I have GE oven (JB680SP3SS), purchased in 2011. It requires 220v + 110v.

The place I was living in had 110 and 220.

Last year I moved to another city and the place I live it only have 220v.

I brought a handyman and he installed the oven. I did not know why only the burners were working, whereas the control panel buttons don’t work and the clock is just black.

So, I called a local maintenance store and they told me that my oven is an older model that doesn’t have a built-in transformer like the new ones. So, they installed a transformer (10 months ago).

2 days ago, the control panel went black again. I opened the back plate and discovered that the transformer blew up!


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I’m thankful that it did not burn my house.

I have a couple of questions, because I don’t know what to do.

Is it true that the new ovens have transformers built-in?

How do I know which transformer to get for safe installation?

P.S. I don’t trust electricians here, as they’re not certified.

enter image description here

  • Ovens designed for the USA/Canada market assume that 120/240 double voltage is readily available. That is also the case in a few other places, but much of the world is 240 only (or 220 or similar). Because of the expectation of 120/240, manufacturers will typically use 240 for the heating elements (which includes both the oven - which requires controls and therefore won't work without 120) and the cooktop burners (which are simple on/off/thermostat and no fancy controls) so the cooktop burners work fine (usually) with just 240 (or 220) but not the oven. Same for clothes dryers. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact May 1 at 14:52
  • This goes back to the days when those controls were simpler and making use of 120V designs, including light bulbs, saved a few $. Now the controls are all low voltage DC, the light bulbs are LED, etc. so really everything could be done with a single voltage AC (converted to DC for controls/lights just like a computer power supply). But major appliance manufacturers are slow to change, especially when that would confuse installers - requiring ground wires was complicated enough (and therefore grandfathered) - now saying "neutral not needed" would really confuse them! – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact May 1 at 14:55
  • The transformer idea is a good one conceptually, but unless designed to take the heat and sized appropriately (and wired appropriately), burning up (literally) is not surprising. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact May 1 at 14:56
  • @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact Oven lights are not LED; they hate heat and incandescent loves it. My hunch is OP had an incandescent oven light in the 60W neighborhood, requiring a 120W transformer since the oven light pulls through half of it. That transformer looks too small. – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 1 at 18:22
  • I realized as I wrote it that probably not LED. (Well LED on the display but not inside the oven) Actually often halogen. But the point is that they design it all for 120V for historical reasons. The transformer was a hack job - good idea, bad implementation. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact May 1 at 18:25

This sounds like a case of North American appliances being exported to somewhere they do not belong.

All ovens are 230V-ish devices. The sticking point for ovens is use of local indigenous incandescent bulbs. Incandescents love heat and are happy inside ovens. LEDs and CFLs cannot abide heat and cannot work as an oven light. Incandescents burn out, meaning replacement bulbs must be readily available, and they can use the common household light bulb stock. Generally there are two styles of oven wiring in the world:

  • European 230V single-phase. 1 hot and neutral only. Often a range/oven combo will have 3 hot wires to allow even distribution on 3-phase power. But every load in the oven is 230V; there are no 120V loads.

  • North American 240V split-phase: 2 hots with a neutral in the middle, giving 120V per "leg". The oven/range doesn't need 120V. But common hardware store light bulbs are 120V, which means the ovens need to tap 120V for the bulb. Since they're doing that anyway, why not take advantage of it to use readily available clock mechanisms, electronics power supplies, etc.? Seems logical.

  • North Ameri-Euro 240V-only fancy dancy certified organic rich people's ovens/ranges: These are set up 240V only to allow one SKU to operate worldwide. I have no idea what they do with the oven light.

  • Common/cheap North American ovens/ranges factory-modified for sale in the Philippines: The Philippines are an anchor of East Asia but have lots of weird shadows of North America. Half their country has Euro-power, but the other half (the USA-developed older areas) have 120/240V split phase with neutral deleted, because Independence(tm). But the deal in the Philippines is the oven light wants to be 220V, because that's what home stores there sell. So when they factory configure an oven for Philippines, they will cross-wire the oven light to run on 230V, then install a transformer to power the clock and digital controls. Once so wired, the oven will work fine on a) real North American power, b) Phillipine no-neutral power, or c) Euro style power.

"Hacking" an oven as you have, is an idea which I am warm to. However, the oven light is a real "gotcha". That transformer appears perfectly large enough for electronic controls. But it looks too small for an oven light.

Remember if the oven light is 60 watts, you don't need a 60 VA transformer. You need a 120 VA transformer because all the current is flowing through half the transformer. Or to be more precise you need a 0.5A transformer; a 60 VA transformer @ 230V is only good for 0.25A. That is my hunch as to what happened.

The better plan is to rewire the oven light to use indigenous voltage.

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  • fancy dancy certified organic rich people's - what a phrase! – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact May 1 at 19:15
  • Actually, the Avanti ranges (the only 240V-only North American ranges I know of) are kinda low end, apartment-sized, landlord-special-ish models laughs – ThreePhaseEel May 1 at 23:53
  • @ThreePhaseEel That actually makes sense though. People outfitting 1000 units love simple hookups. E.G. a condensing dryer that feeds a heating washer... now you do not need hot water, gas, 120V in the laundry hutch, nor venting. – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 2 at 0:13
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica -- yeah, condensing apartment dryers are starting to show up not only in 240V-only models (Blomberg/Arcelik) but in 120V-only versions as well, thanks to heat pump dryer technology. – ThreePhaseEel May 2 at 0:24
  • That’s a very informative answer! Now that you mentioned the light bulb... I’ve always noticed that the fan turning off and the control panel blinks for a second if I turn the bulb on or open the door (which turn it on too). This leads me to the transformer being too weak to handle the bulb and the fan. I replaced the bulb myself with this one: General Electric WB08T10023 Lamp halogen amazon.com/dp/B00LOWYHQG which is a 35W bulb. Can I just rewire the bulb to 220v and keep the transformer for the control panel? What about the convection fan? Is it power hungry too? – Ahmad Al Haddad May 2 at 3:39

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