If you’ve ever used a gas stove, you’ve likely turned the knobs and watched the burners ignite into flames that heat your pots and pans. But have you ever wondered exactly how gas stoves work their magic?
As a gas fitting expert, I’m often asked to explain the inner workings of stove gas lines, burners, and ignition systems that turn fuel into cooking heat.
In this blog, I’ll reveal the hidden processes that make modern gas stoves function so you can understand what’s happening under the surface. Whether choosing a new gas range or troubleshooting burner issues, insight into gas stove mechanics is invaluable.
Gas Stove Components
First, let’s look at the key parts that make up a typical gas stove:
- Burners - The circular burner heads where flames ignite to heat cookware on the stovetop. There are often 3-5 burners.
- Ignition System - Creates a spark or flame to light the gas exiting the burners. This is either a pilot light, electronic ignition, or push button igniter.
- Gas Valve - Controls the gas flow to the burners, opened by the control knobs. It allows you to adjust the flame height.
- Gas Line - The gas supply line brings fuel to the stove from your household pipework. It needs to be correctly fitted.
- Oven - The gas-heated oven underneath the cooktop. Has a separate gas supply, igniter and burner.
These core components work together to deliver and ignite gas for cooking. Now, look at how the gas stove produces flames on your burners.
How Burners Create Flames
Gas burners use piped natural gas or LPG fuel to create flames for cooking. The burner gas stove works through a process that starts when you turn the control knob. This opens the gas valve and allows fuel to flow to the burner. As the pressurised gas exits the burner holes, it mixes with air. The ignition system then creates a small flame or electric spark at the burner. This ignites the gas, making the larger open flames you see.
By turning the knob, you can adjust the gas flow and flame height higher or lower. The flames then heat the bottom of pots and pans on the gas cooktop burner grates. So, the burners act as conduits, delivering gas from the supply lines and mixing it with air to create a combustible gas that can be lit into cooking flames.
The ignition source starts the flames, and the gas control knobs allow you to adjust their intensity for tasks like simmering or boiling. This is how the burner gas stove creates cooking flames through the controlled flow and ignition of natural or LPG gas.
How the Ignition System Works
Gas stove ignition systems produce a small flame or spark to light the burner gas exiting the stove. There are three main types:
1. Standing Pilot Lights
One type of ignition system is the old-fashioned standing pilot lights. This uses a small, constantly burning natural gas flame inside the stove. Turning the knob opens the gas valve to the burner, where the existing open pilot flame instantly ignites the released gas.
The advantage of standing pilot lights is they provide instant ignition as soon as the gas is released. However, the downside is that they waste fuel by constantly burning a flame, even when unnecessary. The pilot light ignition relies on a small open natural gas flame that is always lit inside the stove to ignite the gas instantly when released to the burners.
2. Electronic Ignition
Another modern ignition system is electric ignition. With electric ignition, you turn the knob to release the fuel gas, then press a separate ignition button which creates an electrical spark to light the stove burner.
The advantages of an electric gas hob are that it only uses energy when you are igniting the burner, and it has a lower risk of gas leaks versus a constantly burning pilot light. However, the downsides are that there can be a slight ignition delay after initially turning the knob before the electric spark is triggered, and the spark mechanism has more mechanical parts that can fail over time.
Overall, the electric spark ignition system allows the stove burner gas to be lit on demand via an electrical spark activated by a button rather than by a continuously burning pilot flame.
3. Continuous Ignition
A third type of gas stove ignition is continuous ignition. This is similar to electric ignition but without pressing any buttons.
With continuous ignition, simply turning the control knob initiates an automatic spark that keeps repeatedly firing until the burner gas flame fully ignites. The advantages of this system are fast ignition with minimal delays between turning the knob and lighting the burners, as well as very convenient operation by eliminating the need to push a button.
However, the downside is that the complex sparking mechanism is prone to mechanical failure over time. In summary, all gas stove ignition systems involve turning a knob to trigger the release of burning gas to the cooktop burners. At the same time, a separate integrated starter source - either a pilot light, manual spark button, or automatic spark module - ignites the released gas into cooking flames.
Why Lighting Burners Makes a “Pop” Sound
You’ve probably noticed that gas stove burners make a slight popping sound when ignited. This is caused by a delayed ignition of some of the gas. Here’s why this popping occurs:
When the gas valve is opened, fuel rushes out rapidly toward the ignition source. Some initial gas reaches the flame or spark and instantly ignites with a “whoosh” sound. However, there is a slight delay before the remaining gas can ignite, causing it to build up pressure briefly. When that remaining gas finally ignites, the sudden expansion creates an audible popping sound.
