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simanco 09-14-2012 12:15 AM

electric stove burner issues
 
We have a 1980's Kenmore range made by Frigidaire. The big burners have a strange-to-me quirk. The knobs are labeled lo - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - hi. They seem to work just fine from lo all the way up to 8. Lo is low and the range up to 8 seems to be fine. But ... at 8, the temp jumps to high and the burner starts glowing and there is no control from 8 on up to hi.

As far as I can remember, they have always worked this way. The problem is, I've been canning a lot lately, and balancing the heat right an "8" is more than frustrating.

Does anyone else's stoves work this way? I'm guessing I need to replace the switches ...

Any ideas?

Thanks,
Jim

Cooking With Jim
http://cookingwithjim.simanco.net

JasperST 09-14-2012 04:47 AM

I doubt that it will ever be precisely controlled. Gas is better for fine control. But it doesn't help if you aren't hooked up for gas. Have you thought about one of those new induction burners? Like:http://www.amazon.com/All-Clad-Elect...uckduckgo-d-20 That's an expensive one but there are cheaper models.

simanco 09-14-2012 09:21 AM

I love my induction burner ... but ... you have to have magnetic pots ... and aluminum pressure canners aren't! ;)

Jim

ionized 09-14-2012 10:04 AM

I don't understand the problem. Electric resistance hobs are supposed to glow when they are at their hottest. It would be a problem if they did not. They probably cool enough to turn black again when you put a cold canner on them.

If you want fine control, I'd be tempted to switch to a smaller hob after you get to the temp that you want.

Gas finder control than electric? Not in my hands, JasperST Maybe you've never used a good electric hob.

simanco 09-14-2012 08:37 PM

Let's try it this way ...

The switch provides a proper range of heat levels from 0-80% and then jumps directly to 100% and I need to set it to 90% to maintain the proper pressure. The percentages aren't exact, I'm sure, but hopefully it better illustrates my point? It's very clear in my head, but I'm obviously not communicating it well.

Thank you for your replies!

Jim

mpoulton 09-14-2012 09:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by simanco (Post 1010091)
Let's try it this way ...

The switch provides a proper range of heat levels from 0-80% and then jumps directly to 100% and I need to set it to 90% to maintain the proper pressure. The percentages aren't exact, I'm sure, but hopefully it better illustrates my point? It's very clear in my head, but I'm obviously not communicating it well.

Thank you for your replies!

Jim

Sounds like you need to replace the controls. Most stoves use essentially interchangeable "infinite switches" - phase-angle controllers with knobs on them. They are available at any appliance repair shop, or online. Some work better than others, and all are a bit questionable near the high and low ends of the scale.

simanco 09-28-2012 09:52 PM

I thought I'd update everyone ... maybe it'll help someone else in the future.

I finally tracked down appropriate replacement switches for my burners. Since I had to pull the stove apart to replace them, I bought new switches for all four burners.

In short: this fixed my issues!

I ran two canners today - one on each of the big burners. I have control of the heat. It's really rather amazing. The setting I normally would have used just to warm up the water in the canners before adding jars resulted in the water boiling. To maintain pressure, instead of having to balance the setting "just a little bit under 8" I got to turn it down to under 6!

The moral of this story? If you are having to fight your temperature all the time, perhaps you need new switches. It has definitely made my canning life easier.


Stuff I found out that I'm including for the archives:

While in an appliance parts store, one of the guys behind the counter confirmed that a 2600 watt coil burner is the largest wattage plug-in element available.

At least one website will sell you a "canning burner" Along With a new switch for your stove as a bundle. I thought this was interesting, and then I thought about it... It's certainly possible a manufacturer could ship a stove with a switch rated for less than the 2600 watt burner we canners might install. It turns out my switches were rated for up to 2600 watts, but I wouldn't bet that they all are. Another reason to perhaps think about replacing switches.

While I was buying parts, I bought ceramic burner receptacles to replace my 30+ year old plastic ones.

