Electric cookers what features and characteristics to look for when choosing?
The electric stove in the kitchen is a fashionable modern trend. Not only because gas is not supplied to most new buildings. Electrical appliances are safe, do not pollute the air with harmful combustion products, and have many functions that make cooking easier and more fun. Therefore, even though gas cooking is cheaper, many housewives prefer to buy an electric stove. You will learn how to choose it correctly so that you do not regret your decision later in this article.
Electric cooker selection options
Before choosing an electric stove, it is recommended to thoroughly study the main technical parameters. There are not so many of them, but each has a defining meaning. So, when buying an appliance, be sure to pay attention to the following characteristics: dimensions, surface material, type and number of burners, the functionality of the oven, and hob.
Most of the parameters affect not only the price of the device but also the convenience of its use. For example, the type of heating elements will depend on the surface material, and hence the energy consumption of the stove.
Pay attention to the power of the device. The higher it is, the less time will be spent on cooking, and the less you will pay for electricity. But keep in mind that a powerful electric stove will require good wiring.
To make it easier for you to choose, we will look at each of the main parameters in more detail.
The dimensions of the electric stove are one of the most important criteria. After all, few can boast of a spacious kitchen. Therefore, the most popular is the standard four-burner models, the dimensions of which are unified.
The height of the electric stove rarely exceeds 85 cm. This is due to the size of the kitchen furniture, as well as to ensure maximum comfort when using the appliance.
The width of most electric stoves varies from 50 to 60 cm, but there are models in which this figure can be up to 90 cm. As a rule, they have 5-6 burners. A width of 60 cm is considered the most convenient since it allows you to accommodate dishes of any shape and size, which significantly saves cooking time.
The depth of electric stoves is usually 60 cm, but there are exceptions to this rule. The most popular hob sizes are 60 x 60, 50 x 50 and 50 x 60 cm. The 50 cm wide appliance is ideal for compact kitchens.
The surface material of the electric hob depends on the type of heating element used. To install cast iron burners, enamel or stainless steel is usually used.
The cheapest option is an enameled electric stove. The enamel is resistant to high temperatures and their changes, it is quite easy to clean and, with proper care, has enviable longevity. The main thing is not to overdo it with the use of powders and other abrasive products, from which scratches remain.
The main disadvantage of this material is fragility. Chips can appear even from a slight blow or, for example, from an unsuccessful drop of a knife. As a result, the metal base is exposed, and the device does not look particularly attractive. Cleaning up chipped areas is also quite difficult.
A more expensive option is stainless steel. Stainless steel is not afraid of scratches and bumps, overheating and temperature changes, the effects of cleaning agents. It is almost impossible to damage it by accident. But if you choose an electric stove with a polished surface, you will have to spend a lot of time maintaining its presentable appearance. All fingerprints and splashes are visible on the shiny metal. Therefore, if you want to purchase a stainless-steel plate, choose a matte finish.
Appliances with induction, halogen, rapid, and ribbon burners use glass ceramics as the surface material. This option will cost significantly more than the previous ones. On the other hand, food residues do not stick to glass ceramics, it is easier to care for them, and it looks very attractive. The material is quite durable, but it is afraid of pinpoint impacts and sudden temperature changes, for example, from the ingress of cold water on a hot surface. Electric cookers with a glass-ceramic body are becoming more and more popular among housewives. The quality of the coverage in the cheaper and more expensive models is almost the same.
Glass-ceramics are demanding on the cooking utensils. It should have a perfectly flat bottom and match the diameter of the heating zone. Smaller bottoms will damage the heating elements, and larger ones will cause stubborn dark spots to appear on the surface.
Type of burners and their number
The number of burners of standard electric stoves can vary from 3 to 6. Appliances with 1-2 heating elements are also available for sale, but, as a rule, these are compact portable models. For a family of 4-5 people, the standard version with four burners is suitable. Electric stoves with six zones are not so common and take up a lot of space in the kitchen. Often these models have two ovens.
As for the types of burners, there are only five of them. The most traditional and affordable option is cast-iron pancakes. Today, the price and low cost of repairs are, perhaps, their main advantages. In all other respects, they are significantly inferior to more modern heating elements.
The biggest drawback of cast iron burners is high energy consumption with rather low efficiency. In other words, an impressive amount of heat generated by heating elements goes to heating not the dishes, but the surrounding space. As a result, it takes a long time to cook. Another disadvantage is the long heating of the cast iron (about 7-10 minutes).
Every 2-3 years, cast iron “pancakes” need to be replaced due to gradual deformation. Repair is inexpensive, the main thing is to find a suitable burner.
Glass-ceramic surfaces are equipped with more modern heating elements. Their efficiency is higher than that of cast-iron heating elements because they conduct heat poorly horizontally and well vertically. Therefore, the bottom of the cookware heats up better and faster, and the surface of the stove heats less.
The simplest and most popular are the rapid burners, powered by a heating element in the form of a nichrome spiral. It takes no more than 10-12 seconds to heat them. The power of the zones depends on their diameter: 1.2 kW for a burner with a 15 cm circumference and 2.1 kW for a 21 cm zone.
