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My cheap rental apartment comes with a (presumably cheap) gas oven. Although this oven has a temperature control, it lacks any sort of indicator to tell me when it has reached the desired temperature. I have reason to believe this oven is relatively new, but I do not know the model or brand.

Understanding that every oven is different, what is the longest reasonable amount of time I should wait when preheating my oven for 300, 350, 400, and 500 degrees?

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    Do you have an oven thermometer? – Catija Jan 27 '18 at 1:11
  • @Catija No, I do not. – Wowfunhappy Jan 27 '18 at 1:13
  • I believe you but that is odd you have no indication it is at the set temperature. – paparazzo Jan 27 '18 at 2:04
  • Old gas ovens without fancy electronics generally don't, other than you noticing the flame cycling as mentioned in my comment below. – Ecnerwal Jan 27 '18 at 3:19
  • Can you hear the gas turn on and off? Once it turns off that means the oven's thermostat thinks the oven has reached temperature. (As others point out, it's worth getting an oven thermometer to verify the thermostat is accurate). – The Photon Jan 28 '18 at 22:32
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You wait until it's hot... if it doesn't have a built-in indicator, buy an inexpensive oven thermometer - they can either sit on a shelf or hang from one, usually. And see when it gets to the right temperature.

If you're dealing with an old and inexpensive oven, it may be miscalibrated anyway, so you'll want the thermometer to tell you if setting it to 350F is actually making it 350F in the first place... this will allow you to adjust if necessary (may need to adjust either up or down, depending).

How long it takes will depend on the oven's efficiency and how well it's insulated, so it's impossible for us to guess. It could be anything from 5 to 30 minutes, which is why the thermometer is necessary.

If you don't want to buy a thermometer (though I strongly suggest that you do), I'd wait at least 20 minutes. There's nothing wrong with leaving your oven preheating "too" long.

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    And if you're really unlucky and your oven is taking longer than this to heat up you'll discover it once enough things come out underbaked (or take way longer than expected). I don't know how likely it is with gas, but I've seen an electric oven that could take I think at least 40 minutes for higher temperatures, and on top of that, would beep to indicate it was ready when it was still under temperature. So you're probably fine with ~20 minutes, but pretty much anything's possible. – Cascabel Jan 27 '18 at 1:56
  • It could also not be installed properly. For example gas line too small. – paparazzo Jan 27 '18 at 2:06
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    Depending on the oven, you may be able to tell (by sight or sound, observing closely the first time so you know what to look or listen for after that) when the gas goes from "full on" to Pilot. If it does that once or twice, it thinks it's at temperature and maintaining, rather than heating. But you still want the thermometer, which is an inexpensive but near-essential item for using an oven, especially a "cheap" one. With experience you may find it less essential, but you have to get to that point first, and it's still a good check. – Ecnerwal Jan 27 '18 at 3:17

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