What is an ignition rod?
The ignition rod or “hot rod” is used to ignite (set fire to) the wood pellets in the fire-pot.
There are two types of ignition rods used in Z Grills pellets smokers in Australia.
Tradition metal tube ignition rods are the most common type used in wood pellet smokers, but in 2022 Z Grills Australia developed and introduced RapidFlame™ silicon nitride ignition rods which not only heat up much faster but are also much longer lasting.
Another key advantage is much less dirty smoke during fire up. Check out a side by side comparison in the video below.
Metal Tube Ignition Rod
Metal tube ignition rods are a similar design to the electric resistance heating element in a hot water tank or water kettle. A metal wire coil is housed in a metal pipe/tube and packed full of ceramic powder. The metal wire coil gets red hot as electricity passes through.
Over time with many heating cycles the metal wire can crack and stop heating up, and often causes an electrical short resulting in a blown fuse in the appliance.
The ignition rod sits in the tube at the base of the fire-pot. Metal tube ignition rods need to extend out about 1cm to physically touch wood pellets to ignite them as they don’t get red hot to the tip.
RapidFlame™ Ignition Rod
RapidFlame™ are made from silicon nitride (Si3N4) which is a very high performance type of ceramic, used for many applications including diesel engine glow plugs, metal cutting blades, engine parts and medical devices. See here for more detailed technical information.
Due to the inherently high failure rates of the metal tube ignition rod design, in early 2021 Z Grills Australia teamed up with Heatfounder, an expert in silicon nitride ignition rod design and manufacture, to develop a suitable design for use in Z Grills pellets smokers.
From late 2021 all new Z Grills manufactured for the Australia market use silicone nitride ignition rods as standard.
Why use RapidFlame™ Ignition Rods?
- Fast heat up, with the fire lit in as fast as 1 minute, compared to 4 minutes for traditional metal ignition rods. This allows the grill to get to the target temperature more quickly.
- Fast ignition results in only a very small amount of dirty smoke during fire up.
- Superior reliability and longevity.
RapidFlame™ ignition rods have been design to be compatible with the existing fire-pot design so can be used to replace a metal tube ignition rod in most pellet smokers that use them (not just Z Grills).
Below is a photo of the kit that is provided to replace an old ignition rod. For more information on how to change an ignition rod, click here.
How long do ignition rods operate?
The controller powers the ignition rod for around 5 minutes each time the grill it turned from Shut Down to Smoke.
It will also switch on if the grill temperature ever drops too far below the target temperature.
Once there is fire in the fire-pot the ignition rod can turn off as regular delivery of pellets will maintain the fire.
How much power does it draw?
The ignition rod draws around 200W of electricity, but only runs for the first 5 minutes after turning the grill on so doesn’t use very much electricity in total.
The ignition rod will also come on if the temperature drops below the target setting too much (in case of fire-out). That is more likely to happen at low temperatures (Smoke or 82ºC) in hot weather when the fire is very small. So at lower temperature settings the total power usage may be a bit higher.
Click here to learn how much electricity a Z Grill uses.
How to replace the ignition rod?
Check out this page for step by step instructions to replace a failed ignition rod.
Can I run the grill without the ignition rod?
It is possible to run the grill without the ignition rod connected or functioning. A reason this may be desired is if running the grill off a battery that cannot provide at least 300 Watt output. Without the ignition rod, 100 Watt is sufficient for the auger motor, fire-pot fan and controller operation.
Click here for more information on manually starting the fire and running the grill without an active ignition rod.
Cleaning RapidFlame™ Ignition Rods
Over time minerals from the wood can stick to the surface of the RapidFlame™ ignition rod. Certain high ash wood pellets that easily accumulate in the fire-pot can also pack in beside the ignition rod blocking air flow.
Both these issues can shorten the life of the ignition rod, slow the fire lighting speed and sometimes lead to very sensitive circuit breakers in household power boxes to trip.
How to Clean
When vacuuming out the fire-pot, check to see if there is build up on the end of the ignition and down the sides, as shown in the photo below.
Gently scrap off any surface material with a screwdriver. It will come off very easily.
If there is ash packed down the side, clear it out with a piece of wire or small screwdriver. Air needs to flow through that tube to help ignite the pellet, so it is important that is kept clear.
Check out the video below to learn more about how Z Grills Smokers work!