A few years back, the pontoon fire pit tables were introduced as the hottest new accessory must-have. And while it did catch on at the start, the hype surrounding the trendy add-on was soon doused by safety concerns. All things considered, the raised brows and heated pontoon forum debates were backed by reason - after all, there’s obvious danger to having an open flame sitting right in the middle of a pontoon.
Not surprisingly, the fire pit table for pontoon boats trend died up pretty quickly, and today, you’re not likely to find them for sale. Nonetheless, there are alternatives you can try to achieve the same warm, cozy feel on board minus the risks and dangers.
Alternatives to Using Fire Pits for Pontoons
When you look at pontoon fire pit tables from all angles, you’ll notice that they’re just like any other gas-powered fire pit that you’ll find through your local outdoor gear and supply shop. And although those are still widely available, there are a bunch of other options you might want to consider.
1. Outdoor Fire Pit Tables
The models that used to be sold for pontoon boats were no different from outdoor fire pit tables. They were really only different in that they were marketed for use on boats. That said, you could always just buy a fire pit table and bolt it to your deck for added safety.
Keep in mind though that there will always be a risk to having an open flame on your boat. On top of that, there might be some local laws and regulations that prevent boat owners to use fire pit tables on their pontoon. Make sure you check with the local authorities to find out whether you can have one on board or not.
2. Portable Heaters
If you were interested in the whole fire pit table trend because you want to stay warm on those chilly nights out on the lake, then you might as well just try a portable heater. Designed to distribute heat across a space, these nifty devices are much safer than having an open fire on your boat.
These come in a wide variety and offer to heat up spaces without the need for fire. Some designs still connect to a propane supply however, so you’re still going to need to observe some safety protocol if you’re going to use one on board.
3. Smart Lighting
You’d be surprised how many people buy fire pits just for the sake of setting the mood. Fortunately, you don’t really need to play with fire if you’re out to get your boat looking romantic and cozy as the sun sets.
Smart lighting can be a convenient alternative that’s far less dangerous and impressively versatile. Just make sure you’re docked when you turn them on, and avoid using similar colors to navigational lighting since they might confuse boats in the vicinity.
The Best Alternatives to Pontoon Fire Pit Tables
Designed for spaces up to 200 square feet, this electronic heater provides well-distributed warmth that can keep you feeling warm and comfortable while you float on the lake. The compact design is electrically powered, which means there’s no need for a propane tank that could further risk accidents or injury.
Complete with a timer and an auto shut-off feature that turns the device off if it’s accidentally tipped over, this choice is ultra quiet and easy to move around. And because of its conveniently small footprint, this space heater makes an excellent choice for boat owners who don’t have a lot of floor area to spare for a fixed unit.
If you were looking for something a little more capable of heating a larger space, then this choice might be for you. Specifically designed for outdoor use, this propane heater features a double tank top structure that attaches directly to your propane tank. The heater heads emit radiant warmth that can sufficiently heat up spaces up to 800 square feet.
Sturdy and reliable, this choice touts ultra quiet operation that won’t interrupt conversations. Complete with a push button ignition, tip over safety shut off, and heat regulators, this pick provides convenient performance for quick and easy operation.
Provided you’ve got the floor area to spare, then a full on fire pit table might be a good choice. This design features a faux wood aesthetic complete with a concealed compartment for a propane tank. The integrated ignition feature allows easy operation, while the steel table insert and protective cover ensure safety during and after use.
An adjustment knob inside the compartment lets you manage the heat to suit your standards. Keep in mind though that since the table isn’t designed with pontoon boats in mind, it’s important that you exercise extreme caution during use.
Smart, color changing LED strip lights are a simple, easy alternative if you’re looking to switch up your pontoon boat’s mood. These lights come with their own smartphone application for more intuitive operation, even letting you manage colors, brightness, and settings through voice commands.
Perfect for changing up the ambiance, these light strips come with 3M outdoor mounting tape for a secure grip on all sorts of surfaces. Use them to line the edges of your pontoon furniture to create a fun, interesting set-up for parties and late night talks.
Are They Safe?
If safety is your main concern, then it’s best that you stay away from fire pit tables since they pose the greatest risks. These dangers exponentially increase with boats that often have children and pets as guests. But that doesn’t mean fir tables entirely out of the question.
It’s possible to have a fire pit table installed on board without having to worry about the potential dangers. But if you can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to install the table properly, and that you’d be able to watch over operations 100% of the time, then you might be better off with a space heater or just some lighting if you’re after the ambiance.
Safety Tips for Fire Pit Tables
If you’ve made up your mind and you really want to have a fire pit table on board, then these safety tips should keep you, your boat, and your guests safe and comfortable even with the flame on board.
1. Don’t Leave the Fire Pit Unattended
Most accidents involving fires occur because there isn’t anyone there to watch over the source. In the same way, you won’t want to leave a fire pit unattended. Make sure you’re available at all times to watch over the table if it’s turned on. If you need to step away and there won’t be anyone there to keep an eye on the fire pit, simply turn off the ignition and start it up when you get back.
2. Bolt It To The Deck
You never know when a wave might cause your pontoon to rock a little too hard and tip over the pit. The safest way to install it would be to secure it to your flooring by drilling it in place. Of course, that also means that you have to be willing to drill a few holes into your deck, so make sure you think about placement before you do the deed.
3. Cover When Not In Use
There’s always the risk that some burning debris might be left behind even after you turn off the gas. Winds can easily reignite the embers and cause the debris to catch fire all over again. That’s why most fire pits come with steel covers that you can use to completely choke the fire and kill off the embers.
Considerations for Fire Pits and Heaters
Boat owners interested in fire pits or heaters for the purpose of warmth have some special considerations to make. You might not be able to achieve the effect you’re looking for if the heater you’re buying doesn’t match your space or your needs.
1. Space Considerations
A heater can only do so much in terms of warming up a large space. That’s why manufacturers often indicate the amount of space their designs can sufficiently cover. If your boat is about 150 square feet, then you need a heater that can cover around 200 square feet if you want every area to be warm.
2. Heat Limits
Fire pit tables let you adjust the flames so you can somewhat manage the heat it produces. But if you’ve got your sights set on a heater, then it helps to learn a little more about BTUs. As a general rule, a square foot of space will require 20 BTUs for sufficient heating. So if your boat is 100 square feet, your heater should produce at least 20,000 BTUs.
You don’t want a fire pit or a heater to be too close to other elements or furniture in your boat. Before you make that purchase, measure the size of the unit itself and whether it will fit your open space. For maximum safety, there should be at least a foot of clearance on all sides of the heater or fire pit to prevent any accidents.
Crank Up the Heat
What could be more relaxing than a night out on the lake with good food, close friends, and a beer in hand? If you want to make sure the conversations keep on rolling, then it helps to crank up the heat and keep the ambiance nice and toasty for maximum comfort. Pontoon fire pit tables have long been discontinued, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the same effect with what’s available on the market today. So whether you’re after the warmth or the ambiance, there’s sure to be an alternative to help you achieve the perfect nighttime pontoon vibe.