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Toaster v Toaster Oven

January 23, 2011

The result of this comparison might be obvious or naturally assumed; which is better, a toaster or a toaster oven… for making toast that is?  But someone I know has a toaster oven and no toaster and routinely uses it to make toast.  We both agreed this isn’t ideal, so maybe the point of this experiment is to simply quantify how unideal.
I was able to get my hands on a Kill-a-Watt electrical usage power meter thanks to the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society, and from there I went to work.


It was a pretty simple experiment really (though through procrastination and distraction I managed to take a week to get it done).  Hook up the toaster, make toast, take readings, repeat with toaster oven.  The only real trick was to keep things somewhat standard so I made toast in the toaster first, then in the toaster oven so that I could observe toasting through the glass door.  This let me make sure each appliance toasted the bread equally and I wasn’t comparing slightly crisped bread to a man made slice of charcoal.  Also, both appliances began at a room temperature, “at rest” state so neither had any residual heat benefits.

Toaster statistics:
Approximate time to make toast – 4 minutes
Watt measured while running – 820 W
Resulting electricity usage – 0.055 kWh

Toaster oven statistics:
Approximate time to make toast – 5 minutes
Watt measured while running – 1110 W
Resulting kWh usage – 0.093

Toaster win!  TOASTER WINS!

OK, so no one probably is surprised with that.  A toaster is designed to make toast, a toaster oven is designed to be a counter top mini-oven.  So the toaster being 41% more efficient at making toast isn’t terribly groundbreaking.  Running through some other basic calculations, if one makes a slice of toast 4 times a week for a year, the benefits of use the toaster are:

  • You use 7.9 kWh less electricity
  • You save about 80¢ (using MN approx. rates)
  • 130 lbs of CO2 aren’t released*
  • You have about 3.5 hours of extra time

This, of course, doesn’t factor into the efficiencies of being able to do two slices of toast at once in a toaster.  Man, if you typically make two slices of toast… well, I’m just not motivated enough to run those calcs.

On an interesting side note, this does suggest a benefit of having a toaster oven.  In situations where modest sized portions are cooked, such as would be common when a person lives alone, cooking something in the oven would be excessive overkill.  The average electric oven runs anywhere from 3000 to 6000 watts or more.  Assuming you’re making something that could fit in either an oven or a toaster oven, you could be using three to six times more energy than is necessary.  And if you can’t think of any type of food that falls into this category, just walk the frozen foods section of the grocery store… or peek in the cart of that guy wearing sweat pants, grocery shopping on a Friday night.  But just remember not to judge him, because in that instance, you’re at the grocery store on a Friday night too.

*This emissions estimate is strictly for CO2 and doesn’t take into account other pollutants like SOx, NOx, Mercury, etc.  Also, this number is probably a low estimate.  As a coal heavy state, MN get the benefit of lower than average electricity rates, but emissions are notably higher.**

**Yes this is ass backwards.

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  4. Alex permalink

    If you have a reasonably-sized toaster oven, can’t you make 4 or 6 slices of toast at the same time? The way I see it, your 2-slice toaster will take 8 minutes and 0.110 kWh of electricity to make 4 slices of toast, for 0.0275 kWh per slice.

    The above toaster oven will take 4 slices in one go, and, at 0.093 kWh per run, it’s only 0.02325 kWh per slice (and it’s faster compared to reloading a 2-slice toaster).

    • Hmm, I suppose, but it does depend on your circumstances, both your equipment on hand as well as your intended outcome. My toaster can fit two slices and my toaster oven can indeed fit 4… but, as tested this morning, the toaster oven took a couple minutes more because I had to turn them to get everything relatively evenly toasted. Which gave the toaster the edge again on a per slice basis.

      Though your point is valid, it really is important to recognize energy per unit output. If you’re going for quantity, I could see the toaster oven retaining heat (and thus toasting capacity) better and letting you churn out toast for a large family breakfast faster and possibly more energy efficiently than the toaster (if you could get it down to 5 minutes per 4-slice run). Though I’m usually content with just a couple slices, which is why the toaster is staying my go to for this task.

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