Why A Standing Pilot
Gas fireplaces typically use a standing pilot light, but what is the purpose of the pilot light? Should it be turned off in warmer seasons, and how much does it cost to keep it running all year? Is it difficult to relight if it has been turned off?
The ignition system type of your gas-operated fireplace may vary. Generally, the burner includes a gas valve, a control module, and other fittings. When you press the remote controller or turn on the wall switch, the gas valve opens and allows gas flow through the burner. Before the burner, you will find the pilot light. It can be a "steady-on" pilot, an "intermittent" pilot, or an electrical ignition system. The electrical ignition system pilot light is only on when the valve is open and the fireplace is operational. If you have a millivolt ignition system, then it utilizes a particular pilot light that stays lit throughout the year. On the other hand, the Intermittent Pilot ignition system can set the pilot to run continuously but usually operates in the auto shut off mode.
The pilot light has two important jobs. Firstly, it produces a small amount of electricity called millivolts which are used to control the opening and closing of the gas valve. Secondly, once the valve is opened, it ignites the gas.
To turn off the pilot light on a gas fireplace, first locate the flame's position. Typically, it's located behind a few logs in the back. If you can't find the flame, it's possible that it's already out. Next, switch the knob from its original "pilot" position to the "off" position. Depending on your fireplace model, you may need to move a small lever out of the way before turning the dial. Alternatively, you may have to push in and then turn the valve into the "off" position. Be sure to check the owner's manual to confirm the correct procedure. Once the dial is in the "off" position, check to ensure that the flame has gone out. If it's still on, you may have a defective valve that requires professional repair or replacement.
The typical pilot light consumes around 600 BTUs of gas per hour. Leaving the pilot light on for a whole day would result in approximately 14,400 BTUs per day, which can be calculated to determine the total number of BTUs needed per month to keep the pilot light running (roughly 432,000). Therms are the measuring unit for natural gas, with each term being equal to 100,000 BTUs of energy. This means that using 4.3 therms of gas is equivalent to the BTUs used by the pilot light. Applying a rate to each therm of natural gas, such as $.90 per therm, would result in a monthly cost of around $3.90 to keep the pilot light on. At $1.20 per therm, the monthly cost would be approximately $4.95. Similarly, the cost for LP gas can be calculated by measuring it in terms of gallons with 92,000 BTUs per gallon. With a price of $1.10 per gallon of LP gas, the monthly cost of keeping the pilot light on would be around $5.20.
Leaving your pilot light on all year has both advantages and disadvantages. One significant advantage is cost savings of up to $20 or $30 when your fireplace is not in use for an extended period. Moreover, your pilot light produces a small amount of heat that can keep your firebox dry, making it beneficial if you live in a damp or humid climate. Additionally, keeping the pilot light on can prevent spider webs, which can be a problem in some homes. If you experience this issue, it can be challenging to find a technician to fix it for $30. If you decide to turn off the pilot light, you will need to relight it in the fall. Reference your owner's manual for the instructions on how to turn on the light.