Converting a Standing Pilot Boiler to Electronic Ignition
How many times have you spent time in the cold trying to light a pilot light on a standing pilot gas system? I am certain if you are a service technician then the previous sentence can be qualified with “How many frustrating times”. You go on a service call and find the old standing pilot gas system, whether it is a water heater, furnace, or boiler, and you find the thermocouple is bad or some other reason that is keeping the pilot light from staying lit. You clean the pilot burner and replace the thermocouple and walla…………..it lights and stays lit. The magical standing pilot works again. There is another option for you and your customer and while it is not recommended in every situation it can help eliminate those pesky repeat service calls where the pilot continues to go out for whatever reason………………….the ghostly sudden draft is one of the big reasons. Honeywell produces an electronic ignition retrofit kit that is ideal for residential and light commercial gas furnace systems that need to be upgraded from standing pilot to electronic ignition (covers BTU ratings up to 270,000).
The Y8610U Intermittent Pilot Retrofit Kit from Honeywell comes complete with a gas valve (Natural Gas to Propane (LP)) conversion kit in the box), ignition control, electronic spark assembly with flame sensor, ignition wire, and wiring harness. A seasoned technician will find wiring this a snap out of the box and the gas valve can be used with either ½” or ¾” pipe so this will work out of the box with little changes made to the gas pipe.
From Standing Pilot to Electronic Ignition
After a recent upgrade of my boiler from standing pilot to this electronic ignition control it reminded me of all those standing pilot furnaces and boilers out there that have been changed to electronic ignition by me when I was working in the field. I had recently purchased a new – old house (1920) that has a steam boiler in the basement. All summer I kept thinking about upgrading the boiler to electronic ignition from standing pilot especially after a nasty spring time encounter with lighting the pilot light that reminded me of all the frustrating experiences. Finally fall arrived and it was time to start up the old boiler so we can have some heat so I ordered the Y8610U Intermittent Pilot Retrofit Kit.
Throwing the Switch
The intermittent pilot retrofit kit arrived and immediately I took it down to the boiler to make the new introduction. About an hour and a half later I through the switch for main power for the boiler and the new electronic ignition module came to life by sparking. I couldn’t see it but I could hear it. About a second or two of sparking and I heard the pilot fire. A second later the main burner’s fire and the old boiler (approximately 30 years old) is introduced to modern technology. Another hour in the basement taking care of the boiler and doing annual boiler maintenance and I can feel comfortable about reliable heat this winter and the colder days of fall and spring.
Installation Made Easy by Honeywell
The manifold side of the gas valve is ½ inch but the kit comes with a ¾ inch flange if the manifold side of the gas valve requires ¾ inch. The gas supply side of the gas valve is ¾ inch but Honeywell includes a ¾ inch to ½ inch reducer bushing. This makes it possible to use the include gas valve for either ¾ inch pipe or ½ inch black iron pipe. The most difficult part of the installation for me is usually not the piping or even the wiring but getting the pilot burner in the correct position to light the main burners. The pilot burner is usually installed in a tight space and you have get it exactly right so the main gas burners light right away when the main valve in the gas valve opens to feed gas to the main burners. We do not want any “whoosh” main burner ignition. This means the pilot light is too far away from the main burner. This allows a gas build up which can be dangerous. Make sure you get the pilot light in the recommended position per the manufacturers recommendations or guidelines.
A few installation tips and features include the control only needs to be supplied with 24 VAC – no line voltage needed – you simply tap into the 24 volt transformer that should be with the boiler. Simply make sure you wire through all the safeties so the control loses power when one of the safeties are tripped. When the controller loses power the burner shuts down. Always follow all the instructions when installing anything. Good luck on any future upgrades you decide to make concerning this retrofit ignition control kit.