An oven is a highly convenient appliance to have in your kitchen, as you can use it to make everything from pizza and pasta to meats and desserts. However, if you need to make several dishes, one after the other, you want your oven to be at the right temperature for each of them, which means waiting between dishes until the oven is cool.
An oven can take a few hours to cool down if the door is shut. If you leave the door open, you can shorten this period of time down to as little as ten minutes. Other factors that influence the time it takes for an oven to cool include whether it’s a gas or electric oven and how big the oven is.
The rest of this article will look at the factors that influence an oven’s cool-down speed, whether you should leave your oven door open to help it cool down faster, or whether you can use your oven to warm your home.
Factors That Influence How Long It Takes for an Oven To Cool Down
While you may have a general idea of how long it takes an oven to cool down, each oven has a different cool-down time, depending on several different factors. These include:
Gas or Electric
The type of oven you own plays a significant role in determining how long it takes to cool down. When you turn a gas oven off, the heat is shut off immediately, and the oven starts to cool down.
Electric ovens, on the other hand, cool down in stages.
Each separate element needs to cool down, and the electrical components will monitor this cool down to ensure that it doesn’t happen too fast and cause damage. This means that gas ovens cool down significantly faster.
On the other hand, even if your electric oven seems cool, some elements may still retain heat.
The Size of the Oven
Larger items have a larger surface area than comparable smaller items. While this may seem like a relatively obvious fact, most people may not realize that items with a larger surface area also take significantly longer to cool down.
The scientific reasoning for this fact relates to a relatively complicated law known as the Stefan-Boltzman Law. While there’s much more to it, what this law essentially states is that the larger the item, the more energy it needs to get rid of to cool down.
If two ovens from the same brand are heated to 100°C (212°F), the smaller one would cool to 90°C (194°F) faster.
This difference is significant – even a tiny difference in size can result in an exponentially longer cool-down time. Don’t believe me? You can try it yourself using cookies, as smaller cookies from the same batch will cool much faster than the larger ones.
While buying a smaller oven just to reduce cool-down time can seem like overkill, there are other advantages as well. Not only are smaller appliances better if you have limited counter space, but food also cooks slightly faster in a smaller oven, as it is placed closer to the heating element.
The inside walls boast a non-stick coating, making clean-up quick and easy.
Additionally, the built-in timer turns off the oven when the timer stops, making it extremely safe for children to learn to cook with.
When they hear insulation, most people think about home insulation.
However, there’s much more to it than that. Insulation is used in a variety of items, including kitchen appliances, like ovens.
There are several reasons why ovens need effective insulation, including protecting the structure of the appliance from getting overheated or burnt and reducing the risk of your oven catching fire.
However, one of the biggest reasons it is used is to ensure that the heat from your oven stays where it is meant to be – inside.
Without proper insulation, the heat generated by the heating element will escape into the surrounding area, making it extremely difficult for you to cook anything. Oven insulation is usually made using fibreglass, which can handle the high temperatures the appliance reaches without melting.
What this also means, however, is that the insulation keeps heat trapped inside the oven even when the power is turned off.
The appliance will, of course, eventually cool down without a constant source of energy. However, the better the insulation, the longer the cool-down time will be, even if the oven door is left open.
In general, higher-end ovens are better insulated than cheaper ovens. If your oven insulation is damaged, it may be possible to repair it. However, this job should be done by a professional.
It’s a complicated process and, if it is not done correctly, will turn your oven into a fire hazard.
Check with the oven manufacturer to see if there is a licensed dealer near you who can help with a replacement. If the insulation cannot be replaced, it’s essential to replace the oven as soon as possible.
As mentioned, improper insulation means the appliance is a fire hazard, and you will need to get rid of it immediately.
Convection ovens differ from conventional ovens in that they come with a fan and exhaust system as part of the oven’s mechanics. This system is extremely useful when cooking food, as it circulates the hot air around the inside of the oven, ensuring that heat is distributed evenly and there are no overly hot or cold spots when your food is ready.
However, there’s another advantage to a convection oven.
