How They Really Work: Gas vs. Electric Stovetop and Oven

Hands dressed in orange protective oven gloves putting in the oven baking tray with bread rolls

Some of the best memories arise around the stove in your kitchen. When it comes to choosing the right range for your home, it is important to know how the unit functions to get the best possible use. Although gas ranges can save you money in the long run, you might find that electric ranges are more efficient. In our next blog, we will provide you with the information you need to choose the right range for your home. First, let’s check out some of the major components of a gas and electric range and how they work:

NOTE: All ranges feature a stovetop and oven which operate on similar principals 

Gas Stovetop

  • The Surface Burner Knob lets you control the heat of the surface burner on the range.
  • When the knob is turned to the LITE position, the Surface Burner Valve controls the flow of gas to the surface burner.
    • As the valve opens, gas flows from the valve through Burner Tube and is directed to the Venturi.
      • When gas reaches the Venturi it combines with air to create combustion.
    • Simultaneously the Spark Switch closes, providing the spark from the burner to ignite (when the knob is in the LITE position).
      • When the switch closes, a 120V current travels to the Spark Module which produces high voltage pulses to all Electrodes and controls the spark for lighting the range’s surface burners.
      • These pulses cause sparks to occur between the Electrode and Ground Burner Cap
      • Gas & Air mixture are ignited from the spark at the Burner Head, where a blue flame is produced across the cooking area.

Gas Oven

  • Oven Ignition consists of three basic components:
    • Oven Control, Igniter, and Oven Safety Valve
      • The Oven Control may be switch based with a Thermostat or uses an Electronic Board, which controls the main functions of the stovetop/oven.
      • The Igniter glows red or white hot to ignite the gas for the oven burner.
      • The Safety Valve prevents gas from flowing to the burner until ignition is guaranteed
    • When the Bake or Broil  elements are selected, the Oven Control sends 120V of alternating current to the Igniter
      • Igniter is wired to Safety Valve which drives amps through the Valve when it heats up
      • Bi-Metal Arm reacts to heat generated by amps and flexes open, releasing gas into Oven Burner Tube
      • Gas passes through the burner tube to reach Bake/Broil Igniter
      • When selected temperature is reached, the Oven Control shuts off voltage to the igniter and Bi-Metal Arm closes

Electric Stovetop

  • Electric Stovetops have two common styles of heating elements:
    • Conventional Coil and Radiant Coil that provide heat for cooking, each controlled by its own Surface Unit Switch.
    • The Conventional Coils or Induction Burner heats it’s metal coil which then transfers the heat to a pot or pan, making your cookware the heat source.
    • Radiant Coils are located under the surface of the smooth cooktop and it then radiates heat up to your pot or pan.
  • Stovetops uses 240CV of alternating current through two legs of voltage.
    • When Selector Knob is turned to heat setting, the switch triggers a voltage current.
    • When the current reaches the Heating Element the circuit closes and the element begins to heat.
    • When the Heating Element reaches the desired temperature the switch shuts the voltage off.
  • Radiant Coils have built in Limiters that monitor the stovetop surface temperature.
    • This can cause a heating element to cycle on/off more frequently than conventional coil elements.

Electric Oven 

  • An Electric Oven consists of three components
  • The oven operates using 240V of current:
    • The voltage is split between two legs of voltage each holding 120V
    • The first leg of voltage is generally regulated by the oven control.
    • The second leg of voltage may also be regualted by the control or will be continuously presenet on both side of the bake/broil elements.
  • When Bake/Broil functions are selected, one or both legs of voltage travels to the Heating Element once circuit is closed.
    • Once the selected temperature is reached, the oven control shuts off the voltage to the element.
      • This cycle repeats to maintain a constant temperature.


If you find that you are having any issues with your current electric or gas range, please do not hesitate to check out our repair help videos to assist you in determining the source of the problem: Range Repair Help Videos




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