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Does My Furnace Have a Pilot Light?

Winter is here, and those chilly temperatures are finally creeping up, making it the best time to turn on your heat and get cozy under some blankets. If you recently upgraded your heating system, you might be wondering why your furnace does not have a standing pilot light. Despite what you see on TV and movies, not all furnaces have a pilot light; in fact, standing pilot lights are pretty old ignition systems, with newer models not requiring them.

Here are some of the ignition systems furnaces can have, starting with standing pilot lights.

Standing Pilot Lights

Pilot light ignition-based furnaces operate just as you would imagine, where a standing flame helps ignite the gas fuel source to heat your home. With a pilot light system, your furnace needs to have its pilot light constantly lit.

The issue with standing pilot light systems is that because the flame needs to be on continuously, this does not make for an energy- or cost-efficient way to heat your home. Occasionally your pilot light may need to be re-ignited, or your thermocouple may need a replacement to prevent ignition problems.

Electronic Based Ignition Systems

More modern furnaces operate using electronically powered ignition mechanisms that allow for a more fuel-efficient way to heat your home. There are intermittent pilot lights that work similarly to a pilot light. However, instead of being on constantly, an intermittent light only activates when you want to heat your home.

There are also hot surface ignition systems that don’t require any pilot light. In simple terms, a hot metal surface heats up when you activate your furnace. Electrical currents are sent to this metal surface (the igniter), and after the igniter reaches the correct temperature, gas will begin to flow and instantly ignite once it comes in contact with the igniter.

These two electronic ignition systems are more energy-efficient than a standing pilot light, which means they will save you money on your energy bills. However, keep in mind that the upfront cost might be a little steeper compared to older pilot light furnaces. Also, while these newer furnaces have advantages over their predecessors, they still need regular maintenance, just like any other furnace.

Choosing a newer furnace can seem overwhelming, but our team at Premier Indoor Comfort Systems, LLC can help you decide what system is right for you and provide you with a quality installation: (770) 268-2422.