Frequently Asked Questions

Fireside Expressions is dedicated to customer service for the outdoor living crowd! Our detailed FAQ center was created with our outdoor products and you in mind!

When it comes to your backyard fire features and décor, you want to make sure you are taking proper care of these products. Keep in mind that Mother Nature has her own agenda (which can be unpredictable), so the outdoors tend to be a harsh realm to dwell in at times. We want to provide you with answers and helpful tips that will allow you to properly maintain and store your outdoor possessions for years to come!

With over 50 years combined experience in the field, we know a thing or two about outdoor fire features. Let us share our knowledge with you! From questions about concrete fire bowls to figuring how much fire glass you will need, we can point you in the right direction!

If you can't find what you're looking for here, we are only an email, live chat, or phone call away!


Links with a  will take you to a related blog article or a more detailed page from FEX Academy.

Concrete Fire Bowls

 

Copper & Stainless Steel Fire Bowls

 

Fire Glass

 

Fire Pits - Gas Burning

 

Fire Pits - Wood Burning

 

Fire Safety

 

Fire Tables

 

Gas Burner Rings/Inserts

 

Grills

 

Ignition Systems

 

Log Lighters

 

Natural Gas & Propane Fuel

 

Outdoor Fireplaces - Electric

 

Outdoor Fireplaces - Gas Burning

 

Outdoor Fireplaces - Wood Burning

 

Scupper & Pool Fire Bowls


Can I receive a concrete color sample?

  • Unfortunately, no. Each of our concrete fire bowls are custom made, and while every one of our artisans follow the same guidelines for color-mixing, the pouring of the concrete will actually determine the specific hue of the finished product. Therefore, if we send you a color sample, it will not be a true representation of your concrete accent. The colors that we feature online are the closest examples of your chosen shade.
    • Rest assured that if you order multiples of one color (taupe, for example), the bowls will match each other, but there will be specific areas of each feature that debut a variance in texture and blending. For example, the complexion on the lip of one bowl may appear slightly bolder in certain areas than the next. This is not a flaw; rather, it is an indication of quality and perfection. This is 100% assurance that your concrete bowl was hand crafted.

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Can my fire feature be left outside year round?

  • Yes! Our concrete fire bowls are durable and are made to withstand all weather conditions. We recommend purchasing a cover for your concrete fire bowl so you can enjoy this unique fire feature for many years to come.

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Can my fire feature be used indoors?

  • NO. Fire bowls are only meant to be used outdoors. Keep in mind you should have a minimum 36" clearance from the sides of the fire bowl to any combustible structures. Never place your fire bowl in an enclosed structure. Opt for an open backyard seating area for display purposes.

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Can wood be burned in my concrete fire bowl?

  • No. Wood burns at a higher temperature than gas, which puts your concrete bowl at the potential risk of cracking and breaking from the heat. We recommend never using wood in your concrete fire bowl.

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What size burner do I need for my concrete fire bowl?

  • When choosing a burner insert for your concrete bowl, always subtract 12 inches from the diameter of the bowl to figure out the largest sized burner you can use.
    • For example: If your bowl is 36 inches in diameter, subtract 14 inches from 36. You would need to chose the closest burner to 22 inches (in this case, the 18-inch insert).
  • Inserts must sit on top of your fire media near the lip of the bowl. Do not place the burner at the bottom of the bowl and cover with lava rock or fire glass. This is considered misuse and can lead to explosion of the product!
  • Inserts are available in round or square shapes to correspond with your feature.

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Does the height of my concrete bowl matter when choosing a burner insert?

  • Yes. Shallow bowls will not be able to accommodate a large pan-style electronic ignition system (EIS). Bowls with a depth of 10" or less do not have enough room to fit a burner insert and an EIS within them. You would need to utilize our match lit ignition systems or a flat burner for your smaller depth bowls.

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Is propane safe to use in my fire bowl?

