May 23

How Do Ovens Work? | We Explained the Functions and Benefits of This Popular Appliance!


Author: Cornelia Suehr and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Before humankind figured out how to harness the power of fire, cooking must have been an uphill battle. It was until 290 B.C. that Central Europe invented the first household oven. Centuries later and after numerous evolutions, ovens rank high among the most advanced version of cooking facilities. 

However, there has been a continuous bone of contention on how these innovations generate heat. How does an oven work? How do they heat up food? What are the different types of ovens? The following breakdown is not definitive but elaborates on five main electric and gas-powered ovens.

Conventional Electric Household Ovens

An electric oven cooks by heating food with electrified radiant heat, known as thermal energy. Average conventional ovens have a comprehensive circuit with an electric lighter, selector switch, a cooling fan, a metal cooking compartment, and a thermostat. Moreover, there are two heating elements or resistors in the upper and bottom of the oven cavity. 

The extra heating element allows more heat while resistors control the electrical current flow producing thermal energy in the electronic ovens. When installing an electric cooker, you can connect the metal cooking compartment directly. 

an oven in the kitchen

How Does an Electric Oven Work? 

Thermal electric ovens are some of the most preferred stoves because of their consistency in heat distribution. A heating element found on the bottom of the oven warms up once you switch on the selector. Similarly, the top element also switches on but, in short, bursts to allow consistent heating. The limited heat source is ideal for various baked goods. You may find a bake selection in older versions that heats the lower element only. This comes in handy when cooking specific meals like a casserole. 

Most thermal electric appliances have a broil selection that activates the upper broil part of the oven only. Still, you can find electric ovens with dual top heating elements and double settings for the broil section. A cooling fan at the outer part keeps the oven cool because of increased airflow.

Some brands may obscure the bottom heating element underneath the oven's floor. This approach simplifies cleaning spills and food particles stuck around oven legs and metal elements. Below are some of the standard used conventional electric ovens.

Electric Fan Assisted Oven

Apart from double elements, a fan, and a thermostat, an electric fan-assisted oven has a back air circulating fan to flow heat uniformly.

Fan Assisted Oven with Electric Thermostat 

The appliance works in a similar principle to an electric fan-assisted one but lacks a bottom heat element. Additionally, the selector has a built-in thermostat that switches the element and stove off if necessary.

Electric Oven with a P.C. Board/Timer

The electric oven has relays on a board that regulates the heater element, fans, and other apparatus depending on an attached NTC sensor signals. This replaces the heat-sensitive capillary connections found in any electronic oven. 

Conventional Gas Ovens

The first gas oven date back to the 19th century. Still, you can find these burning gas ovens in countless homes across the globe mainly because of their cost-effectiveness. One main component in this conventional oven is the thermocouple/flame failure device. The role of this tool is to cut off your gas supply and prevent the pile-up of dangerous flammable gases. Other gas counterparts include the ignition/ spark generator, cooling fan, oven burner, metal cooking thermostat, and burner units. 

How Do a Gas Oven Works?

These appliances work through a natural gas-fuelled burner ignited by a pilot flame or spark generator. Turning on the oven allows the gas supply to flow into your device from the mains.

An ignition button activates the spark generator/pilot flame to burn gas and light up your burner. The thermostat instigates consistent heat to control the stove from overheating. You can use the same principle as an electronic oven by joining the metal cooking compartment directly.

a person preparing food in gas oven

Microwave Ovens

Microwave radiation happens when magnetic and electrical energy waves move simultaneously through a similar space. They have external and internal heat elements. The inner components include the waveguide, magnetron, cooling fan, oven compartment, oven cavity, turntable, and a high voltage transformer. Likewise, external parts have the control panel, case, door, and power cord.

How Do Microwave Ovens Work?

The magnetron, an electron tube, produces microwaves in the oven. As a result, the waves prompt the water molecules in your food to vibrate. The process converts energy into heat and increases the temperature needed to cook the food placed on the turntable. While cooking time differs from one meal to another, food with higher water content, like vegetables, cooks faster in microwave ovens.

It is worth pointing out that there is no directed radiation in microwaves as most people presume. Standard thermal radiation refers to heated surfaces releasing energy or electromagnetic radiation. The method of emitting thermal radiation is considered hazardous by most people.

Therefore, it is such a relief to individuals who keep away from microwave cooking because of the fear of getting into contact with standard thermal radiation. What's more, the higher temperature does not affect the nutritional value but retains more minerals and vitamins because of a shorter cooking time and no addition of water. 

Containers made of ceramic, paper, plastic, and glass containers can withstand the elevated temperature in these cookers. Nevertheless, inferior plastic containers may melt in the process. In addition, avoid using aluminum foils and metal pans because they reflect, leading to unevenly cooked food or appliance damage. 

Convection Oven

A convection oven does more than bake. In truth, convection cooking is all about roasting, broiling, toasting, dehydrating, and warming using hot air. The main convection feature is the fan that enhances air circulation and temperature in the oven. 

Other elements in a convection oven include the hidden bake tray that protects your bake element from spillage, a fan blade, a metal cooling compartment, and a convection baffle. In most convection ovens, the role of a convection baffle is to protect and encase the fan. There are different convection modes available. The most common types are the standard oven and European convection, also called true convection.

How Do Convection Ovens Work? 

The hot air around a convection oven cavity expedites the cooking process significantly. After all, the exhaust system and cooling fan help blow hot air on your food, improving heat distribution. Another positive aspect is a third heating element referred to as the true convection. The third element, convection, cooks faster and prompt consistent temperature. Also, new convection ovens add a more brownish color and crispness to the food because of reduced moisture. Nonetheless, you must switch the convection setting on to capitalize on all potential benefits associated with these ovens.

pastries in the oven

Toaster Ovens

Toaster ovens are modern countertop appliances used to toast, broil, roast meat, or cook cookies. The gadget comprises a browning control, timing mechanism, heating element, heat sensor, and bread rack. Other components include an electromagnet, spring, catch, and a level. 

How Do Toaster Ovens Work?

Toaster ovens work by converting electrical energy to heat energy through chromium/nickel metal alloys and coiled wires. When you turn the toaster oven on, the heating elements often in metal coils heat up, producing infrared radiation. 

The best toaster ovens have metal coils on the upper and lower section. This enables users to switch from the toaster and oven function. An internal timer prevents burning during the toaster function. Note, that there is no timer in the oven function, but you can program it on the appliance at ease. 

Some toaster ovens may have a slow-heat cooking option and dual shelves or oven compartments for various baking intensities. The compartments utilize indirect heat like in other modern ovens. However, the elements point to heat and temperature designated to specific locations. 

food in the toaster oven

Balanced Cooking Environment

Ovens are undoubtedly making strides in the fast-paced era. As brands compete for the audience's attention, the market floods with enhanced standard thermal radiation cookers and a few hybrids that cook food at an alarming rate. Altogether, when buying a commercial or household oven, invest in an appliance that offers a balanced cooking environment at all cooking times. Luckily, there are several reputable oven brands in the market, some even offering a rear wall option. Hopefully, this piece will help you make the wisest decision on this vital kitchen appliance.  

About the author

Cornelia Suehr

A professional chef and a passionate writer on all topics related to cooking, baking, appliances and kitchenware. Her posts resonate with foodies, home chefs and professionals.


You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}