Piezoelectric ignitors, commonly called BBQ lighters/sparkers, can be found in almost any home improvement store near the grill section. At a cost of about 10 to 12 bucks, they're significantly more expensive than a flint type ignitor, but do have some benefits. I like them because they can me mounted in many different configurations and do not require flints or batteries. When searching for an ignitor, look for a package like this:

Some people get confused on how to wire up piezo ignitors because they typically come with only one wire (unless you buy the package that contains a sideburner hookup as well). However, it is easy to wire them up if you know how. When you open the package, you'll notice the ignitor body is generally one of two types:

If yours is the one on the right, you're in luck! The second terminal is very apparent and can be easily attached. The right hand model is usually found in the kits that have a sideburner, and if so you've already got your two wires and don't need to scrouge around to find another. If you have the model on the left, attaching a second wire is only a little bit more complicated. There should be a hole near the exposed wire that runs parallel down the body of the ignitor. Take your second wire, strip half an inch off of the insulation, and insert it in the hole. Secure it with a few wraps of electrical tape, and you're set! Its that easy.

Next, you'll probably want a handle for your ignitor, right? Even luckier for you, 3/4" SCH40 PVC pipe fits these ignitors perfectly. And if its a little loose, wrap it with electrical tape till it stays in there, nice and snug. It'll look something like this:

When installing the ignitor into the chamber, some people actually install the ENTIRE ignitor into the endcap or chamber wall. I particularly dislike these methods, as I believe they're both unsafe and reduce the life of the ignitor by exposing it to the combustion. Lots of people complain that these ignitors wear out easily, and I suspect thats why. I've bought many piezo ignitors and even 7 years later my first one still works perfectly fine.

To best install your ignitor, run the two wires to machine screws, which can be installed in the chamber like these crossections show:

I use machine screws because they have much cleaner and tighter threads than wood screws. If you drill the holes in the chamber properly, you shouldn't have to worry about the screws popping out of the chamber. If you're still concerned, use nuts to lock the screws in the chamber. For best results, install the screws 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the way towards the back of the chamber, and use a spark gap of 2-3mm.

Got any more questions? Feel free to email me, John@Neospud.com

all images, text, and other content copyright 2006 John Shell, John@NeoSpud.com