A gas stove is a stove that is fuelled by combustible gas such as syngas, natural gas, propane, butane, liquefied petroleum gas or other flammable gas. Before the advent of gas, cooking stoves relied on solid fuels such as coal or wood. The first gas stoves were developed in the 1820s and a gas stove factory was established in England in 1836. This new cooking technology had the advantage of being easily adjustable and could be turned off when not in use. The gas stove, however, did not become a commercial success until the 1880s, by which time supplies of piped gas were available in cities and large towns in Britain. The stoves became widespread on the European Continent and in the United States in the early 20th century.
Gas stoves became more wieldy when the oven was integrated into the base and the size was reduced to better fit in with the rest of the kitchen furniture. By the 1910s, producers started to enamel their gas stoves for easier cleaning. Ignition of the gas was originally by match and this was followed by the more convenient pilot light. This had the disadvantage of continually consuming gas. The oven still needed to be lit by match and accidentally turning on the gas without igniting it could lead to an explosion. To prevent these types of accidents, oven manufacturers developed and installed a safety valve called a flame failure device for gas hobs (cooktops) and ovens. Most modern gas stoves have electronic ignition, automatic timers for the oven and extractor hoods to remove fumes.
The first gas stove was developed in 1802 by Zachäus Winzler (de), but this along with other attempts remained isolated experiments. James Sharp patented a gas stove in Northampton, England in 1826 and opened a gas stove factory in 1836. His invention was marketed by the firm Smith & Philips from 1828. An important figure in the early acceptance of this new technology, was Alexis Soyer, the renowned chef at the Reform Club in London. From 1841, he converted his kitchen to consume piped gas, arguing that gas was cheaper overall because the supply could be turned off when the stove was not in use.
A gas stove was shown at the World Fair in London in 1851, but it was only in the 1880s that the technology became a commercial success in England. By that stage a large and reliable network for gas pipeline transport had spread over much of the country, making gas relatively cheap and efficient for domestic use. Gas stoves only became widespread on the European Continent and in the United States in the early 20th century.
Early gas stoves were rather unwieldy, but soon the oven was integrated into the base and the size was reduced to fit in better with the rest of the kitchen furniture. In the 1910s, producers started to enamel their gas stoves for easier cleaning.
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Gas stoves today use two basic types of ignition sources, standing pilot and electric. A stove with a standing pilot has a small, continuously burning gas flame (called a pilot light) under the cooktop. The flame is between the front and back burners. When the stove is turned on, this flame lights the gas flowing out of the burners. The advantage of the standing pilot system is that it is simple and completely independent of any outside power source. A minor drawback is that the flames continuously consume fuel even when the stove is not in use. Early gas ovens did not have a pilot. One had to light these manually with a match. If one accidentally left the gas on, gas would fill the oven and eventually the room. A small spark, such as an arc from a light switch being turned on, could ignite the gas, triggering a violent explosion. To prevent these types of accidents, oven manufacturers developed and installed a safety valve called a flame failure device for gas hobs (cooktops) and ovens. The safety valve depends on a thermocouple that sends a signal to the valve to stay open. Although most modern gas stoves have electronic ignition, many households have gas cooking ranges and ovens that need to be lit with a flame. Electric ignition stoves use electric sparks to ignite the surface burners. This is the "clicking sound" audible just before the burner actually lights. The sparks are initiated by turning the gas burner knob to a position typically labeled "LITE" or by pressing the 'ignition' button. Once the burner lights, the knob is turned further to modulate the flame size. Auto reignition is an elegant refinement: the user need not know or understand the wait-then-turn sequence. They simply turn the burner knob to the desired flame size and the sparking is turned off automatically when the flame lights. Auto reignition also provides a safety feature: the flame will be automatically reignited if the flame goes out while the gas is still on—for example by a gust of wind. If the power fails, surface burners must be manually match-lit.
Electric ignition for ovens uses a "hot surface" or "glow bar" ignitor. Basically it is a heating element that heats up to gas's ignition temperature. A sensor detects when the glow bar is hot enough and opens the gas valve.
