A convection oven, as found in the typical residential kitchen, is a gas or electrically heated oven. But it’s not a microwave, although SOME microwave ovens feature a convection heating setting. These ovens offer many pluses and minuses over conventional models. So in this post, we list some of these convection oven advantages and disadvantages over the traditional non convective models.
We find convection oven designs in both over-range and in-range models. We also find them in countertop toaster ovens, and in both permanent and portable microwave ovens. Indeed, convection ovens come in about every size from small portable units to large built-ins. They usually have a circulating fan, typically found at the rear of the baking chamber. Convection ovens by Kitchenaid, Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart, Bravetti, Black and Decker, Europro, et al. These offer many design perks that make them preferable to conventional ovens at times. These units heat the food more uniformly and quickly. Convection toaster ovens more evenly brown, bake, and cook. The same is true of range-based convection ovens also.
Traditional ovens have no circulating fan. So unless they’re very well designed, conventional ovens often create “hot spots” in the food as well as uncooked regions. Traditional toaster ovens can sometimes burn the crusts while leaving the middle of the bread practically unbaked. The same is true of conventional microwave ovens; particularly if they do not include a rotating carousel. However, conventional ovens are often quieter than convection. And as mentioned, these have no fan motor to fail or fan blades that get dirty.
Convection Oven Advantages and Disadvantages
Advantages and Pros of Convection Ovens
More Even Baking and Browning
Because of the fan, the heating spreads more evenly around the chamber. This means more consistent baking. These ovens bake the edge of that cake just as well as its middle.
You can often get the same cooking amount in foods with lower oven temperature settings. This is due to added heat transfers to the food via the fan driven convection air currents.
Bake Multiple Items Freely
Among the most influential of convection oven advantages and disadvantages, is that you can bake more than one item at a time without affecting the oven’s baking ability. The internal operation of convection units relies less on the radiant heating patterns. Instead, it counts more on the even flow of hot air. So, blocking this heat flow with a second pan of food, has less negative effect on oven’s performance.
Fewer Hot and Cold Spots Inside
Therefore, with a well sized fan, convection ovens have fewer hot and cold spots within. This is due to their more uniform heating characteristics. Thus, the entire inside assumes roughly the same temp.
Easier to Regulate Temperature
With fewer hot and cold spots, the internal oven temperature is easier to precisely control, and particular temperature settings yield more consistent and repeatable results.
Place Food Items Anywhere Inside and they Still Bake Well
Food placement within the convection oven is less critical as well. The forced air circulation within helps ensure uniform baking. A cake should bake about as well whether placed on the top, middle, or bottom shelves.
Cover Shelves with Foil Without Fear
These ovens with the fan work better with foil lined shelves to contain messes. But again, don’t worry about blocking some of the radiant heating. We did this once in our traditional oven, and wondered why it took so long to bake our pizza. But sitting items on cookie trays or aluminum foil in a convection oven should cause no bake time increases.
They generally brown foods faster than non forced-air oven types.
Less Heat on Over Exterior
These ovens run cooler. The heating elements need not warm to such high temperatures. Why? Because more of their heat reaches the food. Plus, the circulating air lowers the number of “hot spots” inside.
Cooler overall operating, means longer life for the oven’s internal parts in general. But the fan could fail more often, given its moving parts (the motor and blade).
Less Dry, More Tender Baking Results
Some say that meat cooks to a more tender and moist consistency in a convection oven, as do vegetables. Pizza crusts and turkeys come out more evenly brown.
More Energy Efficient
Thus, said ovens can use less energy and time to cook a given food the same.
Disadvantages and Cons of Convection Ovens
Has a Fan Motor to Break Down
However, with a convection oven, you have the additional fan motor(s) to worry about failing. So they can be less reliable. But that would not typically be an issue if the motors are of good quality. Well constructed fans can run continuously for many years without wearing out.
Fans Often Poorly Chosen
Sometimes, the convection fans used can be either under- or over-sized. An undersized fan turns the oven into a traditional radiant style type. It then adopts the disadvantages of that design.
An over-sized fan might force too much heat out of the chamber. This tends to warm the surrounding area too much. It also decreases food-cooking efficiency. Proper fan size is critical thus, in realizing all of the pros of convection ovens. So be sure to select an oven made by a well-known builder.
Opening Oven Door Impacts Baking Times
Opening the door during baking can drastically increase food cook times, by interfering with the convection currents inside. So keep the door closed until it’s time to remove the food. If you like inspecting your cakes while they’re baking, buy a convection unit with a window in its door.
Don’t Place Baking Pans Too Close Together
Though you can cook more items at the same time, be careful of how you place the pans. To avoid choking off air flow, leave an inch or so of open space between each baking container. Air flow is probably the single most important ingredient in a well-operating convection oven.
Fan assisted convection ovens can be noisy, depending on the size and quality of the fan.
Best to Learn Convection Ovens
A cook used to conventional ovens needs to play around with a convection oven to master its oddities. Some foods cook to the same degree, in half the time in traditional ovens. But others may take longer.
Convection ovens generally cost substantially more than their conventional counterparts. However, they may pay for themselves over time in reduced energy costs and better tasting food.
Convection Oven Advantages and Disadvantages Conclusion
If you’re a gourmet chef, and sensitive to just how your oven bakes, then the convection oven is the more advanced choice over conventional. But if you’re on a tight budget, or do not care so much about hot and cold spots in a traditional radiant heat oven, then go with the cheaper conventional. We hope this convection oven advantages and disadvantages list helps you make a good choice about which one works for you.
In either case, for great cooking the chef must learn the ins and outs of her oven. That’s true whether she uses a conventional or convection model. You can indeed make gourmet dishes in a conventional oven. But doing so often requires less skill of a novice cook. A beginner on a convection oven, often sees better results than a conventional baker with the same skill.
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References for Convection Oven Advantages and Disadvantages
- 2019-02-17: Added key phrase targeting and fixed some typos.
- 2014-12-10: Adjusted ad placement and added more whitespace for clarity.
- 2014-11-07: Added a References section, and additional content.
- 2012-08-22: Originally published this piece.