On a small budget and assuming your relatively happy with your 30 year old range, I'd just replace the element. It isn't hard to do it yourself, but make sure you turn off the breaker to the range to be safe. It usually isn't too hard to find a part like this locally. You might even find it for less.
If you're paying for a service call to have someone install it for you, that would probably tip the scales in favor of a new range (hopefully with free delivery and haul away).
If you're considering a new range, you can probably access Consumer Reports for free through your local library. It will generally be under the research/databases section and if Consumer Reports Online isn't listed you can do a search on Gale or Ebsco and limit the publication to comsumer reports.
As to efficiency and design changes, electric heat is close to 100% efficient. The inefficiencies / high cost in using electricity for heat are on the generation and distribution side. Devices that use electricity to produce heat generally regulate the temperature by cycling on and off for a variable length of time. Designs of these parts have changed over time
Both GE and Whirlpool ovens are among the most reliable, at least the ones with only mechanical controls, but I'd probably prefer Whirlpool because repair parts seem to be cheaper (not just for ovens)
The only real advantage I can see with electronic controls for a conventional oven is that the temperature can be regulated better so it doesn't overshoot as much during the preheat cycle. I've burnt lots of cookies by putting them in the oven before the preheating was done.
This happened to my parents a few years ago. They replaced the element and the tech that did it also inspected the wiring coming into the oven, noticed that one wire had become frayed, and replaced a small section of that. So I would inspect the wires going into the oven when you replace the element.
New ones should pay for themselves being more efficient & have new technology to play with.
Ovens became more efficient in the 1970s, thanks to the introduction of the self cleaning feature, which heats the interior to over 900F and therefore requires better insulation, and apparently doors became better sealed against leaks.
Most oven element failures are a result of slight manufacturing defects or damage that occurs during installation. Often before it fails, you'll see a spot on the element that glows brighter when it's in use. Over time (oxidation, expansion, contraction, etc) the slight impurity in the element or other defect / damage gets worse eventually reaching a point where arcing occurs. This can produce enough heat that some of the other parts of the element are heated to a plasma state. Often this will follow the element for a wile before extinguishing itself.
Find your model number and buy a heating element and replace it yourself. Maybe, do the top element, also. You could call the 800 number for your brand or a boxstore/sears/etc.,.. parts dept. As a second and third parts number confirmation. Sometimes, there are alt. replacements parts for the same element.
Order from one of chains or look up a local kitchen/bath supply store and ask for a price and pick it up. I replaced mine in 8 minutes after turning off power. Try to not bang or roughly handle the element. Place a bright flash/worklight into the oven. Unscrew the backtabs, Be gentle when you pull it out and make sure you pull enough wire out, 2" plus, that the wires don't run back inside after disconnecting the old element tab. Reverse the procedures and turn the power back on.
Last edited by ballershanelle; 04-22-2014 at 10:33 AM..
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