Also stoves with electric ignition must be connected with gas protection mechanisms such as gas control breaker. Because of this many manufacturers supply stoves without electricity plug.
Features of a Gas Stove
1. Burner Heat
One of the important aspects of a gas stove is heat emitted by the burners. Usually, burner heat is calculated in terms of BTU’s (British Thermal Units). All the burners of a gas stove don’t have equal and maximum heat output. Depending on the number of burners, some of the gas cooktops have one or two burners that have high heat capability – which is often around 12,000 BTU. For example, a burner with the heat capability of 12,000 BTU will be hot enough for cooking in a wok. And one of the burners is deliberately kept at low end of heat, which is around 5,000 BTU. This low range is perfect for cooking dishes that don’t require high heat.
Some high end cooktop models provide higher range of heat and heavy-duty burners that can go up to 20,000 BTU or even more. Based on what type of cooking you are handling; the higher heat capability burners can be either a beneficial aspect or complete waste of money.
2. Design and Layout
In the last few years, appliance manufacturers have been making innovative changes to the design and layout of gas stoves. Most of the modern cooktops have come with lattice structure which usually covers the complete range of the top. They also enable you to easily slide the pans or pots from one burner to another without lifting the containers over the gaps of cooktop.
Some modern gas stoves also have central fifth burner or an integrated griddle in between the outer burners. Using all the 4 or 5 burners at the same time can be a bit tricky because of the spaces in between them. however, if you can properly manage the space between the burners then it is worth an investment.
The size of a kitchen gas stove usually ranges from 30” to even 42” (industrial models). It is important to measure the kitchen platform space before making the purchase. Almost all the manufacturers have been developing several range of options in size range. Combination of range and oven are also available which usually come in two styles slide in and freestanding.
Usually, there isn’t much of a style difference in between them. Slide-in come with lips on their either side and controls over the front along with burner controls. Freestanding gas range cooktops have solid slides and controls placed behind the cooktop.
Before buying any cooktop range, you have to make sure which type looks perfect and compatible for your home. Some of the modern gas cooktops also come with conversion kits which allows the consumer to use it with either propane or natural gas.
Oven attached to a cooktop can have several features that are designed to make your job much easier. Most of the modern factors include convection fan inside the oven to make the cooking process much easier. Some of the models even have a convection fan which provides even circulation and lets the food cook evenly. Some of the modern ovens even come with temperature sensors which allows to control the baking, automatically shut off after reaching certain temperature or hold on to particular temperature through the cooking process. Some modern ovens have two separate oven bays which allow to cook two different dishes at the same time. This feature is quite helpful in situation when you have your friends or relatives over. Most of the people may use this feature once in a while and moreover two ovens are a bit cramped when compared to single ovens.
5. Programmable Controls
Most of the best gas stoves available in the market come with at least few modern programmable controls to make the handling easier. LCD displays and some other complex cooking routines are some of the standard features present in most of the basic and high-end manufacturing models. Some of the other programmable controls include precise pre-heating, automatic pizza, cook timers and others. Before getting thrilled about these modern high end features, take a moment and understand whether they are helpful or not.
6. Safety Factors
Modern gas stove ranges are pretty safe when compared to the older ones. Two of the major safety concerns with gas stoves are – child-safe controls and accidental ignition. Some gas cooktops have knobs which can be accidentally switched on even with a gentle bump.
If you have small children in house, then it is better to purchase a model that has child locks for safety. They will not activate until you hold a button or special controls that are pretty hard for child to accidently start a fire.
- Cowen, Ruth (16 December 2010). Relish: The Extraordinary Life of Alexis Soyer, Victorian Celebrity Chef. Orion. ISBN 9780297865575 – via Google Books.
- Mary Ellen Snodgrass (2004). Encyclopedia of Kitchen History. Routledge. p. 428.
- Kreith, F.; West, R.E. (1996). CRC Handbook of Energy Efficiency. Energy and power systems. Taylor & Francis. pp. 438–439. ISBN 978-0-8493-2514-4. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
- Media related to Gas stoves at Wikimedia Commons