Gas log sets have several different gas valves and control options to choose from. Whether your focus is on safety, convenience, or price, you can find the perfect combination of valve and control type to fit your needs. Read below to learn about the different options available!
Match-lit ignitions are the most affordable and simplest control option. All you need is a match or a lighter to ignite the gas. The match or lighter is placed next to the gas outlet on the burner, then the gas valve is opened with a key letting the gas flow out and igniting the fire. The gas valve is always located within arms reach of the firebox.
Although match-lit ignitions are the simplest control option, you need to take care when lighting the gas. If too much gas is released before ignition, it could cause irreparable damage to you or your home. For this reason, match-lit ignitions may not meet the code requirements in your area.
Match-lit ignitions are only available with vented gas log sets that are fueled by natural gas and cannot be used with propane logs sets. Always check the local building codes in your city before choosing a gas log set and ignition.
Manual Safety Pilot
A manual safety pilot kit, also known as an SPK, is a gas valve that incorporates a safety system with a flame-sensing thermocouple. The safety pilot is lit with a match or lighter establishing a flame. Once the flame is present, the safety pilot will stay lit, just like the standing pilot on a hot water heater.
When you want to use the gas log set, you simply turn the control knob and the burner will light. If the pilot flame ever goes out, the safety system will shut off the gas.
Manual safety pilot systems come in two options - on/off and variable. The simple on/off system releases a predetermined amount of gas, so the flames will always be the same size. The variable safety pilot lets you adjust the size of the flames using a knob to control the amount of gas released.
Modified Safety Pilot Kit
A modified safety pilot kit works just like the SPK above but has a motor added to the gas valve, so you can connect a remote or variable control to the log set for easier on/off operation.
Some modified SPKs only work with a particular type of remote control, while others come remote ready, so you can add or change the remote any time you want. See control types below for more information on the different remote controls available.
A millivolt gas valve is similar to an SPK, but instead of a thermocouple, a millivolt gas valve uses a thermopile. The thermopile generates a larger millivolt current than a thermocouple, allowing you to connect a hand-held remote, wall switch, timer, or thermostat to the gas log set.
Electronic ignition systems let you control the gas log set with a switch on the gas valve, a wall switch, or a remote control. Some may require the use of household power, but most are battery operated.
When the log set is switched on, the control module sparks the igniter signaling the gas control valve to send gas to the burner. The sparking continues until a temporary pilot is established. Once the pilot is stable, the control module allows the gas to flow through to the main burner until the fire is lit.
On/off remotes are the most basic remote available and simply turn the log set on and off. They are generally used with a standing pilot, like the SPK above.
Variable remotes can control the flame height and heat output of the gas log set. A solenoid controls the flow of gas to the burner, raising or lowering the heat output of the log set.
Remotes with a thermostat let you control the heat output of the log set to maintain a specific temperature in your room. You can set the temperature on the remote in Fahrenheit or Celsius, and the log set will cycle on and off to maintain the desired temperature. Thermostats cannot be used with vented gas log sets, they are only available with ventless styles.
Wall-mounted controllers come in the same various configurations as the hand-held remote controls above. They can be as simple as a regular on/off light switch or as complex as an LCD display with a timer, thermostat, variable flame control, and more. Some are hardwired back to the firebox through the wall while others are wireless and can be used in conjunction with a hand-held remote control.