Here are our Top 7 tips to guide your specification:
Check it has a CE mark. If it is a gas or LPG unit it must be CE marked. Many clients will source fire pits in America or China and be disappointed to understand that they cannot be installed in the UK unless they have a CE mark ( link )
Check local authority regulations. Wood is a popular option but there are many urban areas and counties that ban wood burners – check out with local authority. Be particular about the questions as it is sometimes vague as to what is allowed. Some allow wood burners but they may need to be DEFRA certified and/or burn only certain fuels. There are various discussions surrounding its poor air quality and considering an outright ban of new real fire installations.
Natural gas will need to hook up to the mains of the house. Distance from the gas connection to the fire pit and the other appliances ( hot tubs, bbq ‘s and pools ) and the demands on the gas pressure will need to be calculated by a gas contractor.
LPG (liquid propane gas) can be run off the bottle or underground tank. Planning for where to “hide” the tank is part of the design process. It can be placed some 5 – 7 meters from the firepit. It need not be directly beside it.
Bio fuel or ethanol requires no plumbing and simple placement of the fire pit is all that is required.
Manual lit with flame supervision device start – is “old style” pilot light that is lit and the pit ignites once the pilot is lit. Great for most homes. It is extremely safe and cannot be accidentally lit. Solus does not use the “sparker” you find on most barbeques or other firepits – they are notorious for failure and frequently break after six months.
Electronic ignition with adjustable flame height and output. This requires an electrical conduit as well as the gas pipe – available in natural gas and LPG. Warranties are extremely important with electronic units and require investigation.
What is the fire pit being placed upon? If the design is considering a wood or “composite” deck then wood is non-starter. If building a fire pit from masonry then substrate is a consideration as many independent burners, although CE marked, are not to be placed on wood, composite or grass surfaces. Heat from the burners or wood pits direct a lot of heat to the bottom and at the ground (which is also an inefficient waste of heat.).
How often will the fire pit be used? Running costs for fuel would have natural gas at the least expensive, LPG next and bio fuel would be the most expensive unit to run. Wood costs comparison????
Will there be other functions required of the fire pit? How often might your client use it? Do you wish it to double up as a coffee table – will it replace the table. Is your client primarily looking for heat, for ambiance or for large social gatherings? The design of the fire pit, along with optional extras, such as a removable table top or a ring to use for drinks when the fire is in use should be a consideration.
Aesthetics and longevity
No doubt “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and what will it look like in six months or six years is important. Does the firepit look attractive when it is off as well as on? The fire pit needs to function as a fire pit but it will likely be off more than on so it ‘s architectural presence and colour is important to compliment the garden design.
Warranties and guarantees
Does the product have warranties and guarantees that last more than a single season? As a designer, your client will live with your design for years and it stands as a testimonial to your work. Make sure durability and longevity factor into the equation. How easy will it be to contact the company for after sales support? Where the company is based and how they manufacturer their products should be considered to ensure the best quality.
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