Why is my photocell blinking

The burner control is essential for the safe operation of oil and gas burners. Because the device controls and monitors the start and operation of the burners in oil and gas heating systems. If there are any deviations from the normal process, it switches off the fuel supply and safely shuts down the system. We explain how a burner control works, which errors lead to a malfunction and what new devices actually cost.

Automatic burner control: The function of the control units

The burner control is a control device that is responsible for the safe operation of oil and gas burners. In order for this to work, it monitors the most important operating states and controls the functional sequence of the burner starts. Today, the device is essential for the safe operation of an oil or gas heating system.

Chronological sequence ensures a safe burner start

When a heater starts operating, various functions run one after the other. The burner control controls this and at the same time checks whether the measured values ​​of the connected sensors deliver the required values. If this is not the case, the burner malfunctions and the fuel supply is interrupted.

A simplified example shows the function of the burner control unit: If the control unit is supplied with power, it starts the fan and supplies the combustion chamber with air. At the same time, it monitors the air pressure and uses the output value of a photocell to check whether the flame is actually out. If there are no inconsistencies, the machine triggers the ignition process. It opens the required valves depending on the time and checks whether all sensors are delivering the correct results. After a certain safety time, the ignition switches off and the heating runs until it is switched off by the temperature controller.

The automatic firing systems used to run electromechanically

While modern control units now work with a microprocessor, the programs used to run via a cam switch mechanism. A roller rotated, the cams of which closed various contacts one after the other. However, the devices were very complex to manufacture and are no longer in use today.

Modern systems provide information about existing errors

If the burner control is in fault mode, it has detected an error in the operating sequence and the heating is not working. Modern devices can display this via a three-color light. This flashes for each error code in certain colors and with its own rhythm.

Causes for a malfunction in the burner control

If the heating is faulty, the control unit could have reported an error in the operating sequence. This can be recognized in modern heating devices by a display in the LED display. If so, homeowners should hire a plumber. This can then check the following points:

  • the fuel supply is working properly
  • there is a problem with the electrodes
  • there is damage to the flame element of the heater
  • the condensate drain is free so that water can drain off
  • the combustion air and exhaust systems work

Even if heating engineers can interpret and read the message on modern automatic firing systems, troubleshooting is often like a trial-and-error process. In order to avoid high costs due to the replacement of intact components, experts can measure them and thus check their function.

Overview of the costs for the control units

If the burner control is defective, it can usually be replaced by a heating specialist. The operator orders a control unit from the same manufacturer as the burner and inserts it into the heater. Then he connects the device and sets it precisely according to the manufacturer's instructions. The hardware costs for heaters in the lower performance range are 100 to 200 euros. The wage costs of the measure depend very much on the regional price structure.

Important to know: If homeowners have a heating specialist come to have a fault on the burner control repaired, they can claim the costs for tax purposes. They are reimbursed up to 1,200 euros (20 percent of wage costs of a maximum of 6,000 euros per year) via the annual tax return. We explain how this works in detail in the article deducting craftsmen's costs.

Conclusion by Alexander Rosenkranz

A burner control controls the burner start of a heating system. In addition, it checks the most important operating data and switches off the fuel supply as soon as there is a problem. In the event of a malfunction, modern devices indicate the error via a flashing LED. If the control unit itself is defective, a new one costs around 200 euros. Added to this are wage costs that homeowners can easily deduct from their taxes.

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