Comparing Thermal & Convection Ovens

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for Direct from the Designers

Choosing appliances is tricky business—there’s never been so many options on the market! Between different shapes and sizes and all the built-in features, it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. If a new oven is on your list, you’ve probably seen a lot of models mentioning convection. There are also plenty that don’t, though—what are those called? Here’s what you should know!

Whirlpool 5.0 Cu. Ft. Single Self-Cleaning Wall Oven

The Whirlpool® 5.0 Cu. Ft. Single Self-Cleaning Wall Oven offers three modes—bake, broil, and keep warm—as well as steam and adjustable self-clean cycles to make cleanup a breeze. This ADA-compliant oven can install wherever you want—under the counter for a range-like look or higher up for easy access like this!

Thermal Ovens

You’ve probably never heard the term before, but a thermal oven is just your regular oven. Also sometimes referred to as a conventional oven, it typically has an electric or gas heating element on the bottom and a broiler up top. A thermal oven can do everything you need an oven to do—roast, bake, broil, etc.—but they are known for uneven heating.

Uneven heating is two-fold. Of course, items placed on the lower rack will heat faster than ones placed higher up when you cook with the lower heating element. Broiling is best done on the top rack, naturally. But some ovens are also hotter on one side or corner, which is why dedicated bakers will have a few oven thermometers to monitor the actual temperature inside. That’s also why many recipes recommend turning the dish halfway through the cooking time. The vast majority of families can do everything they need with a regular thermal oven by working around or even taking advantage of uneven heating—by placing dense meats down low and delicate vegetables up higher, for example—but if you require total precision, it’s best to look into convection.

KitchenAid 30" Combination Wall Oven with Even-Heat True Convection (Lower Oven)

The KitchenAid® 30” Combination Wall Oven with Even-Heat™ True Convection (Lower Oven) has a large oven topped with a microwave for a single-unit cooking solution. Both chambers actually have convection to increase the speed of cooking and provide better results. You’ll also appreciate the flexibility afforded by Crispwave™ Microwave Technology and the EasyConvect™ Conversion System!

Convection Ovens

With the same basic components as a thermal oven, you can use a convection oven just like any other. The difference is that it also has a convection option—just flip the switch and a fan at the back of the chamber will turn on to circulate the air inside. This helps eliminate uneven heating, which means you’ll get more accurate results and don’t have to worry about turning or moving dishes around. This is especially important for bakers—there’s nothing worse than a full tray of muffins ranging from half-raw to overdone—but you’ll also notice the difference when roasting. And perhaps you like air frying? That’s just a fancy term for high heat and convection!

Now, since convection isn’t what most of us are used to, there is a learning curve to consider. Things are different when air circulates, because it leads to more efficient and consistent heating. You’ll likely burn your favorite recipes if you don’t make adjustments! First, you need to lower the temperature—many ovens include a convection conversion feature, but you can also find a thermal vs. convection oven temperature conversion chart to keep handy—and then pay attention to gauge doneness—the cooking time will be about a quarter less than you’re used to. Just imagine how much faster you can prepare big meals when you have convection on your side!

JennAir RISE 30" Double Wall Oven with V2 Vertical Dual-Fan Convection

The JennAir® RISE™ 30” Double Wall Oven with V2™ Vertical Dual-Fan Convection is a smart appliance featuring app-connectivity, step-by-step support through the JennAir® Culinary Center, a connected temperature probe, and counter-rotating fans to really ensure even heating. Explore all the features—you’ll be surprised by the range of modes to tackle every cooking task perfectly!

Wall Oven & Range Options

Looking for a wall oven to pair with a cooktop or an all-in-one range? You won’t lack for thermal and convection options. We’ve shown a variety of wall ovens here to illustrate their diversity, but rest assured you’ll also find plenty of ranges for different budgets, too. If you think convection is limited to luxury appliances, think again! This feature may have been in the past, but a huge surge in demand means that it's now available even in modest models. Most will mention convection in the product name, but you may also see air fry used instead. Don’t let that throw you—both mean the same thing when it comes to functionality!

If you need awesome appliances for your kitchen, take a look at Whirlpool®, Maytag®, KitchenAid® and JennAir®. This family of brands caters to the full spectrum and you’re sure to find an oven that works for your cooking style as well as everything else you need to build your dream suite. Just imagine how you could upgrade your everyday culinary experience!

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