Hundreds of people have gas fireplaces, pellet stoves, or some kind of outdoor fireplace or heater in their homes and many rely on them for heat in the cold winter months. But what would happen if there is a power outage and you don’t have a backup power generator? Can a gas fireplace work without electricity?
Some gas fireplaces will operate without electricity. Many intermittent pilot ignition valve systems come with a backup battery-powered ignition system and you can turn these fireplaces on during a power outage. If you have a standing pilot light system, you may have to start the pilot light manually.
This article will discuss whether you can rely on a gas fireplace in a power outage. We will cover the two main types of gas fireplaces and describe how to get them running without electricity. Let’s get started.
Types of Ignition Systems
Gas fireplaces have changed a lot over the years, and two main kinds will work without electricity. Still, the process for getting them started in a power outage will be different.
If you have a more recent model, you will most likely have an intermittent pilot ignition valve system, whereas older models tend to have standing pilot lights.
Intermittent Pilot Ignition Valve System
The intermittent pilot ignition (IPI) valve system uses electricity to ignite the flame. When you turn on an IPI valve gas fireplace, an electrode turns on the pilot gas. The pilot flame then ignites the main burner gas, which provides the main flame.
People like IPI valve systems because they are energy efficient. Most of these gas fireplaces only burn an ignition flame when you need it, so it conserves energy.
Standing Pilot Light System
Standing pilot light gas fireplaces are the other main kind of fireplace you will find in homes. Unlike the newer IPI models, these fireplaces do not need electricity to turn on.
Standing pilot gas fireplaces have a flame in the bottom of the heater that will stay on all the time. When you turn the fireplace on, this flame ignites the main burner, which provides heat and flame.
The main piece of equipment in standing pilot light systems is the thermocouple. This piece connects the gas line to the burner and will play a big role in running the fireplace without electricity.
How To Start IPI Valve System Gas Fireplaces Without Electricity
Since IPI valve system fireplaces require electricity to ignite the flame, you will need another way to ignite the flame in the event of a power outage.
Luckily, many IPI gas fireplaces come with a backup battery-powered ignition system and you won’t need to do much to get these systems going. Simply turn it on like you normally would. However, some of these fireplaces will not have a battery backup, so you will need to read your manual to double-check.
How To Start Standing Pilot Ignition Valve Systems
Typically, standing pilot ignition systems will light without intervention during a power outage since they do not require electricity.
However, you may still need to start the pilot light once in a while manually. While you should refer to your manual for detailed instructions, the process will be similar across many different models.
- Make sure the gas valve is on. The valve is typically located near the gas meter.
- Find the pilot light. You can find this light underneath the mainframe or behind the panel of the fireplace unit. You may need a flashlight to find this since it is a small dial.
- Make sure the dial is in the ignite position. It should be in the ‘off’ position when not in use.
- Press the knob until you hear a rhythmic clicking sound. This knob connects to the system that will ignite the pilot light.
- Hold the knob until you see the flames light underneath the logs. If the flame does not catch after 10 seconds, wait another 10 seconds and try again. It may take a few tries to get the pilot started.
- When the flames catch, you can then turn on the fireplace normally. If you see a flame underneath the logs near the gas line, you can use the fireplace switch to turn the fireplace off and on.
Fireplaces That Will Not Work During a Power Outage
Now that we know some gas fireplaces work without electricity, let’s see what systems you should not rely on.
- Power vented fireplaces. If you have a large fireplace, it may be a power vented fireplace. These complicated vent systems often need electricity for the fan to run, so you should not run these fireplaces during a power outage. If you do, you will not have adequate ventilation, which could be dangerous.
- Electric fireplaces. These systems use LEDs and electric heaters to ignite the flames. Without electricity, they are impossible to operate.
- Other products that are even partially electric like a pellet stove will not work during a power outage.
Many gas fireplaces will work without electricity. You can run both intermittent pilot ignition fireplaces and standing pilot light systems during a power outage.
IPI valve systems will normally have a backup battery system in place to ignite the flames. On the other hand, standing pilot ignition valve systems will usually start without intervention. However, you may need to manually start the pilot light once in a while to get it going.
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