There are three common lighting options for gas fire pits and tables. Many DIY fire pits are match-lit, which means you use a standard butane stick lighter to ignite the flames. Also popular with DIY fire pits are spark igniters, which light the fire pit using a spark.
Retail fire pits (manufactured fire pits) are almost always lit using a built-in spark igniter/thermocouple combination.
In this article, we’ll discuss the options for lighting your gas fire pit or fire table.
Match-Lit (Affordable and Reliable Option for DIY Fire Pit Kits)
Match-lit fire pits are popular due to their simplistic design. These gas fire pits do not include a spark igniter or flame sensor (thermocouple). For this reason, there is very little that might break or malfunction.
However, since match-lit fire pits don’t have a thermocouple, they can be more dangerous to operate. The thermocouple is a safety device, which shuts off the gas flow if it doesn’t sense a flame. There is limited risk with a propane tank because it will simply run out of gas eventually. But natural gas is hooked up to a gas line, so it will continue to flow endlessly.
The proper way to ignite a match-lit fire pit is by using a butane stick lighter. But the type of gas you are using will determine your method.
Propane gas is heavier than air, so it will drop and pool before it lights. You want to avoid a build-up of propane because once it ignites, you could have a large initial burst of flame. By keeping the lighter close to the fuel source, it can be ignited before the propane collects into a pool of gas.
Therefore, before you turn the gas on, you should light the stick lighter and hold the flame close to the burner. The stick lighter should press against the burner or the fire pit glass / lava rocks covering the burner. With the flame in place, slowly turn the gas on. You want the flame to start out slowly at a low height. Once lit, then you can adjust the flame height up using the control valve.
Natural gas will light easier than propane because it’s lighter than air. As such, the gas will easily rise up to meet the flame of the stick lighter.
Celestial Fire Glass features a complete line of match-lit fire pit burner kits.
Spark Igniter Without Thermocouple (Less Popular DIY Design)
This type of igniter is typically used in DIY gas fire pits and fire tables. Spark igniters without a heat-sensing thermocouple are an affordable option, which is easy to install. Although, these types of igniters can be unreliable for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, if there isn’t a gas source directed at the spark igniter, it won’t light right away. With propane, this is a problem because it will collect into a pool until it’s lit. Once lit, this can result in a very large initial flame.
Secondly, if the spark igniter doesn’t have a cage around it preventing fire glass from coming in contact with the igniter, it may not light. Reflective fire glass has a conductive, metal backing. This coating contains enough metal to cause a short along the stem of the spark igniter preventing the spark from forming at the tip of the igniter.
Spark Igniter with Thermocouple (Typical in Retail Fire Pits and Upscale DIY Kits)
This type of igniter combination is found in retail fire pits and CSA-certified burner kits for DIY projects.
Fire pits which include a spark igniter, and a flame-sensing thermocouple, are the safest types of fire pits to operate. This style is easy to recognize because it has a metal cage around the igniter and thermocouple. The rectangular cage will have a series of holes on all sides and will be located close to the burner.
This fire pit style is typically CSA-certified and can be used in commercial and public access spaces.
However, a common problem with this type of igniter is that the fire glass in the burner pan shifts and can affect the flame directed at the flame-sensing thermocouple.
If the flame is not in contact with the thermocouple, the gas supply will be turned off as a safety precaution. To prevent this, be sure that the area around the cage (that protects the igniter/thermocouple) is clear, and that there’s nothing inside the cage that can obstruct the flame.
Let Us Help
If you’ve followed this guide and you’re still having a problem, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our Celestial Fire Glass Tech Team is always happy to troubleshoot problems with you. We want to eliminate the frustration and help and get your fire pit back in the business of providing enjoyment.