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Using a Gas Fireplace During a Power Outage? (Answered)

There are many things to worry about when you lose power. It’s especially concerning when the weather is going to be harsh for a while. In cold winter months, the temperature inside your home can drop drastically. So, can gas fireplace’s run without power?

Most gas fireplaces can run without electricity. Gas fireplaces that have a standing or vertical pilot light can light with or without electricity. If your gas fireplace has a different type of ignition system, you will not be able to run it without electricity unless it has a backup battery. 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about using gas fireplaces when the power is out. It is best to know what your fireplace is capable of ahead of time so you are prepared in the event of an emergency.

a gas fireplace with a pilot light

Will Gas Fireplaces Work During a Blackout?

It’s possible to start your gas fireplace during a blackout, though there are a few things you need to understand beforehand. You’ll first need to know what kind of gas fireplace you have. This will determine whether you can start your fireplace during a blackout or not.

Also, if you have a backup battery, you can start it regardless of power.  

If your gas fireplace relies on a standing or vertical pilot light, you can light it during a blackout with only a simple lighter or match. These kinds of gas fireplaces use a thermopile-driven self-generating millivolt system to light and, therefore, do not rely on electricity.

It’s easy to check if you have a standing pilot on your fireplace. If your fireplace has an on-and-off knob or switch and an igniter dial, you can relight it manually during a power outage.

If your fireplace has a fan and blower, it may still run without electricity. You will be able to turn it on and heat it with or without power, you just won’t be able to turn on the blower. This is what circulates the heat around the room, so the radius of the heat will be smaller, but it should still work.

Is It Safe to Start a Fireplace During a Power Outage?

It’s safe to run your gas fireplace during a power outage as long as it is vented outside. The vent will help get rid of any carbon monoxide that is produced from the gas fireplace. The ventilation system will still work without power, especially if you have a fireplace insert or a direct vent fireplace. It’s the blower that will not turn on.

You will need to light your fireplace manually, and it may produce less warmth than you are used to, but any heat is better than none.

Can You (Safely) Run Your Gas Fireplace Without the Blower?

Many people hear the word “gas,” and they automatically assume that it is not safe to use indoorsespecially without power. That is not always the case. There are different types of gas fireplaces. How a fireplace vents its exhaust will determine if you should worry about carbon monoxide leakage during a power outage.

  • Fireplace inserts are inset into existing fireplaces and use the existing fireplace and all its vents to release the exhaust. This is safe to use without power.
  • Direct vent fireplaces go directly out of the house. This is safe to use without power.
  • Regardless of the type of gas fireplace that you have, you should always have a carbon monoxide detector in place. This will alert you to any issues that may be happening before they become life-threatening. 

In both fireplace inserts and direct vent fireplaces, the fumes are pushed out of the house. Both of these are safe to run 24/7 as long as the glass is sealed properly. If it’s not, some of the fumes will leak into your home. You will be able to smell this, and this may impact how safe it is to use. 

You will run into some runtime issues if you have a vent-free fireplace, which does not funnel the fumes outside of your house. You will want to limit operation to a couple of hours, especially if your carbon monoxide detector is not up and running due to the power outage. 

Consider having extra batteries on hand for your carbon monoxide detector if you plan to run any type of gas fireplace without the power just in case. This will add an extra layer of protection for your peace of mind. 

Do Gas Fireplaces Have a Backup Battery?

Some gas fireplaces come with a backup battery, which is helpful when it comes to operating the fireplace during a power outage. This is common with gas fireplaces that use an intermittent pilot ignition to turn on the unit. These do not use a standing pilot light. 

While intermittent pilot ignitions save energy, they can present difficulties during power outages without a backup battery. To turn on units with an intermittent pilot ignition system, you would simply flip a switch or press a button! A spark will then be generated that will ignite the fireplace, giving you that awesome warmth in a more energy-efficient manner. 

Because electricity is needed to generate that first spark, it will not run without power unless you have a backup battery. The good news is that many gas fireplaces that run using the intermittent pilot ignition system will have a backup battery, which will let you turn on the unit to generate the heat. 

However, much like gas fireplaces with the standing pilot light, you cannot use the blower or fan on the backup battery.

You will need to check your unit to see if it has a backup battery. Not all brands include them, so it may vary from unit to unit.

How to Start a Gas Fireplace Without Electricity

The method for starting your gas fireplace during a power outage may vary based on your fireplace’s control panel. The steps are slightly different if there is a control panel with a standing pilot light versus a key valve. Some gas fireplaces also have a wall switch, but those will not work during a power outage.

