There’s nothing like entertaining guests with an evening meal or drinks around the gentle and warming flame of a fire pit table.
Most good quality propane fire pit tables have been manufactured to recognized national standards and are CSA Approved. They burn at relatively low temperatures and also have flame sensors to shut off the gas if the flames go out, making them very safe to use even on decking.
So let’s dive into the types of fire pit tables you can buy, and consider some tips on how to use them safely in your yard or outside space.
What is a Fire Pit Table?
Unlike a traditional fire pit design, which can be a fixed stone structure or portable metal bowl that burns wood – a fire pit table is literally a coffee table or dining table design with a fire pit element built into its center.
Usually seen as a luxury piece of eye-catching outdoor furniture, fire pit tables come in a variety of designs from the simple to the extravagant, and can create a real talking point on your patio or decking area.
While most models are powered by refillable 20 pound propane gas canisters that are hidden underneath the table itself, some models burn smokeless wood and fuel – or just simple logs.
However, the versions designed as drinks tables or dining tables that are fuelled with propane gas, are the ones we’ll be talking about in this article. This is because they are safer, cleaner, and more controllable – and don’t sometimes spit out sparks like the wood burning models.
You don’t just have to eat supper or have drinks around your fire pit table though, they also make great games tables for late night poker or cards – or can be used to play board games with your family. When switched off they can just be used as a normal table again too.
Needless to say, as these pieces of outdoor furniture have a naked flame in the center of them, we need to ensure we’re using them safely – which as already mentioned is perfectly possible if you follow the maker’s guidelines.
Can I Put a Fire Pit Table On My Deck?
Fire pit tables can be used on lawn areas or patios – and you’ll be pleased to hear they can also be used on wooden or composite decking too. They burn at a lower temperature than wood burning fire pits, so they don’t pose much risk at all.
Unlike traditional fire pits, which can get very hot underneath and eject sparks and flaming debris, fire pit tables have been designed specifically to use safely on all types of surfaces including decking.
As they don’t get as hot as other types of fire pits, this means the central flame area can be shielded with glass wind guards too – which is great for families with young children and pets.
While you should always check the manufacturer’s guidelines for information on the clearance needed to use your table safely – you’ll find most high quality propane fuelled models have been safety tested to be used as standalone pieces of outdoor furniture, and don’t cause any problems if constantly supervised.
It’s worth saying though that for extra peace of mind, you should always check the build quality of your decking before buying a fire pit table. These are heavy items and the last thing you want is it disappearing through your decking planks when grandma is on her main course.
If you have any concerns at all about using fire pit furniture on your decking, then you can always install a decking insulation kit – or ask a certified technician to fit this and the table for you too. However, this would be more necessary with a traditional fire pit rather than these table top models.
Can I Use a Fire Pit Table Under a Covered Patio? (How To Use a Fire Pit Table)
If you have an awning or fixed roofing over your patio or decking area, then it’s still safe to use your fire pit table underneath this.
Just make sure you read the maker’s safety guidelines first, as different models will require different clearances away from walls, ceilings and other pieces of furniture.
Most top standard fire pit tables have been constructed to run at between 40,000 to 100,000 British Thermal Units (BTU), which is a safe capping level ensuring they do not overheat. So provided the table is well below the overhanging roof above, then you and your guests should all be fine.
Again, each model is different so make sure you always read the safety guidelines before you install and run your equipment.
Do Fire Pit Tables Keep You Warm?
While not as hot as traditional fire pits, you will experience a degree of warmth from your fire pit table.
Although primarily designed as an aesthetically pleasing piece of kit with a beautiful flame burning in the center – a relatively low BTU rating means fire pit tables don’t burn anywhere like as fiercely as a normal wood fire, so don’t expect to be glowing with the heat produced on those colder evenings.
Indeed, the control you have over the heat produced by your table is one of its selling points. Because its powered by propane gas, the flame can be easily adjusted with a simple dial on the side of the appliance – meaning less heat on those balmy summer evenings, and a full height flame and more heat when its more chilly.
Can You Cook On a Fire Pit Table?
Cooking on your fire pit table is not a good idea. Beneath it synthetic fireproof stones are burners attached to the propane tank, and if these were to become obstructed by food particles or melted foods – then this could become a safety hazard (plus a nightmare to clean).
Even though most models are now built with flame sensors, so they switch off the propane supply when the flames are accidentally extinguished – it’s better to be safe than sorry and just not cook over your fire pit table at all.
It’s also worth being careful not to lean over the table and across the flame with your drinks either, as any liquids spilt on the burners could cause problems as well.
Before we get into our fire pit safety Q&A, this video will help you stay safe when using your fire pit with friends and family…
Fire Pit Table Safety Q&A
While we’ve already given a fairly extensive run down of the main questions people have about fire pit tables – here is a quick Q&A to help you further:
Should I Cover My Fire Pit Table When Not In Use?
Yes, this would be a good idea, especially during the wetter months. Make sure it’s properly turned off then cover it with a suitable polyester furniture cover to protect it from the wind, rain and elements when not in use. This will greatly prolong its life.
How Long Will a 20 Pound Propane Tank Last?
Running at its highest flame setting, the propane 20 pound propane tank in your fire pit table will last around 10 hours. However, this depends on the BTU output of your table and will vary by model and manufacturer.
Are Propane Fire Pit Tables Bad For The Environment?
No they are not. Propane fires don’t give off any harmful fumes like burning wood. They also don’t cause sparks which can cause house or forest fires.
Can I Burn Wood On My Propane Fire Pit Table?
Absolutely not. This would be a serious safety hazard and would damage the table beyond repair.
Can I Use My Propane First Pit Table Inside My House?
No way. Propane fire pit tables are designed for use outdoors because they need sufficient ventilation. Using one inside the house would therefore be extremely dangerous.
Can I Leave Propane Tanks Outside In The Winter?
Yes, in normal winters this should be ok as propane doesn’t freeze until the temperature is lower than -50 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the unlikely event that it ever does get colder than that and your tank freezes up, don’t worry and just wait for the tank to thaw on its own.
How Do I Store Propane Tanks Safely?
- Store them at least 10-15 feet away from your house
- Keep them far away from other flammable substances
- Store them upright to stop damage to the valve and any leakage
- Read the safety guidelines provided by the fire pit table manufacturer
Fire pit tables are completely safe and provide a real talking point for your friends and family when entertaining outside. They can be safely used on wooden decking and covered patios, and provide warmth without the fierce heat and sparks of a traditional wood-burning fire pit.
Ideal for both dinner parties and drinks events, if you make sure you buy a safety-certified model from a good quality brand – and always read the manufacturer’s user guidelines – then you’re sure to enjoy years of safe usage from your fire pit table.