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Some quick online searches define an operating temperature for slow cookers: the minimum internal temperature is A, the simmering point is B, you have certain options depending on heat setting, etc., and of course you should avoid prolonged time in the danger zone from C to D.

What I haven't been able to find, either in webpages or published product manuals, is what the range of external ambient temperatures a Crock-Pot or other slow-cooker are appropriate usage. I'd imagine that the normal operating cooker's range includes at least most reasonable room temperature for some culture's or economies' opinions about suitable room temperature, and I'd expect immediate, total destruction from attempted Crock-Pot use while the Crock-Pot is bathed in liquid helium or magma.

What I haven't found, however, is a tighter and more useful estimate. The range of temperatures where people are willing to pursue their lives amounts to a pretty broad range, and the range is presumably narrower for people that act on a live option of cooking with a Crock-Pot.

Do Crock-Pots work at most ambient temperatures that at least some people tolerate? If not, what would a more accurate range be?

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    What would lead you to believe the range is limited compered to the range a person could operate any cooking device? If it is not published then I would take it as very broad. It is a heating element, simple controller, metal shell, ceramic pot, and glass top. A liquid bath would short it out. – paparazzo Jan 15 '18 at 0:06
  • I think this is very valid (unlike @paparazzi). It's not unknown for me to go away in a camper van when it's me enough to get cost on the inside of the windows. A hot breakfast cooked overnight would be very welcome, but would it be cooked/safe? Even my kitchen at home gets down to 12C at times (and considerably colder in my previous house). Is that safe? – Chris H Jan 15 '18 at 6:54
  • @ChrisH From total destruction and magma I take it as physical operating range. – paparazzo Jan 15 '18 at 12:39
  • @paparazzi fair enough. I skipped past the hyperbole in favour of the second and third paragraphs, and took "work" to mean "work as intended" – Chris H Jan 15 '18 at 12:42
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On the high side, it would be impossible for the pot to cool the contents below external temperatures, but most components (obvious weak point being the power cord insulation) will stand temperatures far above what humans will tolerate. The "classic" crock pot has no temperature-sensistive "smarts" to it, some of the more "modern" options might be more easily defeated than an old fashioned crockery/heating element/switch (possibly with thermostat, possibly not, in neither case "smart") / insulation/shell construction.

On the low side, there will eventually be a point where the power input on low won't keep the temperature above 140°F due to the level of insulation and wattage of the elements. Anecdotally, many long-boiled things were boiled (probably on high, not low) in our unheated shed to keep them out of the heated kitchen at temperatures ranging down to 0°F (no wind, being inside) and they boiled. Less anecdotally, you could run experiments with a crock-pot and water and a thermometer to see what that specific unit could do at a specific outside temperature, but it would only be valid for that specific unit.

  • I may have access to sufficient hardware to run some tests at some point in the near future. But as it depends so much on the insulation it will vary a lot between units. – Chris H Jan 15 '18 at 7:34
  • Thinking about it a bit further, a modern unit with a thermostat might do better in some situations than one that has a constant output with an overheat cutout – Chris H Jan 15 '18 at 12:46

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