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How to Light a Propane/Gas Fire Pit with a Manual or Electronic Ignition System

Propane fire pits are a popular choice for outdoor living spaces, providing warmth and ambiance without the hassle of traditional wood-burning fire pits. Lighting a propane fire pit is a simple process, but it’s important to know the different types of ignition systems available and how to use them safely.

In this article, we will explore the various types of ignition systems for propane fire pits and provide step-by-step instructions on how to light them. Whether you are a seasoned fire pit enthusiast or a beginner, this guide will help you enjoy your propane fire pit safely and easily.

Types of Ignition Systems for Gas Fire Pits

Gas fire pits come equipped with various types of ignition systems, each designed to offer convenience and safety to users. Here’s a brief overview of the different types of ignition systems found on gas/propane fire pits:

  • Match-lit ignition system
  • Spark ignition system
  • Flame-sensing spark ignition system
  • Manual ignition with electronic sparker
  • Direct spark ignition (DSI) system
  • Electronic ignition system

To learn more about each type of ignition system, watch the video Gas Fire Pit Ignition Systems: Which One Is Right For You?.

I will not delve into the details of lighting each type, as they generally fall into two categories: manual and electronic. Below, I have provided comprehensive instructions on how to light gas fire pits, which I believe you will find quite helpful.

How to Light an Outdoor Gas Fire Pit – Manual Ignition System

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to light an outdoor propane fire pit table with a manual ignition system:

Step 1. Prepare your lighter or matches

Before turning on any gas, ensure that you have a long lighter or match ready to ignite the fire. This will help avoid the buildup of gas and reduce the risk of a small explosion.

Step 2. Ignite the lighter or match

Strike your lighter or light your match to have a flame ready for ignition.

Step 3. Turn on the gas valve

While the flame is still lit, locate the gas valve on your fire pit and turn it on slowly. You should do this immediately after igniting the lighter or match to minimize the amount of gas released before the fire starts.

Step 4. Light the burner

Quickly but carefully bring the lit lighter or match close to the burner to ignite the fire. If you have a fire pit with multiple burners, light each one individually, starting with the one closest to the gas source.

Step 5. Adjust the flame

Once the burner is lit, adjust the flame to your desired height using the control knob on the gas valve.

Step 6. Turn off the gas valve after using

When you’re finished using the fire pit, make sure to turn off the gas valve first to stop the flow of gas, and then extinguish the flame according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

When lighting a manual gas fire pit safely, follow the rule of “fire first, then gas”. Do not turn on the gas before igniting the fire to prevent small explosions.

Note* Avoid the common mistake of turning on the gas before lighting the fire, as this can result in small explosions that may frighten people. The safest and only way to light your gas fireplace or fire pit is to prioritize igniting the fire first and then adding the gas. This ensures a secure and enjoyable lighting process.

How to Light an Outdoor Propane Fire Pit Table – Electronic Ignition System

When it comes to lighting an outdoor gas fire pit table with an electronic ignition system, the process is usually simple and designed for ease of use. It eliminates the need for matches. Here are the steps to ensure a safe and successful ignition:

Step 1. Prepare your gas fire pit

Before attempting to light your gas fire pit, make sure that the gas supply is turned on. If you’re using a propane (LP) model, ensure that the tank is not only full but also properly connected and the valve is fully open. This ensures that when you initiate the ignition process, the gas will flow unobstructed.

Step 2. Initiate ignition

Most electronic ignition systems will have a button or switch designed to create a spark. Press or depress the sparker as instructed by the manufacturer. While holding the spark mechanism, turn the control knob counterclockwise approximately one-quarter of a turn to open the valve, then fully depress the black valve knob to release gas to the burners.

Step 3. Light the fire pit and adjust the flame

After you have initiated the spark and the gas is flowing, hold the control knob in the depressed position for about three to five seconds once the flame lights. This allows the thermocouple or flame sensor to heat up and ensures that the safety feature recognizes an active flame. After this period, you can release the knob. The flame should stay lit. You can now adjust the flame to your desired level by turning the knob counterclockwise to increase or clockwise to decrease the flame height.

Step 4. Safety first

It is essential to make sure that all gas fire pit components are installed by a qualified professional and that they are serviced regularly to ensure safe operation. If at any time the fire pit does not operate correctly, turn off the gas supply and contact a technician for service.

Are There Any Safety Concerns When Lighting a Propane Fire Pit?

My answer — SURE! When lighting a propane fire pit, there are some safety concerns to keep in mind. Here are some tips to ensure safe operation of your propane fire pit:

  • Never leave a burning fire pit unattended, and when you’re ready to call it a night, make sure to extinguish the flames and close the gas valve.
  • Avoid lighting your fire pit during windy conditions. A light breeze is fine, but strong winds can carry sparks, creating potential fire hazards. If air quality is poor, avoid using your fire pit.
  • Always inspect your fire pit before using it. Check the burner and keep it free from any obstructions. On gas fire pits, make sure burners are unclogged and free of debris.
  • If you smell gas, turn off the gas supply immediately and evacuate the area. Do not use any electrical switches or appliances, and do not light any matches or cigarettes. Contact a licensed gas technician to inspect your fire pit and gas supply.

Adhering to these precautions will allow for safe and enjoyable use of your propane fire pit.


In conclusion, lighting a propane fire pit is a simple process that can be done by following a few basic steps.

It is important to keep safety in mind when lighting a fire pit, such as keeping a fire extinguisher nearby and never lighting one in extreme weather conditions. With these tips in mind, you can safely and easily enjoy the warmth and ambiance of a propane fire pit in your outdoor space.

Cindy Becker

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