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Top 3 Questions when contemplating a fire pit?

Fire pit questions

We thought we would share some of the key questions we ask when people visit our UK showroom at Cedar Nursery to ensure they invest in the right fire pit that works for their lifestyle and location. These questions apply whether you are installing a fire pit in London, Vancouver, Maui or Marbella, we ship to all locations!

 

Pipework -The very first thing we ask – are you planning for a gas fire pit and if so, have you thought about the pipework. If you are in the planning stages of your garden, we always say “lay the pipework and better still lay electrical cables too”. Having this infrastructure in place allows to have not only a gas fire pit but the option for electrical ignition to light the fire pit.

We have talked to countless people who discover that they would love to have a fire pit, but the porcelain tile or concrete base has already been installed.  Having this infrastructure in place at the beginning opens up your opportunities later down the line.  There are solutions for this but if you have the opportunity “lay the pipes” even if you don’t install the fire pit for a year or two.  Future proofing by laying the pipework and cables gives you so many more options when you come to eventually install a fire pit in your garden.

solus hemi fire pit

Fuels – What will work best for you, your lifestyle and location? If the amount of heat is important and candidly in most countries heat is important and one of the key reasons for installing a fire pit then you should be considering natural gas or LPG.  Natural gas is the easiest and least expensive but requires pipework to go in before patio or decking is installed.  LPG is the second choice and if you are working with an existing garden design it is possible to surface mount with a quick disconnect hose across the surface that can be concealed beneath outdoor furniture or within planting. Alternatively, if you are looking for ultimate flexibility, perhaps space is at a premium or maybe you’re renting a property then you have ethanol fuel as an option.   As much as everyone loves a wood fire you cannot escape the mess, smoke in the eyes, and the lasting smell of the wood fire caught in your clothes and hair at the end of the night.

Warranties– Consider warranties and what the warranties cover. Many fire pits are made overseas and candidly the certification standards are somewhat suspect. The warranties are very short, in some cases non existent and often it does not cover every element of the fire pit.   If anything is going to fail it will be the ignition system, the burner or the vessel (or bowl) itself.  Certification costs where we make them in Canada are $100 – 150 per unit.  If you are looking at something online retailing at £400 – 500 you must question the durability and safety of these products. How you can provide a warranty for something that that costs next to nothing in comparison to certification costs.  Ask yourself how safe is it?  How durable is it? How sustainable is it?  What sort of warranty does it have – if any?

For more information please see our SAQ and FAQs

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What are the essential considerations when specifying a fire pit in the UK?

Solus decor gas fire pit

Here are our Top 7 tips to guide your specification:

 

  1. Legalities

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.

CE Trade mark

  1. Fuel Source

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.

outdoor firepit

 

  1. Ignition

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.

 

  1. Substrate

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.).

 

  1. Client use

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.

Solus Decor Metal Drinks Ring Hemi Fire Pit

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

For further information take a look why not take a look at the products on our website or get in touch with us.

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FAQ’s about Fire Pit Certification and Warranty

Questions you should ask when selecting your fire pit about certification and warranty:

 

Is your fire pit Certified as an Appliance?

Fire bowl

What does this mean?

New requirements are that both the burner and the vessel or enclosure must be certified to CSA/ANSI or CE standards and tested as such.

Most fire pit companies buy a “certified CE burner off the shelf and simply insert it into their vessel or brickwork.  This means that the burner and vessel have not been tested in relation to each other. This is changing in the field due to regulatory and insurance demands in the field. Many European countries are introducing new regulations for fire pits to be fully certified as appliances. The rapid availability of fire pits in big box retailers and online has spawned a wave of regulatory and insurance changes.  Therefore the code and compliance of fire and fire pits in residential and commercial settings is becoming more stringent.

Why does this matter?

Simply inserting certified burners into bricks, concrete, metal, or other materials (as was done commonly in the past) is on the way out. This is because the burners and vessels are not tested and/or certified in relation to each other. The heat of the burner can react differently with different materials and the quality of the vessel. Improper ventilation or improper shut offs can also be dangerous and are also considered in the CE certification process.

What has happened to instigate this change?

In many jurisdictions the gas fitter or inspector has rejected burners that have been set into non-certified vessels or enclosures built on site. The gas fitter or inspector must sign off on the installation and will be looking for the “tags” for the whole appliance – not just the burner.

Solus fire pits encountered this challenge in North America and it is becoming apparent that the same things is happening in Europe as the popularity of fire pits increases.

Why don’t more fire pits companies certify?

Certification is painful, expensive, time consuming, laborious and requires deep technical expertise. Furthermore it has to be done in relation to each product that you manufacture, therefore if you have metal and concrete vessels you have to certify for each material – not just the burner.

Ask about Warranties and ask for details:

When shopping for your fire pit, ask specifically: What are the details and length of time for the warranties? Who handles the burner warranty? Who handles the warranty on the vessel?

Having undergone the entire certification process we introduced the best warranty in the fire pit world. As of 2016 Solus manual lit burners carry a 5 year warranty, 25 years when purchased with a cover.  They are made of brass, don’t rust and we are the manufacturer.  Solus concrete carries a 5 year warranty when purchased with a cover.   Our electronic systems carry a 3 year warranty when purchased with a cover.  This is an extension of the 6 months or 1 year cover normally given by electronic fire pits.  Solus warranty – the best in the business.