  • Yes. Please make sure you remember to select this option on your fire bowl when customizing it. When using propane, here's what we recommend:
    • Use lava rock as your concrete bowl media. Since propane is heavier than air, it has a tendency to sink to the bottom of the fire bowl. Lava rock creates more air pockets that allow the propane to seep through and dissipate. Decorative fire glass will not allow propane to circulate and will explode!!!
    • Drill an extra hole in the bottom of your bowl to help with more efficient gas dissipation. Remember to utilize extra caution when using propane! If you smell gas - DO NOT LIGHT IT!

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How much does a fire bowl weigh?

  • The weight of a fire bowl will vary, depending on size and material used. Most of our products list the weight of the bowl, in addition to the required amount (weight) of lava rock or fire glass needed. From the smallest copper bowl to the largest concrete feature, our bowls range from 35 pounds to 777 pounds.

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Are your fire bowls stable?

  • All of our fire bowls are very stable!
    • Just like a mixing bowl that you would have in your kitchen, the bottom of the basin flattens on the bottom every so slightly to keep it from rolling or tipping over. Due to the sheer size of some or our products, the height and weight of the fire bowl itself will also help with stability.
    • Our square fire bowls have a flat equilateral bottom, making it impossible for the product to roll over. Due to the sheer size of some or our products, the height and weight of the fire bowl itself will also help with stability.
  • Some homeowners choose to drill an additional hole or two into the bottom of their features so that they can secure their fire bowl with mounting hardware. For units that are sitting atop pedestals or along border walls, this is an additional safeguard for persons and property.
  • We recommend placing your fire bowl on a paver or sturdy concrete pillar that will support its weight and size.

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How much fire glass do I need for my natural gas burning fire bowl?

  • Although we do give you the amount needed when you get your fire bowl, you may decided that your need more fire glass (or a different color) at a later time. In that case, we have a great tool for you - the fire glass calculator! Just type in the dimensions of your bowl and let the calculator do the work.
    • IMPORTANT: We recommend using lava rock in the bottom of your natural gas burning fire bowl as an inexpensive way to fill your feature; then top off with the burner with 1-2" of fire glass (see below). This will also help to better disperse the gas in your fire bowl.
    • Fire glass can be used with natural gas burning features ONLY. Fireside Expressions is adamant about this for the safety of our valued customers. Because propane is heavier than natural gas, it will sink to the bottom of your feature. Fire glass does not allow propane to circulate, and this could can lead to explosion of this particular media and your fire bowl.
Use a pan to save on cost of fire glass in your fire bowl.

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Do I need to clean my fire glass?

  • There is no maintenance required. Your fire glass will be free of soot and odors. It will not leave any residue in the bottom of your fire bowl.
    • It is, however, very possible for your gas burner to leave behind a residue of soot if fuel connections were not installed properly (see our blog "What Causes Black Soot From A Propane Burner?"). In that case, you can scoop out small amounts of glass at a time and wash them in a strainer with warm water and a small amount of mild soap. Allow your fire glass to dry completely before replacing.

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Are there any sharp piece of fire glass that might cut me?

  • There is always the possibility of small pieces of glass nicking your hands and fingers. For this reason, we do recommend the use of work gloves when handling fire glass. However, please know that we take every precaution necessary to eliminate this issue to the best of our ability. Our fire glass is tumbled many times to round off the edges and smooth the surface of these pieces.
    • REMEMBER: do not touch fire glass while it is still hot!

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Do I have to seal my concrete fire bowl to maintain a warranty?

  • Unless the warranty on the product specifically requires it (as in the case of our smooth and vibrant concrete fire bowls), your fire bowl does not have to be sealed.
  • However, we highly recommend applying a protective concrete sealer anyway. Just like anything else that remains outside, if you want to keep its pristine look, it should be shielded from the elements. Simply apply a layer of good quality sealant to your bowl once a year. Proper care and maintenance will allow you to enjoy it for many seasons to come!

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How do I protect my fire bowl from the elements?

  • A great option for protecting your fire bowl is to apply a good quality concrete sealer. This should be done at least once a year. Remember to thoroughly clean your fire bowl before applying the sealer. We also recommend getting a cover to keep your product looking like brand new!

