When it comes to ovens, engineers at Electrolux are betting that small and smart will win consumers. In February, the Swedish white goods manufacturer will introduce a combination conventional/microwave oven with induction stove in Northern Europe. The freestanding unit measures 60 × 60 × 90 cm, the same size as traditional units, but the oven is smaller and stacked vertically with the microwave to save space.
The oven design was originally developed for an energy saving contest sponsored by the Swedish National Energy Administration (STEM) and the National Consumer Board. In October, after several months of testing, the prototype was approved by the agencies. They and Electrolux claim the unit can save 40% of the electricity used by a regular oven/stove or microwave.
Its stovetop induction system uses magnetism to concentrate heat in pans, instead of spreading heat over the burner surface. For it to work, pans must be either iron or steel. Because heat is built up directly in the pan, there is no energy loss during heating of the burner and transfer of heat from the burner to the pan. Electrolux Brand Manager PG Öster describes the design as "an electrical way of controlling the heat as precisely as with gas."
The oven can be used both traditionally, with upper and lower heating coils, and as a convection unit, which also helps save energy. In addition, the oven features extra insulation to hold the heat, and specially tempered glass in the door.
Because it requires about 10 kW of electricity to operate, the oven is intended for areas where electricity is plentiful and homes are wired to handle larger quantities, such as Northern Europe. However, Öster adds that Electrolux is selling more induction stovetops where household electricity is at a premium,—such as France—since they use less power than induction ovens.
Top-of-the-line models will cost between 1,775 and 1,850 euro ($1,580-1,640). There is also a model available with a traditional glass-ceramic stovetop, which will cost about 1,250 euro ($1,110). STEM officials say that model is about 30% more energy efficient than regular ovens. About 225,000 ovens are sold in Sweden annually. "If we get several thousand of that, we'll be happy," Öster says.
For more information about induction stoves from Electrolux: Enter 536