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We have this type of hot plate in our house. It has a raised centre section that depresses when a pot is placed on it. The temperature control has 10 graduations compared to 6 for the other 3 hot plates, which do not have the centre section.

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We just tried use it to boil some oranges to make orange cake. The water started bubbling over so we turned it down to 3 but it still kept supplying a high heat. What is the centre part and how does this hot plate work?

Edit:

The other three plates do not have this centre section.

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I have never seen such before. Is it an artefact? –  Blessed Geek May 18 at 21:57

2 Answers 2

I used to have an electric oven with similar hotplates and while I can't find a reference because it was such an old model I recall it was a safety cut-off. It would simply stop supplying power to the hotplate once a pot was removed, something you could easily confirm by seeing what happens if you turn on one of the hotplates without anything sitting on top.

As for the question of usage electric hotplates often don't use a thermostat, they use something commonly referred to as a "simmerstat". They simply control the duty cycle of the heating element, so in your example setting of three it would spend approximately 30% of the time on and 70% off.

I've tended to spend most of my life cooking with them and can't really think of shortcuts to learning how to use one effectively other than experimentation and getting used to them. For example I was just cooking some dried chickpeas and while I started things off at around 7/10 to bring them to the boil I later dropped that to around 2/10 and as liquid evaporated it ended up spending most of the time at 1/10 and that was still a reasonably rapid simmer for a small pot.

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Thanks for you answer. I just performed the test and without a pot it still becomes hot. Regarding the simmerstat, I also perform a similar thing - max temp till boiling and then turn it down. However I had this particular plate on and it was still giving full power. I wonder if it is broken. Still, why 10 graduations instead of 6 like the others? The others do not have this centre section. –  geometrikal May 18 at 8:36
    
I've had a simmerstat fail that would leave the plate on permanently so that's a possibility and may also explain why the cut-off doesn't work, but not sure on why it would have different graduations. Largely a guess but maybe that plate has a higher wattage so they've just included the cut-off on that one because it could overheat faster and used higher numbers so it's more consistent with the others. –  PeterJ May 18 at 8:48
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I managed to locate the cooktop instructions. The hotplate is one with a thermostat control and the raised section is the temperature sensor.

From the instructions:

The right rear hotplate control is a thermostat. The control may be set anywhere between low and high but must be turned anti-clockwise back to off.

This control switches the hotplate on and off to maintain the set temperature.

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