Foster Fuels’ Guide to Propane Fire Pits

Are you looking to add the perfect accent to your family’s favorite outdoor gathering area? Why not consider a propane fire pit? With all the beauty of other types of fire pits but without any smoke or cleanup requirements afterward, propane fire pits are an ideal addition to any backyard.

Types of Propane Fire Pits

When deciding which kind of fire pit is right for you, the first thing to consider is its location. If you want to make a propane fire pit one of your yard’s focal points, then a permanently fixed option is the best choice. Fixed fire pits come in a range of sizes and styles, and often, homeowners will have one installed in conjunction with a landscaping project to revitalize their property’s overall appeal. Since they’re permanent, fixed fire pits are often constructed with a stone, rock or brick housing to match their setting.

If, on the other hand, you’re either dealing with limited space or like to keep your meeting area options open, then a portable fire pit might be the right solution. These fire pits are available in a variety of styles. Two of the most common designs are standalone fire bowls and fire pit tables.

Fire bowls, as their name implies, are bowl-shaped and often made from metals such as cast iron, copper or stainless steel. A fire pit table is more like a coffee table with a ledge around it and a fire pit located in the middle. The table-like design is perfect for concealing the fuel source, which is located in the center.

How Do Propane Fire Pits Work?

Propane fire pits burn clean and produce no smoke. Moreover, you can control the heat they emit. What all propane fire pits have in common is how they operate. A propane tank is connected via a gas line to a burner, which is a metal tube with holes that release propane gas at regular intervals. The burner sits in a burner pan and is usually surrounded by some sort of decorative medium like lava rocks, ceramic logs or fire-resistant glass. There are a variety of shapes to choose from, and Foster Fuels can help you find the best brand and options for your create virtually any shape of fire pit!

In addition to the burner and burner pan, there’s a fuel valve (to control the flow of propane), an air mixer (so the propane mixes with air and doesn’t produce soot) and, in some models, an ignition switch to allow for easy lighting.

Where Is the Propane for a Propane Fire Pit Stored?

The standard 20-pound propane tank that holds approximately four and a half gallons of liquid propane (LP) and is most commonly associated with outdoor grilling and barbecuing is the standard fuel source for propane fire pits. Less common and usually found in rural areas are the much larger propane tanks that serve as a fuel source for an entire home. However, thanks to new techniques, underground propane tanks are now being installed in a growing number of new construction projects.

When a 20-pound tank is the fuel source, the majority of fire pits are designed with a space for the tank in their housing — think of the central portion of a fire pit table, as previously mentioned. With larger tanks, a fuel line connects the tank to the fire pit’s air mixer, burner and ignition switch, if one is included.

Where Can I Put a Propane Fire Pit?

While a propane fire pit doesn’t give off embers and smoke, it’s still the source of an open flame. For this reason, you must always keep proper safety precautions in mind when deciding on its location. All manufacturers agree that propane fire pits are meant exclusively for outdoor use on surfaces that are not flammable. Backyards, gravel paths and tiled or cement decks are common choices. In addition, wherever you position your fire pit, it should be a minimum of 15 feet away from any standing structures.

If you want to add a propane fire pit to a patio area with some form of overhang, sunshade or roof, be extra cautious about having enough fresh air flow as well as space between the pit itself and any ceilings or structural extensions above it.

Remember that propane is colorless, but has an added agent to produce a noticeable smell — this helps keep your family safe in the event of a fuel leak.

Also, as liquefied propane becomes gaseous, it’s heavier than air.  The weight poses two dangers if propane is ever improperly used in an area without sufficient ventilation. First, if enough propane builds up, it can pool at ground level. If it then comes in contact with a source of ignition, it poses risk of ignition. Second, if enough propane collects at ground level and replaces the air in an enclosed space, it raises a suffocation risk. Be sure to follow our propane safety resources whenever you’re operating a propane appliance or adding one to your home.

How Do I Build a Propane Fire Pit?

Relatively few people possess the required knowledge to construct and connect gas lines to ignition switches, burners and burner pans. Since, as we’ve seen, propane is highly flammable and requires sufficient ventilation when in use, it’s strongly recommended that you purchase a propane fire pit from a reputable source like Foster Fuels.

As a family-owned-and-operated business specializing in residential and commercial fuels and related products for over 90 years, we know from experience how to safely install and operate propane equipment. When it comes to enjoying propane, safety comes first, so give yourself peace of mind and work with an expert!

When you choose Foster Fuels, you get the advice, expertise and reliability of nearly a century of loyal service to our customers. Contact us today to learn more about our high-quality propane fire pits.

Learn More about Outdoor Propane:

Post updated on January 14th, 2019

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