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Do I need to have a gas contractor install my gas burning fire bowl/pit/table/feature?

  • In accordance with local, state, and federal government codes, gas appliances need to be installed safely and properly. Having an experienced professional to conduct this task is highly advised.

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What are BTUs?

  • BTUs stands for British Thermal Units. It is a unit of measurement that tells you the amount of thermal (heat) energy that a fire feature is capable of delivering. One BTU is the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. While many appliances have been replaced by the joule, our outdoor burners and fireplaces still use the popular BTUs as a measure of heat output.

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Is it ok to burn wood in my gas burning fire pit?

  • NO! Wood burns at a higher temperature than gas, and it can cause major damage to your fire pit, burner, and any media you've added. If you love the look of a wood burning fire, we can help you recreate this appearance without the hassle of cutting wood, fetching kindling, and constantly feeding your fire. Check out our collection of vented ceramic fire pit log sets!

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How do I extinguish the flames in my gas burning fire feature?

  • Never put water on the gas fire pit to extinguish the flames! While this may make the fire disappear, gas will still be flowing into your fire pit. Upon installation, your gas professional should have mounted a valve within a few feet of your fire pit. To extinguish the flames, simply insert your valve key into to the escutcheon (valve cover) and shut off the gas supply. The fire (and gas) will cease immediately.

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Do I need a screen for my gas burning fire pit?

  • Fire pit screens are not necessary for gas burning fire pits. These are typically used with wood burning features to help protect you and the environment from embers and sparks. With a natural gas or propane fire pit, these hazards are not a concern.

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What should I burn in my wood burning fire pit?

  • Natural wood is recommended over wood that has been treated. Chemically altered logs will give off toxic fumes and unpleasant smells when burned. REMEMBER:
    • Never burn garbage or paper products in your fire pit! Pieces of burning refuse tends to "fly away" and may start a fire wherever it lands.
    • Fire glass, lava rock, ceramic river stones, and other luxury media are meant to be used with gas burning features. Attempting to incorporate these to your wood burning fire pit can cause these items to explode.
    • Lighter fluid and gasoline are not suggested for igniting a fire in your outdoor feature. Instead, choose kindling, fatwood fire starters, or a stainless steel gas log lighter to help you light a wood fire.

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Is there a fast and easy way to light a wood fire?

  • There certainly is! Fireside Expressions is proud to offer stainless steel gas log lighters for those hard to ignite fires. A certifed gas professional can help you connect a fuel line to this tool so that you can experience the quick, easy lighting of a gas feature while still enjoying the ambiance of a wood burning fire pit!

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How can I protect my children and pets from my fire feature?

  • We're so glad you asked!
    • It is never too early to teach your children about fire safety! Discuss, establish, and enforce rules about keeping a safe distance (at least 3 feet) from the fire, and enjoying sports and activities away from your feature. Review these safety rules often.
    • Please do not allow children and pets to run and play near the fire pit.
    • Never leave children and pets unattended around the fire.
    • Place a safety screen over your wood burning fire pit to contain sparks and embers and protect your loved ones.
    • For gas burning features, never leave your valve key inside the escutcheon (valve cover) where curious little hands can easily turn the gas on and off.
    • Opt out of fire pit enjoyment under extremely windy conditions.
  • Remember to always have a first-aid kit handy; for wood burning features, keep a fire extinguisher or hose nearby.

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What type of features can I use fire glass in?

  • If your fire feature (fire pit, bowl, fireplace, urn, or table) is fueled by natural gas, you can use fire glass as a decorative embellishment. Fire glass is not approved for wood or propane burning elements.Fireside Expressions is adamant about this for the safety of our valued customers. For more in depth information, please click here.

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What type of features can I burn wood in?

  • Wood burning fire pits and fireplaces are designed to burn wood. Electric and gas burning features are designed to run on the appropriate power or fuel and cannot accommodate fire logs.
    • Because wood burns at higher temperatures than gas, it is not recommended for gas fire features. The extreme heat that burning wood generates can cause major damage to your fire pit or bowl, burner, and any media (lava rock or fire glass) that you've added.
    • For a realistic wood burning experience, we have plenty of gorgeous vented outdoor gas log sets that will create a campfire-style ambiance in your backyard!