Again ... since I was already into this mess ... I went looking for larger wattage small burners and the largest I could find were 1500 watts. I made sure my new switches were rated for 1500 watts. These two changes made a noticeable improvement in performance on those small burners.

I feel like Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor - More Power! :)

Jim

Cooking With Jim
http://cookingwithjim.simanco.net

ionized 09-29-2012 10:16 PM

Why are you looking for higher power for the small burners? That would be a disadvantage for low settings, it will be harder to hit a simmer.

DannyT 09-30-2012 10:30 AM

how much did all this cost you?

simanco 09-30-2012 05:37 PM

I've not tried to simmer anything yet, but, if it doesn't work, I can always replace one of my 1500 watt burners with the old 1250s.

As to price ... $270. And another $60 for the oven thermostat that I replaced recently. Considering Lowes has the new version of this range for over $1200 ...

Jim

ionized 10-01-2012 10:11 AM

Sounds like a good deal to me if the range is in nice shape. You might want to calculate the current you will be using with everything turned on before you actually do that. You might be exceeding the capacity of the range or the circuit.

The biggest issue in low power on small burners would be will a small pot or pan with a little food in it. The more power you have available, the worse your control on the low end.

bobelectric 10-01-2012 01:17 PM

Bought a flat top electric stove last year,everyone's happy with it!

simanco 10-01-2012 05:48 PM

Not all flat-tops are rated for canners. And even those that are, apparently sometimes have issues keeping the pressure constant the way they cycle the burners. And some canners have bottoms that are not flat, which I understand is a no-no with flat-tops.

As the stove shipped the following could all be on at once:
2 2100 watt burners
2 1250 watt burners
1 1500 watt element in the small oven
1 2400 watt bake element in the large oven
1 3400 watt broil element in the large oven

Assuming I can do the math, that's 14,000 watts or over 58 amps at 240 volts. Yes?

As currently configured the following could be on at once (the current oven thermostat doesn't allow for bake and broil elements to be on at once):
2 1500 watt burners
2 2600 watt burners
1 1500 watt element in the small oven
1 3400 watt broil element in the large oven

For a total of 13,100 watts or 54.6 amps at 240 volts.

I'm using this calculator:
http://www.supercircuits.com/resourc...Amps-Converter

It's on a 50 amp circuit. The only time it ever threw the breaker was due to some sort of nitwit assembler at Frigidaire. The wires for the bake element in the small oven were placed between the Oven Wall and the Insulation. So, naturally, the insulation on the wires melted away over the years, causing a breaker to be thrown every time the small oven got turned on.

Now... in practice: it ain't all gonna be on at the same time, so I'm not worried about the circuit. I do wonder about the internal wiring...

There is a 12 gauge feed to the distribution block on the back of the timer.

A 12 gauge feed goes from that block to the first burner switch, then 14 gauge goes to the 2nd burner switch, and from it to the 3rd and from the 3rd to the 4rth. It's daisy chained.

Since the large burners are switches 2 and 4 in my description ... doesn't this mean that nearly 23 amps was being carried on the 14 gauge segment from switch 1 to switch 2?

And if I'm correct about that, doesn't this mean that I now have 27 amps on it with the upgraded burners?

What is the rating for 12 and 14 gauge single conductor wires with 150 degree C insulation?

Jim

mpoulton 10-01-2012 06:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by simanco (Post 1021442)
Since the large burners are switches 2 and 4 in my description ... doesn't this mean that nearly 23 amps was being carried on the 14 gauge segment from switch 1 to switch 2?

And if I'm correct about that, doesn't this mean that I now have 27 amps on it with the upgraded burners?

What is the rating for 12 and 14 gauge single conductor wires with 150 degree C insulation?

The allowable current for wire inside an appliance is much higher than wiring in a building, because the environment is more consistent and predictable and the consequences of failure are less (fire is unlikely). 27A on #14 wire with high temperature insulation inside an appliance is not unusual. I once had some special high-current inductors manufactured for a lab application. They were designed for 60A continuously, and the manufacturer selected #14 solid copper wire. No heating problems.


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