How Does a Propane Gas Furnace Work?

How Does a Propane Gas Furnace Work?

Why New Gas Furnaces Don’t Need a Pilot Light

gas furnaces new york

Today’s energy-efficient propane gas furnaces offer New York homeowners a great opportunity to increase their comfort while decreasing their energy usage. New furnaces can now heat a home using significantly less energy compared to older generation equipment.

Knowing more about how your furnace works will help you to make smart choices if you’re considering replacing your old heating system with a new, high-efficiency propane gas model. And if you’re having a heating problem, knowing more about how your furnace works will be helpful when you discuss the issue with your propane service technician.

Understanding Your Furnace

Furnaces can be powered by either fuel oil, propane gas, natural gas, or electricity. Also known as warm-air or forced-air systems, furnaces produce heated air in the combustion chamber.

  • Inside a propane gas furnace, propane is mixed with air and burned.
  • The heat exchanger transfers the heat to the air, which is pushed through the heat exchanger by the furnace’s blower fan.
  • The fan blows the heated air through a network of air ducts before the warm air exits through registers or vents throughout your home.
  • Combustion gases are vented out of the building through a flue pipe.

The Advantage of Having a Furnace

Besides heat, the ductwork that connects with your furnace can provide other kinds of conditioned air, including through:

  • a central air conditioning system
  • a whole-house humidifier
  • an air cleaning system or air purifier

Differences Between Old Furnaces and New Furnaces

  • Older furnaces vent exhaust gases directly to the outside, but this wastes about 30% of the heat energy because the exhaust gases need to remain hot enough to rise through the chimney safely.
  • Modern furnaces use an insulated flue pipe instead of a barometric damper. This improves venting and reduces heat loss.
  • Modern-day furnaces can run at a range of speeds and feature other efficiency-enhancing features including microprocessor-based controls, high-pressure flame-retention burners, and durable heat exchangers.
  • New options include the ultra-efficient condensing gas furnace, which recovers and uses some of the lost heat from waste gases thanks to a secondary heat exchanger.

Older Gas Furnaces Have Pilot Lights

The biggest drawback to pilot lights has always been that they sometimes get extinguished. This will result in a loss of heat. Common reasons for a pilot light to go out include a nearby draft, dirt buildup, or a malfunctioning thermocouple, which is a sensor that measures temperature.
Another problem is energy waste. Since the pilot light needs to remain active, your furnace is always consuming some propane gas. It’s not a lot, but that obviously adds up over time.

There is a safety issue as well. Pilot lights can develop problems that cause them to burn inefficiently. When this happens, a small amount of carbon monoxide can be released into your home.

Modern Gas Furnaces Have Electronic Ignition

All these problems are not an issue when you have a modern propane gas furnace, which uses electronic ignition instead of an old-fashioned pilot light.

Most furnaces with electronic ignition have a device called a hot surface igniter. This is a small electronic device that receives an electrical current whenever your thermostat calls for heat. The ignition heats up to a temperature that is hot enough to ignite the gas to your burners, and then it shuts off after it has done its job.

Another type of electronic ignition is an intermittent pilot light. This uses a small flame to ignite the burners just like a conventional pilot light. The difference is that the flame is only lit (by an electronic spark) when your furnace is ready for a heating cycle. When the pilot light is not needed, it is completely off, saving you money on propane gas.

NY Rebates for Propane Gas Furnaces

If you’re ready to replace your old propane gas furnace, get in touch with your New York propane service company. They’ll be glad to walk you through the process and they can also tell you about current New York rebates that will help you save money on a new propane gas furnace as well as other propane heating equipment.
When you install any propane-powered equipment, it’s essential that you bring in a licensed propane technician. Propane equipment is extremely safe when installed properly. But as with all energy sources, improper installation can be dangerous. Certified propane technicians have the training, experience, and tools to do the job quickly, correctly, and safely.

This is largely because of the Certified Employee Training Program (CETP), which is run under the direction of the Propane Education & Research Council. What’s more, you can only take advantage of available rebates if your installation is inspected for safety with a Gas Check®. Please speak to your propane company about this inspection.