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Bartels Heating & Cooling Blog

Some Basics about Electronic Ignition

If you have a relatively new furnace or boiler heating system (updated within the last 5 years), then your heater ignites using electronic ignition. This is because standing pilots tend to waste a lot of fuel, so mandates were put in place several years ago for manufacturers to equip combustion heating systems with electronic ignition components rather than a standing pilot. There are two types of electronic ignition, as we’ll outline below, and it’s important to know which type you have so that you can inform your Bartels Heating & Cooling technician should an ignition problem develop with your heater.

Two Types of Electronic Ignition

The two types of electronic ignition are:

  • Intermittent pilot
  • Hot surface ignition

Let’s take a look at intermittent pilot ignition. As the name indicates, a pilot light is present. However, it is not a steady pilot light as with a standing pilot. The intermittent pilot is cued to light when the temperature in your home dips below the set temperature on your home’s thermostat. A heater with an intermittent pilot has a small gas line that is just for the pilot, and this is what allows the intermittent pilot to be fueled. Once the flame of the intermittent pilot is deemed viable by the thermocouple, an electronic spark is emitted and the burner is lit.

Hot surface ignition works a little differently. Using a similar process as a light bulb, a hot surface igniter contains a filament-type of core that is covered by a conductive material. In fact, when at its hottest point, a hot surface igniter will glow like a light bulb. Once the surface of the igniter is hot enough, the main gas valve of your heater opens up and the burner is lit.

If your heater experiences any problems with ignition, you should always leave the repair to trained heating specialists like ours. We can help you with any ignition issue you may experience at your home in Hamilton, OH.

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