There is more to choosing a gas fire pit than simply by appearance. Knowing that the fire pit you choose is safe and reliable is also a very important part of the selection process. But how do you know whether or not the fire pit you want performs as advertised? Most any quality fire pit will have what is know as a UL certification. You can tell by a special sticker or mark having the letters UL inside a circle that is affixed to the unit. This sticker shows that a UL certified fire pit has been independently tested to meet certain standards so you know it will be safe and perform as stated.
What does UL stand for?
UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, a US-based international organization established in 1894. It develops standards and test procedures for product safety primarily for the US and Canada, including standards for gas fire pits. Fire pit manufacturers work with UL to conduct tests on their products. If the tests are successful, a gas fire pit is given UL certification and a gas-fired UL certified mark is placed on the fire pit by the manufacturer. This mark may only be used on certified products under license from the laboratory that tested the fire pit and that it meets safety and performance standards as determined by UL.
What is the difference between UL certification and approval?
Certification and approval are terms sometimes used to mean the same thing but there are key differences. What sets UL certification and UL approval apart is whether the testing has been conducted against the newest UL standards rather than older ones. The testing documentation should also by updated in what is known as a technical file and made available online on UL’s website. Basically, it means the manufacturer of the gas fire pit you choose has kept up with UL standards testing.
As manufacturing processes improve, gas fire pit parts change and require re-testing, re-certification and the documentation updated. Some manufacturers choose not to re-certify their products to the newest standards because of expense. The certification becomes outdated and products are not approved to the latest standards.
Should I choose a fire pit without UL certification?
In a nutshell, no. There are many reasons a manufacturer will skip out on getting a product certified. Number one is likely because of expense but that is not always the case. Improper manufacturing of parts or lack of quality checking can result in poor performance and reliability. UL would never certify inferior parts or bad performance because they do not meet safety standards.
Buying a non-certified gas fire pit means you are risking your safety and the safety of those around you. A manufacturer cutting corners just to save you a few dollars is not something worth taking a chance on. If inferior parts are used and there happens to be a malfunction, fire or explosion can result, possibly injuring you and your party guests. Manufacturers peddling uncertified products have no consideration to customer safety. A UL-certified gas fire pit may cost more but knowing it is safe and performs well is worth it.
Can I use a UL certified fire pit during a fire ban?
When a fire ban is in place, it means that no wood, charcoal or other materials can be burned. A ban is not only restricted to campgrounds and day use areas but may also extend to your neighborhood. Fortunately, you may still be able to have a fire for your backyard party if your gas fire pit is UL certified. Although you are still technically having a fire during a ban, the fire is much more controlled using a gas fire pit than when burning wood for example. The Division of Forestry considers UL-certified gas fire pits as a cooking appliances much like a barbecue and allows “cooking appliances” during fire bans. Be sure to check first just to make sure there isn’t an outright ban on any type of fire in your area.
More Reasons Why UL Certification is Important
Accidents can happen no matter how careful we are and that goes for operating a gas fire pit. If through no fault of your own your non-UL certified fire pit malfunctions and causes a fire, it is possible that your insurance company can deny your claim. Why? Because they will likely say that the malfunction was a result of faulty fire pit components citing lack of UL certification. That is why UL certification is important.
UL certification is also important because by certifying the performance of a gas fire pit, you can be assured that it lives up to what the manufacturer states it will do. For example, all UL certified fire pit gas burners will have a rating of their BTU or heat output capacity. If the manufacturer states the burner puts out up to 30,000 BTUs of heat but UL tests show only 20,000 BTUs, the burner cannot be certified at the manufacture’s rating. Buying a gas fire pit with an overstated heat output rating means you won’t get the heat you thought you were buying.
Fortunately, manufacturers have learned that in order to compete in the gas fire pit marketplace, they must go through the rigor and expense of having their fire pits UL certified. In fact only UL certified fire pits can be sold in certain states in the US as well as Canada. Make sure that before purchasing a gas fire pit, it has the mark of a circle with the letters UL inside. This means it is UL certified so you can be assured it will be safe to operate and perform as advertised. Why chance saving a few bucks on a non-certified gas fire pit?