Ovens, by and large, come in two varieties; those powered by electricity, and those powered by gas. The former use a large heating element, which increases in temperature as current flows through. The latter works by igniting a steady supply of gas. Both heating mechanisms are to be found at the rear of the oven, often shielded by a protective cover which helps slow the distribution of heat through the compartment.
So, which is best? Electric or gas ovens? Each technology has its advantages and drawbacks, so it’s difficult to state that one is always better than the other.
Why Choose A Gas Oven?
Unlike an electric heating element, which takes time to reach the required temperature, a gas stove creates a flame that ignites instantly, allowing you to start cooking more quickly, and perform small adjustments easily. Gas tends to burn at a hotter temperature than the average electric oven, and it tends to produce more moisture as it burns. Natural gas is composed of methane, which combines with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water as it combusts.
Depending on what you’re cooking, this may or may not be a good thing. Creating that browning effect around the edges of roasts and cakes requires the surface to be quite dry. On the other hand, you might wish to cook a meal all the way through without burning the outside of the food, in which case a steamier compartment might be advantageous.
Cost of Gas
Gas is a primary resource, it’s extracted from the ground, refined and then burned. Electricity is usually created by burning gas or other natural resources. As such, gas tends to command a lower price per joule consumed. That said, gas ovens tend to demand greater up-front installation costs.
Effective Through Power Cuts
If your home is subjected to frequent power cuts, it’s worth considering how well you’ll be able to cope if you’re unable to cook anything. Ovens require a considerable amount of power, and only a very large generator will be able to keep them up and running. Naturally, a gas oven isn’t entirely immune from power outages, the spark that ignites the gas is generated by electricity.
Do Gas Ovens Cook Unevenly?
While a gas oven might provide more instantaneous heat, it’s also more likely to experience ‘hot-spots’, where the temperature is consistently higher than a space just a few inches away. Again, this problem is far less prominent in newer ovens.
Since gas ovens heat more quickly, you might find that the air inside the compartment doesn’t have time to circulate from one side to the other. It’s therefore crucial to properly preheat the oven, and periodically rotate whatever you’re cooking.
Why Choose An Electric Oven?
Electric ovens tend to cost less than gas ovens. They can also usually be installed with minimal adjustments and upheaval, as there are likely already several items that use electricity in your kitchen. This advantage is of course avoided if you’re replacing one gas oven with another.
Unlike gas ovens, electric ovens do not depend on a steady supply of toxic material, which means there’s no danger of a leak springing and filling your kitchen with potentially lethal gas. Of course, the chance of this happening is incredibly rare, particular with modern gas ovens.
So, Should You Buy A Gas Or Electric Oven?
In most cases, purchasing decisions of this sort are influenced by the kitchen's existing setup. If there’s already an electric oven there, and no gas supply to sustain a gas oven, then it makes sense to opt for a similar replacement.
That said, personal preference will make a greater influence on your purchase, particularly if you’re a committed cook and looking to spend much of your time in the kitchen. If you’re accustomed to a certain sort of oven, or you’re planning to create your dream kitchen and have very specific requirements, then fitting a new gas line into your kitchen might be worthwhile.
It's worth keeping an eye on government regulation, gas appliances are to be phased out by 2050. Although that feels a long way away, most manufacturers will be looking to ditch gas for electric soon. Gas appliances will soon become a rarity, so in this instance you may have to chose electric.
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