The time it needs to cool off is shorter when you’re done using your oven. If the oven door is opened, the fans allow the hot air to escape faster and circulate cool air around the oven, ensuring the whole of the oven is cooled.
Should You Leave an Oven Door Open or Shut?
As discussed above, leaving an oven door open helps reduce the time it needs to cool down significantly. But should you do it? How does leaving the door open affect your oven?
You should leave your oven door shut if your oven has an electric panel or a lot of delicate electric components. These parts must be cooled down at a specific speed, which the oven (and fan, if your oven has one) is programmed to do. If you have another type of oven, you can leave the door open.
While the delicate electronic parts of certain oven models need to be prevented from cooling down too quickly to prevent damage, this isn’t the case with all ovens.
For most ovens, especially a conventional oven, there shouldn’t be an issue with you leaving the oven door open, and you can choose which cool-down method you prefer. Additionally, leaving your oven door open can help air out the appliance.
This can come in handy when you’re using it to make something particularly fragrant or if you want to prevent the scent of one dish from seeping into the next dish you cook in the appliance.
Finally, aside from the type of oven you have and the type of food you’re cooking, you should also pay attention to the weather outside.
If you leave your oven door open in the summer, you will make the summer heat worse, especially if you live in a hot area. This can leave anyone using your kitchen feeling extremely hot and sweaty more than usual.
On the other hand, leaving the oven door open in the winter can actually be a positive.
Not only will it cool down your appliance, but the hot air will also be circulated around the cold kitchen, warming you up.
Using Your Oven To Heat Your Kitchen
As mentioned, using an oven to heat your kitchen can be really useful during the winter, especially if you don’t have easy access to another fuel source. However, this doesn’t always mean that doing so is a good idea.
If you’re considering using your kitchen oven as a space heater, it’s essential to first check what type of oven you have.
It’s important to remember that if you have a gas oven, it should, under no circumstances, be used as anything aside from a regular kitchen appliance, and especially not as a heat source.
Using a gas oven for something other than heating food significantly increases the risk of a carbon monoxide leak in your home, which is not only hard to detect but can quickly be fatal.
Additionally, gas ovens ignite really quickly, especially compared to electric ovens. If you’ve got a gas oven, the door should not be left open for long periods of time. Additionally, the oven itself should be turned off when possible.
This significantly reduces the risk of both fire and CO poisoning.
The other concern with using a gas oven as a heat source is the type of heat it produces. When heat from a gas oven is let into a room, it boosts the humidity levels of the space. This is what causes you to feel clammy and sweaty.
However, at the same time, higher humidity levels in the winter result in you feeling colder, not warmer. This is because it is more difficult for body heat to transfer to vapor than to transfer to air – and higher humidity means higher levels of water vapor in the air.
Unlike a gas oven, it is possible to use an electric oven to heat a space.
Since it runs on electricity, there’s no worry about carbon monoxide emissions, which is a significant reason why using a gas oven as a space heater is unsafe.
Additionally, these ovens are designed to run at high temperatures for many hours, which is a great option during winter nights. At the same time, there’s no danger in opening the oven door if you just want to jolt with temporary heat.
Leaving the door open once the oven is switched off allows it to cool down faster because it pushes the hot air into the surroundings.
It is, however, best to only use your electric ovens for short moments of heat unless it’s in an emergency. When you use your electric oven for hours on end, especially when it’s unnecessary, it will result in a significantly high energy bill.
Additionally, electric ovens are not designed to be switched on for extended periods of time.
While they can function for a few hours at a stretch, they will still need to be turned down and shouldn’t be used for so long frequently. If you don’t allow your oven time to “rest,” you risk it overheating from the hard use and potentially catching fire.
The heat from some particularly powerful ovens can melt the temperature dials that control the oven’s temperature, as well as the dials of any other appliances close by. This increases the risk of a major electric malfunction, which will not only force you to replace your appliances but can also lead to an electric fire.
Ultimately, your oven is designed to heat and cook food and not serve as a space heater.
While it may be the only option in a real emergency, it’s best to invest in a proper heater as soon as possible instead of relying on kitchen appliances to do the job.