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Hilliard Furnace Installation Question: What Is an Electronic Ignition?

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Gas furnaces are very complex pieces of equipment to have in your Hilliard home. Modern ones in particular are designed to use as little gas as possible, and to recapture as much of the heat generated from burning that gas as can be done safely. One of the many safety and energy-efficient advances in furnace technology in the last twenty years is the electronic ignition.

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The Purpose of Electronic Ignition

In older furnaces and boilers, a pilot light would stay lit continuously whenever the heating system needed to be available. That meant continuously burning gas throughout the fall, winter and spring months for those times when heat was needed. It was inefficient and unsafe, especially in older devices that didn’t have safety valves.

Today, furnaces are built with electronic ignitions – small devices that only ignite the gas supply when the thermostat is on. There are two types of electronic ignition used in boilers and furnaces today.

  • Intermittent Pilot – An intermittent pilot is unique in that it releases a spark through an electronic component to the gas pilot, lighting the gas burners.
  • Hot Surface Ignition – Hot surface ignition uses an electronic filament (like a lightbulb) to heat up and ignite the burners when the thermostat calls for heat.

Both devices are designed to use a very small amount of electricity and reduce the amount of gas needed for continuous operation of your furnace.

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Safety Benefits of an Electronic Ignition

While gas efficiency was a big part of the transition from pilot lights to electronic ignition, safety was an equally big component. Whereas before, the pilot light was continuously lit, meaning gas was continuously flowing into the furnace, today’s furnaces are essentially off when not in use. Meaning there’s less of a chance that gas will flow unburned or that the pilot will get dirty or burn too soft, releasing carbon monoxide.

If your furnace or boiler still uses a traditional pilot light, consider having it upgraded to an electronic ignition, not just to save gas but also to keep your home and family safer. If you have any questions about upgrading your furnace, give Quality Air Heating and Air Conditioning a call today!

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