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When trying to ignite a single burner on a 2012 model gas stove, all 5 of the piezoelectric plugs start to spark. Once the chosen burner lights and I adjust the flame all the plugs stop sparking.

Questions

Is this something awry or is this typical behavior of a gas stove?

What are some probable explanations for such behavior?

  • No problem, I was just wondering why. My stove top is sealed shut so I can't inspect the burners to examine. – zundarz Aug 24 '13 at 1:39
  • As the answers stated it comes down to simplicity. My stove works the same way and has not had a problem in eight years. – user4302 Feb 22 '14 at 6:11
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Yes, it is a typical for the gas stovetops to light all of the burners even when only one is needed. Note that this applies to stovetops that do not have a standing pilot light. The oven often will have its own ignitor that operates independently of the stovetop.

The reason for this may be in order to reduce the complexity of the stovetop design. With all of the sparkers running in parallel, only one set of electronics is needed for all of the burners, instead of each one having its own electronics (or requiring additional relays). Stoves will often come with schematics showing their wiring, and you could consult these to see how your particular stove is designed.

Note that it is perfectly fine to spark already lit burners (though this will slightly reduce the lifespan of the electrode as it'll erode more quickly at high temperatures), and burners that are turned off (since there's no gas available, it'll have no effect).

There's also a bit of a a safety factor involved. If you have a failed ignitor (blocked with crud or broken), the plume of gas will be ignited by the other burner before it fills up more of the room, thereby creating a smaller fireball than it would have otherwise.

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    The sparking at the non-selected burners has no effect because the only gas valve opened is at the selected burner. – bib Aug 22 '13 at 20:00
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    It also has a safety/redundancy factor.. If a given ignitor fails or is blocked (by burnt food), the others will prevent a dangerous build-up of gas. – HerrBag Aug 22 '13 at 22:06
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My opinion on this is - If the igniter for the burner your trying to use is defective, then one of the secondary (other) igniters will ignite the gas, so you're not just filling the air with gas. I could be wrong about that, but that's what seems logical. I have a 5 burner system, that when any burner is selected, the center burner (central to all other 4 burners) always runs it's igniter with any other burner being started. So that was my conclusion, that its a secondary backup igniter to avoid a huge gas buildup from a burner that is not igniting.

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It is far simpler to build a single ignition system which is activated by every burner control knob (which are trivially wired in parallel) and has only one output which is routed to all sparkers.

An already lit burner receiving sparks is no problem. But having 4+ ignition systems—or switching logic and electronics to accomplish the same thing—is unnecessary complexity.

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