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Do I use propane or natural gas in my copper outdoor feature?

  • Whether you have a copper fire bowl or a copper fire and water bowl, you can choose either natural gas or propane fuel to power your feature.
  • Remember to select your preferred fuel option for your copper bowl when customizing it.
    • When using propane, we recommend that you:
      • Remember to utilize extra caution when using propane! If you smell gas - DO NOT LIGHT IT!
      • Drill an extra hole in the bottom of your bowl to help with more efficient gas dissipation.
      • Use lava rock as your bowl media. Since propane is heavier than air, it has a tendency to sink to the bottom of the feature. Lava rock creates more air pockets that allow the propane to seep through and dissipate. Fire glass does not allow propane to circulate and will explode!
  • Remember to have a certified gas contractor install your fuel lines and connect them to your fire features to ensure a safe and proper set up!

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What should I do if I smell gas when operating my outdoor fire feature?

  • There are a few things you must do if you smell gas coming from or around your outdoor fire feature:
    • DO NOT IGNITE the fuel! If there is a malfunction with your gas connection or fuel source, this can be extremely dangerous to you, your loved ones, and your property!
    • Make sure all gas valves are in the off position.
    • Stay away from the fire feature.
    • Immediately call your gas service technician and relay the problem. Do not operate your fire feature until your service person has inspected, fixed, and cleared your fuel setup to resume use.
      • If your gas service technician is unavailable and the gas odor is still present, call the fire department.

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What is reflective fire glass?

  • This type of colored fire glass has a reflective finish on one side (indicated by the red arrows in the picture below). This concept is similar to the reflective backing of a mirror. Adding this element to fire glass allows the media to bounce light off its prismatic surfaces for a shimmery display of sparkle and glitz!
Difference between regular colored and reflective fire glass.

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How can I prevent my copper bowl from discoloring over time?

  • Example of a patina that has formed on a copper vase.Despite what you may have heard, copper does not discolor over time. It is truly a unique material! For many centuries, architects and artisans alike have chosen to use copper in their creations because of its durability and longevity. It does "transform" its appearance over the years due to its exposure to environmental elements of certain areas (pollution, salt water, acid rain, etc.). This oxidation process causes copper to form a bluish-green coating (example of advanced patina shown at right on a copper vase) in order to maintain and protect its resilient luster. The naturally occurring phenomenon is called a patina, and is not considered a flaw, defect, or discoloration. Many people find this sheen quite attractive, as it gives their copper feature an "old-world" look. In fact, there are many techniques that have been shared with patina lovers worldwide to enhance or speed up the oxidation process in order to achieve this look.

  • For those that prefer the amber dazzle of pure copper, the patina can be very easily polished away using a combination of 1/2 cup lemon juice or vinegar with 1 tablespoon of salt or baking soda. Simply dip a soft bristled brush into the solution and gently scrub the affected areas until the patina is removed. Rinse with clean water and then buff to dry and polish.

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Can my scupper bowl or pool fire bowl be used indoors?

  • NO. These types of bowls are only meant to be used outdoors. They must be connected to an outdoor water system (such as a pool controller) and placed in an area that can fully support the weight of some of our larger bowls.
    • Please keep in mind you should have a minimum 36" clearance from the sides of your fire or pool fire bowl to any combustible structures. Never place fire features in an enclosed structure!
    • Remember to have a certified gas contractor install your fuel lines and connect them to your fire features to ensure a safe and proper set up!
    • Remember to have an electrician or pool technician connect the water lines of your scupper or pool fire bowl to your pool's circulation system for a safe and proper setup!
  • The only exception to this situation that we can justify is if you were to install scupper bowls around an indoor swimming pool. We still, however, advise against trying this with pool fire bowls because it poses a fire hazard.

