Physics of a toaster

The particular model shown on the right allows you to set the darkness of the toast it produces and also has a defrost mode. The basic idea behind any toaster is simple. A toaster uses infrared radiation to heat a piece of bread see How Thermoses Work for information on infrared radiation. When you put your bread in and see the coils glow red, the coils are producing infrared radiation. The radiation gently dries and chars the surface of the bread. The most common way for a toaster to create the infrared radiation is to use nichrome wire wrapped back and forth across a mica sheet, like this:.

Nichrome wire is an alloy of nickel and chromium. It has two features that make it a good producer of heat:. The very simplest toaster would have two mica sheets wrapped in nichrome wire, and they would be spaced to form a slot about an inch 2. The nichrome wires would connect directly to a plug. To make toast:. Most people don't have this sort of patience, nor do they like crumbs all over the counter. So a toaster normally has two other features:.

Prev NEXT. Toaster Basics. Nichrome wire has a fairly high electrical resistance compared to something like copper wire, so even a short length of it has enough resistance to get quite hot. The nichrome alloy does not oxidize when heated.

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Iron wire would rust very quickly at the temperatures seen in a toaster. You would drop a piece of bread into the slot. You would then plug in the toaster and watch the bread. When the bread became dark enough, you would unplug the toaster.

Then you would tip the toaster upside down to get the toast out! A spring-loaded tray pops the toast out. This keeps you from having to turn the toaster upside down. A timer turns the toaster off automatically and at the same time releases the tray so the toast pops up.See what's new with book lending at the Internet Archive. Uploaded by jrosenberg on June 12, Search icon An illustration of a magnifying glass. User icon An illustration of a person's head and chest.

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EMBED for wordpress. Want more? Advanced embedding details, examples, and help! Covers thermometry, heat energy, heat capacity, phase changes, and conservation of energy. The module has no prerequisites and is suitable for use as an "entry" module. Part of the Physics of Technology program, a module introduction to physics at a pre-calculus level. An automatic toaster is used for the study of heat, energy conservation, thermal expansion, and control. Basic electrical principles are treated, but the complications associated with alternating current are avoided.

There are no special prerequisites for this module, although the Physics of Technology Program prerequisites high school algebra, and familiarity with the metric, English, Fahrenheit, and Celsius systems are necessary. There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to write a review. Additional Collections.On a recent episode of Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy's terrific advice podcast, My Brother, My Brother and Methe brothers pondered a Yahoo Answers question about what would happen if you put a toaster inside a freezer.

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The discussion comes around the minute mark. They have a fun discussion of a few aspects of the problem before eventually moving on to the next question. Since they don't really settle on a final answer, I thought we could help them out by taking a closer look at the physics of freezer toasters. A quick safety note: If you actually do this, keep in mind that the toaster may melt some of the ice in the freezer, leaving you with a running electrical appliance in a pool of water.

For starters, the answer: The toaster would win. The freezer wouldn't do its job.

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Toasters beat freezers. It's easy to think of a toaster and freezer as equivalent—one cools things down and the other warms them up. But toasters heat things up a lot more than freezers cool them down. But the "zero" on the Celsius scale is just a point chosen by convention. If we switch to Kelvin, which counts in degrees above absolute zero, a freezer is K, a fridge is K, a normal room is K From the toaster's point of view, a or degree change in starting temperature hardly matters.

The coils will get hot, and then the bread will get hot, too. If the bread is colder at the start, the toaster will have to heat it a little longer to get it up to ideal toasting temperature, but it will have no trouble getting there. As anyone who's ever burned a piece of toast knows, toasters are definitely capable of heating bread to above the ideal temperature for toast.

In their discussion, the McElroys brought up another question: Even if the toaster can still toast bread at first, would it struggle to stay warm over time? If you left both the toaster and the freezer running, who would win in the long term? The answer is that the toaster would still win. A toaster produces about a thousand watts of heat, and the cooling system in a household freezer can't remove heat that fast. Refrigerators and freezers work by soaking up heat from their interior and dumping it out the back.

In a sense, they're more efficient than toasters. Fridges have a "coefficient of performance" of 2 or 3, which means it only takes them 1 unit of electrical energy to move 2 or 3 units of heat energy from the interior to the exterior. A toaster, on the other hand, produces 1 unit of heat from 1 unit of electricity. But since the compressor in a fridge-freezer typically only uses or watts when it's running, [4] You can see some real-world graphs of refrigerator power usage, courtesy people with home electricity meters, with a simple Google Image search.

