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I'm in the US. I have an electric stove with three 6" burners, and one 8". The 8" burner doesn't perform like I think it used to, so I'm considering replacing it, to see if it improves. (It's slow to heat up, and intermittently adjusts unevenly throughout the temperature range. I think it's intermittently turning off more than it's supposed to, at least when it's not on high.)

I was browsing for replacement burners, and saw that the coils come with different numbers of turns, at different prices.

  1. Could I replace the burner with one that has a different number of coils? (The current 8" burner has 4 coils. I saw replacements with 4 and 6.)

  2. If so, what is the difference in performance between more / fewer coils? i.e. Why would I consider spending more for the 6-turn element?

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  • In terms of cooking, it's mostly just surface area. The more surface area, the more even the heating of the pan. Before buying a new one, though, did you first remove the existing one and clean the contact points well?
    – DA01
    May 4, 2015 at 14:19
  • @DA01, haven't tried that yet - I will. Surface area makes sense. I take it you're implying compatibility. What about energy use? Any other differences?
    – cp.engr
    May 9, 2015 at 16:01

3 Answers 3

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IMHO:

The number of coils does make a minor difference in the time it takes to heat the burner; on the one with the extra coils, the coil's elements are usually smaller and therefor heat faster and cool faster. The extra turns make up for the smaller coils.

You have to look at the ratings of the different coils. Are they the same wattage? Are the connections the same? (will the new one plug into the existing stove?

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  • Re "IMHO", why is it just your opinion, and not a demonstrable fact? Are you unsure?
    – cp.engr
    May 2, 2015 at 21:22
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    Because I don't presume to know everything. May 4, 2015 at 1:45
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Poor performance like this could be either the burner coil or the burner controller or in the wiring that connects them which includes the socket the coil plugs into.

The burner coil is very easy to replace and relatively cheap, but before I did that I would measure its resistance and see if that fits with specs. I just measured the resistance of one of our 8 inch 6 coil burner and got 22.6 ohm. Right now I can't say for sure what is the specified wattage, but I guess 2500 W.

EDIT

The expected resistance R of one of these coil burners is given by R = V²/P, where V in the US is 240 V, and P is the power rating of the burner coil in Watts. If the power rating of my larger burners is 2500 W, then the expected resistance of the burner would be 240²/2500 = 23.0 ohm. Thus the expected and measured resistance (22.6 ohm) are in close agreement.

I measured the resistance of one of my smaller burners and got 38.6 ohm. The expected resistance of a 1500 W burner R = 240²/1500 = 38.4 ohm, perfect agreement.

However, the burners on our range (GE about 28 years in service) are not working as they should because the controllers are not working properly. On all four they do not heat at all on the lower settings. We have to turn the knobs well past the lowest settings to get any heat. We are just accepting this, but I may decide to install new burner controllers.

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I was myself concerned about the rating of controllers (technically, these are 'infinite switches' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_switch).
Opening the range (with breaker OFF of course!), I examined the controllers, all of which had the same rating and ID codes -- despite that one of the burner elements was an 8", and all the others were 6". Again, ALL the controllers were the same.

Going to a parts website to find the electrical rating for this infinite switch (controller), I found it rated for 3600 Watts, 240 Volts, 15 Amps. This seems to be good for any of the coil sizes and numbers.

Yes, the different coil numbers will have a different resistance (see pictures). But, naturally they would, since they are rated for different wattages (remember, W = I^2 * R, that is, Watts is the current squared, times the resistance. The voltage is the same (240 Volts) and more current will flow through the LOWER resistance, so the lower resistance coil is the higher power one).
However, the controller appears to be quite capable of handling the difference (at least the ones on my Tappan range cooktop). And, judging from all the many dozens of numbers of infinite switches on the parts supplier crossover list, they don't appear to be 'finely tuned' to the burner size or coil number.

I replaced an 8", 4-coil, with an 8", 5-coil. And, I replaced a 6", 3-coil, with a 6", 4-coil. They both work well. They both seem to heat faster and more evenly, and will bring pots to boil quicker on high. They are also 'flatter' on the bottoms of pots and pans.

So, I would (safely) open the range or cooktop, read the numbers off of the infinite switches and look them up to determine the ratings.

Please tell me if I am missing something. The only thing I can think of is that the infinite switch might 'pulse' more, as the larger rated burners will reheat quicker. But, again, the infinite switches are rated for 3600 Watts, 15 Amps, 240 Volts. So this is not out of the listed rated capability of the switch -- at least for power. Old 6" 3-coil element [Controller with ID code stamped on side; all 4 controllers have exact same ID even though they don't operate the same size burners][1]

New 6" 4-coil element Parts supplier crossover chart for controllers.

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