The Fire Pit Resource

Gas Burning Fire Pits - Ignition Systems Comparison

Gas fire pits have various ignition system options available to make it quick and easy to get the fire burning. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to try and understand the differences between them. In this post, we are going to provide you with a guide for how each ignition functions, so you can be better informed to make your decision on what will be best for you. Read the information below and feel free to post comments with any additional questions you may have! 

 Match Lit Ignition – When lighting a manual lit ignition fire pit, you must open the gas valve (normally done with a valve key) and then hold a lit long match or long-stem lighter near the burner until the gas ignites. You can adjust the height of the flames by using the valve to control gas flow. You do not want to have the valve completely open when lighting the gas, as this can cause a dangerous flame burst. Remember that stainless steel burners are best for outdoor use.

Manual Spark Ignition – A manual spark ignition is a little more efficient than the match lit because of its battery-powered spark. To start, you will press and hold a push button while opening the gas valve or dial. This push button will trigger the battery-powered spark to fire, causing the burner to ignite. Once the burner has ignited, you will release the push button and use the valve to adjust the flames to your preferred height. The spark will fire continually until the flame is lit (much like a BBQ grill).

Safety Pilot Ignition – Safety should be a high priority when using a gas burner. This safety pilot ignition was built so that if the pilot light should ever blow out, the fire pit burner will automatically shut off. To ignite, you will first open the valve to feed gas to the pilot chamber. While the gas valve is open, push the ignition button to light the pilot and hold the gas valve open for about twenty seconds before releasing. This ensures the pilot has enough gas flow to keep burning and generate enough heat. Once you release the gas valve, a thermocouple will sense the pilot flame is burning and will use it to ignite the burner pan. The safety feature will shut gas off if the pilot is blown out.

Intermittent Pilot IgnitionIntermittent pilot ignitions are full electronic push button systems. By pushing the ignition button, the gas valve will open and an electrode will spark to light the pilot gas. Once the pilot flame has been lit, it will then ignite the main burner pan. The pilot flame will only exist when the main burner is operating. These ignition systems do not feature standing pilots, which are hard to maintain in outdoor conditions. Please note that if the main burner is off, the pilot will also be off. 

Hotwire Ignition – This system’s single push button start sends electricity to a small coiled wire near the pilot assembly. This wire heats up to about 1200 degrees and ignites the pilot flame. The thermocouple senses the pilot flame and opens the valve to light the main burner. In the event that the pilot flame goes out, the thermocouple on this unit has a 60 second drop-out time before the main gas flow is shut off. If the main burner is extinguished, the hotwire ignition system will attempt to relight up to five times.

No matter which ignition system you choose for your fire pit, make it a priority to read all of the included safety instructions and follow them as directed. Also, be sure to check local codes for any ignition requirements or regulations before choosing your fire pit system. If you are looking to design your own custom fire pit, Woodland Direct has a large collection of DIY fire pit component systems for you to shop.