The Landmann USA Ball O' Fire is a good choice if you want a large, relatively safe outdoor fireplace. Although it takes a while to assemble, the result is great looking and surprisingly sturdy.
Because it's fully enclosed in a mesh sphere, you can build a good sized fire without any concern of escaping sparks and embers. Thus making it suitable for heating a large outdoor area, and entertaining a number of friends at once. The full view of the fire is quite striking once the dark of night sets in. The construction is all steel, making it quite strong and durable, provided you keep it clean and dry. A fitted cover is included.
Ambiance & Functionality of Landmann USA Ball O' Fire
The appearance of the Landmann Ball of Fire is very striking. Sure, it's just a plain black mesh sphere during the day. But once it gets dark and you have a fire going, it looks fantastic. Because the majority of the structure is mesh frame, you get a complete view of the fire. This is difficult to achieve with a cauldron design or chiminea.
You can also build a fairly large fire; larger than you could with a table-top fire bowl. It's easily big enough for a backyard party, or to comfortably seat eight or more people around. Because of the large 2½ foot diameter of the sphere, you have plenty of room for logs. Either pile a few in the bottom, or arrange some teepee-style (which looks cool).
The hinged lid gives you half a hemisphere of access to the fire; plenty of room for inserting and arranging wood. When you're done, and your fire has cooled, just lift the fire bowl out of the enclosing mesh sphere and empty the ashes. The fire bowl is a separate piece and has its own handles.
There are also a couple of clear safety benefits. Firstly, it lets you burn a fairly large fire while still keeping it fully enclosed in a spherical spark screen. Significantly reducing both the risk of escaping sparks and embers, and the risk of small hands getting into the fire.
This is great for peace of mind. Secondly, because the top pivots on a hinge, it stays in place when you open it. Compare this to other fire pit designs, where you have to lift the hot metal screen completely off the pit and find somewhere safe to put it, hopefully not burning any people or things while you do.
One thing that would be nice, but which the Ball of Fire doesn't have, is some sort of safety rail. Possibly around the edge of the bowl to create a buffer of a few inches between the bowl and people in case of accidental bumps.
You can certainly toast hotdogs and marshmallows, but if you want to do anything more ambitious, this clearly isn't a fire pit for cooking on. You'll need a separate grill or BBQ. One thing to bear in mind is that, if you have a small fire burning, you may need pivot the lid open so you can poke the hotdog sticks inside and get closer to the flame, which means you'll only be able to toast from the side the lid opens up at.
Packaging, Assembly & Customer Service
The assembly experience with the Landmann Ball O'Fire can vary. If you're fairly adept at putting things together, and don't run into any glitches, it can be done in less than an hour. But to be realistic, budget a couple of hours to get the job done. One person can accomplish assembly, although when you're fitting some of the curved pieces together, an extra pair of hands will be helpful. You'll need to supply your own Phillips Head screwdriver and socket/wrench.
As with most fire pits, it can be a bit unwieldy to move once it's constructed. You're best off assembling it close to where you'll use it. Make sure it's away from anything flammable, and at least 10 feet from buildings and vehicles.
There are over a dozen large parts to put together using around a hundred nuts and bolts of various sizes. But before you dive in with your tools, it's worth spending a few minutes studying the Landmann Ball O' Fire assembly instructions . There are 12 detailed steps to work through. It's wise to sort through the entire contents of the box, laying the parts out to match the everything in the list in the assembly instructions.
This is time well spent, especially since some of the spherical segments look similar. You definitely don't want to be figuring that out as you assemble. You may also find you're missing some nuts or bolts, and it's much better to discover this beforehand than when you're halfway through assembly.
If you can't find them all, double-check to see whether they're attached to a larger part, and if they're truly missing a quick trip to the hardware store should remedy the situation (one of the unfortunate realities of self-assembled items is that this happens far more often than any of us would like).
The assembly process consists of first assembling the bottom hemisphere from eight large segments. Secondly, attach the legs and handles, then assemble the top hemisphere, including the hinged portion.
Most of the pieces are curved, and sometimes they won't fit together snugly. You may need to use a bit of strength to get them fitting together well. This is where a friend comes in handy, but this isn't always the case. As with most assembly projects like this, you should refrain from tightening any bolts until as late as possible. This is so that each of the joints has some give, allowing you to fit the pieces together.
Construction Quality & Durability
The Landmann Ball O' Fire is made from steel, and feels solid and sturdy. This is quite surprising considering it's basically a mesh framework with a firebowl inside.
The only thing you really need to worry about is rust and corrosion. The mesh, in particular, will deteriorate over time with repeated exposure to heat and moisture and once the paint cracks or burns off, rust will make quick work of the thin wire beneath.
Depending on your circumstances, it'll be a while before this starts happening, especially if you use the included cover to keep it dry, and clean the ashes out when they're cool. A preventive measure you may want to consider is spraying it with Rust-Oleum high-temperature ceramic paint when you first assemble it, which should increase the longevity significantly.
- Fully enclosed with a mesh screen, making it safer than cauldron-style or brazier-style fire bowls.
- Allows for larger fires than you can get in a table-top firebowl.
- Unobstructed view of fire looks great at night.
- Assembly is time consuming, and you may need to make a trip to the hardware store to replace missing nuts and bolts.
- No built-in table
- No cooking (other than toasting marshmallows and hotdogs on skewers)
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