No matter what type of igniter you have, the first step will be to open the chimney vent if you have one. This will ensure the fireplace is being properly ventilated. You must do this before you start a fire to prevent any potential dangers. If you do not have external ventilation, be sure to limit your use without power for safety reasons.

1. Standing Pilot Light 

You do not need electricity if your gas fireplace has a standing pilot light, though you may need to manually light it. Follow these steps on how to turn on your gas fireplace with a standing pilot light. It is safe and easy to do with or without power!

Locate the Gas Valve on Your Gas Fireplace 

The gas valve should be located by the other controls, and you may need to open a panel to access it. This should be turned on before you get started. Your fireplace will not turn on if it is off. 

If you have not used your fireplace for a while, turn off the gas valve for five minutes to clear all the old gas out. Turn it back on after five minutes. This will help your gas fireplace start easier when you turn on the pilot light.

Locate the Pilot Light

The pilot light should be a small dial. It is also located near the controls and gas valve. The pilot light could be behind a panel or under the gas fireplace’s main frame. If it’s dark, you may need a flashlight to locate the dial. Note which position it is currently in.

Turn into Ignite Position 

One you locate the pilot light, turn the dial to ignite. Again, use your flashlight if you need to so you can make sure that the pilot light is in the ignite position. It may already be set to ignite from the last time you used it, and that is completely normal and safe.

Push in the Pilot Light Dial

Once the dial is in the ignite position, push it in and hold it pushed for about 10 seconds. You should start hearing a clicking sound, and your pilot should catch with fire. Once it turns on, you are done! Replace any safety gates or paneling you removed and enjoy the heat.

Depending on the last time you used your gas fireplace, this may take some time, which is completely normal. If this is the case, press and hold your dial for 10 seconds and let it go. Try again after 10 seconds and repeat until the flames have caught. This process may have to be repeated a few times but your gas fireplace will eventually catch and turn on.

2. Key Valve

If you have a small keyhole to the side of your gas fireplace, you have a fireplace that uses a key valve to operate. This means that you need to use a key to turn on the gas in your fireplace, and this too can be used when the power is out. It is very easy to light and your home will feel warmer in no time. You will also need a long match or lighter.

Remove the Cover

Your gas fireplace will have a front cover that helps keep the fire separate from your room. Not only does it make using your fireplace safer, but it also makes it look nice! To light your gas fireplace, you’ll want to open or remove the cover. You’ll need to be able to access the fireplace and the gas to light it. Place the coverings to the side for easy access.

Locate the Fireplace Key

Your fireplace key slot should be located to the right of your fireplace. Some keys are permanently installed into the slot. Otherwise, you will need to find your fireplace key and slot it in the hole. If you have lost your key, you can purchase a replacement at most home improvement and hardware stores. They are typically universal in fit.

Don’t turn the key in the slot just yet. You are just getting it ready at this point so that you will be able to catch the fireplace when you light the fire source. Turning on the gas too soon could make the fire flame too big when turning on initially or add too much gas to your room. Neither is recommended, especially during a power outage. 

Light the Burner

Once the fireplace key is in the slot, get your long lighter and hold it up next to the burner. The lighter must have a long neck for safety purposes, though you can also use a long match to light it as well. Light your lighter or match.

Turn On the Fireplace Key

When you are ready to light your fireplace, turn the key, on, clockwise. This will release the gas into the fireplace, catching the fireplace on with your lighter or match. 

You may need to pull back quickly if your pilot light ignites quicker or bigger than expected and consider wearing heat resistant gloves 

Replace the Cover

Put the cover back on your fireplace. You will want to make sure that it is securely in place so the fire is contained. Your room will begin to heat up. 

3. Backup Battery

If your gas fireplace has a backup battery in place, you should be able to turn it on normally without needing to manually light it. It will operate as normal, so all you need to do is press the on button to turn your fireplace on during a power outage, and press the off button to turn it off when the power is out.

You can consult your manual to see if your gas fireplace has a backup battery or simply try to turn it on during a power outage using the remote. If it doesn’t work, you can always check the batteries. If that doesn’t work, you will need to manually light the gas fireplace to work. Just make sure you know if you have a standing pilot light or a key valve.

Need More Help?

You can always ask us here at Fireplace Tips, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.

  • Chimney Safety Institute of North America (CSIA): The CSIA is your BEST resource for fireplace and chimney safety at home. They’re a non-profit governed by a volunteer board of directors dedicated to the education, training, and certification of chimney and industry related professionals.
  • Self-Sufficiency and Off-Grid: If you’re like me and passionate about off-grid and self-sufficiency, see my number 1 resource—Abundance Plus. Check out their Frugal Homesteading Course on growing 90% of your own food. Get 7-days free and 10% off with the code: TYLER10