Cute. Hadn't seen one of them before, actually...if it were more
inaccessible location wouldn't be a bad idea.
The one that _is_ installed just came back from checking and all was
I've installed the non-walking/talking units on various gas burning
equipment that had a problem with errant drafts blowing the pilot out.
There are even 12vdc automatic reigniters for RV equipment. ^_^
If you see the white ceramic insulated probe/electrode in the picture,
not only does it produce a spark to ground but it acts as a flame sense
probe for the electronics in the unit which detects the electrical
conductivity of the pilot flame. Some devices have a separate sensor
probe but the Robertshaw unit utilizes a single electrode. ^_^
It's also why the instructions say to hold it for sixty seconds after
I once had two elderly ladies ask me to look at their ancient gravity
feed furnace. I didn't know that furnaces had thermocouples but I knew
what they were, so I figured out that's what it was and why it was
there, and that the reason the furnace only quit while they were on a
long trip was that the pilot alone couldn't heat the umpty-year-old
thing enough unless the furnace came on often enough to keep the TC from
But I had no clue where to buy one that would fit, so I told them to
never set it lower than 68°F and built for them an emergency starter
(with a flashlight battery) in case they forgot.
He that complies against his will is of the same opinion still.
I googled for "how much energy does a pilot light waste" and found
the Strait Dope article which said it was 15 cents to 30 cents a day:
"How much per day does it cost to run pilot lights?"
This article said $10 a month for the pilot flame:
Yet, Wikipedia says half the energy used is wasted through the pilot
Doesn't add up ...
The number I remember was $9/month savings when I turned off the pilot
But I don't have records back that far to verify.
I bought an electric spark igniter at a garage sale, but didn't know
what I was doing and feared burning down the house. Never installed it.
New furnace has an electric igniter.
Not a proper scientific test though - he did not tourn off all the pilots
and do another timed meter reading. Maybe he has a leak somewhere ventilated
and not noticeable and is pissig gas everywhere? ;->
Oh - and whilst the UK uses kWh too, it's not the SI unit for energy.
Good memories though, of when the UK uses to have cuFt gas meters and bill
by the therm (the wholesale market still does).
Tim Watts Personal Blog: http://www.dionic.net/tim /
"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
No. Pilot lights use an insignificant amount of gas, and hence produce an
amount of fumes. There is NO danger to human health from the exhaust of a pilot
Depends on the appliance. There's not much point in keeping a pilot on all the
time on a
furnace or gas fireplace. On the other hand, imagine what a PITA it would be if
you had to
relight the pilot light every time you wanted to use your water heater, clothes
dryer, or stove.
You pay for convenience.
So take the clamp off, and open the damper when you light the fireplace and
close it after
the fire is COMPLETELY out.
In a perfect world, I think you're right. Building codes allow for a
My experience has been different. I don't have records going back that far,
but I've been turning my furnace pilot light off during the summer for
It saved enough to be well worth the effort.
Building codes allow for a less than perfect world.
Like when you forget to open the damper.
Or when you're sure you left it open, but the wife closed it.
Or when you have a visitor.
Or when the kids get cold and you're not around.
My chimney is capped, but there's also a board over the front of the
And my air conditioner condenser is wrapped, but there's a sticker
on the breaker that says, "don't turn this on before you uncover the
Not everybody is perfect...
A standing pilot does a couple of things. It can keep things warm which
helps prevent corrosion and it tends to drive away any insects that may
want to take up residence in the flue and burners. It's also simple and
reliable, the electronic ignition equipped systems are more complicated
and have more points of failure. Most folks leave the pilot burning in
cold weather when the fireplace may be used and turn the gas off in the
warmer months especially if they are using LP gas. ^_^
Good point. I once had a camp heater that refused to light.
Turned out there was a spider web across the spark gap.
I also had a CD burner that refused to work because of a spider
web across the lens.
Maybe I should clean house more often...
I was working on a commercial refrigeration unit one time and found a
short circuit caused by a mouse that had crawled through an open conduit
knock out hole in the compressor's electrical junction box. The mouse
had an electrifying experience. ^_^
I've never used the fireplace before, so it was unnatural
for me to think that people keep the pilot flame on all
the time (wasting gas?).
Once I warm up to the idea of keeping the pilot flame lit
all the time, then it becomes obvious why you'd want the
damper to be locked open all the time.
But, if that's the case that the pilot is supposed to always
be lit, then why bother with the electronic snapper to light
the pilot in the first place?
You could use a flame to light the pilot if it's just a one-time deal.
The snapper was offered as a solution for pilot being blown out
in outside windy conditions.
You can use an automatic snapper instead of a pilot light to light
Newer units typically use an electric heater that gets hot enough to
light the gas. Neither are particularly practical for a fireplace
insert without easy access to power.
The cost of running a pilot is not zero.
And one could argue that at least some of the heat from an
inside pilot ends up in the living space.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.