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How does an oven element work?

Updated February 21, 2017

When the oven knob is turned to the "on" position, and the thermostat set to a temperature, electricity flows to the element. When the oven is first turned on, the electricity flows consistently to the element to allow it to heat up. After the element is heated to the desired temperature, electricity flows in an on-off pattern to maintain a constant temperature.

Electricity Flows To The Element

When the oven knob is turned to the "on" position, and the thermostat set to a temperature, electricity flows to the element. When the oven is first turned on, the electricity flows consistently to the element to allow it to heat up. After the element is heated to the desired temperature, electricity flows in an on-off pattern to maintain a constant temperature.

Resistance Causes Heat

Since an oven element is essentially a resistance wire, when electricity reaches the element it encounters resistance. In other words, the element slows down, or resists, the flow of electricity. Because the electricity cannot flow freely, it builds up heat as it slowly passes through the element.

Heat Radiates

As heat builds up within the element from the restricted flow of electricity, it begins to radiate out from the element. The radiating heat raises the temperature of an insulator around the resistance wire, which in turn heats the air in the oven. A thermostat is connected to the wire that turns the flow of electricity on and off to maintain the preselected temperature.

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