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Can I use fire glass in my scupper or pool fire bowl?

  • It is not necessary to add fire glass to a scupper bowl, as this feature was designed to circulate water only. You could potentially lose/scatter fire glass into your pool or fountain due to the water flow in this bowl.
  • Natural gas burning pool fire bowls can, however, accommodate this media.
    • Fire glass can be used with natural gas burning features ONLY. Fireside Expressions is adamant about this for the safety of our valued customers. Because propane is heavier than natural gas, it will sink to the bottom of your feature.Fire glass does not allow propane to circulate, and this could can lead to explosion of this particular media.
    • Lava rock allows propane to dissipate and is the safest choice for propane features.

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Can I burn wood in my pool fire bowl?

  • No. Wood burns at a higher temperature than gas, which puts your pool fire bowl at the potential risk of warping and becoming damaged from the heat. We recommend never using wood in a pool fire bowl.

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Can I burn wood in my copper or stainless steel fire feature?

  • No. Wood burns at a higher temperature than gas, which puts your copper and stainless steel products at the risk of warping from the heat, along with other damages. We recommend never using wood in your fire or pool fire bowls.

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Do I use propane or natural gas in my pool fire bowl?

  • You can choose either natural gas or propane fuel to power your pool fire bowl.
  • Remember to select your preferred fuel option for your pool fire bowl when customizing it.
    • When using propane, we recommend that you:
      • Remember to utilize extra caution when using propane! If you smell gas - DO NOT LIGHT IT!
      • Drill an extra hole in the bottom of your bowl to help with more efficient gas dissipation.
      • Use lava rock as your bowl media. Since propane is heavier than air, it has a tendency to sink to the bottom of the feature. Lava rock creates more air pockets that allow the propane to seep through and dissipate. Fire glass does not allow propane to circulate and will explode!
  • Remember to have a certified gas contractor install your fuel lines and connect them to your fire features to ensure a safe and proper set up!
  • Remember to have an electrician or pool technician connect the water lines of your feature to your pool's circulation system for a safe and proper setup!

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How do I clean my outdoor fireplace?

  • A mild detergent and warm water can be used on your fireplace. The hood and body of the unit can be wiped down as needed (use a damp cloth - not soaking). The firebox (gas and wood burning models) may need the occasional help from an oven spray cleaner to remove excessive soot or debris.

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Why is my outdoor wood burning fireplace smoking?

  • When the wind blows, it can do one of two things:
    • It may enter the firebox and cause ash, embers, and smoke to fly out.
    • It may blow down the chimney and cause smoke to exit the firebox.
  • Either event is perfectly natural for outdoor fireplaces. In the instances when the wind is not a factor, it may very well be the type of wood you are burning, especially if it still has moisture in it.

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Where should I install my outdoor wood burning fireplace?

  • While the perfect position in your outdoor living space is a topic for debate, abiding by safety rules and codes is not! Here are a few tips to help you decide on where you should install your outdoor wood burning fireplace:
    • Make sure your wood burning fireplace is, at minimum, 10 feet away from any structure.
    • Make sure there are no trees or branches above your chimney.
    • Always place your fireplace on a level and sturdy surface that can support its weight (see your fireplace's online specifications for this calculation). We do not recommend installing the fireplace onto the ground without having some type of paver or brick underneath. Otherwise, your fireplace may sink slightly over time.
    • Be sure to contact your local code office to see what the codes are in your area, as some places have stricter code regulations on fire feature clearances.

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Can my outdoor fireplace stay outside all year round?

  • Yes. Your electric, gas, or wood burning fireplace is made to be a permanent addition to your outdoor decor. It is made to withstand the weather, no matter the season.
  • Many of our electric models come with a stainless steel cover to protect the electrical components from the elements. The use of these covers are required in order to maintain the warranty.

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What type of logs should I use in my wood burning fireplace?

