Burning question

I'm not on the market for a furnace nor expect to be anytime soon so this is just out of curiousity based on reading posts here.
Our furnace has spark-ignited pilot. Seems to me that after the demise of the gas-wasting standing pilot that would be the way to go. I see a lot of posts where the culprit in someone's problem may be a hot surface ignitor and also how delicate these are in handling. Is that technology as much less reliable as the posts here would make it seem? Should I make a mental note in the back of my mind to avoid them if I was ever buying a new furnace?
Also, just for clarity, does a hot surface ignitor still light a pilot before main gas? I once saw a furnace sitting for sale at a big box store and looking it over for curiousity I noticed that it seemed like it had no pilot...at least I didn't see anything that looked like one. I don't know what kind of ignition it had. (I don't recall the brand.) Isn't it safer to ignite a pilot, wait a moment for the flame to be proved, and then kick on the burner?
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Steve Kraus wrote:

The only problem with hot surface ingnitors are people who don't know how to handle them. The are not expensive last a long time and in many ways more reliable than spark type from my experience.
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Joseph Meehan

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Joseph Meehan wrote: ...

I wanted to add that since both types, I believe, come with a flame sensor for safety, there is not a problem with that.
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HSI ignition systems are switching to a ceramic ignitor, and they are much tougher than the older ones. Spark ignitors can be a POS, or they can last about forever. Nothing man made is perfect and no one can tell you what style system will work best.

As part of the required and mandated safety system, each unit for resi use has a flame proving system, to insure the gas valve does nto go into full flow until there is flame.
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Steve,
Just to add a couple of layperson comments to the correct answers you have already received.
The ignition is instantaneous. The valve partly opens and there is fire. Also the new systems have a draft induction system (think exhaust fan) so even if the equipment fails to light when the valve partly opens any gas is sucked up the flue. The control board shuts the valve if the flame sensor does not register flame. The entire process is a series of steps and checks not unlike booting a computer.
Now the wisdom of having a computer board in such a hostile environment is another topic for discussion.
Colbyt
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Steve Kraus wrote:

Hi, In case of failure, spark ignitor costs lot more to fix(usually the module goes), HSI(silicon or ceramic type) is cheaper to replace. In 10 years I replaced HSI once and I keep a spare one on hand. That thing burnt out in the dead winter on week end. Spark ignitor out at my cabin is still working for ~10 years. Tony
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On Sat, 17 Dec 2005 15:10:28 GMT, Steve Kraus

Not in an oven. I think also not in a furnace.

I haven't yet thanked the folks in my last thread for their advice -- Thank you guys, I talked to my friend and he is convinced now to get another HSIgnitor.. I'm going to buy him the one on the recommended webpage. He's going to have an oven that works well, and I know that he too appreciates your efforts, even if he's not here to say so.
And I'm also a layman and nothing I say contradicts anyone here.
And it doesn't apply to furnaces either, which have to go on automatically. But as for ovens, right now I'd**** be ready for him to just have the oven I grew up with that lit with a match. I use the oven or broiler 2 or 3 times a week and my mother used it 4 or 5 times a week. It was no effort to light a match and hold it to the hole at the front bottom of the oven. The flame was sucked in and it lit.
If there was an electric outage, the stove lit anyhow.
At that time, top burners shared either one or two pilot lights for the four of them (one if all 4 were next to each other and 2 if they were in separate columns.) I guess they don't have pilots to save electircity, but then wouldn't the sparker ignitiion work and allow them to be lit with a match if there were no electricity?
My guess is that the electrical systems that are in use now were established to compete with electric ovens which had timers that would, if one was so bold, start cooking when no one was home, and then if people came home later than they expected, turn the heat to warm after the roast was cooked so it wouldn't burn to a crisp or start a fire.
I wanted one of those fancy timers, but the stove that came with the house doesn't have them, and I'm content to only make a roast or turkey on the weekend. And I would just like things to be simple. Maybe after my friend's oven is fixed and works with no problem for a few months I'll change my mind.**
If a stove or oven had the electric sparker, wouldn't that also light with a match in case of a power failure. (There are a lot of them in Baltimore, for a day or two.)
I didn't look closely but I think I saw in the HD in Dallas simple ovens with a hole in the front bottom to be lit with a match. Was it my mistake or do they still sell these?
****Well, I myself have an electric stove which gets almost hot enough to broil the fat on a steak or lambchop, but not quite. I want a gas stove but there is no gas service to my house.
**His oven broke within a month of his buying it and under warrantee, they put in a new HSI. Then a year or two later, it broke again, and he himself put in a new one. Paid 80 dollar for the part. He says he was gentle and there is a screen around the actual surface so Idon't see how he could have touched it. Now it seems to have failed again, the third time in 3 years.
This time we put in another set of wire nuts inside the oven so we don't have to remove the oven from the wall***. Although that's not so difficult, the appliance repair man who came this month to repair it said he had to come back with helper to do this repair. This is a guy who I know has been in business for at least 20 years, works out of his house and truck.
***And he won't have to get me to help if it needs repair again.
Is this a bad idea? We'd only have a half inch or less on each wire of added wire showing, that wasn't the wires that are part of the ignitor. The appliance supply house said they sold him high temp wire for ovens.
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mm wrote:

Hi, Don't touch the HSI element with finger. Finger oil contaminates it and shortens it's life. That's what I heard any how. Tony
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I meant, they don't have pilots to save *gas*.

I've read the same thing, but he knows not to also, and I'm sure he hasn't done that.
This model of HSI is surrounded by a metal screen. That can be touched, right?

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