Updated February 2022
When shopping for a new appliance, it is worth considering the different features each one offers and whether they meet your needs regarding Shabbos and Yom Tov use. Here are some suggestions and considerations to help you make the best decision for your needs.
Pre-Purchase Advice for Cooktops
- Electric smoothtops may present a problem of kashering for Pesach. Check with your rav.
- Electric cooktops may pose a problem with adjusting the temperature on Yom Tov.
- Electronic ignition may pose a problem with initiating a flame on Yom Tov.
- Some cooktops (gas or electric) have knobs that light up when the burner is turned on, and on some of these cooktops an illuminated ring displays on the knob itself. Some knobs are backlit with a soft glow to indicate an ‘On’ setting, and some knobs offer progressive illumination that adjusts to indicate the burner setting. These types of knobs pose a problem.
- Additionally, be aware that some high-end cooktops offer a ‘simmer’ and ‘regular’ setting for each burner and that you cannot switch between these on Yom Tov. Some simmer burners also have indicator lights that are triggered when you switch to that mode. If you want to have burners that do both, you will need to leave on two burners, each one dedicated to a single setting.
- Avoid electronic controls. After a power failure, these units will probably stay off.
- Avoid induction cooktops. They work well but are not usable on Shabbos or Yom Tov.
Pre-Purchase Advice for Ovens
12-Hour Cutoff Feature
- The oven should allow you to disable or override this feature for Shabbos or Yom Tov use.
Temperature Adjustment on Yom Tov
- If you want to change the temperature of the oven during Yom Tov, the display readout should not change and no tones should be activated.
- To adjust the temperature, you must either know when power (i.e., gas or electric) cycles to the oven or there must be a built-in delay (i.e., a grama).
- Please note that not all indicator lights display when power is actually cycling to the oven. In some cases, they might indicate only that the oven is on.
Opening the Oven Door
- Should not activate any tones or icons.
- Should not activate or deactivate any heating elements. (Listen for relays clicking or note if a power indicator light goes on immediately).
- If light in the oven cavity is activated by opening the door, you should be able to either loosen the bulb or leave on the light for the duration of Shabbos or Yom Tov by activating the ‘Light’ button on the display panel.
- If Timed Bake is desired (e.g., for Friday night or the first night of Yom Tov), check to make sure that no icons, tones or displays are canceled when the door is opened and that a buzzer does not need to be manually turned off. (Just remember: Once the Timed Bake goes off, the oven cannot be used again for the duration of Yom Tov.)
If you are using an app on your smartphone to control your appliance, it is recommended that you disconnect from the app or at a minimum turn off your smartphone before Shabbos/Yom Tov to preclude any communication between the appliance and the phone.
Pre-Purchase Advice for Warming Drawers
- Warming drawers have the same issues as ovens (timed cut-off, temperature adjustment on Yom Tov, opening the door, Timed Bake) because they are thermostatically controlled. Many warming drawers cannot be set for temperatures below 120oF (yad soledes). Check with your rav for proper use of warming drawers on Shabbos.
General Recommendations for Ovens/Warming Drawers
- Simpler is better.
- It is highly recommended that you download the Sabbath Mode information before purchasing any appliance and carefully review all the instructions. Make sure you understand the steps involved and determine if you are willing to follow them precisely before each Shabbos/Yom Tov. Note that some models are more complex than others. Be sure that you are comfortable with the instructions that accompany the model you are purchasing. Also note that many manufacturers no longer provide manuals with their product; they expect the consumer to access all the information online. It is vital that you do your homework before buying any appliance.
- Before purchasing any cooking appliance, it is best to view the actual item in the store.
- Gas is recommended over electric.
- If a company advertises that its oven has a Sabbath Mode feature, make sure it includes more than the 12-hour cut-off override; otherwise, see potential problems above. Also, make sure there is a competent halachic authority behind the Sabbath Mode to endorse it. To verify that your product has a STAR-K certified Sabbath Mode, you can search for your model number in the appliance section of STAR-K’s website at www.star-k.org or call STAR-K office at 410-484-4110.
- Avoid “slew controls” – i.e., use of an up/down arrow – to set the temperature. Stick to knobs or number pads.
- Before using your new oven for the first time, be sure to wash the racks and interior of the oven thoroughly with warm water and soap to remove any oil residue.
- If you are using an app on your smartphone to control your appliances, it is recommended that you turn off your smartphone before Shabbos/Yom Tov to preclude any communication between the appliance and phone.
- Visit star-k.org/appliance for lists of appliance companies and oven products under STAR-K certification.