Ovens - Electric vs Gas

jlirotJanuary 22, 2012

Can someone send me a link to the difference between gas vs electric. Seems to be a lot of opinions on what is best. I'm deciding between a DF oven/range and a strictly gas one. I could do a wall oven too - but doubt the need.

Seems elec is dryer and better for baking. Gas wetter - roasting. But, most folks use one or the other and get by fine...(as I have for years :-)


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No link, but an answer:

For the oven per se (not including cooktop burners -- some people use "oven" for a full "range"). Gas, due to the by products of combustion, gives you a slightly moister environment, which is especially good for developing a crust on a roast or loaf of bread. You can replicated this in an electric oven by putting in a vessel with water in it (a traditional cooking method).

For some people, gas is much, much cheaper. For other people, gas is very expensive or unavailable.

Electric ovens have tended to be more accurate and better for baking, but the best gas ovens nowadays have equally good reputations. "Self cleaning" (the setting whereby all the residues in the oven are incinerated) used to only be available in electric ovens, but the better gas ovens nowadays have that too.

There are very very few things that require one or the other, and there are usually work arounds.

Gas cooktops give you more control and responsiveness than standard electric. Induction (which is fueled by electricity) gives you an equivalent amount of control and responsiveness, with easier clean-up and safety features, and better efficiency.

Gas is impossible for some asthmatics to live with.

At the point that you're talking dual fuel, I think you're getting into the realm of fairly decent quality. Give that, there isn't really a best. There's just what works for you.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 2:04AM
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I chose an all gas range, because of the outrageous up-charge for the dual fuel option. I don't care where you live or how cheap hydro is, it is extremely unlikely you will ever recover the up-front costs via fuel efficiencies.

I polled every one I knew who had ever cooked, baked, roasted, or broiled with both gas and electric ovens. Only one of my sample (admittedly not a valid statistical sample) insisted on electric for baking. Also, after reading a few posts here before I bought, I learned that dual fuel ranges often have much shorter lives than all-gas, as their electronics get fried.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 8:22PM
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Funny, I don't know of one bakery that uses an electric oven. For me the infrared broiler on a gas oven is mandatory...

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 11:09AM
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You have sort of answered your own question. Even though you can read that gas heat is moister, because there are products of combustion, I'm not sure it makes any difference in actual baking/roasting. Once you heat the air and add moisture from what you are baking/roasting the difference may be insignificant. No one has measured the exact humidity in ovens, at least that can be easily found. I've used both over the years and can't say there is much difference in the end product at least in the ovens I've baked in.
The biggest difference is if you get convection. Moving air produces a more even temp in the oven and has a drying effect which is great for roasting and things that need to be crispy. It is somewhat of a learning curve though, as each convection oven is a little different and there is more to it than just adjusting times and temps by the formula they give you. That is just a starting place.

Most of the differences between gas and electric are in the features available.
Gas-convection fan is on or off.
Electric-may also have a third element with the fan that keeps the heat more even if you bake with your oven full.
I have this in my ovens. My Wolf oven has a dedicated mode for full convection but I have never used it because it heats so evenly without it. My Electrolux oven integrates the third element into it's conv roast and conv bake modes, no separate mode. If you really load the oven this might be a good feature.
Wolf and maybe KA also have dual fans and elements. I do think this is useful especially w/36 inch oven.

Thermastats on some electric ovens may have as little as a 2 degree temperature swing as opposed to the usual 25 degree on either side of the set temp temp swing. For most baking this may not make a difference but it was handy when I did a little home made sous vide experiment. I would also look at the range of temp on a given oven and see how that fits with what you do with it. Also you can ask what the temp swing for your oven will be.

Gas oven may have an infrared broiler. Some broilers are wider than others.

Electric ovens are more likely to have self clean, Some gas ovens do. Some people report issues with their boards with the high heat but mine have been ok.

Some electric ovens have different modes- baking with more heat from the bottom and roasting with more heat from the top. I really like this feature.

Rotisserie-this could be on either type.

Whether or not these are significant are up to you. Agree with plllog, there are always work arounds.
Good luck with your decision.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 1:07PM
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Maybe if you have room you can get the best of both worlds.

Because I'm indecisive, and because of the way my kitchen will be laid out, I think what I will wind up with is a Blue Star gas range/oven as my main everyday appliance and then my second oven will be electric and installed as a wall oven at the opposite side of the room probably a year after the remodel when I can afford it :) We'll have the cabinet marked out and electric laid, and then just save the pennies. Planning on putting the microwave in that same cabinet. We want two ovens and figured rather this was a compromise over purchasing a double oven now (yes, this may wind up costing us a bit more in the long run, but I think it will work).

