"We have an outside gas heater (it replaced the wood copper in the laundry about 25 years ago. Not joking), and while they don't often go out, ours does about 3-4 times a year. Perth has some serious winds called 'catabriatics' that like to roar up to the escarpment and swirl around like mad, often for days on end. Where we are, this means our suburb is very practised in restarting the heaters."
This is the part that confuses me. If you're located in an area where you have sustained high winds and a gas water heater, why would you use a pilot valve? I think I'd pay to have an ignition valve installed, since they're not that expensive and you'll never have to worry about wind blowing out an electric starter. Truth be told, I haven't seen a gas appliance with a pilot light for quite some time, and I wouldn't even know where to shop for one any more.
Wait, they make gas appliances without pilot lights? Seriously...I mean, I've never had my own home to take care of, but we always had a pilot light growing up, and I had to go re-light my boyfriend's a month or so ago, because it went out. Does the ignition valve work like the auto-light features on gas grills?
Yes. My gas stove/oven has an electric-start ignition to it. There is no ever-lit pilot light. Once the nob is pushed, the gas starts to flow and the ignition strikes a spark, which lights the gas.
My dryer also has the same electric-start ignition.
Even though the cost difference is minor, you do not have to pay for gas in order to keep a pilot light lit.
Downfall is when electricity goes out. However, I can still turn on my stove top by pushing in the button to start the gas, holding a match to the burners and the stove top will light up . . . turning on my drier during an electric outage is a different story, because the workings are in the back of the machine, way too much work.
To Virg's bold above . . . the pilot light on my water heater is enclosed behind a cover. Unless the cover is removed, you can't even see the inner workings, including the pilot light. I'm thinking that's the enclosed style cwm has -- where wind would not be a factor. (eta--my water heater is still an ever-lit pilot. It's about 10-12 years old.)
(Virg posted while I was typing.)