Fireplace Ignition Systems Explained

Gas fireplaces offer several benefits over wood burning fireplaces. They are environmentally friendlier, safer, and much more economical. Eliminating the need for replenishing wood logs means one less trip to the local grocer or the woods, and the lack of ash and soot helps keep our atmosphere clean. You don't have to worry about fire glass or gas logs producing potentially hazardous or dangerous sparks, as most commonly seen with the traditional wood burning fireplace. Instead, there's more freedom to personalize and decorate your gas fireplace as best suits your style. Plus, there's no need to store wood logs during the autumn and winter seasons as gas fireplaces can be enjoyed almost instantaneously. But when it comes to how fast you want to enjoy the warmth of your gas fireplace; it all comes down to the ignition system. In this article, we break down the different methods for starting and controlling the flames and the pros and cons of each one.


Match Lit Ignition System

Match lit ignition system in a fireplace1/4" Broken Pre-Mixed Fire Glass in Sunset Cove by Starfire Glass adds a stunning modern appeal to this gas fireplace.

The traditional method to igniting a fireplace, a match lit ignition system requires the flames be lit manually by holding a matchstick or a long lighter near the burner before opening the gas valve. You can use your valve to increase or decrease the amount of gas being used to control the height of the fire. A match lit ignition system has little to no moving parts, meaning less maintenance is required. Plus, it is considerably more affordable than the more involved ignition types. However, it's important to understand that a match lit ignition system is only available for indoor natural gas fireplaces. It cannot be used with propane gas and does not have a standing pilot--meaning there's no safety pilot to monitor and maintain the flame. Because this type of ignition system cannot be set up with a remote control, it will require getting up from your comfortable spot on the sofa to turn the flames On or Off. But if you're tight on a budget, don't mind the traditional method of igniting flames, or forgoing a little bit of comfort--this option can work wonders. Plus, you still get all the great benefits that come with having a gas fireplace.


Standing Pilot Ignition System

Standing Pilot Ignition SystemThe safety mechanism in a standing pilot, known as a safety pilot, contains a small flame that remains lit even when the flames of your gas fireplace are not in use. Should the pilot light be extinguished from the wind or a draft, the gas flow is automatically shut off to prevent harmful gas leaks into your home.

A standing pilot, also known as a safety pilot, is another manually lit ignition system--but a step up from the standard match lit ignition system. Instead of always using a lighter or a match, this type of ignition system allows the flames to be ignited by turning the control knob, located inside the fireplace, to the On position. A standing pilot features a safety mechanism, called a safety pilot, that has a small flame that remains continuously lit even when the fireplace is not in use. If the pilot light is ever extinguished for any reason, the flow of gas is automatically shut off to prevent harmful gas leaks. Unlike the standard match lit ignition system, the standing pilot ignition system is compatible with both natural gas and propane and can be left on year-round or turned off during the warmer months. If you plan on using propane gas for your fireplace, it’s important to note that a safety pilot is required by law. Some automatic safety pilot kits--like Real Fyre's--even include a remote that allows you to control the pilot light, heat output, or flame height from the luxury of your favorite lounge chair. Having that extra level of comfort and security in your home with the safety pilot system monitoring the flames year-round means more time spent relaxing than worrying. But keep in mind that though this system is much more convenient and safer than a traditional match lit ignition system, this upgraded option may require replacement parts for maintenance and is a little more expensive. In addition, a safety pilot is--by law--required on all indoor propane gas burners.


Electronic Ignition System

Electronic Ignition SystemWith an electronic ignition system upgrade, you can turn your fireplace On and Off or even adjust the flame's height with a remote control--all from the snug coziness of your favorite living room spot.

An electronic ignition system, also known as a non-standing pilot, eliminates the hassle of igniting your fireplace with matches or a long lighter. As its name indicates, this type of ignition system requires either a power-line installation or a battery-operated connection. Real Fyre offers battery-operated non-standing pilot options that make it convenient for those looking for something higher in quality. While routing your fireplace to an electrical line may cost more than a battery-operated connection, just bear in mind that the latter will require you replace the batteries over time--depending on how often you plan on using your fireplace. Not only easier to use than the match lit and standing pilot ignition systems, an electronic ignition system is also much safer as it contains a flame-sensing pilot feature that is only activated when the fireplace is in use. Should there be an absence of flames detected, the electronic ignition system will automatically shut off the gas flow and attempt to re-ignite the flames. With the flames constantly being monitored, you'll certainly be spending more time indulging in the satisfaction of your personal or shared leisure time than worrying about your safety. The best part? Electronic ignition systems also offer the convenience of being wired for use with a home control system such as a wall switch, a remote control, or a timer. Depending on the control option, you have the flexibility of using a simple On/Off control or a variable flame height control directly from the comfort of the couch. But this option tends to be more expensive since there are more parts involved and it requires a power-line connection or a battery-powered connection.

Depending on what your needs are, we hope that this guideline to the different fireplace ignition systems helps you select the best one suited for your living space. If you're in need of something more affordable that does not require much maintenance, a match lit ignition system is an ideal option. But if you want that extra level of security, a standing pilot ignition system makes a wonderful choice with its safety pilot feature. But if you truly want complete luxury, we always recommend investing in an electronic ignition system, as it includes a flame-sensing pilot feature that's only activated when the fireplace is in use. Plus, with an electronic ignition system, there's no need to get up from your leisure spot when you can turn on the flames right from the couch--or the bed. But if you still have questions on the best ignition system for you, fill out a contact us form here, speak to one of our helpful team members at (866) 578-8538, or chat us live on the site.

Main image: Fire glass by Starfire Glass add a modern touch to any indoor gas fireplace.


Stephany Phimmasouk

An avid rock climber, Stephany is one of the Ecommerce team members responsible for the addition and maintenance of product listings on the website.