The distinctive on-off square-wave pattern is the compressor switching on and off throughout the day, while the big spikes are the heating element that keeps frost from building up on the coils. This power consumption is split between the fridge and the freezer, but if the fridge is already cold, most of the energy will be spent fighting with the toaster.

Eventually, the toaster will start to heat up the inside of the freezer. Even if the freezer were as powerful as the toaster, it wouldn't be able to keep the toaster coils themselves from getting hot and toasting bread.See Toaster device page while we build out this page.

physics of a toaster

Running the toaster without toast, the wires on some sections glow red hot and some of the other wires don't. The glowing wire is called nichrome wire for nickel-chromiumif part of the array does not heat there's a break in the wire somewhere. To Fix: You have to disassemble the toaster sufficiently to locate the break and then get good access to it.

If you're lucky and there's enough extra wire, you might simply be able to twist the two broken ends together enough to re-establish contact you can then at least confirm that's the problem. Otherwise, you need a high-temperature crimp and a crimping tool to to crimp the two ends together. Depending on where the break is you might find it necessary or at least tempting to cut this material. Be very careful, sawing might be better than cutting as it tends to flake.

When you push down the toasting lever, it pops right back up again, or you have to push it down multiple times, or hold it down for a little while before it will stay down. The toaster's browning dial might be on too low of a setting to activate the heating coil. Try dialing it up, and pushing the lever down again. Constant use can lead to crumbs clogging the path of the lever. Try opening up the bottom panel, by pulling on the metal tab to release the plate and crumbs!

Also try flipping the toaster upside down and, very gently, shaking the crumbs out. To Test: Wiggle the plug wire near the plug to see if that makes a noticeable difference. If you can make any lights or display on the toaster flicker by wiggling the wire that's a clear sign there's an intermittent problem in the wire.

Use a spare plug wire in lieu of the original one and see if that resolves the issue. Background: we've seen this a couple of times: people yank the plug wire out of the wall socket by yanking on the cord, causing the stranded wires in the cord to break over time. It usually gets weak right near the base of the molded plug. If the toaster has lights or an LED display they may still light up and make the toaster look like it's getting electricity: it's just not getting enough electricity to run the toaster.

Check the plug wire first before going to the effort of opening the toaster to clean the contacts. While this is a less common failure mode it's easier to check and will save you a lot of troubleshooting time.

There's an electrical contact near the toasting lever that is now carbonized due to too much electrical arcing and it's not letting any or enough electricity flow through.

The contacts will look black or dulled on the inside. To Fix: Clean off the carbon from the contacts and the toaster will work again. We use an emery board and push it back and forth between the contacts until they're clean again and can conduct electricity.

Additional Information: The arcing is due to slightly misaligned contacts that made it through poor quality control.

The toaster works initially but over time electrical sparking between the contacts due to the misalignment creates carbon build up: that build-up is electrically insulating. There's a lot of current going through that contact because of the way a pop-up toaster works. When you push the toasting lever down it also makes contact with a solenoid an electromagnet that holds the lever down. The current for that electromagnet flows through the carbonized contact along with all the electricity to run the nichrome wire heating elements: not enough current and the electromagnet doesn't energize and the lever doesn't stay down.

physics of a toaster

This problem is also common with electric hot water kettles where the button or lever or switch won't stay down. Maintaining the spring attached to the lever will remove debris that is potentially blocking the lever from connecting to the magnet.

Visually check the wire for any punctures or abrasions. If you find damage on your power cord you should replace it. Follow this power cord replacement guideor one more specific to your device. Bread grabbers will not keep the bread vertical or return it properly.

Metal forks and electric heating coils don't mix, so don't try.All rights reserved. The heating elements of a toaster illustrates one of the most fundamental laws of physics: Everything above the temperature of absolute zero glows.

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Here, a model demonstrates a version of the kitchen appliance from around Shackleton, Scott, and Amundsen faced many hardships on their treks to the South Pole, from frostbite to snow blindness.

