Whether you’re considering swapping your gas oven for an electric one, or simply updating your old electric oven with a new one, we’ve got everything you need to know about electric ovens, from how to install an electric oven to cooking times.
Why Choose an Electric Oven?
If you don’t have time to read this full article, don’t worry, we’re going to quickly cover the pros and cons of choosing an electric oven.
Pros of an Electric Oven
- Quick to heat up
- More features and functions that a gas range
- Even heat distribution
- Great option for those who don’t have a gas connection
- Easy to clean
Cons of an Electric Oven
- The price of electricity is higher than gas, so marginally more expensive to run
- Power outage? Wave goodbye to cooking dinner
Installing an Electric Oven
As with installing a gas oven, it’s always best to get a qualified electrician in to install and fit your new electric oven. Whilst you might think it’s as straightforward as pulling one plug out and plugging another in, there’s much more to it. You’ll need specific amps, wire, and double pole isolating switches – not to mention the strength to lift and shift your new (and very heavy) oven in to place.
If you have the appropriate qualifications and status to work with electricity (i.e. you are an electrician), then by all means you can install your own electric oven. The rest of us, though, will need to call in a professional that’s well-versed in installing electrical appliances and will also be able to identify any safety hazards (such as loose connections) and rectify them before they cause damage to you or your home.
Heating an Electric Oven
Once your electric oven is installed, you’re ready to get cooking (or baking, or steaming, or roasting…) Here we answer your most frequently asked questions around getting your electric oven up to cooking temperature.
How Long Does an Electric Oven Take to Heat Up?
Modern electric ovens only take a few minutes to heat up. Fan-assisted ovens will heat up faster as the fan helps circulate the heat around the oven. Expect to wait 7 or 8 minutes for a modern, fan-assisted electric oven to reach a temperature of 200 degrees Celsius.
How Do You Know When an Electric Oven Has Reached Temperature?
Electric ovens have indicators which will notify you when the internal temperature of the oven has reached the desired heat. This might be in the form of a light which switches off when the temperature is achieved, or a beep (or in most cases, a combination of the two). Electric ovens with digital displays will often have a temperature read-out on the front which indicates oven temperature, so you’ll know when it’s time to pop that chicken, or those cookies, in.
Do I Need to Pre-Heat My Electric Oven?
If you’re baking cakes, cookies, pastries, and other delights then pre-heating your oven is essential for getting the perfect bake. Time and temperature are the two variables which greatly effect the finished taste and texture of your baked goods. So, unless your recipe calls for a bake starting from a cold oven, then it’s best to pre-heat to the required temperature specified in the recipe.
For dishes such as casseroles, roasts, veggies, and meats, you’re fine to skip pre-heating, without any negative effect on the finished result (although you might find that you need to add a couple of minutes onto the cooking time).
Electric Oven Efficiency
When it comes to running costs, an electric oven uses less energy (kWh) in comparison to a gas oven. However, electricity is more expensive than gas, so electrical appliances are marginally more expensive to run than their gas counterparts. However, the additional features of electric ovens (such as self-cleaning and steaming) often outweigh the slightly more expensive running costs.
How Much Does It Cost to Run an Electric Oven for an Hour?
The cost of running your electric oven for an hour will vary depending on the type and size of your oven, as well as the cost of electricity per kWh from your energy provider.
Does an Electric Oven Cook Faster Than Gas?
It used to be thought that gas ovens cooked faster than electric ovens because there was no need to pre-heat a gas oven. However, modern electric ovens heat up very quickly, especially those which are fan-assisted (as this distributes heat evenly across the entire oven). Not only does this mean the oven heats up faster, but it also makes for a more even bake (and less time spent spinning your trays in the oven to avoid hotspots).
Can I Heat My Home with an Electric Oven?
In short – no. You should not use your oven in place of traditional heating. They’re simply not designed for this, and your electric bill is likely to be mammoth. One of our favourite tips, though, is when you’ve finished cooking your meal, rather than closing the oven door, leave it oven and allow the residual heat to warm up your kitchen!
Electric Oven Features
Modern day ovens are jam-packed with useful features to make everyday life, and cooking, much easier. Some of our favourites include:
Steam Oven Settings
One of the latest features to be added to electric ovens are steam settings. A steam oven has a reservoir that needs to be filled before you wish to begin steaming your food.
Water is injected into the boiler through a pump and the heat turns this water into steam. Cooking with steam is a healthier alternative to baking or frying as the vitamins and minerals are preserved along with the colours, textures, and flavours. This means that not only is your food more flavourful, but you’re also squeezing more of the goodness out of it.
Steam ovens aren’t just for steaming, however; the settings allow you to use your oven as a conventional oven, too.
Auto-timers are a wonderful feature which make meal preparation and planning a breeze, especially for those of us who are strapped for time. Programmable auto-timers allow you to set your oven to start, and stop, when you’re not around.
Self-Cleaning Electric Ovens
A self-cleaning oven is like music to our ears. Forget getting elbow-deep in pungent oven cleaner to scrub the walls for hours on end; a self-cleaning oven is another feature that’s perfect for the time-strapped.
There are two types of self-cleaning electric ovens available on the market today: catalytic and pyrolytic.
A catalytic oven is fitted with special catalytic liners inside the oven itself. These liners are fantastic at absorbing grease and food deposits and splashes. To clean a catalytic oven, all you need to do is run the self-cleaning cycle once a month. This heats the oven to around 200ºC to burn off the grease deposits and soften any food residue. When the cycle’s finished, all you need to do is give the inside of your oven a quick wipe down and it’ll look as good as new! Check your manufacturer’s guide to see whether the entire oven cavity has catalytic liners, or just the walls or floor. If it’s only partially lined then you’ll still need a little elbow grease to clean it.
Pyrolytic ovens offer the most effective oven-cleaning system that we’ve seen to date. Pyrolytic cleaning is a lot tougher on grease and food than catalytic due to the temperatures involved. A pyrolytic cleaning cycle will heat your oven to around 400ºC reducing any food deposits to ash. After the cycle has finished, all that you need to do is sweep the ash away. Easy!
Electric Oven Safety
As with any electrical appliance there’s always risk of injury, or damage. Fortunately, modern electric ovens are fitted with many safety features to help protect you and your home.
Even wondered how long can you leave an electric oven on for before it becomes a problem? Many modern electric ovens have auto-timers that allow you to set when the oven turns on, and off, during the cooking cycle, so it’s probably something that you’re never going to find out.
Fire hazards only really occur when poor cleaning habits are at play. A build-up of grease and fats from food can catch fire, so regular cleaning is highly recommended.
However, you should always keep an eye out for any unusual oven behaviour. Smells, noises, and faulty functioning can all be signals that there’s something more serious going on behind the scenes. If you notice anything strange, turn your oven off immediately and call an electrician. Better to be safe than sorry.
Auto-Lock During Pyrolytic Cleaning Cycles
If you have a pyrolytic electric oven, then the idea of you, or your family, accidentally opening the oven door whilst it’s 400ºC inside may understandably be a concern. Most, if not all pyrolytic ovens have a safety feature that automatically locks the oven door whilst the cleaning cycle is in progress, and won’t unlock until the internal temperature is safe.