Can You Run a Gas Fireplace When the Power Is Out?

In today’s world, many of our household appliances rely on electricity to function. While traditional wood-burning fireplaces operate independently,

questions arise about the functionality of gas fireplaces during a power outage. This article addresses the question of whether you can operate a gas fireplace when the power is out.

Can You Run a Gas Fireplace When the Power Is Out?

Gas fireplaces are typically designed with a standing pilot light for ignition, which operates independently of external electricity.

Although newer models incorporate an electronic ignition system, they are equipped with a backup igniter powered by a battery, ensuring functionality even without external electricity.

Gas fireplaces operate by opening a gas valve, followed by ignition via a spark or standing pilot light, creating a fire.

The ignition process varies, with older models utilizing a standing pilot light, while newer models employ an electronic ignition system.

Gas Fireplaces with a Millivolt System

A standing pilot light remains constantly lit, functioning without any external electrical input. Standing pilot lights generate their electricity through a thermopile mechanism.

This process involves heating one side of a thermopile, resulting in the production of a small amount of electricity, measured in millivolts. This electricity powers the opening and closing of the gas valve, known as the millivolt ignition system.

Standing pilot lights are highly reliable but may be considered somewhat inefficient as they burn continuously, even when the fireplace is not in use.

This becomes particularly noticeable during seasons when the fireplace is rarely utilized.

To address this, a new ignition system was introduced, one that activates only when the fireplace is in use.

Gas Fireplaces Using an Intermittent Pilot Ignition System

The electronic ignition system, also known as Intermittent Pilot Ignition, generates a spark to ignite the pilot light. As the name suggests, this ignition system requires electricity.

Fortunately, most gas fireplaces equipped with electronic ignition include a backup battery. In the event of a power outage, the fireplace can still function using this battery.

In summary, a gas fireplace with Intermittent Pilot Ignition relies on electricity to operate, making it non-functional during a power outage. However, with backup batteries in place, the fireplace can still be used.

It’s worth noting that some states have made the use of Intermittent Pilot Ignition models mandatory due to the inefficiency of millivolt models.

However, Intermittent Pilot Ignition models tend to be slightly more expensive and have more potential points of failure. Fireplace enthusiasts often favor millivolt models for their reliability.

Beyond the ignition system, gas fireplaces do not require electricity for venting or any other essential processes. The primary distinction lies in the ignition system, making a gas fireplace fully functional and safe even without electricity.

Does a Fireplace Blower Work Without Electricity?

A fireplace blower relies on electricity for operation. These blowers circulate warm air throughout a room, enhancing the fireplace’s efficiency.

Therefore, if there’s a power outage, regardless of the ignition system in your gas fireplace, the blower will not function. Even with a millivolt system, which generates its power, the blower remains inoperable.

While the blower’s functionality may be affected, the fireplace will still provide heat, albeit more concentrated around the fire and the fireplace itself.

Do Gas Fireplaces Need to Be Plugged In?

Modern gas fireplaces typically require an electrical connection. Newer models utilize an electronic ignition system, which sparks the fireplace via an electric supply.

In contrast, many older models utilize a standing pilot light, which does not rely on electricity and therefore does not need to be plugged in.

As outlined earlier, two types of ignitions are currently available. Models with Intermittent Pilot Ignition require a power source for lighting the pilot flame.

Gas fireplaces with a millivolt model are self-sustaining. The thermopile generates millivolts in response to temperature changes. Since these models generate their power, there’s no need for the fireplace to be plugged in.

Do Ventless Gas Fireplaces Need Electricity?

Ventless gas fireplaces typically require electricity for proper operation. They are generally designed to be used with a standard electrical

outlet and are equipped with a backup battery for continued use during a power outage. One exception is ventless gas fireplaces equipped with a battery-assisted Piezo Ignition.

How Do You Re-Light A Pilot Light?

For gas fireplaces with electronic ignition, re-lighting the pilot light is a straightforward process. Pressing the remote’s ‘on’ button will open the valves and re-ignite the pilot light.

Gas fireplaces equipped with Intermittent Pilot Ignition systems are easily activated with the press of a button. This will re-ignite the pilot light, followed shortly by the fire.

In the rare event that a pilot light on a millivolt system requires re-lighting, follow these steps for a fireplace with a battery-assisted Piezo Ignition system:

1. Remove the glass door. 2. Push the gas control knob halfway and set it to the ‘pilot’ position. 3. Push the gas control knob in while simultaneously pressing the igniter button. 4. Continue until the pilot lights. 5. Hold the gas control knob for approximately 60 seconds. 6. If the pilot light remains lit, proceed to the next step. Otherwise, repeat the process. 7. Set the gas control knob halfway and return it to the ‘on’ position. 8. Reinstall the glass door.

In conclusion, most gas fireplaces are designed to operate independently of external electricity, making them a reliable heat source during power outages.

Understanding the type of ignition system in your fireplace will allow you to fully utilize its features, even in challenging situations. If you encounter difficulties with your fireplace, seeking professional assistance is advised.