Few biographies, though, mention that much of their misery was caused by the ideal gas law, which governs the relationship between the pressure, volume, and temperature of a gas. It is this crucial law of physics, explains British physicist Helen Czerski in her new book Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Lifethat generates the fearsome katabatic windswhich rake the surface of Antarctica at almost miles an hour.

Toaster vs. Freezer

This is just one example of how the science of physics informs every aspect of life, says Czerski. When National Geographic caught up with her by phone from London, she elaborated further—on the importance of bubbles her specialtythe physics lessons taught by your toaster, and why it doesn't help to bang the bottom of the bottle if no ketchup comes out.

You are the first expert on bubbles that I have ever interviewed. Tell us how you got into this arcane field—and why it frequently involves voyages on ships in stormy seas. Imagine the froth on top of your cappuccino. If you put a spoon on top of that, the foam will support the spoon.

The History of Toaster

But if you put that spoon on top of just gas, or just liquid, it would fall straight through. Mix the liquid and gas together and suddenly they can do something entirely new. I got into the field of bubble physics because my Ph. Now I study the bubbles underneath breaking waves, where lots of bubbles are breaking up in that washing machine kind of turbulence. I go out on ships to measure bubblesusually in storm season, in the Mid-Atlantic.

physics of a toaster

You look out over the deck at that familiar sight of breaking waves, something seafarers have seen for centuries, but just a meter below the surface you can see something that they have never been able to see. Some people might think of physicists as nerdy figures in lab coats remote from normal life. But your book shows us that in our everyday life we are all physicists.

The Physics of Car Crashes

Give us some examples. You use various methods to put bubbles into bread. You can use a raising agent or yeast, or you can fold air into the bread. When you put that in a hot oven and heat the gas up, the molecules inside the bubbles will bounce off the walls like tiny bumper cars and push them outwards, which makes the bread expand and rise. That comes from something called the Ideal Gas Law: the idea that the pressure, temperature, and volume of a pocket of gas are related to each other.

Then it all comes out at once! It happens because ketchup has got this weird property known as shear thinning.Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising.

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The Quantum Physics of Your Toaster. Upcoming SlideShare. Like this presentation?

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How Toasters Work

Show related SlideShares at end. WordPress Shortcode. Chad OrzelPhysics Professor Follow.The Toaster a simple appliance that quickly heats your bread, waffles, and pastries for breakfast Have you ever wondered about the history of the toaster?

You have probably used this tool frequently in your life, whether you have a retro toaster in your kitchen or a new stainless steel 6-slice toaster to prepare meals for your family. In this guide, learn a bit more about the toaster and its history. To manufacture his product, He received his patent for the slice toaster in and formed the Waters-Genter Company.

After thirty years, the price of the toaster had dropped and most families were able to afford one. During this time, Toasters were also designed to be more compact to free up counter space. Toasters were available in painted or wood-grain finishes in addition to popular colors along with other appliances. The 2-slice toaster was manufactured with wider slots; heat-resistant plastic was also used to make toasters more economical, In order to accommodate bagels and thicker slices of bread.

The cheaper construction methods of the toaster made even a 4-slice toaster or 6-slice toaster more affordable for families. The toaster price has dropped enough that you can buy one even on the tightest budget, whether you want a simple white toaster for your apartment or a 4-slice toaster you can pull out for hectic mornings.

You can be sleek with a black toaster or give your kitchen a vintage vibe with a retro toaster; a red toaster is a great way to add a pop of color, too. A toaster can do much more than toast.

QSRs that maximize the potential of their toaster ovens can brown, melt, finish, and even cook items. The right unit can replace existing toasting platforms and also add greater menu versatility, energy efficiency, and cost savings. With the right toaster oven, quick-serve restaurants and fast-casual foodservice operations are only limited by their imaginations.

In this busy life for many people, the toaster is a daily part of breakfast and lunch and maybe even dinner. It becomes one of the vital parts of our modern life.

Nowadays everyone likes homemade fresh baked bread in their busy life. A good bread maker is essential for making yummy aroma bread. Everyone seeking the best small bread makers. Japanese knives are most popular around the world for their beautiful, elegant, and detailed design, along with the sharp, accurate cuts they produce.

physics of a toaster

They are favorite among both professional and Skip to content The Toaster a simple appliance that quickly heats your bread, waffles, and pastries for breakfast Have you ever wondered about the history of the toaster? Continue Reading.

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