Essential Guide to the Whitfield photoeye

What is a photoeye?

Many of the newer Whitfield pellet stoves use a photoeye in place of a low limit disc. Instead of sensing heat, this photoeye sensor “looks” through an amber filter lens to verify the presence of light from the flame in the burn grate. When the photoeye detects light, it tells the control board to keep the auger motor feeding pellets. If the fire goes out for some reason, the photoeye will signal to cut power, preventing the auger motor from feeding pellets and causing the stove to shut down.

How to Clean a Whitfield photoeye

If the photoeye sensor or filter lens is dirty, pitted, or warped, it makes it hard for the photoeye to "see" clearly and may cause the stove not to run. Whitfield recommends cleaning the photoeye sensor and filter every 4 weeks – 6 months.

Tools you may need:

- 11/32” nut driver

- Microfiber cloth or soft brush

  1. To access the photoeye, open the hopper and remove the 3 nuts securing the cover plate. Lift off cover plate and turn over (the photoeye is attached to the inside surface of the cover).
  2. Wipe away any dust or debris from the photoeye sensor (see Figure 53). Make sure to use a non-abrasive tool such as a microfiber cloth or soft brush to avoid scratching the glass surface of the filter and lens.
  3. Clean Filter as follows: With the photoeye cover plate removed, look inside the opening. You will see an amber colored square glass filter secured in place by a bracket and 2 nuts. Using an 11/32” nut driver, remove the 2 nuts and lift off the bracket. Using your finger, slide filter up and out.
    CAUTION: If the filter is not re-installed, reflective light in the room may result in a fault thus a shutting down of the unit.
  4. Wipe away any dust or debris on the amber filter lens then reinstall filter, filter bracket, and cover plate with photoeye.

IMPORTANT: When re-installing photoeye and cover, be careful not to damage the wires. Pay special attention to positioning wires away from photoeye (which could obstruct it from sensing light).

How to test a Whitfield photoeye

If this doesn't fix the problem, the next step is to test the photoeye. Simply shine a flashlight at the photoeye without the filter in place. If the stove feeds pellets past the initial 15-minute startup cycle, then your photoeye is good, and you just need to clean or replace the amber filter lens.

If the photoeye does not detect light correctly, follow the yellow wires to the control board to check for a secure connection. If the wires are undamaged and securely connected, you may need to replace the photoeye sensor.

(Refer to the troubleshooting steps under “Pellets will not feed” in your owner’s manual to confirm that fuel feed has not been interrupted by a faulty auger motor, control board, safety switch, or thermostat.)

Have more questions? Need a PDF copy of your owner’s manual? Feel free to ask us!

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