So, the small delay between the first initial rush of gas exiting the burner and the entire ignition of all the released gas creates that noticeable pop. This is completely normal physics, so there is no need to be concerned by the loud pop when your stove burners ignite! It is simply caused by the staggered ignition between the first portion of gas and the rest.
How Oven Gas Supply And Ignition Works
A gas oven also relies on a controlled gas supply, ignition source, and burners like the cooktop. However, some key differences exist in how oven gas supply and ignition work.
The oven has separate gas lines and valves from the cooktop to deliver fuel. The burners are internal, located at the back or bottom of the oven cavity rather than open grates. Ignition is via either a pilot light or an electronic spark igniter.
The internal oven burner is designed to mix gas and air for complete and even flame coverage across the cavity. Thermostats and temperature probes help maintain the target baking temperature. The oven gas supply is actually turned off once the oven reaches the set temperature.
So, while gas ovens rely on the same principles of regulated gas flow and ignition as the cooktop burners, they use specially designed internal burners to evenly spread heat throughout the cavity rather than producing open grates flames. However, the core gas combustion functionality between the cooktop and oven remains unchanged.
Why Choose Gas Stoves? Benefits Explained
Now that you understand the workings of gas stove ignition and burners, what are the benefits of gas stoves?
Precise Direct Heat
Gas burners heat pots and pans directly, allowing more precise control and immediate temperature adjustments. You get even heat distribution for cooking many dishes.
Faster Boiling and Heating
The powerful open flames and immediate heat of gas stovetops boil water faster. They also heat up quicker for tasks like searing meats.
Lower Operating Costs
Gas stoves are often cheaper to operate per hour than electric models. Gas is generally a lower-cost cooking fuel.
Versatile Oven Heat
Gas ovens heat via internal burners that distribute warmth evenly. This allows versatile baking, broiling, roasting and more.
Cooking over real open flames adds signature flavour and charring that you can’t replicate with electric or induction.
With less complex electronics, gas stoves have greater longevity and fewer repairs or faults.
Troubleshooting Common Gas Stove Issues
Of course, even reliable gas stoves can run into problems. Here are some frequent gas range issues and their likely fixes:
Burners won’t ignite:
- Dirty/clogged burner holes - clean them out with a stiff brush.
- Faulty igniter - replace the pilot assembly or spark module.
- Gas line issues - check shutoff valves, leaks, and kinks.
Small weak flames:
- Low gas flow - inspect the gas lines for blockages.
- Blocked burner holes - clean any debris blocking holes.
Burner flame yellow or orange:
- Dirt in the burners - clean them thoroughly.
- Possible gas line restriction - have supply inspected.
Burners ignite, but oven won’t:
- Oven sensor/thermostat fault - test and replace.
- Separate oven gas line problem.
- Immediately turn off the stove and locate any gas leaks with leak detector spray.
- Knowing how your gas stove functions helps narrow down and fix any problems. But call in a technician for significant issues or gas leaks.
Time to Choose the Best Gas Stove
Now that you know what makes gas stoves tick and their benefits, you can choose the perfect model for your kitchen.
Look for solid burners, convenient ignition, and smart gas line routing. Focus on a spacious oven with features like convection baking and self-cleaning. Always have your new gas range professionally installed and connected to handle the gas supply safely.
For any assistance picking and installing gas stoves or troubleshooting stove problems, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Woolf Plumbing & Gas in Perth. Our local gas fitters can help install, repair and maintain your gas stoves!
Gas Stove FAQs
Are gas stoves better than electric stoves?
Gas stoves have advantages over electric models, such as faster heating, lower operating costs, and more authentic open-flame cooking flavour. However, electric stoves provide more precise and even better-suited heat for certain dishes. Gas and electric stoves both have pros and cons.
Do gas stoves require ventilation?
Yes, gas stoves release products of combustion like carbon monoxide, so they must be used with proper overhead ventilation hoods that vent outside. Adequate ventilation is a must for the safe operation of gas stoves.
How often should I clean my gas stove burners?
Most gas stoves benefit from having their burners cleaned every few months. Use a stiff brush and hot, soapy water to remove any debris in the burner holes that can block gas flow. Clogged, dirty burners can cause ignition issues.
What’s the difference between gas ranges and gas cooktops?
Gas ranges are full freestanding stoves with cooktop burners and a built-in gas oven. Gas cooktops are standalone units with just the stovetop burners to mount on a countertop or pair with a separate wall oven. Gas cooktops give more flexibility in kitchen designs.