New electric ranges are safe, efficient


September 19, 1992|By James Dulley | James Dulley,Contributing Writer

Q: I heard about some new types of electric ranges that cook as quickly and precisely as gas ranges, but are extremely safe and easy to clean. Are these ranges efficient and how do they work?

A: There are several new designs of electric ranges that offer fast cooking and the precise heat control of a gas range. These ranges are extremely safe and energy efficient. Nearly all the heat goes into the food and very little escapes to overheat your kitchen.

An induction electric range design is most convenient and efficient to use. Instead of heating a resistance coil beneath the pot or cooktop, an induction range heats the pot directly. This gives instant control of the heat. You can even melt chocolate without a double boiler.

The cooktop itself does not get hot enough to burn you. This is a real safety feature around children. Also, food spills don't burn on and you can easily wipe them away with a damp cloth. With an induction range, you must use steel, cast iron, or magnetic stainless steel cooking utensils.

If you remove a pot for a short time to stir or add something, the induction element automatically shuts off. When you replace the pot on the range, the memory switches it on again to the same heat level setting. If you don't replace the pot within 30 seconds, the range switches to a locked-off mode so children or pets cannot accidentally turn it on.

One manufacturer mounts its induction elements in decorative one-foot- square ceramic tiles. You can also have blank tiles permanently decorated with your own design. Each heating tile is separate, so you can mount them together in a counter surface or remote for more convenience.

An induction element is a simple electromagnetic coil under a smooth range surface. The coil creates a magnetic field. As this field passes

through a metal pot on the cooktop, the pot instantly begins to heat. This provides a nearly infinite range of heat levels for precise control.

Another new design, halogen light elements, also offer efficiency and fast response time. When you turn on the element, a special halogen light under a smooth cooktop glows red. It is easy to see when one is turned on. This infrared radiant heat quickly transfers to the pot. Many also have a resistance heating element in the center of the light for even heating.

Solid metal disk elements heat using a conventional electric resistance heating method. The wires are embedded in the underside of the disk. Although the heating response time is not unusually fast, the disks are raised and sealed in the cooktop for easy cleanup.

You can write to me for Utility Bills Update No. 025 showing a buyer's guide of manufacturers of new induction, halogen and solid disk design electric range tops, heat outputs of the elements and controls each offers, and a chart listing the advantages and drawbacks of each design. Please include $1.50 and a self-addressed business-size envelope.

Q: I plan to install roof vents on the back side of my roof. Do you have any tips?

A: You should install the roof vents as high as possible near the roof peak. This exhausts the most hot air in the summer and improves attic ventilation in the winter, too. Roof vents come with simple instructions.

Don't try to be foolishly brave when working on a pitched roof. Consider using a hook ladder or roof jacks to give you support when you are on the roof. Also always wear a safety harness tied to a large tree.

Questions should be addressed to James Dulley, c/o Baltimore Sun, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244.

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