If you are like most people, chances are you don’t know too much about the inner workings of your furnace. While it isn’t necessary to know everything that a professional HVAC technician does, it is a good idea to have at least a general idea of the various components in your furnace. Read on to learn more about ignition systems. This article will specifically discuss the difference between pilot lights and hot surface igniters. 

Ignition Systems 

As you can probably surmise, the purpose of the ignition system is to spark the burning of gas inside of your furnace’s combustion system. Historically, almost all gas furnaces accomplished this task by means of a pilot light. The pilot light–essentially a small open flame–remains perpetually lit, waiting to provide the combustion energy the next time the furnace comes on. 

Hot surface igniters are a more recent development. These electrical apparatuses are constructed from a substance such as silicon carbide. When the furnace is turned on, electricity flows into the igniter, causing it to glow red hot. Once it has reached the appropriate temperature to combust the gas, a flame sensor opens up the main burner valve, thus allowing gas to flow into the combustion chamber.

Benefits Of Hot Surface Igniters 

There are several good reasons why hot surface igniters have become the ignition system of choice on most furnaces. For one thing, they are much less expensive. For another they tend to require less maintenance than pilot lights, which can experience a wide variety of problems, from constantly extinguishing to clogged orifices. 

To learn more about the ignition system in your furnace, please don’t hesitate to contact the pros at McKee Energy Solutions.