March 3, 2013
Ovens are managed differently from the top burners. When you turn the knob for a top burner, it sends gas directly to the burner, and the spark generator lights it. This is why you can manually light burners when the power is out.
The oven, however, is different. Because it has the potential to build up explosive amounts of gas within the oven if it doesn't light, there is a fail-safe, double-ignition process. When you turn the knob, gas goes to a pilot light, which is ignited by the spark. This pilot light then heats an element; when the thermocouple element is hot enough, it allows the gas to flow to the oven burners and the pilot ignites it. This fail-safe mechanism insures that you have ignition before it allows the large amount of gas to flow to the oven burners or broiler; the pilot light also allows the gas to go off and on to maintain oven temperature. When you turn off the oven, the pilot light goes out, so you're not continually burning gas.
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