Pilot-light switch for a gas fireplace?

Question: I am the original owner of a 15-year-old townhouse. As an option from the builder, I selected a gas fireplace.

However, it’s tedious and awkward to have to lie on the floor to turn the pilot light on or off each winter and spring. Is there a way to retrofit the fireplace so it turns the pilot light on with a remote control?
I know this technology exists with new fireplaces, but can it be applied to my situation? —Gaithersburg

Answer: John Crouch, director of public affairs for the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, says there are retrofit kits for gas log sets, but he knows of none for actual gas fireplaces. Chris Cavanaugh, owner of the Fire Place, a store in Gaithersburg, says they don’t exist. “The liability of a jury-rigged fireplace — most people do not want that,” he says.

A new fireplace with electronic ignition will cost about $1,500, Cavanaugh says. If you were to use it for as long as you’ve had the existing one, the annual cost of the switch would be $100 a year, or $50 for each time you were able to avoid the hassle of turning the pilot on or off. Thinking of the cost that way may help you decide what to do.

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