Speaking to clients on a regular basis it is clear that the subject of gas fire pit ignition systems understandably causes some confusion. In this blog, we will attempt to lay things out a little more clearly.
There are basically 3 types of fire pit ignition, or 3 ways to light your fire pit.
1. Match Light
A match lit fire pit is, as the name suggests, just a case of turning on the gas and holding up a match or preferably a taper to the fire pit surface until the gas ignites. No special equipment required.
2. Push Button Spark Ignition
These are generally battery powered, the battery is neatly hidden in the Push Button Unit itself. When the button is depressed this sends a small electric current to an Ignition Probe that is mounted close to the fire pit burner. This is fundamentally the same as lighting a gas ring on a gas hob.
The most asked question about installing the Push Button System is regarding the height of the Spark ignition Probe.
There is a common misconception about how a gas fire pit operates. Understandably, people think the gas should ignite as it emerges from the burner, just like a gas ring on the gas stove. but that is not the case. The gas should percolate up through the lava rock or fire glass and only ignite close to or as it escapes from your fire glass/lava rock. This would be about 2" above the level of your gas burner.
As a consequence people are often surprised when installing the Ignition Probe by how high it sits above the burner ring. The Ignitor needs to ignite the gas on top on the fire glass/lava rock not adjacent to the burner. Therefore ensure that the tip of the probe where the spark occurs is not buried under any fire glass/lava rock.
Apart from that, these systems are easy to install and maintain, especially if you are using a fire pit tray which comes with a prepared cut out to install the Ignition Probe into the tray.
3. Electronic Ignition Systems
All the Electronic Ignition Systems have a common theme and that is that they monitor the flame of the fire pit and cut off the gas flow if the flame is accidentally extinguished. Some of the more sophisticated systems will even make several attempts to re-light the flame before shutting off the gas.
The most popular is the Electronic Ignition System with S.I.T. which stands for Smart Ignition Technology.
All of this is accomplished via a 'box of tricks' that is connected beneath the fire pit burner and a very sophisticated Ignition Probe.
Most but not all of these systems require a mains electrical feed to the fire pit structure, but there are some systems that also monitor the flame and cut off the gas with a battery powered system. ( view here )
The advantages of these Electronic Ignition Systems is that they provide the very highest level of safety. This is especially important for commercial or public installations such as Hotels, Bars, Restaurants etc. in fact anywhere the public may be in close proximity to a fire pit.
Some States, City or Town Codes/Ordinance may make the use of flame sensing technology on your fire pit system obligatory.
The mains powered systems also allow you to install an on/off switch for example in your lounge, so you can control your fire pit without having to go outside. You can also have remote controls systems as well.
The main disadvantages of these systems is the price level. These are very sophisticated pieces of equipment and the price reflects that fact.
I hope that this helps a little in clarifying the differences between Gas Fire Pit Ignition Systems