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Ignite Your Gas Grill With an Electronic Ignition

Upgrade your gas grill with a battery-powered spark generator, electronic ignition.

FH12MAR_ELEIGN_01-2Family Handyman
Replace faulty gas grill igniters with battery-powered electronic ignition. You can install the inexpensive electronic igniter (about $20) in an hour with basic tools.

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How to fix a gas grill that won’t ignite

Igniting a gas grill is supposed to be simple: Push the spark igniter on your gas grill and you’re fired up and ready for steak. But after a few years, those piezo-style igniters stop working. They bind up and refuse to “click,” or they click but don’t produce a spark. Rather than replace the gas grill ignitor every few years with the same trouble-prone style, why not upgrade to a battery-powered spark generator?

You can buy a new-style spark generator and electrode for about $20 at some home centers and online (one online source is grillparts.com). You’ll probably have to mount it in a different location. That’ll mean abandoning the old piezo unit and drilling a new hole. If you’re OK with that, grab your drill, bits and a rotary tool and get to work. The entire project takes about one hour from start to fire. Here’s how.

Electronic ignition installation steps

Photo 1: Make a hole in the grill

Drill a starter hole and double-check for fit and clearance. Then drill the larger hole with a metal-cutting hole saw.

Photo 2: Grind grooves

Dial your rotary tool up to high speed and use a cutting wheel to cut grooves 180 degrees apart.

Photo 3: Connect the electrode wires

Connect the center electrode wire to the positive (+) terminal on the spark generator. Then connect the other wire to the negative (-) terminal.

First, connect the wires from the existing electrode to the new spark generator and press the button. If you get a spark, the old electrode is good and can stay put. If you don’t get a spark (and the battery is installed properly), you’ll have to replace the old electrode as well.

Next, find a new location for the generator that’s within reach of the electrode wires. Make sure the new generator won’t interfere with the gas valves or supply line. Then drill the hole (Photo 1).

The spark generator we bought had side tangs and snap clips to hold it in place. To accommodate those locking features, just cut side grooves in the freshly drilled hole with a rotary tool and a cutoff wheel (Photo 2). Then insert the new spark generator, drop in a new battery, and twist on the push button cap. Connect the electrode wires (Photo 3).

Test the gas grill ignitor unit and get ready to grill.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Drill bit set
  • Drill/driver - cordless
  • Hole saw kit
You might need a rotary tool as well.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Electronic igniter and electrode