I recently wrote about the invention of the toaster. In this article, I wrote about the toaster coming from the Copeman Electric Stove Company. I realized that I didn’t cover the invention of the electric stove and thought it would be a good companion article. So, here we go.
Who Invented the Electric Stove?
From fire to gas, stoves were not a new invention when electricity came into play. In fact, it wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the concept of electric stoves started to gain traction. Multiple inventors worked on different types of stoves. In fact, the story of the electric stove is mostly one of patents.
Let’s start in 1859 when George B. Simpson received a US patent for a “electro-heater” surface that heated rooms, boiled water, and cooked meals using a platinum-wire coil powered by batteries. The absence of broad access to power, however, limited the extent of these early endeavors.
Thomas Ahearn, a Canadian inventor, submitted a patent application in 1892 for a “Electric Oven.” Ahearn co-owned the Ottawa-based Chaudiere Electric Light and Power Company with his business partner Warren Y. Soper. In 1892, the Windsor Hotel in Ottawa became the first place where Ahearn’s electric oven was used in a practical setting.
At the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, an electrified model kitchen was on exhibit, showcasing the electric stove. Nevertheless, despite these promising beginnings, the electric stove struggled to acquire acceptance because of things like foreign technology and the requirement for city electrification.
William S. Hadaway Jr. was awarded the first American patent for an electric stove on June 30, 1896. This was an important development in the field of electric cooking technology. However, despite the existence of early versions and the availability of patents, electric stoves remained curiosities rather than everyday home equipment. Significant obstacles to wider adoption were inadequate temperature control, a lack of readily available power from electrical supply providers, and the high cost of electricity.
In 1897, William Hadaway was awarded another significant patent for a “Automatically Controlled Electric Oven.” The development of nichrome alloy, a substance used in resistance wires (also primordial to the development of toasters), was crucial in enhancing the robustness and affordability of heating components. Electric stoves steadily became more commonplace in homes as technology improved and the price of electricity fell.
The early 20th century witnessed a gradual shift in the perception of electric stoves. By the 1930s, improved technology, decreased costs, and modernized designs led to a significant increase in the acceptance of electric stoves. As part of the expansion of rural electrification projects, electric utilities marketed household appliances like electric stoves to create demand for electric power.