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I would like to invest in a pizza stone and have read that leaving it in the oven is acceptable and possibly preferable in some ways. However, my oven my electric. Do I leave the stone on the lowest rack mere inches from the bottom heat source or should it be a particular distance from the coils?

What about when I am baking casseroles, cookies, etc. Is it safe to put a pan directly on top of the stone?

A final question... is using my oven in broil mode also safe for the stone? My electric in "broil" is just the top heat source turned up super high.

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The stone will be fine kept in your oven all the time, but there are trade-offs. The biggie is that your oven will preheat slower than you're currently used to--potentially quite a bit if you get a large or heavy stone. And you will really need to make sure that the stone has reached the desired oven temperature (by preheating longer) or the way things cook in your oven will be thrown off. The oven may claim to be fully preheated before the stone is really up to temperature because the thermostat just measures the air temperature, which can be higher than the stone, or even the sides of the oven for a while.

The upside is that your oven will retain heat better and generally be more even in its heat. So if you are willing to properly preheat that stone, you'll probably benefit in the long run.

As you've divined already, you'll have to put it on one of your oven racks as low as it will go toward the bottom of the oven. You don't want to put it right on the coils, but you want it as close as it will go. This means you'll have one less rack available to you. In practice this may not matter much, but it's a thing.

I wouldn't recommend putting a pan directly on the stone, but that's because it would completely change how heat gets to the pan. When a pan is on a rack, there's heated air circulating around from all sides. If it sits on a preheated stone the pan now has direct heat conducted to the bottom--which will change how things cook, and many things you'd cook in the oven don't want that direct heat.

Broil mode should be fine with the stone in the oven. I wouldn't want to put a cold stone right up by the broiler as the thermal shock might crack it, but with it at the bottom of the oven there should be no issues, even if the stone isn't heated up.

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I've never had a stone crack under the broiler, but both stones I own came with warnings not to use them under the broiler (it's just difficult to live without finishing certain dishes with the broiler). –  Bruce Alderson Jan 22 '11 at 23:14
    
@bikeboy389 why would you use a special pizza stone if you don't put the pizza on it? Surely a small pile of new/used fire bricks would have more mass and be much cheaper? I have found thermal mass in a domestic electric oven does not seem to help the pizza cooking process anyway. Try it some time :-) –  TFD Jan 23 '11 at 1:34
    
@TFD--I'm having a little trouble figuring out where I advocated not putting the pizza on the stone. That's the whole point of a pizza stone. –  bikeboy389 Jan 23 '11 at 19:59
    
@bikeboy389 What does "I wouldn't recommend putting a pan directly on the stone" mean then? –  TFD Jan 24 '11 at 20:36
    
@TFD--that's in response to the OP. He asks about what to do when he's baking a casserole, etc. That's the pan I refer to. If you're cooking a pizza, it should go directly on the stone. So I guess if someone's going to cook a pizza in a pan, I wouldn't recommend putting that on the stone either. Based on your technique, I'd say that's where you got confused as you would need a pan of some kind doing it your way. Maybe that's why your way works better for you--if you're using a pan AND stone, the stone isn't going to work as well. –  bikeboy389 Jan 24 '11 at 20:52
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