Gas Oven starter - Piezo-electric?


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Old 04-13-10, 08:25 PM
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Gas Oven starter - Piezo-electric?

I have a standard Whirlpool stove & oven. The stove-top burners have piezo-electric starters. The oven, however, has a heating element. When the oven is on, the element will (when needed) heat up to a temperature that will ignite the gas. This can mean a draw of 4 amps for up to a minute every few minutes.

Has anyone ever converted an oven from the element starter to a piezo-electric starter? Or have any pointers for where I might get started?

Thanks!
 
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Old 04-16-10, 12:12 AM
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It's unlikely that you have piezo electric ignitors on your range. They create a spark manually when a knob is pushed.

Very likely you have an electric spark ignition system for the top burners, with a small electronic module on the back of the range to generate the spark.

A few ranges 20-30 years ago used spark ignition systems to light oven and broiler elements. Usually this involved an oven thermostat to turn the gas on to a pilot burner and an ignition module to turn on a spark to light the pilot burner, and also to use an electronic circuit to detect when the pilot lit and shut off the spark. The pilot light heated a small tube of mercury, which vaporized when it got hot and open the valve for the oven burner or broiler.

The safety system was in the oven valve, which couldn't open unless the pilot was vaporizing the mercury, so you knew there was a pilot available to light the gas.

Frankly, I wouldn't consider your project very practical.


Personally, if you like vintage appliances you could find old match lit ranges.

The main problem is having a safety system that wont turn the oven gas valve on unless there is an ignition source to light the burner. You get enough gas coming from an unlit range burner to cause a problem if it fails to light.
 
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Old 04-19-10, 12:20 PM
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Ah hah - I see.

So is the alternative to having a fairly large electric draw for the heating element instead to have a pilot light? Are those easy to install?

Thanks!
 
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Old 04-27-10, 06:35 PM
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Pilot lights have their own inefficiencies, since most such systems burn 24/7.


Frankly, the spark ignition system for range top burners and hot surface ignition system for ovens and broilers is highly efficient.

Unless you generate yopur own limited power from wind or solar, I'd be inclined to leave well enough alone.

May I ask the reason why you are interested in minimizing this use of power?

A match lit range would typically consume no gas between uses of the appliance, and require you to light the oven and range burners with a match for each use. Most such equipment would date back to the 1930s or earlier.

Still available on e-bay or Google "vintage gas range." Also available on Craigslist from time to time.
 
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Old 04-28-10, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by SeattlePioneer View Post
Pilot lights have their own inefficiencies, since most such systems burn 24/7.

...

May I ask the reason why you are interested in minimizing this use of power?
Hi, SeattlePioneer! I'm currently living off-grid, using solar power and a bank of batteries. With this situation, we *could* keep the stove plugged in, since the clock uses almost no energy, and the piezo-electric starter for the stove-top is a minimal draw. The issue comes becomes more difficult when we want to use the oven.

When the oven is turned on, an electric heating element starts up, which lights the oven burners. The draw is pretty high - four to six amps for several minutes. To add to the problem, the stove then does the same thing every few minutes while it's keeping the temp at the same level. For a household on the grid, that's not a lot of electricity, but for our system we end up running the generator just to bake a cake

While a pilot light would be inefficient if it were on 24/7, we could probably turn off the gas to the oven (and pilot) when we weren't using it. Lighting it to bake a cake, which uses the propane anyway, would then be a no-electricity operation - ideal for us.

Thanks much for your help - I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to replace the whole unit with a gas/pilot light one, since I don't believe replacing the electric starter with a pilot light is possible.

--SatyrTN
 
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Old 04-29-10, 12:13 PM
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My guess that you were using wind or solar was reasonably close.

With your setup, being concerned about the electrical draw is reasonable, just as you say.

A gas range designed to operate with propane pilot burners would be an excellent solution for you, and since equipment like this dating back to the 1970s or so can be had for cheap, the economical solution as well.

I have a Hotpoint range dating back to 1972 which has two small pilots to operate the range burners and a mercury safety system to operate the oven burner.

Mercury safeties allowed the use of very small pilot lights. When the thwermostat called for heat, it turned up the pilot to a larger size which heated a small tube of mercury. When the mercury vaporized, the gas pressure turned on the oven burner. This insured that the main burner could not turn on unless there was a pilot to light it.

That's a good system that was common in the 1960s and 1970s.

Check out Craigslist --- you can often find old ranges like that for free, or for a few dollars. I got mine off the scrap pile at the utility I used to work for and have been using it for 25 years.
 
 

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