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Fire tables are one of the best ways to improve a porch, balcony, or any outdoor space. They offer heat in the winter and peaceful ambiance to outdoor areas, and it's no surprise they have become a popular staple of modern homes. Whether you're building out an entire outdoor patio or are looking to add a fire pit table to your balcony, this guide will tell you everything you need to know to make an informed decision.
Fire Tables - What's Important?
When choosing which fire tables to buy, it's essential to recognize what you want out of a fire table, as it will determine which features are crucial for you. Will your fire table be primarily used for heat, or is it just for ambiance?. Do you want a propane fire pit table, or do you want to connect it to your home's natural gas line? Knowing the answer to questions like these is critical to shopping for and buying the fire pit table that is right for you.
That said, some features are universally important when considering a fire table for your home or business. For example, design and material quality are always going to be an essential consideration when shopping for a fire pit table. Products that have unsafe sharp edges, use cheaper materials or don't have proper weather protection will likely lead to a disappointing fire table, and considering fire tables are often the focal point of outdoor furniture, it could make an entire outdoor seating area feel worse.
Heat and BTU
Any outdoor fire pit or fire pit table will come with a BTU/HR measurement. This is a British Thermal Unit measurement that shows how much heat a fire pit table can put off. Depending on your needs, this can be a critical part of shopping for a fire table as it will determine whether it's warm enough to keep guests comfortable or too hot to handle. Generally, if you're shopping in a colder climate, higher BTU will be an essential feature on a fire table.
An important consideration when shopping for a fire table to provide heat is that some fire tables generate high heat using less controlled flames. Once the flames of a fire table climb too high, it can become unsafe to use, especially on smaller outdoor patios or balconies. This issue is solved by advanced gas delivery systems within high-quality fire tables that ensure high BTU output with safe and controlled flames.
- Warmer Climates Don't Need Over 20,000 BTU/HR (But going over is never an issue!)
- Cooler Climates Need Around 50,000 BTU/HR
- High Altitudes Need Higher 50,000 - 70,000 BTU/HR
Design and Materials
The design and aesthetic of your fire table is a personal choice; matching your table to your outdoor living space is often going to be the first consideration when it comes to materials. Whether it's contemporary woven wicker, an antique copper finish or stylish, clean aluminum, the best exterior design is something that can only be determined by your other furniture or desired look.
That said, when it comes to build and material quality, there are important considerations. You get what you pay for. Low cost fire tables that use sheet metal and thin power coatings for weatherproofing tend to have sharp, unsafe edges and not last very long. Even though you might save some money from the outset with products like these, you're not going to have a satisfying experience using one as your fire table.
When looking at materials, it's good to look for sturdy and durable materials like stainless 304 steel and aluminum frames. Stainless 304 is one of the most durable materials that you'll find for a table and will ensure a long-lasting fixture for your outdoor space. Aluminum frames won’t rust, are lightweight and will make moving and installing the fire table much more manageable.
If you are installing the fire table at a location with access to natural gas, then it's good to ensure the table you're buying comes with or offers a natural gas conversion kit as an accessory. This is a much cheaper option than propane, which can become quite expensive if the fire table is used extensively.
When it comes to outdoor propane fire tables, it's also important to consider where the propane will be stored. Many tables will offer storage within the table, which is often preferable to having the propane tank visible off to the side and the gas hose exposed as a trip hazard. Larger patio spaces may have their areas to store the propane tanks, but most spaces will benefit from the safety, clean look and convenience of included storage.
If you plan to use natural gas fire pit tables, confirm how the natural gas will hook into your system before purchasing a unit. This will make sure you pick a table that looks great and works great in your space.
As was mentioned above, several factors can lead to a fire table being unsafe. Issues like uncontrolled high flames and poor build quality can lead to a dangerous product. Build quality is easier to determine before purchase, but for flame height and safety, it can be challenging to determine which fire tables are safe before you install it and turn it onto the highest setting.
Luckily, CSA Certification or Approval is a fantastic benchmark for determining the safety of a fire table. For example, Outland Living's fire tables are CSA approved for use during most fire bans, which shows that their fire tables are safe to use for you and your home. Looking for CSA approval will ensure that you find a product that will look and work great in your outdoor space.
Accessories and More
Many manufacturers offer accessories for their fire tables, but not all of these are necessary to a good experience, and many of them are add-ons which may be unnecessary spending. Three main accessories are well worth the money and should be primary considerations when you're shopping for a fire table. The useful accessories are:
- A Cover or Lid
- A Wind Guard
- A Natural Gas Conversion Kit
Depending on how exposed the fire table is to the elements, a lid or cover will protect it from avoidable wear and tear. For tables that are only mildly exposed, a lid will do, but for those that are truly outdoor, a cover is recommended. If you live in an area where there can be extreme storms like blizzards or hurricanes, it's always good to bring your fire table inside, they are made of durable materials, but it's better safe than sorry.
The second of these accessories is a wind guard. Similarly to a cover/lid, this accessory varies in importance based on your local weather and where the table is getting installed. For example, if the table is going onto a higher balcony, a wind guard will ensure that it is useable on windy evenings. For the best experience, see-through glass wind guards will make sure you can still enjoy the flames.
Finally, natural gas conversion kits are often sold as accessories. As was mentioned above, homes that use natural gas can save money by using one of these conversion kits.
Fire tables are often the most expensive piece of furniture on an entire patio, but buying the correct table for your needs is well worth the cost. When shopping, it's good to keep in mind that a high-quality fire table starts at about $600.00+. Below that price point, you won't find many high-quality products, which means it's good to consider 600 a minimum price, though some tables cost several thousand dollars.
Even within tables with the same price, there can be massive value differences, with some companies offering impressive materials and power where others don't. An example of this is Outland Living's fire tables, which are barely over the $600.00 price point but offer features and materials that aren't offered by many tables that are under $1000.00. Shopping around and finding a table like those that provide high quality for a lower price will be well worth it in the long run.
Shopping for a fire table is a very personal experience as a table that is perfect for one space might not work in another. That said, considering material quality, safety, how it looks and whether you want it hot are the primary considerations that you should keep in mind when finding the perfect table for your patio, balcony, back yard or deck.