My wife tells me not to use the clock timer on our GE Spectra 220v range/oven, but rather use the Microwave timer since it's 110v. She contends that everything on the GE 220v range/oven no matter the clock, timer, range top coils, or the oven uses 220v to operate. I told her logically it would seem that even though the wattage/volts is 220v that it steps up or down depending if you use the timer, or rather it may take less volts to heat soup on the 6" or 8" coils versus the oven to bake something. I through out a computer term....dynamic allocation....for the voltage it would take to run less demanding options on the GE Spectra. If your set the timer it has to be a very low draw, so much so that you would have a hard time comparing that to using the timer function on a microwave that runs on 110v.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. You aren't clear: what's the concern? Is she worried that a 220V-powered timer will cost more to run than a 120V-powered timer? I doubt it... Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 2:09
  • You really don't measure power by voltage. You measure power in Watts (VA*PF) a combination of volts and amperage. Meaning you would have to have amperage information before you can deduct power usage and which one is the most efficient . I would say you have a good argument that a timer is such a low energy device its use is really immaterial, but I'll let you tell that to your wife. Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 14:35

1 Answer 1


That would require way more smarts than the current mains electrical system has. Mains electrical is a constant-voltage system (as opposed to a constant-current system like you find inside a fluorescent ballast). Mains will be 240V at all times.

Most stoves work by either switching 240V on and off, or doing some wave-shaping tricks that chop off part of the 240V waveform. At less than 50% chop, peak voltage will be somewhat less than 240V, but not less enough to be helpful for life safety.

Now, in America 240V is delivered as split-phase with a center-point called "neutral". 120V circuits are wired between a phase and neutral. That means if you get between 240V and ground, you'd only get bit by 120V. Most ovens use the neutral to allow clocks, electronic controls and the oven light to be 120V, meaning you can use common incandescent light bulbs instead of weird 240V bulbs that would be hard to find.

If she is complaining about being shocked, then perhaps she actually is being shocked. There are two ways to wire an oven - a 4-wire connection which is as safe as any modern equipment, or a 3-wire connection which omits ground, and potentially catastrophically, connects neutral to the chassis of the oven. (WTH?) The idea is that the neutral wire is unlikely to fail on an installation that is rarely disturbed.

Well. The problem is that if the neutral wire does fail, then it most definitely electrifies the chassis of the oven. The oven electronics may not flow enough current to electrocute someone, but the oven light definitely would.

So if the oven has a 3-wire connection, that is something to take very seriously. I would recommend retrofitting a single ground wire from the oven to the panel or intermediate location, and removing that pesky neutral-ground strap on the oven that connects neutral to ground. Once the oven chassis is properly grounded, at that point she is just mistaken.

  • If the clock were running off of 240 it would take less power so in either case it would not be an issue unless getting shocked. There are hundreds of thousands of 3 wire ranges if not millions, I have seen a few with transformers to power the electronics and oven lights but these are rare and very high end.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 0:01
  • 1
    @EdBeal some models with transformers are intended for sale in the Pacific Rim, where they may encounter Euro 230, North American 120/240, or Phillippine center-ground 240. Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 0:07

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