Electric Oven Not Hot Enough

We recently moved to a small unique octagon shaped stone house with an attached brick semi-circle kitchen which contains a brick oven powered by a standard electric oven element (see pictures below).   My wife recently tried to use it for baking muffins at a temp of 375 degrees.     The single floor mounted electric heating element looked quite normal, uniform red and hot, throughout.   But after 45 minutes the temp never exceeded 300 degF as measured by a separate thermometer.      Needless to say the muffins didn’t turn out too well.    Perhaps we didn’t wait long enough for all the bricks to warm up but with the meter running we thought it necessary to stop.

 As you can see by the picture the interior is thermal brick with a small area in the rear and ceiling covered with metal .     The metal door is about 1 “ thick and is insulated internally and edged with thermo braid.   We don’t really know the history of this oven and whether it ever got hot enough to work properly.   We’re now faced with trying to decide what it might take to make it work.  I’ve considered additional metal lining,  replacing the element, adding a broiler element, etc.     Another option might be to remove the guts and install an off the shelf toaster oven.

Any ideas will be appreciated.

 

13 comments

Hi LarCrow,

I can see why your oven will not get hot enough for your liking.

For one, there is only one heating element. Then there is the huge thermal capacity of the heavy rack and bricks to heat up before the temperature inside stabilises. And besides, the door doesn't fit very tightly, it appears. You'll lose heat there.

For a long-term solution, better to get a new oven to install in its place.

 

Occa

Even if you add a second element, it will cost an arm and a leg in electricity costs to heat those bricks to a stable temp.  It's a shame there is no flue.  Then, at least you could good the wood route for special occasions.

 

ken

Occa,

Thanks, I thought that might be the assessment and advice I would get.   It's a shame that one of the unique features of this little place is pretty much unusable.  Unfortunately the guy that built the house and oven has Alzhiemers and is in a nursing home so I'll never know if, or how, he got any use out of it.    Since storage space is so limited here it may be a very study closet.

Larry

 

Ken,

It seems it's unamimous to get a new oven.   It's one of those thngs you really hate to give up on but I could spend a lot of time and money and still not be assurd it would work satisfactorily.   Plus I'm not sure the existing wiring and power panel would support a second elelment and running new wires is extremely difficult in this stone structure.   As it is it makes a good warming oven.

Larry 

Larry, before you have the oven replaced or removed, would it be worth checking into whether it would be possible to convert it to wood-fired? THAT could turn a negative into a big positive if you're into baking.

OTOH, I know nothing of the logistics, and it might be a silly suggestion when these are taken into account.

Cheers
Ross

LarCrow,

 

I doubt the previous owner did much cooking in that oven. It looks too clean!

 

Since there is no flue, the wood fired oven idea will not work. It will make a strong closet or even a safe.

 

Occa

...that could be part of a conversion to woodfired. That was my point. Not being able to see the whole setup, though, it's hard to determine what is possible and what not. Besides which, I am speaking out of optimism and complete ignorance! :)

Just thought the wood-fired idea was worth suggesting as a possibility...if, indeed, it is even that.


I reckon you could build a normalish electric oven inside the box either by gutting and cutting down a second hand under bench oven.  The door would still be a problem but you could probably live with that. This could be quite a cheap option in terms of materials. I've purchased good ovens (smeg and aristron) for $50 each. They run happily from a normal powerpoint (though not legally).

It looks like the cavity size is about  570mm X 500mm which I think means you could strip the outside off an oven, cut off the door and slip all the important bits into the hole. Of course electrics would need to be re run with extended wires. OF COURSE THIS PLAN HAS MAJOR PROBLEMS LIKE OVER HEATING AND FIRE HAZARD. YOU SHOULD FIND A CRAZY TINKER IN YOUR AREA TO HELP YOU.

 


Gas might also work, a potter friend who loves wood fired stuff  sometimes just heats his bread oven with a big gas burner instead of lighting a wood fire.

Of course your idea of using it as a cupboard is the most economically sensible but that’s not why we are here.

 

chow
 

I'd start by looking under (over) that metal sheeting you might be surprized and find a flue from the brickwork it looks like a good possability

If your only trial of this oven is to heat it for 45 minutes, I would give it a better (longer) run. If it was a wood fired oven you would expect 2-3 hours to warm it up at least. I agree the element looks undersized for the cubic size of the oven but I would at least give it a chance with a 3 hour warm up. Where we live, the price per kilowatt is way cheaper at night. I've actually been toying with the idea of building a small electric fired oven I could fire at night for use during the morning.

Eric

It may sound weird but I lined one of my electric ovens with brick to bake in. It took about 3 hours to heat the 1st time as there was still some moisture in the brick (steamed a lot too!). After that it still took a while longer to heat up but worked well. I would love to have your brick oven and what you might try is adding a secondary GAS supply that will give you more BTU's. Should not be too expensive if you use propane instead of running a natural gas line. Is it at all possible to add a chimney so you could use wood to heat it?

Maybe this is getting a bit old now,

but no-one has mentioned the idea of finding a way to insulate the cavity so heat does not get lost to the bricks, then you have a normal oven. The insulation on most ovens is quite thin, so you should still have some reasonable baking space.

Anyway, maybe no-one's mentioned it because its a stupid idea...

Since I lasted posted I have let the oven warm up for a longer perior (1.25 hrs) and it did get up to 350 deg so some of the suggestions to wait longer were on the mark.    Unfortunately the only thermometer is inside the oven so opeining it up to check the temp is self defeating.   I need to get a remte thermometer and wait even longer.

There is no gas service to the house at this time and it would be costly to get it installed.

The idea of insulating the interior is not a bad idea at all if I could find the right material and a good method of securing to the brick interior.   My first efforts to inprove the thermobraid insulation on the door didn't go as well as I had hoped since the edges of the brick are very uneven.  It's a work in progress on a time available basis.