Eye on the Stove – What Is It? [All About the Stove Eye]

At one time or another, you may have heard someone use the phrase “eye on the stove” and wondered what it meant. Are you being told to watch the stove closely, or does the stove have an eye? What exactly is an eye on the stove?

“Eye on the stove” is another term for the stovetop burner. It is the metal disc in the wood stovetop. That’s how some people refer to the burners on an electric stove, which, when you think about it, do somewhat resemble eyes.

Read on to know more about what a stove eye is.

Eye on the Stove – What Is It?

Eye on the Stove

Believe it or not, a stove does have eyes! Not real ones, of course. “Eye on the stove” is another term for the stovetop burner. It is the metal disc in the wood stovetop. That’s how some people refer to the burners on an electric stove, which, when you think about it, do somewhat resemble eyes.

Removable Metal Discs

The term “stove eye” was first used about wood stoves. The so-called stove eyes are the removable metal discs placed on the holes of a wood stovetop. They are used to prevent pots and pans from being blackened by the wood fire. 

Associated With Whirlpool Electric Stoves

These days, the term “stove eye” is more commonly associated with Whirlpool electric stoves. The company uses the term in reference to the burners and coils of their electric ranges.

Stove burners are called eyes because of their appearance. But it has also been suggested that it is because stove burners are very easy to clean. This is particularly true once one gets accustomed to navigating them. 

What Are Stove Eyes Made of and How Do They Work?

Stove Burners Are Made from 304 Stainless Steel

Stove burners are typically made from 304 stainless steel. The innermost layer, which comprises the resistance wire, is usually made of a nickel-chromium alloy called Nichrome. The alloy’s composition usually is 80% nickel and 20% chromium, but this can vary.

Electric Stove Burners Have Circular Metal Cylinders

Electric stove burners usually consist of circular metal cylinders made up of nichrome resistance wires. When electricity is sent through the cables, it produces heat. This then turns red once the control knob is turned to the highest level.

Stove Eyes Convert the Electric Current into Heat

Electric currents are converted into heat by the electric stove coils or stove eyes. This is then transferred to the pot or pan to cook their contents. The stove burners or coil elements receive the electricity provided by the variable switch.

Control the Temperature Through the Knob

It’s where the control knob is connected to—turning the knob increases or decreases cooking temperature depending on the level that the knobs have been set to.

Gas Stove Eyes Employ a Gas and Oxygen Mixture

On the other hand, gas stove eyes employ a gas and oxygen mixture ignited by an electronic spark or a pilot light. Adjusting the amount of gas supplied to the burner also adjusts the height of the flame.

How to Clean Stove Eyes

Naturally, even stove burners are required to be cleaned regularly. Appliance manufacturers have their own recommended methods for cleaning stove eyes. Keep in mind to always refer to the appliance manual before cleaning them.

If you use a gas stove, removing the eyes when cleaning them is not necessary. But if you use an electric stove, especially a Whirlpool stove, you can remove the eyes before you clean them.

Here are two suggested methods for cleaning stove top burners:

  1. Cleaning with Baking Soda
  2. Cleaning with Ammonia

1. Cleaning with Baking Soda

Make sure that the stove burners have completely cooled off to start the process. Then, you can remove the grates on a gas range or the burner coils on an electric range. If you are unsure of the procedure, refer to the appliance manual to avoid causing any damage. Then, move the grates or coils to the countertop to clean separately.

Mix some dishwashing soap with lukewarm water in a bowl, then dip a cloth into the mixture. If you are cleaning an electric stove, avoid getting the sockets wet.

Baking soda effectively deals with tougher stains due to its abrasive properties. Mix a handful of baking soda into some water to create a thick paste. Coat the burners with the paste, then leave them for around 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the caked-on paste from the burners and rinse them off to ensure no residue remains.

2. Cleaning with Ammonia

Start the process by placing each stove burner inside a plastic bag. Then, add a quarter cup of ammonia to both. Ensure the burners are sealed with the ammonia fumes, not just covered in ammonia. 

Leave the plastic bags to sit in the sink overnight to avoid leaks. The following day, open them up in a well-ventilated room or kitchen. By this point, the stove burners could easily be cleaned with a sponge. Once you have removed all residue, remember to rinse the burners thoroughly to remove all traces of ammonia.

Pat the stove burners dry using a clean cloth or paper, then leave them to air-dry. Ensure that the coils and stove sockets have dried before reconnecting the coils on an electric stove.

Electric or Gas Stove Eyes: Which Is Better?

eye on electric stove

To determine which type of stove burner is better, we need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using electric or gas stoves.

Let’s briefly talk about the pros and cons based on the following factors:

  1. Cost
  2. Energy Efficiency
  3. Maintenance

1. Cost

In terms of price, electric stoves are considerably more expensive than gas ranges. Despite the differences in operating costs, this tends to vary, depending on the region. The cost isn’t usually that much higher. But the operating costs are typically different enough to be considered as a deciding factor for most. 

