The 3 main types of Gas Fire Pit Ignition Systems
Speaking to clients on a regular basis it is clear that the subject of gas fire pit ignition systems understandably causes some confusion. In this blog, we will attempt to lay things out a little more clearly.
There are basically 3 types of fire pit ignition or 3 ways to light your fire pit.
1. Match Lit Fire Pits
A match-lit fire pit is, as the name suggests, just a case of turning on the gas and holding up a match or preferably a taper to the fire pit surface until the gas ignites. No special equipment is required.
Match-lit fire pit kits usually come with a pan, burner, and gas connections.
In recent years even these basic fire pits can be found with additional safety features such as flame-sensing systems which will shut off the gas in the event the flame is blown out. These are very popular in areas where local code demands such features. However, it does dramatically increase the cost.
2. Spark Ignition Fire Pit Kit
These can be very basic with the battery neatly hidden in the Push Button itself which, when depressed, sends a small electric current to an ignition probe mounted close to the fire pit burner, creating a spark and igniting the burner. This is fundamentally the same as lighting a gas ring on a gas hob or BBQ.
The most asked question about installing the Push Button System is regarding the height of the spark ignition probe.
There is a common misconception about how a gas fire pit operates. Understandably, people think the gas should ignite as it emerges from the burner, just like a gas ring on the gas stove. but that is not the case. The gas should percolate up through the lava rock or fire glass and only ignite close to or as it escapes from your fire glass/lava rock. This would be about 2″ above the level of your gas burner.
As a consequence, people are often surprised when installing the ignition probe by how high it sits above the burner ring. The ignitor needs to ignite the gas on top of the fire glass/lava rock not adjacent to the burner. Therefore ensure that the tip of the probe where the spark occurs is not buried under any fire glass/lava rock.
Apart from that, these systems are easy to install and maintain, especially if you are using a fire pit tray that comes with a prepared cut-out to install the ignition probe into the tray.
As before with the match-lit kits, there are now options for spark ignition with flame sensing. There are also CSA Certified fire pit kits for commercial settings or simply when national or local code requires it!
3. Electronic Ignition Fire Pit
These systems operate the fire pit burner using sophisticated electronics housed in a control box usually mounted beneath the fire pit pan and burner. The unit is wired into either a wall switch, whole house system, Bluetooth, or remote control unit. The burner is lit simply by flicking a switch, using your phone, or pressing a button on the remote controller. Once lit, the flame is monitored. The system will shut off the gas flow if the flame is accidentally extinguished and the more sophisticated systems will even make several attempts to re-light the flame before shutting off the gas.
All of this is accomplished via the ‘box of tricks’ connected beneath the fire pit burner and a very sophisticated ignition probe.
The most popular is the
Electronic Ignition System with S.I.T. which stands for Smart Ignition Technology.
Most but not all of these systems require a mains electrical feed to the fire pit structure, however, there are some systems that also monitor the flame and shut off the gas to the burner utilizing a battery-powered system. (View here)
The advantage of Electronic Ignition Systems is that they provide both the very highest level of safety and convenience. This is especially important for commercial or public installations such as Hotels, Bars, Restaurants, etc. in fact anywhere the public may be in close proximity to a fire pit.
Some states, cities, or town codes/ordinances may make the use of flame-sensing technology on your fire pit system obligatory.
The mains-powered systems also allow you to wire up to an on/off switch anywhere you wish, so you could even control your fire pit without having to go outside. You can also install a remote control system.
The only downside of these systems is the price level. These are very sophisticated pieces of equipment, which is reflected in the price!
I hope that this helps a little in clarifying the differences between Gas Fire Pit Ignition Systems.