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Inside a Gas Fire Pit

Ever wondered what went on in your gas fire pit to bring the flames to life? We’ll demystify the process, control types, ignition types, and add-ons here.


Too often, fire pit buyers find an installation that looks good, so they pull the trigger on the purchase. Or maybe all they want is a fire pit that runs off their fuel of choice, and anything beyond that is too much to consider.

The truth is if you really want the best gas installation for your needs, it’s worth taking a few minutes to learn how a fire pit works—to understand all the variables at play. If you know the components of a fire pit and how they function, then you can find a fire pit that ticks all the boxes, without falling for any overpriced installations with bells and whistles you will never use.



Media – Media is usually an add-on material, such as lava rocks that go on top of the burner to create a natural flame pattern. Common media for burners include lava rock, fire glass, and ceramic log sets. Media is sometimes included with the purchase of your fire pit so make sure to check before you buy extra. Learn more about different types of media here.

Burner  – The burner is responsible for turning gas into flame. Burners can be used to a multitude of effects, such as different flame patterns and sizes. The bigger the gas flame, the more heat the fire pit can give off, and some burners allow for the size of the flame can be adjustable. Learn more about burner shape to have aesthetic control over your gas-produced flames!

Pan  – The pan is a protective piece that sits under the burner and the media, keeping anything from falling into the cavity below. There are a variety of pan shapes, depending on the burner shape. Common pan shapes include a flat pan, a bowl-shaped pan, or a V-shaped linear pan.

Enclosure – To put it simply, the enclosure is the shape of the fire pit itself. Enclosures can be purchased or customized in practically any size or shape.

Connectors and Fittings  – These are the complex routing of hoses and pipes throughout the base of the fire pit through which gas flows from the supply to the burner. This can include a connector hose, a gas regulator, and a valve. Usually, people attempt to hide the connectors inside the enclosure of the fire pit.

Vents  – Vents are built into the enclosure to allow air to flow and water to drain out the system. Because vents keep pressure from building inside the installation, the ignition system has the fresh air and clearance to properly start the flames. Every now and then, double-check that your vent system isn’t getting clogged by any sort of debris, as that could lead to damage over time.


Control Types

Key Valves – The key valve is used to control gas flow to the burner, and is typically found on the side of the base of the fire pit. Some fire pits come with a removable key that activates the valve, as a childproof safety precaution.

Control Knobs – The control knob will open or close the gas valve. The fireplace gas valve sends gas to the ignition—which is the part responsible for creating the spark that lights the fire.

Remotes & Switches – Not every fire pit has a remote control, but they certainly are convenient. Generally, for use with automatic ignition fire pits, remotes and switches can be built into the fire pit to make the act of controlling gas-flow-to-ignition easier for the user, so easy you won’t ever have to get up from your chair.


Ignition Types

Match Lit – The most affordable option: match-lit ignition systems literally require a match to ignite the flowing gas every time the fire is lit.

Push Button – One step easier than a match-lit ignition. A push-button ignition is exactly what it sounds like: once the gas valve is on and the gas is flowing, the user only needs to push a button to create a spark (and naturally, the flames). Some push-button systems include a safety pilot system that will shut off the gas if the flame ever goes out. This is an extra level of safety for your home you may want to look into.

Automatic Ignition – An automatic ignition is the easiest (and safest) mechanism for producing flames from your gas fire pit. All that is required is to flick a switch or push a button, and because of the ignition system’s electrical hookup, everything from gas flow to ignition is automatic.



Glass Wind Guard  - The glass wind guard is an optional add-on that protects the media and burner from wind, keeping the flame burning on the windiest of days. It’s not mandatory, but a wind guard can keep your fire alive during any wind—not to mention keep your flames from blowing too far, which could essentially render your fire pit useless. Glass wind guards are a cheap add-on to weatherproof your fire pit.

Protective Covers  - Protective covers are used to cover up the fire pit when not in use. We recommend dressing your fire pit with the cover even when inclement weather isn’t expected, as it also prevents rust and deterioration from damaging your fire pit. 

Now that you know the many mechanisms inside a gas fire pit, you can go forth and find an installation that not only works for your home—but works for your wallet!


We’re Here to Help!

Fireplace Deals’ inventory has dozens of gas fire pit options for your perfect outdoor installation—whether you’re looking for a small, temporary fixture—or a spacious fire pit table fit for an outdoor dinner with the entire family! Call us at 866-848-3473 or email us to speak with an NFI-certified expert. Or check out our Learning Center for more great articles.