What is a Gas Cooker (Stove)?

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Gas Cooker
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The gas cooker (stove) is a cooker that is fuelled by flammable gas such as syngas, natural gas, propane, butane, liquefied petroleum gas or other combustible gas.

Before the advent of gas, cookers relied on solid fuels such as coal and wood. The first gas cookers were produced in the 1820s, and a gas cooker plant was built in England in 1836.

This revolutionary cooking technology had the advantage of being easily flexible and could be turned off while not in use. The gas cooker, however, did not become a commercial success until the 1880s, when piped gas supplies became available in major cities and towns in Britain.

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In the early 20th century, cookers were popular on the European continent and in the United States.

Gas cookers became more efficient when the oven was built into the base, and the scale was reduced to better blend into the rest of the kitchen furniture.

By the 1910s, manufacturers had begun to enamel their gas cookers to make cleaning simpler. The gas ignition was initially paired, followed by more convenient pilot light. This had the downside of consuming gas continuously.

The oven still needed to be lit by matching and unintentionally turning on the gas without igniting it could lead to an explosion.

In order to avoid such incidents, the oven manufacturers have created and built a safety valve called a flame retardant system for gas cookers (cooktops) and ovens.

Most modern gas cookers are fitted with electronic ignition, automatic oven timers and extractor hoods to prevent fumes.

Gas cookers are a major source of indoor air pollution and need good ventilation.

Table of Contents

History

James Sharp patented a gas cooker in Northampton, England in 1826 and opened a gas cooker factory in 1836. His invention was sold by Smith & Philips from 1828 onwards.

Alexis Soyer, a renowned chef at the Reform Club in London, was an important figure in the early adoption of this modern technology.

From 1841 onwards, he converted his kitchen to consume piped gas, claiming that gas was cheaper overall since the supply could be cut off when the cooker was not in use.

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The gas cooker was displayed at the London World Fair in 1851, but it was only in the 1880s that technology became a commercial success in England.

At that time, a wide and stable gas pipeline network had spread across much of the world, making gas relatively cheap and effective for domestic use. Gas cookers were only popular on the European continent and in the United States in the early 20th century.

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Early gas cookers were very heavy, but soon the oven was built into the base, and the size was reduced to match better with the rest of the kitchen furniture. In the 1910s, manufacturers began to enamel their gas cookers to make cleaning easier.

Ignition

Today, gas cookers use two basic types of ignition sources, standing pilot and electrical. A standing pilot cooker has a thin, continuous flame of gas (called a pilot light) underneath the cooktop. The flame is between the front and the back burners.

When the cooker is turned on, the flame lights the gas pouring out of the burners. The benefit of the standing pilot system is that it is simple and totally independent of any external power source.

A slight downside is that the flames continue to consume fuel even though the cooker is not in use. Early gas ovens did not have a pilot. Manually, one had to light these with a match. If one accidentally left the gas on, the gas would fill the oven and eventually fill the space.

A small spark, such as a light switch arc being turned on, could ignite the gas, triggering a violent explosion. In order to avoid such incidents, the oven manufacturers have created and built a safety valve called a flame retardant system for gas cookers (cooktops) and ovens.

The safety valve relies on the thermocouple that sends a signal to the valve to hold it open. While most modern gas cookers have electronic ignition, many households have gas cookers and ovens that need to be ignited by flame.

Electronic ignition cookers use electrical sparks to ignite the surface burners. This is the “clicking sound” audible right before the burner actually ignites. The sparks are ignited by turning the gas burner button to the location normally labelled “LITE” or by pressing the “ignition” button.

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Once the burner shines, the button is turned to further change the size of the flame. Auto re-engineering is an elegant refinement: the consumer does not need to know or understand the wait-then-turn sequence.

They simply switch the burner knob to the desired flame size and automatically turn off the spark when the flame lights up. Auto re-engineering also offers a safety feature: the flame will automatically re-engineer if the flame goes out while the gas is still on, e.g. a gust of wind. If power fails, the surface burners must be manually illuminated.

Electronic ignition for ovens uses a “hot surface” or “glow bar” igniter. It’s essentially a heating element that heats up to the temperature of the gas ignition—the sensor senses when the glow bar is hot enough to open the gas valve.

Electric ignition cookers must also be connected to gas safety mechanisms, such as gas control interrupters. This is why many manufacturers supply cookers without an electrical socket.

Features of a gas cookers

1. Heat burner

One of the most critical aspects of the gas cooker is the heat generated by the burners. The heat of the burner is normally measured according to the BTU (British Thermal Units).

All gas cooker burners do not have the same and maximum heat output. Depending on the number of burners, some of the gas cooktops have one or two burners with high heat capacity – typically about 12,000 BTU.

For example, a burner with a heat capacity of 12,000 BTU would be hot enough to cook in a wok. And one of the burners is purposely held at a low heat end of about 5,000 BTU. This low range is great for cooking dishes that do not require high heat.

Some high-end cooktop models have a higher range of heat and heavy-duty burners that can be up to 20,000 BTU or more. Based on what kind of cooking you handle; higher heat capacity burners can be either a beneficial factor or a total waste of money.

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2. Design and layout

In the last few years, appliance manufacturers have made revolutionary improvements to the design and layout of gas cookers.

Most of the modern kitchen utensils come with a lattice framework that typically covers the entire range of the top, making it possible to slide the cookware from one burner to another without removing the containers from the kitchen utensils.

Some modern gas cookers also have a fifth central burner or an incorporated griddle between the outer burners.

3. Size

The scale of the kitchen gas cooker typically varies from 30 “to 42” (industrial models). Almost all manufacturers have produced a variety of size range choices.

There is also a variety of range and oven that typically comes in two styles: slide in and stand-alone.

Usually, there’s not a lot of style variation between them. Slide-in comes with lips on either side and buttons on the front along with burner buttons. Freestanding gas range cooktops are fitted with solid slides and controls mounted behind the cooktop.

4. Oven

Many of the cookers have integrated ovens. Modern ovens also have a convection fan inside the oven to provide even air ventilation and to allow food to cook evenly.

Some modern ovens come with temperature sensors that allow for close monitoring of the baking process, to be automatically shut off after getting to a certain temperature or held at a certain temperature during the cooking process.

The ovens may also have two separate bays of oven that allow two different dishes to be cooked at the same time.

5. Programmable controls

Many Gas cookers come with at least a few modern programmable controllers to make handling simpler. LCD displays and some other complex cooking routines are some of the common features in most simple and high-end production models.

Some of the other programmable controls include correct pre-heating, automatic pizza, cook timers and others.

6. Safety Factors

Modern gas cookers are better than older versions. Two of the main safety issues with gas cookers are child safety controls and accidental ignition. Some gas cooktops have knobs that can be unintentionally turned on or with a gentle bump.

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