have a higher BTU rating than an equivalent sized ‘H’ burner and thus will require more gas.
S-shaped Burners are produced as standard by HPC Fire and The Outdoor Plus and must be fitted on a rectangular pan or insert.
If none of the standard sizes and shapes of burners fit your fire pit design, then HPC Fire and The Outdoor Plus company manufacture custom-built burners. Please send us your requirements via the Contact Us form.
Selecting the Best Fire Pit Burners?
Selecting the best fire pit burners is not at all complicated. These burners have a harsh working environment, so first and foremost, we are looking for quality materials and construction.
We recommend using only fire pit burners manufactured from Stainless Steel or Brass ( Bullet Burners ). Fire Pit Burners have a very tough life and need to be fit for purpose.
We also recommend that you select a burner with a Lifetime Warranty. All fire pit burners featured on The Magic Of Fire have the manufacturer’s Lifetime Warranty.
What Size Burner Should I select?
The size of the Burner you select is dictated by how much gas you have available, gas pressure, and the size of the pipe supplying the gas to the fire pit location ( hard piping ).
You may want to put a 36-inch round burner into your 48 inches round fire pit; that makes sense aesthetically. However, a 36 inch round Burner has a rating of 400,000+ BTUs. If you only have 200,000 BTUs available, you have a big problem. You would be lucky to generate a flame at all.
When planning your fire pit or solving the ‘ small flame ‘ issue on an existing fire pit, the starting point is to find out how much gas you have available to direct to the fire pit.
Once you know how much gas you have available, you need to calculate what size feed pipe you need to move that gas from its source to the fire pit location. The longer the distance the gas has to travel, the larger diameter the feed pipe needs to be.
Ninety-nine percent of small flame issues result from a mismatch between how much gas the Burner is receiving compared to how much it requires to provide the optimal flame, which is its BTU rating.
Correctly matching the burner BTU rating to the amount of gas you can provide to the Burner ensures you will get optimal performance from your chosen Burner.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us via our Contact Form or call toll free on 866 244 9982