Welcome to our latest edition of the DIY Appliance Repair: Getting Started Series – Electric Stoves intended to provide our readers with a refresher about their kitchen appliances. To avoid confusion, I use interchangeably the term “stoves with the modern term “ranges”.
Why are we doing this? The answer comes from necessity because although most people are accustomed to using an electric stove, we found many don’t understand what happens inside these marvels of the kitchen. Also, we understand knowing how they work doesn’t make you a better cook (practice makes perfect) but knowing how each function works might make you a more efficient cook!
As you already know, Tin Lizzee exists to help our readers understand how to use their appliances safely and efficiently. Our commitment to you extends far beyond showing you how to make owning your appliances easier. Repair and maintenance is a big issue with appliances, and rather than put you through the hassle of calling a tech to come into your home and upset your routine, we’re only a website click away!
DIY (do it yourself) appliance repair is taking the online appliance repair space by storm, and Tin Lizzee is leading the way. We use modern technology to help diagnose or repair your appliance easily and inexpensively compared to in-home service rates!
Starting with the Basics
Electric stoves in 2019 still do what they say, but changes in how they heat food might surprise you. I won’t go into all the changes, but I’ll give you some highlights.
The coil element (eyes, as some call them) is still used, but had to make room for new, instant-on, self-regulating surface elements. That’s technology at work! You won’t see modern surface elements exposed. They’re used under glass cooktops.
On conventional stoves, elements or coils connect to switches called infinite switches, and get their power directly from power entering the stove from the back through the harness. The switches are dials used to turn elements on and off.
Modern glass cooktops use a variation of the above, or a touch control where temps are adjusted by simple touches of the glass surface. Bake and broil differ in that most times ovens have their own settings on the stove control because they use relays to send power to the bake and broil elements, and some have touch controls on the glass cooktop, too.
Pretty cool stuff and getting more advanced every year!
Customers often tell me they don’t use convection because they don’t understand how it works and why it’s useful. I think most people don’t use it because it’s hardly mentioned in recipes. Those who use convection love it, but not for all baking.
Generally speaking, food cooks about 20 percent faster at approximately 25 degrees less than normal. The secret of convection is a fan mounted on the back wall of the oven circulating heated air inside the oven cavity, cooking food evenly from all directions.
My wife uses convection as often as possible and I can tell you from experience, it’s a great way to cook! Chicken, meats, and vegetables cook evenly and leaves the juices. Just remember to check your food at about the three-quarter timing mark.
Safety Devices on Modern Ranges
Fortunately, ranges do have safeties built in to prevent fires from overheating. In the ahem, old days, stoves didn’t use high-temperature cutoffs to stop power from the elements in case of problems. Modern ranges have high-limit thermostats that instantly cut power to bake and broil elements if internal temperatures reach a preset limit.
If your range stops heating from all sources, suspect one of these safety devices. This is true especially if you just performed a high-temperature self-clean of the oven. In case of a blown high limit after a self-clean in a built-in oven, removal is necessary to replace the switch located on the outside back wall of the oven.
A slide-in range uses a similar device, but much easier to access on the back wall of the oven. The switches are not resettable and replacing them is the only way to get cooking again.
Over the years, safety devices vastly improved and now that technology has taken hold inside kitchens, it was only a matter of time when ranges and wall ovens would have their turn! Below are two such inventions I think you’ll like.
- https://www.cookstop.com/ Prevents fires from unattended kitchen ranges. It uses motion sensors to detect activity in the kitchen. If it doesn’t sense movement, a countdown timer starts and shuts off the range when time expires but resets the timer again once it senses motion.
- https://www.pioneeringtech.com/product/smart-burner/ SmartBurner prevents stovetop fires from happening with their device replacing existing coil elements. SmartBurner elements won’t exceed temperatures above that which ignites standard cooking oils and other household items.
Also, Whirlpool recently included in their ranges a variation of exposed electric elements designed to limit their temperature just below the point when they turn red. Elements have built-in current limiters preventing elements from glowing red.
Many of you might be familiar with this one. It’s the anti-tip device for stoves. It prevents the stove from tipping over when the oven door is open and something (or someone) pushes down on the open door, causing the stove to tip forward, spilling hot pans and scalding hot food! If your range is missing this device, call the manufacturer to receive a new one, and have a handyman install it. Remember: Safety First!
I hope this first article in the DIY Appliance Repair: Getting Started Series is informative and answered questions about your electric stove. Tin Lizzee believes in educating its customers about their appliances, aside from occasional repairs.
If you found anything missing that might help others, please let us know in the comment section below. We love hearing from you!