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Fire pits for 2015 – 10 things Solus thinks you need to know

Solus Hemi 36" firebowl

The fire pit experience has certainly evolved from the days of sitting around an old tractor tire ring heaped with wood.  Although this still has a magical mystique to it, your average urban back yard, patio or deck just can’t safely, (or in some cases legally), accommodate this “uncontrolled” fire pit style.

1) HOW DO YOU LIGHT A GAS FIRE PIT?

Lighting a fire pit

There are numerous options – the most simple and popular fire pit is a match lit (also described as manual light) whereby you turn the skeleton key valve which releases the gas and at the same time touch a barbecue starter to the top of the fire pit stone (propane or gas burner) and voila!  Fire!  In the case of ethanol (biofuel), you light the “wand’ and insert it into the receptacle that houses the liquid.

2) CAN I LIGHT IT WITH A REMOTE CONTROL UNIT, OR BY FLIPPING A SWITCH?

Yes of course – with a Solus electronic start burner. This is typically used for high-end residences or commercial locations, which can allow for an electrical hook up from the pit to a wall switch, timer or smart home/ commercial controller. With the right third party controller, it is even smart phone capable and is applicable for either NG (natural gas) or LP (propane).  Electronic ignition for biofuel burners is not an option at this time.

3) WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF A MATCH-LIT (MANUAL-LIGHT) SYSTEM?

Well – it is generally simpler to operate and a very reliable burner. It allows you to adjust and regulate the height of the flame and therefore the amount of heat.  It is the recommended choice for residential settings. For those households with children, it allows the parent to take the key away and therefore the ability to keep the fire pit turned off when required.

4) WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF THE ELECTRONIC IGNITION?   

In most commercial settings regulations will require this but not always.  In a common area for a condo we often recommend a timer so that it automatically switches itself off if a resident walks off and leaves it unattended.  For resorts or restaurants we generally recommend a lock off switch so it can be turned off at the end of the night.

5) MY FIREPLACE HAS A GLASS SHIELD – DOES MY FIRE PIT NEED ONE?

Our general answer is no – in our opinion it is not necessary for a residential setting. In some cases (certainly not all), commercial locations will require a glass shield as the local authorities will insist on it.

6) IS THERE AN OPTION TO PLACE A FIRE PIT IN AN AREA WHEN WE CAN NO LONGER RUN GAS LINES AND ITS PROHIBITIVELY EXPENSIVE TO DO SO?

Yes it is possible.  There are two options – Biofuel, which is a denuded ethanol based product, is sustainable and causes no off gassing.   Or you could also put in a propane burner and hook it up via a hose to a standard propane tank (like you use for your barbecue) We have a concrete tank holder that serves nicely as an end table which was built to hide the ugly tanks too!

7) DOES A LARGER BTU BURNER NECESSARILY MEANS BETTER AND/OR HIGHER HEAT?

The answer is NO, not always. Higher BTU’s does not necessarily mean more heat. As in all things designed  – good design is subtle.   Most gas fire pits are a simple pan with a series of gas ports housed underneath the burner pan.  The gas hits the pan, spreads out under it, and appears over top to erupt from your lava/rock bed. Much of the fuel is lost in this transition.

Solus burners are designed differently.  With cross jet ports that are extended out and above the burner plate.   They are not designed to hit the burner plate underneath and therefore we don’t lose heat to the bottom of the vessel.  It produces a more realistic flame pattern and much taller and robust flame.  They also come with a five-year warranty – pan burners usually come with a one-year warranty.

Finally – if you are looking for variable heat –a manual skeleton key valve is the way to go.  Although smart phone fire pit starters are sexy, they don’t have any variable heat control on them – therefore electronic units are either on or off. Many certified units are 150,000 BTU’s and if they are electronic there is no way to regulate the amount of heat by turning them down. They can only be turned on or off.

8) NG (NATURAL GAS) vs. LP (PROPANE) vs. BIOFUEL vs. WOOD… WHAT SHOULD I CHOOSE?

What fuel source is best for the circumstance depends on many things such as:

Many municipalities and jurisdictions have an outright ban on wood burning firepits even though they are sold widely at big box retailers in every state and province in North America. Even if wood burners are allowed they are often banned for a period of the summer due to pollution warnings (often in California, New York, Massachusetts) or in extremely dry conditions where there is an outright fire ban.

Your other options may be dictated by whether natural gas is available or affordable, and whether or not you want to have your fire pit in an enclosed area. (see FAQ #6 for more detail).

9) WHAT’S WITH THE ROCKS?  WHY DO YOU HAVE BOTH LAVA AND STONE IN MANY OF YOUR PHOTOS?

Lava stones
Most fire pits are sold covered with lava only.  However, it doesn’t mean that it is the best solution. Lava, when it gets wet often “pops” – not unlike popcorn. Due to the porosity of the lava rock it will pop and come out of the pit! This can not only be scary but potentially dangerous.

Our solution after lots of hands-on research are the refractory concrete stones that are placed on top of the lava stone to contain and weigh down the lava when it is wet.  You will note that the “stone” is refractory (kiln dried) based concrete, designed exclusively for us (modeled on river stone).  A warning – Do not put landscape stone into the fire pit – the natural fissures in the rock will split and could potentially shoot back out of the fire pit like a projectile.

10) SOLUS PRODUCTS ARE HEAVY – CAN’T YOU MAKE THEM LIGHTER? IS IT HARD TO SHIP THEM AROUND THE WORLD?  

There is no doubt that many of our products are heavy.  We don’t believe in lightweight concrete because it doesn’t withstand the test of time.  Lightweight concrete often “shales”, flakes or crumbles with cold or variable temperatures. Solus concrete is a “designed” and highly engineered product made to withstand weather (see ASTM standards for strength).  Its design allows us to cast thin and elegant concrete that does not look like something out of prehistoric times or a “Fred Flintstone” cartoon.   In combination with our brass burners we have THE product.

Our production crew who finish, wrap and crate our Solus products are very fastidious. Our successful ship rate is over 99.5%.  Having shipped products to Australia, Azerbaijan, Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and all points in North America, our team knows a thing or two about getting it there – in perfect condition. We cannot afford otherwise.  As a surety to the client, contractor and proud new Solus owner, we photograph each and every piece that leaves our facility.  These are then sent to each connected party in the delivery. With the weight advice we can make suggestions and can guide you through how many people you will need to handle the delivery and placement of your new fire pit.

SOMETIMES WE PREFER OUR CUSTOMERS DO THE TALKING:

David Wadors testimonial