How to Light a Panel Ray Night & Day Heater Pilot

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Use kitchen safety matches to light the pilot.
Use kitchen safety matches to light the pilot. (Image: match box and matches image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com)

Panel Ray wall heaters are often found in houses from the 1940s and 1950s. They were manufactured by the Day & Night Corporation of Monrovia, California, which also made free-standing models for use in trailers, such as the Airstream. Mounted on the wall and vented through the roof, these natural gas heaters have a pilot lights that need to be lighted manually. Once the pilot light is on, it ignites the main burner of the wall heater for comfortable warmth in a single room.

Things You'll Need

  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Kitchen matches

Remove the front panel at the base of the heater. There is a round hole at the bottom of the panel. Use your finger to lift it up and off.

Pull off the knob that reads "Day and Night" and also remove the 3 1/2-inch round-shaped screen behind it.

Slide the clasp to one side and open the half-moon shaped pilot light door. Identify the pilot light valve in the closed position below this door, and follow the pipe from the valve up to the pilot light nozzle. This is where you are going to place a lit match once the pilot light valve is turned to the on position.

Take a whiff of air. If you smell a strong odor of gas, stop! Don't light a match, get everyone out of the house, and call your gas company or fire department from a telephone from outside your house. If you are certain there is no sign of a gas leak, proceed to the next step.

Put a kitchen match aside, ready to strike. Use the needle-nosed pliers to open the pilot light valve. Turn the valve handle clockwise until it is in a in-line position, like when the hands of a clock are it the same direction at midnight.

Light the gas coming out the end of the nozzle. The pilot is now lit. There is no regulation of this flame; it is either entirely on or entirely off. If the pilot does not light, turn the pilot valve off and seek professional help. Otherwise, close the pilot light door, replace the screen and knob, and set the panel back in place. Turn the "Day and Night" knob clockwise to turn on the heater.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be aware that many Panel Ray heaters not not have thermostats to control the temperature. In those cases, you must turn the heater on and off by hand. The pilot light will remain lit.
  • Never light a match if you smell gas.

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