  • Please use natural wood only. Do not use scrap wood from tables, structures, etc. That type of wood most likely has been treated with chemicals (varnish, paint, etc.) which can give off toxic fumes when burned. REMEMBER:
    • Never burn garbage or paper products in your fireplace! Pieces of burning refuse tends to "fly away" and may start a fire wherever it lands. This can also contribute to creosote build-up in the chimney.
    • Fire glass, lava rock, ceramic river stones, and other luxury media are meant to be used with gas burning features. Attempting to incorporate these to your wood burning fireplace can cause these items to explode.
    • Lighter fluid and gasoline are not suggested for igniting a fire in your outdoor feature. Instead, choose kindling, fatwood fire starters, or a stainless steel gas log lighter to help you light a wood fire.

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Can I install my own gas fireplace?

  • To ensure your fireplace is up to code and safe to use in your outdoor living space, we highly recommend you have a certified gas professional take care of the installation process.

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Can I burn wood in my electric or gas fireplace?

  • NO. Never put wood in your electric or gas outdoor fireplace.
    • Wood burns at a higher temperature than gas, and can cause irreparable damage to your fireplace.
    • Because electric fireplaces are not capable of burning fuel and run on electrical power only, adding wood to the simulated firebox area would be a extremely dangerous.

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How do I turn off my gas burning fire feature?

  • Fireplaces & Fire Tables: Always check your installation manual. Some of our fireplaces use a simple On/Off switch. All fireplaces should have a gas valve and key that will allow you to shut off the gas flow.
  • Fire Bowls & Pool Fire Bowls: All fire bowls have a gas valve and key that will allow you to shut off the gas flow.
    • NEVER pour water over your gas burning feature to extinguish the flames! This could cause your fireplace, fire table, or fire bowl to crack.

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Can I cook in my outdoor fireplace or over my fire pit/bowl/table/pool fire bowl?

  • Electric and gas burning features are NOT for culinary use.
    • Electric fireplaces: Because electric fireplaces are not capable of burning fuel and run on electrical power only, cooking food in the simulated firebox area would be a extremely dangerous.
    • Gas fireplaces: We do not recommend cooking with a gas fireplace, for the simple reason that if food falls into the firebox, it can be very difficult to clean and remove from the burner or media. Drippings from food into the gas burner could also pose a fire hazard.
  • Wood burning fire pits can be used to cook food, as long as you adhere to safety precautions. We recommend using a tripod cooking grate, for example, to keep your food (and hands) out of the flames.
  • Typically, a wood burning fireplace is not recommended for cooking food. However, we have a beautiful Mirage Stone BBQ fireplace that is fully capable of helping you conjure up a meal fit for a king!

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What type of performance should I expect from a TEC infrared grill?

  • Expect only the ultimate in precision cooking! TEC infrared grills boast a rapid heat-up feature, allowing them to jump from 0° to 850°F in 10 minutes! With this high performance searing capability, your steaks will be grilled to perfection every time. Should you prefer to smoke, barbecue, or slow cook your food, a TEC infrared grill can accommodate lower temperatures of 250° to 300°F.
  • The stainless steel burners have been designed with even heat distribution in mind. No hot or cold spots, flare-ups, or charring to be found – just superior performance throughout for a culinary experience like no other!

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What type of benefits do TEC infrared grills offer?

  • TEC knows how difficult it can be to spruce up your grill, which is why these innovative products have been designed to self-clean! When you’re finished with your outdoor food preparation, simply turn your grill on high for 10-15 minutes with the hood closed. Food drippings are incinerated for a no-hassle clean up!
  • There is no need for additional side-burners if you have a TEC infrared grill. Cookware can be placed directly on the grate to keep your food warm, or directly on the radiant glass for a fast heat up!
  • TEC infrared grills have been tested and proven to use up to 50% less fuel than other gas grills, making them incredibly efficient and giving you twice the cooking time!

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How long has TEC been manufacturing infrared grills?

  • The first infrared gas grill was introduced to the world by TEC in 1980. With more than 30 years in the grilling industry, TEC has built a loyal clientele who still have their original American-made infrared model! With high grade stainless steel accessories and replacement parts, TEC products are built to last a lifetime!
Last updated on July 25th 2017.