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 8:20PM
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Just to give another opinion....I am a baker. I bake artisanal naturally leavened breads, where the crispness of the crust is really important. For years, I had and used a gas oven, and wouldn't even consider electric. Then I had a rental where the oven was (is still) electric. To my surprise, the breads that came out of that oven were markedly better than those out of my gas ovens. Why? By talking to some oven experts I learned that because gas ovens must have venting to allow the combustion of the burners (I.e., the flame), any moisture added to steam the oven vents out almost immediately, This doesn't happen with an electric because it doesn't need the venting, (and the moisture inherent in gas cooking is good for roasting but isn't really enough to get a good crust.)

So, if this is something that matters to you.....

FWIW, I'm putting electric ovens in my new kitchen. (And as another FWIW, commercial bakeries use both gas and electric ovens, depending on what their product line is and what makes sense utility-price-wise in their area....)

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 10:46PM
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Interesting, but all the electric ovens I've ever had also vent. The coil cooktop range through a tube coming up under one of the rear burners, three wall ovens all through a flat tube out front between the door and the control panel.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 2:24AM
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FOAS, I've had electric wall ovens that didn't vent. They didn't have electronics or convection so had no need. 'Course they were all old....

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 4:47AM
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plllog, the cooling airflow required for (most) electronic control units is not related to venting of heat/moisture from the cooking cavity. While I, of course, have not seen them all, I've never run across an "old, non-electronic" electric oven, wall or otherwise that didn't have a passive vent for the interior. In some cases it may be as simple as a gap at top of the door gasket.

As a side note, my GE electric range with electronic oven controls does not have a cooling fan for the panel, but it does have a passive vent for the oven cavity.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 2:33PM
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Not directly on point to the OP (who doesn't want/have room for a double wall oven), but we have been looking at this dual fuel model from American Range -- gas oven on top, electric on bottom. The french doors are a bonus, and can be outfitted on both, or neither, of the ovens. Elec/elec and gas/gas also available, but I'm thinking of going with the hybrid for our remodel

Here is a link that might be useful: American Range gas/elect. double oven

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 3:01PM
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Dadoes, I'm sure you're right about the electronics, but the current wall ovens I've experienced also vent the cavity during cooling. Maybe some don't.

Just checked with my folks, because I don't have access to the old ovens in prior rentals, obviously. According to them there weren't any vents in the 60's electric wall ovens we had. There might have been some kind of passive vent such as you describe, but they seemed to be pretty well sealed, and we never felt a hot spot. As far as we know, they vented when you opened the doors. :)

It doesn't matter either way whether or not they had a passive vent. I was just pointing out to Burntfingers why there were active vents on new ovens.

OTOH, for the use of a steamy interior, my Gaggenau single (normal) oven gets steamy enough to see a visible plume escaping, and so does my Advantium, so I think it might be possible to have a steamy interior even with an externally venting current model electric oven. I've recently used one at someone else's house to make the kind of chicken breasts that I usually do in my combi-steam oven. I used a poultry pan that had a wire rack over a drip tray, and put wine and water in the bottom. It worked fine for steaming the chicken. I don't know if it would be adequate to that particular kind of bread crust, though.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 6:04PM
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Hi Plllog,

When you say you can see a plume of steam escaping from your Gagg, do you mean escaping from the cavity/venting? or within the cavity you can see steam coming from what you're cooking?


1 Like    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 12:23AM
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Burntfingers, both, really. I like doing braises, which generate steam. Sometimes it condenses on the window. Usually, when I open the door on something like that I can see the steam as it escapes. I assume it's letting in the cool air that makes the steam visible. It's not nearly the amount that escapes the combi-steam when I open that, but it's appreciable.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 12:52AM
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I had a GE Profile electric oven in my last house and it most certainly did vent the oven cavity. The vent was right out front, and moisture from the food would condense on the console and cabinet above.

Not saying they all do, but it's a data point.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 8:03AM
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Yep, Stooxie, that's what I had. Unfortunately the steam would find its way into the console, and the old pan of water in the oven trick while baking bread was its demise. My current (temporary) oven vents out the top of the console.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 10:32AM
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Just for the fun of it, I emailed the inventor/designer/tech guy at American Range (more on this later) to ask about the venting in new ovens. Here's what he said: "I think you always need to manage the "steam" and sometimes "smoke" that evolves from cooking some way - a vent would be best for that.

Gas oven vents are often much larger than electric oven vents because they need to deal with the gas combustion products as well as the cavity "steam" and "smoke"

I'd vote for electric at this time."

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 12:09AM
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All gas and electric ovens have passive-vented (via thermal convection) baking cavities to dissipate moisture emanating from the cooking food. There may be a poof of steam/moisture come out when the door is opened, but passive venting is still occurring when the door is closed.

In some cases the exterior location of the cavity vent may not be apparent. The house my parents built in 1964 had an electric wall oven, the vent outlet was hidden at the top behind a chrome frame that surrounded the unit.

