Ignition and Flame Sensor Technology

There are many choices with ignition and flame sensing technology.  Below we will walk through the main types of products that we can provide.

What is piezo ignition?

Piezo ignition is a simple device that uses the stored up electric charge that is in some materials, when pressure is applied to it.  PZT or quartz crystals are examples of the materials that could be used to make this high voltage electrical charge, once pressure is applied and it is deformed.  Some great examples of this type of device are used in simple BBQ (barbeque) grills, camping stoves, water heaters, firepits, fireplaces and even some cigarette lighters.  No external electrical connection is required, to create a natural gas or propane gas flame.  Just a simple gas ignition system is required.

What is a battery spark igniter?

A battery spark igniter is a simple step up from the above piezo igniter and will use a AA battery (as an example) to create an electrical spark to ignite a flame.  The only negative to that is the battery will need to be replaced from time to time and an electrode will be required as well.  In both cases, you would manually turn the gas on and press a simple button to create a spark.

What is a spark electrode?

A spark electrode is not much different than the sparkplug in your car.  It carries an electrical current from the igniter to the flow of gas to be lit.  It may go directly to a gas “pilot valve” or to a manual “on/off gas valve.” 

What is an igniter?

There are many types of igniters like the simple Piezo Igniter and the Batter Spark Igniter, described above, but for more complex situations where there is the possibility of more danger, an IID or Interlock Ignition Device (a gas ignition safety control) needs to be used.  It will send a spark to an electrode after it electronically opens the gas valve or gas pilot valve.  After the flame is lit, a “signal” is sent back to the IID to tell it that everything is working properly by a “flame sensor.”  That describes an electronically, Piloted Ignition System.  There are also DSI or Direct Spark Ignition systems, which do the same thing, but with no pilot valve.  However, a flame sensor is still needed with a DSI.

What is a flame sensor?

A flame sensor is a safety device inserted and held in the flame to make sure there is a flame there.  It sends a signal back to the IID (Interlock Ignition Device or a Manual Ignition Control) to have it shut down the flow of gas, if there is no longer a flame.  In some cases, with some gas ignition devices, the IID will go through a relighting procedure, after a period of time, to get things relit.  That is the operation of an Automatic Ignition System and requires an electric source to operate it.

What is a hot surface igniter?

An HSI is a ceramic igniter that still lights a gas source by heating up vs creating a spark.  You see these types of devices in your oven and space heaters and are also knows as glow bars.

CSA and Underwriters Laboratories are two agencies who have developed standards and testing requirements to approve these types of systems for the safety of the public.  If you are developing a new system, working with a competent parts source who works hand in hand with these agencies is important.  Only use CSA or UL approved parts in your product.  Ignition Technology can be complicated so let Zauderer Associates, Inc. help you determine the right type of igniter or sensor needed.

For more information, please visit our Gas Igniters, Sensors & Controls product page.

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