How To Light RV Pilot Lights

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While it's much more comfortable than camping in a tent, camping in an RV is still a bit more complicated than just checking into a hotel. When you arrive somewhere new, there's some prep work you'll have to do. One of the most important tasks is lighting your RV's pilots. 

If you don't know what you're doing, it's an intimidating prospect. We've put together this straightforward guide to make your life a little easier the next time you're out with your RV.

A note: if your RV has automatic pilots, this article isn't for you. You're already good to go. If you have manual pilots, read on to learn more. 

How to Light the Pilot Light of the Oven?

To begin with, turn the pilot knob on your oven from "off" to "pilot." Open the oven door. Have a stick lighter or long match on hand and ready to go right away. Some ovens release gas when the knob is turned to "pilot," while others require you to push in the knob.

Either way, it can be dangerous to let the gas flow for too long. Light the pilot as soon as you're able, and if your model requires it, hold the knob for a few seconds to half a minute. 

Now, you can set the temperature you want to cook at. If you have an oven model that lets gas flow as long as the knob is turned to "pilot," turn it off when you're done cooking. If you have a version that requires you to press the knob, you can leave it set until you're ready to get moving.

Always turn the pilot off while you're traveling. 

How to Light the Pilot Light of Your Furnace?

If you're camping in the winter, you're going to want your furnace on. The first step toward having a cozy evening is turning off the electric power to your furnace and then turning on the propane. From there, you'll likely have to set your fan to auto and let it run for a bit. 

The following steps will depend on the type of furnace you have, so check your owner's manual to be sure. In general, you'll need to find your furnace access panel, remove it and then locate the pilot knob.

Turn it to the "pilot" setting and hold the knob in while you use a stick lighter or a long match to light the pilot. All that's left to do is setting your thermostat.

Stay alert. If you smell propane, it could be a sign of a gas leak. Make sure your RV is well-ventilated when you're using your furnace too. 

How to Light the Pilot in Your Water Heater? 

First, you're going to need to find and remove the access panel to get to your water heater's controls. You might need pliers, a wrench or other tools to do so. Check your owner's manual or the inside of the panel cover for specific instructions relating to your water heater's make and model. 

With that done, make sure your propane tank is on, there's water in your water heater and your propane lines are clear of air. 

Now, you can turn the pilot knob. It's probably set to the off position, so turn it to "pilot." Press the knob down.

Use a stick lighter or a long match to light the pilot. Keep holding the knob down for 30 to 60 seconds. You'll be able to see the flame when it's lit. Let the knob up and turn it, so it says "on." You're good to go! 

You can adjust your water temperature now, generally to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

How to Light the Pilot of Your RV's Refrigerator 

You will probably only need to light the pilot of your RV's refrigerator if you have an older model. Start by making sure it's on a level surface, and then hunt around until you locate the access panel. 

Turn the electric switch off and your propane on. From there, it's exactly like the other pilots in your RV. Turn the knob to "pilot," hold it in and then light it. You'll be able to see the flame. If it goes out when you release the knob, repeat the process and hold it in a bit longer the next time. 


With so many different models and appliances out there, you probably still have questions. Here are two of the most common. 

Can you manually light a water heater with an electronic pilot?

No! Don't attempt to light a water heater with an electronic pilot manually. Contact a service professional if you're having trouble. 

Is it dangerous if the pilot light goes out on your water heater?

While unpleasant, it's generally not dangerous if the pilot light goes out on your water heater. All it means is that your water is going to be chilly until you can get it relit. In limited instances, carbon monoxide can begin to build up. Always make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your RV.

With your questions answered and the necessary pilots lit, all that's left to do is enjoy your trip!

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1 thought on “How To Light RV Pilot Lights”

  1. Thanks for writing this article, it was very helpful for me. I think I can easily light the pilot my water heater with your guidance.


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