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Decent Electric Hob

  [vote for,

"Electric hobs are much better than they used to be," they said, "they're just as good as gas!"

Bollocks. The problem has always been the confusion between, and difficulty controlling, temperature and heat flow. The easiest way to compensate for a cheap thermostat is to increase the thermal mass, leading to longer warmup times and further frustration. The worst bit is how unrepeatable the outcome is; unlike gas, going from one hob to another leads to wildly varying results.

But there is a way to be scientific about it without breaking the consumer budget - the same method used by my soldering iron. You have three simple displays:

- Actual Temperature

- Target Temperature

- Current Draw (power usage)

The benefit of watching the current draw, at a fixed hob temperature, is that you can deduce the heat flow without knowing the temperature of the item you're heating. This information is invaluable when frying an egg.

I acknowledge that a 1kW PWM power supply might be expensive, so compromise: 10 heating elements of 100W each, just toggled on and off by the circuit as necessary.

The results might not be the same as gas, but one thing is certain. They would be repeatable.

The final thing gas has to offer is being able to tilt the pan without much effect on heat flow. Only thing I can think of to tackle this is to have the elements fixed directly to the pan. Perhaps, with its reduced overall mass, the hot plate could be removable with a cord running to the controller in the worktop.

mitxela, Oct 05 2014

Illustration http://mitxela.com/...ectricFryingPan.jpg
Heating element clamps to base of pan. Supreme temperature control. [mitxela, Oct 06 2014]


       Just use gas.
pocmloc, Oct 05 2014

       Hobs come in several flavors.   

       1. A shelf or projection at the back or side of a fireplace, used for keeping food or utensils warm. 2. A tool used for cutting the teeth of machine parts   

       UK (US stove, stovetop) the top part or surface of a cooker on which pans can be heated:
popbottle, Oct 05 2014

       //Just use gas.//   

       I do. Was that not obvious from the text?   

       However, a friend recently spent several hundred pounds on an electric cooking range, and it's useless.
mitxela, Oct 05 2014

       //US// burner, (electric) element.   

       Electrics aren't bad if you're not in a hurry. They don't smell either, unlike gas or wood. In locales served by non-fossil-fuel electric generation (nuke, hydro, wind, solar) they're superior from an environmental standpoint.
FlyingToaster, Oct 05 2014

       Induction cooktops are just as good (controllable, etc) as gas, from what I've seen (haven't used one extensively myself, but several friends have them).
I'm from the "plug everything in" school of house design. No gas cooking or hot water, no wood or coal for heating.
neutrinos_shadow, Oct 05 2014

       gas hot water comes in right handy when the electric mains are out.
FlyingToaster, Oct 05 2014

       Would be tricky to get a realistic Electric Hobbes, as he didn't do a Jeremy Bentham. Electric hobbits on the other hand.... 1 hobbit, 1 electrified floor, endless hours of amusement for all the family.
not_morrison_rm, Oct 06 2014

       Maybe you're right, it'd play hob with tv reception.
not_morrison_rm, Oct 06 2014

       A gas flame is just a load of hot gas and water-vapour rising up from the ignition source - how about using electricity to super-heat a column of air?   

       As you point out, those points of contact are a rubbish way of transferring heat - so how about some arrangement of heat-exchangers to get the air really hot, perhaps inject a little water-vapour to help heat-transfer (assuming wet air is better at doing this than dry-air) deliver this hot-air/vapour mix to a pan-bottom and boom, gas- like heat transfer using electrically-heated air!   

       Only downside is possible scaldage, the good thing about a flame is that the effective heat-transfer distance tapers off before you get to the handle - you might have to tune the air delivery system so as to mimic this effect.
zen_tom, Oct 06 2014

       I did consider a supercharged hairdryer gas simulation type thing. One problem is getting the air hot enough, as gas flames are about 2000C.   

       At a lower temperature, you could levitate the food in the air stream and cook it like that (see Bernoulli's Barbecue Tongs)   

       [neutrino] The problem with induction hobs is the heat cuts out the moment the pan loses full contact with the surface. This directly clashes with my egg-making technique.
mitxela, Oct 06 2014

       If you impregnated (ooh err missus) the eggs with iron solution, you could do one of them induction furnaces....
not_morrison_rm, Oct 06 2014

       What about an arc-stove? The pan is supported a bit above the contact by ceramic spacers. The arc should heat the base of the pan pretty well.
pocmloc, Oct 06 2014

       That's actually a superb idea. I mean, sure, you'd have to replace the electrodes on a regular basis, you would possibly need an inert gas supply, and you'd have to wear gloves, long sleeves and a full face mask to use it, but it would have the huge benefit of sterilizing the whole kitchen.
mitxela, Oct 06 2014

       Re. [mixtela]'s link - you are, presumably, aware that genuine electric frying pans exist? It would presumably be straightforward to make electric saucepans.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 06 2014

       Yes, and they're useless. The main idea is the application of accurate temperature control, with three displays, to hobs / frying pans.
mitxela, Oct 06 2014

       How about a unit that uses the electricity to electrolyse water into hydrogen and oxygen, which are then burned together to make a nice hot gas flame?
pocmloc, Oct 06 2014

       H2 and O2 are pretty corrosive long term. You'd need a source of distilled water. Possible safety hazard with enough of it hanging around.
bs0u0155, Oct 06 2014

       It'd also be very inefficient.
Spacecoyote, Oct 06 2014

       You could always just order a takeaway.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 06 2014

       //You could always just order a takeaway//   

       Well, you're not allowed to install a plug socket anymore. Because of the risk that as a rank amateur, you'll electrocute everyone before sparking the fire that cremates the bodies. So it's a matter of time before the HSE decrees both cooking and science to be far too risky.
bs0u0155, Oct 06 2014


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