2. Energy Efficiency

But while gas stoves are much cheaper to operate, electric stoves are much more energy-efficient. Only 46% of the produced energy is transferred to food in a gas range. At the same time, around 74% of energy is transferred from an electric range.

Moreover, in general, electric stoves are much safer to use in the household. They are risk-free from fires or burns, but there is considerably less of a risk compared to a gas stove.

3. Maintenance

Another important thing to consider is that electric stoves are easier to clean. Cleaning stoves with electric coils isn’t that much different from cleaning gas stoves with burners and grates. But newer electric models equipped with a ceramic or smooth glass cooktop offer a better cleaning advantage.

As long as the stovetops and burners have cooled, they can be cleaned easily. You can wipe them up with a damp rag and some dishwashing soap. Maybe, you can use a little bit of baking soda to rub off any remaining crusts.

An electric stove appears to hold many advantages. But it ultimately comes down to the consumer to decide which type of gas range they are more comfortable with.

Again, what is the eye on the stove? The term eye on the stove is from the woodstove. Wood stovetops have these metal discs that keep the wood fire from making the pans and pots’ bottom black.

Do Stove Eyes Wear Out?

Over time, electric stove burners, also called cooktop surface coil elements, will eventually wear out. The surface elements are built to endure extremely high temperatures. But the constant heating and cooling of the element throughout its usage can cause the circuit to short out or get damaged. 

Aside from wearing out, there are a few other reasons why your surface coil element won’t heat up, including the following:

  • A burnt or loose wire connection,
  • Damaged receptacle, or
  • Defective element switch.

Fortunately, surface elements aren’t costly, and you can easily replace a defective one when it burns out.

How to Replace Electric Stove Eyes

eye on electric stove not working

Before you try to replace a stove burner, make sure that you have unplugged the stove’s power cord or shut off its power supply to avoid getting shocked.

Most electric range and stand-alone cooktops employ conventional coil elements. At the same time, smooth glass cooktops on electric ranges use radiant coils. Replacing a conventional coil element is a rather basic procedure. But accessing a radiant coil will be much more complex.

How to Replace a Conventional Coil Element

The first step to replace a conventional coil element is to lift it to a 40-degree angle. Then, pull it to detach the element’s terminals from the receptacle.

When replacing or reinstalling a conventional coil element, ensure that the drip pan is aligned correctly. Also, make sure that the notch in the drip pan is directly parallel to the receptacle.

Insert the element’s terminals into the receptacle at an angle of 40 degrees. Then, lower the element so that the metal support is resting in the drip pan’s notch.

How to Access a Radiant Coil

Accessing a radiant coil involves several steps. These include the following:

  1. Disengage the Cooktop from the Range
  2. Release the Main Top
  3. Unfasten Radiant Element Retaining Clips
  4. Reassemble the Stove Top

1. Disengage the Cooktop from the Range

The radiant coil is installed beneath a smooth glass cooktop. So, you will have to either release the cooktop from the range or disengage it from the base. To do this, you will often have to pull the range first away from the counter or kitchen wall.

If the cooktop is part of the range, you should first open the oven door to access the screws that secure the main top.

2. Release the Main Top

Release the main top by unthreading the screws. Depending on the model, you may first need to remove a cover and the control panel. Lift the main top and support it.

For a model with a stand-alone glass stovetop, you will usually be required to uninstall the range from the countertop and then detach the glass cooktop from the base. You may be required to disconnect the junction box wiring. This provides enough slack to remove the stove from the countertop completely.

3. Unfasten Radiant Element Retaining Clips

The next step is to release the radiant element retaining clips from a support bracket so that you can detach the radiant element. For some models, you will be required to unthread the screws. That way, you can release the support bracket from the main top before the element can be fully detached.

Take note of the alignment of the wires connected to the element, and then disconnect them.

New radiant elements do not come with retaining clips. So, you will most likely need to transfer the retaining clips from the previous element to the new one. The casing of the element usually has engraved numbers indicating where the clips must be positioned and secured with screws.

4. Reassemble the Stove Top

Connect the wires to the corresponding terminals. Fasten the retaining clips into the proper slots on the support bracket. If needed, realign the support bracket on the cooktop’s underside and rethread the screws to secure it.

Reinstall the cooktop or main top and secure it with screws. Reinstall the control panel or any other covers whenever necessary.

Reposition the stand-alone cooktop in the hole on the countertop. Reconnect the junction box wiring if it is necessary. Also, you can instead push the stove back to its position in the counter opening or against the wall.

Once you have completed repairs, plug the range’s power cord back in or restore its power supply.

Conclusion – Eye on the Stove – What Is It?

“Eye on the stove” refers to the stovetop burner. It is the metal disc in the wood stovetop. That’s how some people refer to the burners on an electric stove that does somewhat resemble eyes when you think about it.

With the decline in wood stoves, the term “stove eye” isn’t very common but not altogether obsolete. Stove manufacturers such as Whirlpool have kept the term alive in modern times, using it as an alternative word for stove burners and coil elements.

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