Lighting a Pilot that is Electronic Ignition
Lighting a Pilot that is Electronic Ignition - This is one of many questions we get by email.

Lighting a Pilot that is Electronic Ignition Comment: Thank you for your interesting discussion of pilot lights vs. electronic ignition. I may have to replace my gas water heater soon and am weighing the options. Although I understand that electronic ignition is more efficient, I worry about not having hot water during a power outage.

Several years ago, we had an ice storm, and the power was out for almost a week. My gas water heater still worked as did my gas stove, and that made a big difference. That happened when the temperature outside was in the ’20s (F). Is there any way to light a water heater with electronic ignition by hand? Or is it completely dependent on electricity? Thanks for any information you can provide.

Lighting a Pilot that is Electronic Ignition

Lighting a Pilot that is Electronic Ignition Answer: We have answered this question before. We responded to it in another article and the comments about electronic ignition for water heaters and gas furnaces. I’m afraid the average person would not want to take the time or trouble to light an electronic ignition pilot, whether it is a water heater, boiler, or gas furnace.

The best way is to have a backup generator. It should be hooked up to the circuit that powers the water heater. Necessary circuits are wired into the backup generator circuit panel.

Furthermore, by having a backup generator, you will have power for basics in an emergency. You need energy for things like essential lighting, the refrigerator or freezer, and hot water and heat. Backup generators that are hard-wired into the main panel may have this set-up for basic circuits. That gives them power in emergencies to the needed circuits without overloading the generator.

There are other ways of lighting an electronic ignition pilot but too technical to get into here. One should be very knowledgeable in basic circuits, including transformers. I would not want anyone without those skills to try it.

We have written another article about changing the standing pilot system to an electronic ignition system. In that article, we clearly state the pros and cons of converting the system. It includes not being able to light the pilot light. That is unless you have a backup generator in a power outage.

Electronic Ignition Alternative Possibilities

When it is frigid in the house, it would be nice to have some source of heat. You could heat a part of your house by turning on the showers to very hot. That allows the steam from the shower to drift through your house. That is until the hot water depletes.

Additionally, you need a way to distribute that heat, such as a fan (with no power, the fan won’t work). Without a fan, the amount of heat delivered in the house would be limited. I don’t know about taking a bath or shower when the temperature is so low inside the house. It would not be comfortable when you finished the shower.

With many standing pilot systems, the gas valve needs no power. The safety of the flame is provided by a thermocouple. That proves there is a flame before the main valve opens for the main burners. It also powers the main valve. The con for the standing pilot is usually the thermocouple or the pilot flame where, when there is a problem, you have to troubleshoot the pilot light or test the thermocouple.

Again, the best way is to have a backup generator that would power the water heater and the furnace or boiler whichever you have. I have one at my house, nothing fancy, but it powers essential lights, the refrigerator, the water heater (which is actually a heat pump water heater that is very efficient), but other than that I would have to purchase a much larger generator to power the heat pump for air conditioning or heating if the power goes out.

Lighting a Pilot that is Electronic Ignition - Conclusion

The standing pilot water heater is better than an electronic ignition water heater. Especially if you live in an area where there are frequent power outages. Lighting the pilot light for a standing pilot gas system is possible whereas lighting the pilot for an electronic ignition system is possible if you have a backup generator or other source of power to power that circuit.

Lighting a Pilot that is Electronic Ignition

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