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Why Most Modern Furnaces Use Electronic Ignition

If your furnace uses a standing pilot light, you may not know it, but you’re behind the times. Standing pilot lights are being steadily phased out as more modern electronic ignition systems come into play. There are many reasons for this. Standing pilot lights are notorious for going out at the drop of a hat, mostly due to their being almost completely unprotected from air flow in the house. They are also surprisingly massive energy wasters. Even a small flame can waste quite a bit of fuel if it is on 24/7. Read on to find out how electronic ignition fixes these issues, and why you may want to consider upgrading.

Intermittent Pilot

The first kind of electronic ignition devices we’re going to look at is the intermittent pilot. As the name suggests, this is an ignition system that still uses a pilot light, but not all the time. When the thermostat tells the furnace to turn on, the intermittent pilot opens a gas valve and creates a small spark. This spark is generated by an electrode that is installed close to the burners. It is this spark that ignites the burners and starts the system.

The intermittent pilot solves a lot of the issues that plagued the standing pilot. No more worrying about the pilot light blowing out, or failing because of a bad thermocouple. Its sensors are more accurate, it doesn’t waste nearly as much energy, and it is relatively low maintenance. If something does break, it will be a bit more expensive to fix due to the more complicated nature of the system. However, it is worth it for all the benefits it provides.

Hot Surface Ignition

This type of electronic ignition relies on a heating filament, rather like a light bulb filament, to light the burners. Just like the intermittent pilot, the hot surface ignition system is not on the whole time. When the heating system receives the command to turn on, the hot surface ignitor runs an electric current through the filament installed under the burners. This filament gives off enough heat to ignite the gas and start the system. Just like lightbulbs, heating filaments can burn out over time. They are relatively easy to replace, though.

If you’d like to know more, call OASIS Heating, A/C & Refrigeration, Inc. We provide furnace installation throughout Alexandria.

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