Quite popular are halogen burners, in which a spiral heating element is combined with a halogen lamp that generates a large amount of heat. It heats up in just a couple of seconds and cools down just as quickly. The boiling time of the water is significantly reduced, which saves energy.
The Hi-Light burners are equipped with tape heating elements that consume more electricity than the previous ones but provide greater heat transfer. The burner needs about 5-7 seconds to heat up. Slabs fully equipped with tape elements are not widely used. Most often they are combined with rapid or halogen.
The most modern solution is induction hobs. Their work looks unconventional – it is not the surface that heats, but the bottom of the dishes itself. This is the responsibility of the induced eddy currents generated by a high-frequency magnetic field using an electromagnetic coil. As soon as you remove the dishes, the heating stops. The efficiency of induction elements reaches 90%. But they consume quite a lot of electricity and require special cookware with a perfectly flat magnetic bottom.
Oven and its features
A full-fledged electric kitchen stove must have an oven. Its volume depends on your needs. If you do not use the oven often, a standard volume of 50-60 liters is quite enough for you. Those who constantly cook in the oven should pay attention to models with an increased capacity (up to 75 liters).
Electric ovens are divided into two types – static and multifunctional. A static oven is a simple and inexpensive option with a modest range of options. They have two heating elements – upper and lower heating elements, which can be combined. Sometimes static models are equipped with a grill. The air in the chamber is heated unevenly, therefore the energy consumption during cooking increases. Baking trays need to be turned all the time so that the dish is baked from all sides. But the price of a stove with a static oven is very affordable.
Multifunctional ovens, in addition to several heating modes, are equipped with a convection function. The warm air in the chamber is distributed by a fan to ensure an even temperature. In such an oven, you can cook several dishes at once at different levels. In addition, modern electric ovens are equipped with a set of automatic programs for certain recipes, several grills, a microwave, and a double boiler function. They are equipped with skewers and temperature probes for meat, several trays of various depths, additional grates, and telescopic guides.
Another advantage of the multifunctional oven is the self-cleaning function. There are three of them – catalytic, pyrolytic, and hydrolysis. The latter is the simplest. But hydrolysis cannot be called self-cleaning in the full sense. When this function is activated, soiling is softened with steam. But you still have to wash the camera manually.
In ovens with catalytic cleaning, the walls are covered with a special enamel that accelerates the decomposition of fats at high temperatures. After the end of cooking, the remaining dirt must be removed with a wet cloth and non-aggressive detergents.
Pyrolysis is the cleaning of the inner chamber when heated to 500 degrees. Contaminants that have turned into ash are removed with a dry cloth.
Unlike gas, modern electric stoves are equipped with an impressive range of functions. Among them, the most necessary and useful are the indication of the residual heat of the burners, control over the boiling of water, and a timer. For families with small children, the automatic blocking function will be useful.
Plates have several temperature regimes. Their number in advanced models can go up to 15. Useful, especially for novice cooks, are automatic programs that allow you to set the parameters necessary for cooking by pressing one button.
Manufacturers equip modern electric stoves with other useful functions. For example, heating mode, protection against overflow of liquid, the option to remove steam from the oven, variable heating zones. But each of them significantly increases the price of the device.
Why is an electric stove better than a gas one?
The main advantage of an electric stove over a gas stove is the safety of its use. There is no need to fear gas leaks and the associated tragic consequences. It is easier to protect the electric stove from accidental switching on by small children. During cooking, no harmful combustion products and soot are emitted, as during the use of gas. This means that the well-being of the hostess will be better. And the kitchen is cleaner. It is not necessary to run the hood at full capacity.
The electric stove makes it possible to set the temperature in the oven with an accuracy of a degree. This is not yet possible in a gas station. Unfortunately, models with cast-iron heating elements do not allow smoothly regulating the heating of the burners, but modern glass-ceramic hobs have already solved this problem.
It is much easier to care for an electric stove than for a gas stove since it is not contaminated with soot. And it is generally a pleasure to clean the glass-ceramic surface – dirt is not absorbed into it.
As for the disadvantages of electric stoves, there are only three of them – a higher price, dependence on electricity, which is sometimes turned off, and more expensive operation due to high energy consumption.
Recommendations for use
Before buying an electric stove, check the condition of the wiring. Modern devices are very powerful, therefore, if your house has not been renovated for a long time, you will either have to replace the wiring or refuse to buy. If renovation is planned, it is better to install new closed-type wiring. To connect the device, you need to use a three-core copper cable with a cross-section of at least 3 x 4 mm. The wiring must be connected to a protective circuit breaker of 32 amperes.
You cannot install an electric stove near the sink, the distance between them should be at least 60 cm. A neighborhood with a refrigerator is also undesirable. To cook on an electric stove with a glass-ceramic surface, it is better to immediately purchase special cookware. This will prevent heat loss and protect the material from scratches.
It is advisable to clean the electric stove with special means selected for specific surface material. It is undesirable to use hard brushes and scrapers even when cleaning metal, not to mention glass-ceramics.