The Blue Rhino/Uniflame/Endless Summer GAD860SP gas firebowl is gorgeous to look at, a pleasure to use, and great value for money. Its only real drawback is its complicated assembly.
This is a much nicer looking firebowl than most others you'll find at a similar price. Attractively styled, with a slate & marble tiled tabletop and dark bronze-colored sides.
This firebowl would make a nice permanent fixture in any patio setting.
At 40,000 BTUs, the fire generates more than enough heat for a cozy sitting area, but it's not as hot as a dedicated patio heater or fireplace. The construction quality is good, and while the sheet metal components aren't as strong as some other building materials, they're strong enough, and help keep the price down.
However, don't expect to just get it out of the packaging, attach a gas bottle and switch it on. There's a couple of hours of assembly for you to work through, with a few dozen parts and around 80 screws to insert in sequence. Clear your Saturday afternoon schedule, get out your power screwdriver/drill, make a fresh pot of coffee, and enlist a friend or relative to help.
Functionality & Ambiance Of Endless Summer GAD860SP Gas Firebowl
The Blue Rhino/UniFlame/Endless Summer GAD860SP firebowl makes a lovely fire, and is a nice looking piece of furniture to have in your backyard patio setting. The slate & marble tile table top is very attractive, as are the dark-bronze-colored sides. At about the size of a large coffee table, it makes a very cozy and attractive setting for you sit around in comfy chairs and enjoy the fire.
As well as being attractive, the table top is also functional, and is easily wide enough to put snacks and drinks on. Just be aware that anything you put there will be right next to the fire and will get warm. So don't plan on serving any food or drinks that are best served chilled or at room temperature (and certainly nothing flammable).
The artificial logs may not be to everybody's taste, but as cement logs go, they're nicely done. And, if you don't like them, you can easily remove them and replace them with an alternative from a fireplace store.
Being gas-fired rather than wood-fired, you don't have to worry about errant sparks or hot coals escaping and setting things on fire. You don't have to go through the process of lighting a wood fire and your clothes and hair won't smell of wood smoke.
You won't have to patiently wait for the fire to burn out when you're done. And you don't have to clean up the cold ashes and coals the next day. Just light the fire with the ignition button and adjust the heat by turning a knob and close the gas bottle valve when you're done. It doesn't get much easier than that.
This fire pit won't generate as much heat as a patio heater, or a similarly sized wood-burning fireplace, and if you're looking for something that's going to produce a lot of heat, this probably isn't a good choice. However, at 40,000 BTUs, it's still hot enough for most people's purposes.
The flame heats the lava rocks and cement logs, which radiate heat out to the surrounding area. To maximize this effect, make sure the rocks and logs are spread out rather than piled together. This will spread the fire out and create more surface area to radiate the heat rather than just letting the flames shoot hot air into the sky.
If you're planning to use a firebowl for cooking, this model isn't a good choice. It's fine for toasting marshmallows and hotdogs on sticks (just be careful not to toast anything that might drip), but nothing more complicated than that. There's no grill, and nowhere you could even put a grill (let alone a sand drip tray).
Assembly & Customer Service
Despite all of the wonderful things to love about this fire table, its assembly experience leaves much to be desired and is really the only serious blemish on an otherwise great product. However, although the assembly is challenging, it isn't terrible, and is very achievable if you take your time and know what you're getting into.
Plan on spending two or three hours putting it together (although if you're particularly skilled, experienced, or lucky you might get it done in less). Ideally you should also have somebody to help. You can do it yourself, but it's much easier if two people work together so that one person can hold parts in place while the other fastens them together.
Once assembled, it's around 160 pounds, and rather bulky, so you should assemble it close to where you plan to use it, because it will be awkward to move afterwards. To be safe you'll want to position it at least 10 feet from walls, structures, buildings and vehicles. Ideally, you can have the delivery service just put the box right where you're going to build it, but if that's not possible, you can open the large shipping box, and move the five smaller boxes inside.
