When people set out to build a DIY gas fire pit or fire table, a common question arises: “How hot will the burner pan get?”
And it’s a good one to ask so that you can make wise choices about the materials you use in the build of your structure. So, with that in mind, we decided to test a gas burner pan to see how hot it actually gets.
Measuring the Heat Generated by a Burner Pan
We chose three areas to test based on where the pan may come in contact with the structure of your fire pit: the lip, the sides of the drop-in pan, and the bottom of the pan.
A 24” x 8” burner pan with 90,000 BTU/hr. rating was used for the test and we conducted it in the controlled environment of our warehouse. We were inside and away from sunlight. The indoor temperature was about 64 degrees inside.
We used an infrared thermometer. It took a few tries to get an accurate reading of the lip of the pan because of how close the sensor on the thermometer was to the flames. The results we show in our video were from our third attempt. If you try this yourself, you may get different numbers.
This test was meant as a general reference for how hot the burner pan can get compared to the surrounding tabletop. Temperatures may vary according to different sizes of burner pans and different BTU ratings.
Heat Test for Buner Pan Video:
The Results of Our Test
In our first test, the burner pan contained no fire media. The temperature was about 61 degrees to start. After igniting the flames and letting them run for a few minutes, we tested the pan in the three areas we mentioned above.
The lip of our burner pan was reading between 105-115°F degrees (hard to determine because of proximity to flame). The sides of the drop-in pan had a reading of about 99 degrees. The bottom of the pan was roughly 85 degrees.
The Test with Fire Glass
We recommend using fire glass in your fire pit because not only does it look better, but it also improves burner functionality. Fire glass causes the flames to dance around for a more natural-looking ebb and flow.
Since fire glass is an important addition to your burner pan, we added fire glass to the burner pan and tested that too. As we suspected, adding fire glass increases the temperature of the lip, though not by a large margin.
When we added fire glass, the temperature of the lip on the pan increased to between 115-125°F. The temperature on the sides of the burner pan registered anywhere between 90-100°F.
No change was noticed on the bottom of the burner pan.
Other Factors Affecting the Temperature of a Burner Pan
Because this test was done indoors, there was no wind. Flames stayed central in the pan. Winds can toss the flames around, causing more contact with the pan and increasing the temperature.
So, we ran this test again, but this time we used a fan to mimic the wind blowing the flames to the side of the burner pan. When the flames were contacting the pan for an extended period of time, the lip heated up to 160°F.
While naturally occurring winds may not be as steady and constant as our fan, they can still drastically raise the heat in your pan. An easy way to prevent this and make the flame more efficient is to use a wind guard.
How Do These Temperatures Affect Your Build?
First, we recommend making the cutout larger than the burner pan—the portion that sits below the surface. This keeps the hot pan from pressing against the edges of the tabletop where it has been opened up to accept the burner pan. This allows for the expansion of the burner pan.
Second, add ventilation to your fire feature. This keeps heat and gasses from building up inside the structure and is crucial for safety and performance. An enclosure without proper ventilation is very dangerous and can result in an explosion if the accumulated gas ignites.
DIRECT SUNLIGHT will heat the pan too. In some cases, the sun generates a higher temperature than the flames.
Third, consider your project materials. These tests show that the lip of the burner pan can get hot enough to damage certain types of countertop materials. To ensure the safety of your build and its continued good looks, always choose a tabletop material with high heat resistance.
Celestial recommends a fire-safe material for the tabletops such as granite, concrete, or metal. Laminate counters and composites such as Corian are not recommended due to their lower heat resistance and melting points.
Laminates can be damaged at temperatures as low as 150 degrees. Whereas, granite and concrete can withstand temperatures of at least 1,000 degrees.
Quartz can sustain temperatures up to about 680 degrees but can discolor with high heat. Direct sun will also discolor it and therefore, it is not recommended for outdoor use.
Call Us with Your Questions
If you have any questions as you plan your DIY fire pit build, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We are always happy to answer your questions or help you troubleshoot a problem.
We’re available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET at 301-245-7755.