Venting the oven cavity and cooling electronic controls are not the same thing. Ovens that don't have electronic controls do still have passive venting for the cooking cavity. Electronic controls are often power-cooled by way of a fan, but oven cavities are not ... it would be counterproductive to attempt heating the cooking cavity and at the same time be actively blowing/exhausting room air through it. Convecting baking is not the same thing -- the fan circulates air *within* the oven cavity, it doesn't exhaust/vent the cavity. Ovens, wall ovens in particular, that garner complaints about a noisy fan blowing hot air into the kitchen are not venting the cooking cavity via that fan ... the air flow is exhausting accumulated heat from *inside* the unit's exterior shell where the control boards are located, but *outside* the baking cavity.

Stooxie, yes absolutely, my GE Profile range has the oven vent located toward the right side beneath the control panel. The control panel rises 11-inches high from the cooktop surface with 4-inches of it being a "toe-kick" space. Cooktop controls are rotary switches but the oven controls/timer are a flat electronic panel. There is NO cooling fan for the panel, and it does get VERY warm during self cleaning ... to the point that last time I ran a cleaning cycle, I set a small fan to blow across the panel (helped a lot).

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 9:39AM
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Can someone with a gas oven please comment on the functionality of timers/timed cooking on gas ovens? We currently have an electric GE 30" double oven, considering a gas range for our new house. My wife initially thought she would really miss the electronic controls, but when we really thought about it, she never uses the timed baking feature (auto shut off) any more, so there's probably nothing she'd miss.

Moisture differences between the two technologies was never even on my radar until plllog brought it up, and then burntfingers turned it around and said electric is better... Now I'm all confused.

Are those of you with gas ovens happy with your gas ovens? I almost feel like the answer to that will also be skewed by brand/product loyalty (see the CC vs BS flame wars). Anyone with emotion-free experience they can share re: what they love about gas or miss about electric, or the reverse, those who have switched to electric, what they love about electric and miss about gas?

Thanks in advance.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 1:37PM
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Davidahn, it really doesn't matter that much if you have a good quality oven. A slightly moister atmosphere will give you a crisper crust. That's about it. The most accurate ovens made are electric wall ovens (Gaggenau, Wolf). You can make anything in a gas oven, and the better ones nowadays are pretty accurate. I wasn't happy with my old gas oven because by the time I bought the house it was a goner. It had different temperatures in different parts of the oven and no reliable way to set any temperature at all. I still managed to bake bread, cakes, etc. Just had more failures than usual (e.g., dry cake because it baked too fast).

I think if you and your wife had a particular opinion about it you'd already know. For most things that most home cooks make, either will do fine.

Any new oven, by dint of it being new and having more precise temperatures, etc., will require some learning. It is inevitable. Given this, whatever differences are new from the different fuel will be minor.

I have all kinds of electronic controls and automatic timers on my ovens, and never use any of them.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 3:03PM
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David, I agree pretty much with Plllog, perhaps with the exception of the crust issue on breads. But what it really comes down to is - what do you use your oven for? My current oven is gas, and it works really well for everything except my commercial-level breads. Bakes other things just fine, broils, roasts, etc. And it is 78 years old (1934 O'Keefe & Merritt). I don't plan to replace it. The electric ovens I'm putting in the new kitchen have a particular purpose -- they will be used for small-scale production and located 250 miles away. Match your tool to your needs. If your needs aren't specialized, go with what meets most of your wish list and don't stress about it!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 4:08PM
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plllog, thanks for your help. I think she'll be happy with having a slide-in pro-style range. She's been talking about it for a while, but too frugal to demand it. We'll have a chance to compare gas to electric because we will still be in our old house most weeknights. If she REALLY loves electric, we could sell the range and swap it out for a range top and drawers. Yeah, I don't really think we'll miss those electronic controls we're not using anyway.

burnt, your O'Keefe & Merritt sounds awesome! My wife mostly bakes cookies and cupcakes and casseroles. She has not gotten into breads yet. She really wants to open a bakery eventually, but I looked into Vulcan and Baker's Pride, but our kitchen isn't really compatible with that look.

I think I'm more at peace with the gas oven thing. Thanks so much, guys!


    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 6:38PM
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Does anyone have any price comparisons on running an electric vs a gas wall oven? We live in a city in California where gas is cheaper than electricity, but how much of a difference would it really make? I would be fine with an electric because of the much larger range of choices, but my husband feels we should get gas because of the cheaper cost of the fuel. I'm wondering how much more, if any, it would actually cost per year? Is it worth the extra price to purchase a gas one? How much does a typical electric oven cost to run per year for someone who cooks in it 4 times a week, for example. Thanks for your ideas!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 1:16AM
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