How to Build a Fire Pit Heat Deflector
Fire pits have become quite popular in modern homes. They serve several purposes, but heat output and efficiency are the top priority. Ultimately, a great fire pit can give off enough heat; that’s where heat deflectors come in. Heat deflectors redirect the fire pit heat released upwards, sideways where people are sitting around.
A heat deflector for a fire pit consists of a metal disc with three or four stands that mount on top of the fire pit, blocking hot air from rising and redirecting it to the sides. Making a heat deflector for your fire pit is not as difficult. However, you will need some basic handyman skills as it requires materials, various tools, and machinery. This article will teach you how to make a DIY heat deflector suitable for gas and wood fire pits.
Building a wood or gas fire pit heat deflector
Our heat deflector will consist of a rectangular lid with four stands. Here’s how to build it.
What you need
- Protective gear (goggles, ear muffs)
- Metal bars for the stand (non-hollow)
- Malleable sheets of your desired metal (18 gauge )
- Screws ( aluminum or steel)
- Soldering gun
- Metal shears or chop saw
- Brake (to help bend the metal sheets).
- Rivets and riveter
Measure your fire pit
- Wear your safety goggles when cutting metals to avoid shards from getting into your eyes.
- You need to take measurements of the fire pit for your metal sheets. First, measure the fire pit end to end, where you want the stands of the heat deflector to be, then add an inch and a quarter to all sides.
Choose your material
The sheets for the heat deflector could either be aluminum or stainless steel.
- Aluminum is a cheaper option to make a heat deflector and easier to weld the sheet to the legs than stainless steel. It is also more flexible and easier to bend. However, although aluminum is a better heat conductor, it also loses too much heat. It is also chemically reactive with foods that might erode the sheet and change its color or odor.
- Stainless steel is the pricier option. It is sturdier than aluminum. It is a better heat blocker that will prevent your fire pit from losing heat, thus improving its efficiency. Finally, it doesn’t react with food.
Make the lid
- Cut your sheets to size using a pair of metal shears.
- Measure half an inch from each corner, mark it with a scribe, and drill a small hole. The size of the hole doesn’t matter.
- Use a clipper to trim the edges of the metal sheet circularly. Then use the same cutter to snip the corner right to the drilled holes, cutting the corner in half.
- Using a brake, bend each side up to 60°.
- Then use the pliers to bend the corners of each intersecting side until they overlap and then drill a pilot hole through them.
- Use a riveter to insert a rivet through each hole, connecting the corners of each intersecting side. Alternatively, you can weld each side together with a soldering gun.
Make a stand
- You will need four metal bars that aren’t hollow with the smallest size as 0.5×1.5 inches.
- You can cut the metal bars to your desired length; most people do 12 inches or more. However, note that a wood fire pit heat deflector should have longer legs to allow space for air circulation and to add wood.
- Have someone hold all the four stands where you want the lid to stand. Then position the lid on the legs and mark where the bars touch the lid.
- Hold a stand in its marked place under the lid, drill a hole through them, then set the screws to secure each bar. Repeat this for all stands. Use either aluminum or steel screws and not galvanized screws because zinc releases fumes that are toxic when heated and can buildup in the food.
- If you have extra bars, you can connect the bottom of the stands for steadier support. Then, once you’re done, you can place your heat deflector above your fire pit and remove it for easy storage.
If making the heat deflector for yourself is too much of a hassle, you can invest in the Solo Stove heat deflector. It is a stainless steel heat deflector with a circular disc with three legs that only requires straightforward assembling. In addition, it comes in three sizes, allowing you to choose a sizeable one for your fire pit.
Do fire pit heat deflectors work?
Yes, heat deflectors for fire pits work. A heat deflector is a shield or barrier that stops or limits heat from passing through. So heat moves in three ways; radiation, convection, and conduction. Convection is the process of heat transfer through air and the heat type from a firepit. The heat from the fire pit heats the air around it, and since warmer air is lighter, it rises upwards. A heat deflector above your fire pit blocks the rising hot air from moving further upwards and redirects it sideways instead. It magnifies the fire pit’s heat radius and allows you to keep larger groups of people gathered around it warm.
How do I make my fire pit radiate more heat?
Typically, gas fire pits don’t radiate as much heat as a wood-burning fire. But if your wood fire pit is not heating up well, you can make some adjustments to get more heat out of it. A fire pit consists of three essentials; oxygen, fuel(wood or gas), and heat. Therefore, anything that affects these components will affect the amount of heat produced. Below are some easy ways to make your fire pit burn hotter.
Use dry wood
Dry wood absorbs the fire more easily because of the lack of sap since tree sap is not flammable. Therefore, a fire pit with dry wood burns brighter, stronger, and produces more heat. Conversely, using wet wood causes the fire to waste a lot of heat to burn the less-flammable wood. As a result, the fire has less energy to convert to heat, therefore less heat coming out of your fire pit.
Dry wood is typically gray or brown, while wet wood is usually green.
Give more oxygen
A good solution for more heat is to place the fire pit in an area with good air circulation. The carbon dioxide will go out, and oxygen can enter, thus maintaining a much hotter fire pit. Oxygen oxidizes the fuel, which creates a chemical reaction to cause a fire. Therefore a fire will not burn without oxygen.
Increasing oxygen to your fire promotes the chemical reaction that causes the fire to burn bigger and hotter. Although providing more oxygen to your fire pit causes an increase in heat and light, it is not long-lasting. Once you stop providing more oxygen, the fire pit burns low and slow.
There are two kinds of wood: softwood and hardwood.
Softwood burns faster, producing a lot more heat and energy. It also dries faster and is great if you want a quick hot flame.
On the other hand, hardwood burns much slower and lasts longer; however, it produces less heat.
Increase the surface area
A bigger fire usually burns hotter. Making your fire bigger will help the flames access more oxygen. And as explained earlier, the more oxygen a fire gets, the hotter the flames burn. You can make your fire bigger by adding more flammable twigs, leaves, and branches, then spread the ashes and fire around to increase the surface area of the flame. The flames will acquire more oxygen and make it easier for the produced carbon dioxide to escape, thus making the fire larger and hotter.
Ensure you spread all the twigs and branches evenly on all sides to get a more consistent heat dispersion and build an even fire all across the perimeter.
Choose the right type of wood
The amount of heat the fire produces depends on the type of wood you burn. So when picking wood for your fire, make sure the wood your choose is soft and dry. Some excellent variants for firewood include; ash, maple, oak, pine, sycamore, app, birch blackthorn, and yew. These trees are particularly soft, so they also dry quickly well.
However, hardwood usually burns hotter than softwood. But the downside with hardwood is it takes a lot of time to reach such hot temperatures, while softwood doesn’t reach some high temperatures but reaches its maximum temperatures much faster. So unless you have time to burn your fire pit for long, you should go for soft, dry wood.
With the DIY steps of making a fire pit heat deflector, you will enjoy gathering your friends around the fire as you will all be warm throughout. You can also help your fire pit produce more heat by using soft and dry wood, increasing the surface area of the fire, and improving aeration. Note that making the fire pit defector requires skills and machinery handling; if you’re not confident, you can always invest in a commercial heat deflector custom-made for your fire pit.