The main challenge with the assembly is that the instructions are purely pictorial, with no written descriptions. For a less complicated item, this sort of approach is okay. But in this case there are over three-dozen parts that need to be carefully assembled in a particular sequence, using 79 screws (and three wing nuts). The pictorial instructions describing this process are rather cryptic. However, if you take the time to carefully study the diagrams, and be sure of each step in your mind before you take it, you should be okay.
Some of the parts are similar but not identical, so you'll need to double check to make sure you're using the right parts in the right places at each stage. In particular, the table top has a front, which isn't obvious at a glance (it's the side with two holes), so look carefully to make sure you have it oriented correctly. Just give yourself plenty of time, pace yourself, and you'll get it done.
The table is assembled upside-down for most of the process, and you'll need a soft surface so the tiles don't get scratched. The easiest solution is to just use cardboard from the box it comes in.
The package comes with an Allen wrench, but it's not a very good one. If you have your own, you'll probably want to use it. You'll also need a #2 Phillips Head screwdriver. There are a lot of screws to insert, and because of some misalignment issues, some of the screws will take some effort. While a regular screwdriver could get the job done, it'll be tough. An electric screwdriver or drill with a screwdriver bit will make the job much easier.
The manufacturing precision can be a little off in places, and some of the holes might not align well. Because of this, you should avoid tightening any screws until as late as possible and ideally not until towards the end of the process when you have the base attached.
In some extreme cases, that may not be enough, and you may need to leave out a screw, or drill a new hole, but this is the exception rather than the rule. You may also find in some cases that brute force will help in getting things to line up again, this is the exception rather than the rule, but don't be surprised if it happens.
The fireplace takes a regular propane tank, which installs easily on a slide-out drawer. When you slide it back in, rotate the tank at the same time so that the hose wraps around it a little and doesn't get caught on anything. There's also a black vinyl cover for the tank. This is so that you won't be able to see the tank through the holes in the side panels.
If you have any issues, such as missing or damaged parts, or just need advice to figure something out, call Endless Summer's customer service on 1800 762 1142. They have a good and well-deserved reputation for being quick to respond and helpful. The product comes with a 1-year limited warranty, which basically says that if you assemble and use it according to instructions, they'll replace anything that's missing or faulty. Just keep your receipt.
Construction Quality & Durability
As an outdoor fireplace and coffee table it's certainly sturdy enough for the purpose, and should last a long time. The tile table-top is good quality and well made.
However, you should be aware that it is made mostly from stamped sheet metal (thin steel), and held together with basic screws. This helps keep the cost and weight down, but it also means it's not going to be as strong as cast-iron or brick. Practically speaking, this won't matter, just don't make a habit of sitting on or putting anything really heavy on it.
To keep it in good condition, you'll need to protect it from the weather. Fortunately it comes with a fitted vinyl cover that does the job nicely. The only drawback is that the vinyl is thin and the seams are weak, so the cover can easily tear. A simple remedy for this is to reinforce the insides of the seams using duct tape.
There isn't much you need to do to keep it well maintained, other than an occasional checkup. The sheet metal is painted, which will protect it from rust. But you may still see rust if the paint is chipped or scratched, so you should occasionally look over all the surfaces and joins to see if any of them need maintenance.
For the burners to operate efficiently and safely you'll need to make sure they aren't obstructed by dead insects or other debris, and also check for leaks. Clean the exterior surfaces with regular dish washing detergent and water, then rinse it with water and let it air dry. Simple.
- Makes a beautiful cozy fire
- The slate & marble tabletop looks great and can be used to hold snacks and drinks.
- Excellent value for money.
- The details are thoughtful. For example: the controls are concealed behind doors; the legs have adjustable feet so the table won't wobble; the gas tank is on a slide-out drawer; and there's a cover for the tank so you won't see it through the side panels.
- Assembly is more difficult than it really should be. While not uncommon for self-assembled products, it could and should be easier to assemble.
- The sheet metal is thin, no doubt to keep the price down. If you want something that feels really solid you may be disappointed. However, it's not shoddy, fine for the price, and is well made given this limitation.
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