The operation of a toaster

Some household appliances are so taken for granted that you don’t think about how they work – they’re just there. This phenomenon is often noticeable with the toaster, because when it stops working, hardly anyone knows what to do. So here’s everything you need to know about how a toaster works and how it’s built.

Toasting was done long before the toaster was invented

The toaster is an ingenious invention that has made people’s lives much easier. After all, toasting stale (or older) bread is not a habit because toasters exist. Rather, people have always toasted their bread to have it tasty and crisp again. Even the ancient Egyptians used to do it this way.

History of the automatic toaster

The emergence of the toaster as we know it today began with electrification. But even then, it took time. People quickly found out that a wire acts like a resistor that heats up. Even the good old light bulb was based on this principle. The problem with the toaster, however, was that the resistor had to be in the air, so it couldn’t work in a vacuum like the filament.

Important components of the bread toaster

To achieve this, developments in a completely different field had to be initiated first. A new metallic alloy was needed. This happened in 1906 with the chromium-nickel alloy, also known as “chromel.” A wire with this alloy could now be used as a resistor in the atmosphere. This made many different inventions possible:

  • Toaster
  • Fan heaters
  • preheating resistor for vehicles as a visual control
  • open ovens, etc.

The ejector or pop-up toaster in construction

But the road to today’s toaster was still a long one. The pop-up toaster, which is widely used today, was invented as early as the 1920s, but it did not really establish itself until the second half of the 20th century. The basic principle of the pop-up toaster has hardly changed since then. The following components influence the way it works:

  • Mechanism to push the toaster or the toast basket downwards.
  • mechanism to hold the basket down (in the toaster)
  • Glow wire or resistor to heat it up
  • Mechanism to set the time of the toasting process

The control (the switching on and duration)

It is a simple basket that is simply pressed down. The basket is then held differently in the lower position:

  • via a magnet (electronic)
  • via a bimetal (thermal-mechanical)

Timing is controlled by a potentiometer in the case of an electronically controlled toaster. Accordingly, the degree of browning is set and transmitted to the control system. In the case of bimetal control, the deformation of the bimetal is changed by the setting. Accordingly, the browning time is longer or shorter because the electrical circuit is also opened and closed in this way.

Toaster defects

Actually, toasters are not among the household appliances that are frequently repaired. Rather, they are (unfortunately) disposable products. Nevertheless, you can repair a toaster. Often it’s just small things like a broken cable, a deformed bimetal unit or a magnet bent downwards. Explicitly after cleaning the toaster, it can lead to the fact that the toaster no longer “clicks”. This is then related to either the crumb tray or the safety bearing.

Tips & Tricks

The term “toaster” did not become established in Germany until the middle of the 20th century. Until then, toasters were in linguistic use in this country as bread toasters.

William C Arpin

William C Arpin

I like to test products and recommend the best ones, write reviews, travel and spend time with my family.

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