Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Kitchen Renovation Science for Dummies

Recommended Posts

As noted in another eG Forums topic, I'm renovating and updating a 1950s kitchen. While there are a number of projects I can handle involving screws, duct tape, and the like, I'm facing my fear of electricity and other kitchen sciences with two big projects: an overhead four-bulb fluorescent lighting fixture and -- the biggie -- replacing the vintage Thermidor ovens. The current contender for replacement is this Cadco oven, and I am overtaken by awe and fear every time I look, longingly, at the thing.

I know, I know: it's pathetic. I'm turning to you for help.

My questions run the gamut. Right now I'm running all my appliances and gadgets through two-prong outlets with adaptors: what risks does that pose? What the heck do these things mean?!?

  • Oven cavity wrapped in high ”R” value insulation
  • NSF, UL (through CSA Standards)
  • 208-240 volts 5600 watts 24.4 amps Single Phase /NEMA L6-30 Plug

Are there any reliable resources out there on electrical know-how for kitchen renovation? What sorts of basic information on electrical systems should someone know to tackle home improvement projects like this?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to post
Share on other sites

The high "R" insulation is just telling you it's got good insulation (well, sorta, that's what the marketing people are trying to say, at any rate). UL is the Underwriter's Lab, they test stuff to make sure it is safe. And the voltage and amperage means you need a 220 volt household circuit, which is twice what a normal wall outlet delivers (in the US). Your old oven probably already had that, but you'll know immediately based on the shape of the plug. A NEMA plug is three-pronged, and the prongs are arranged in a circular formation: it's very different from a standard household outlet, you can't miss it. When I need help with this stuff, I usually go to the Samurai Appliance Repair Man. He's more than a little opinionated, but he's got lots of good info.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations

Link to post
Share on other sites

for the amount of $ the oven you are looking at is you probably can get a Thermador microwave/convection/normal oven combo.. I have one and its great..Not sure of the vintage of your thermador ovens but the real old ones had an exhaust stack on them so when you roasted a duck the smoke went outside,,,none of the new ovens have that any more...


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before proceeding further, contact your local Building Inspector, and ascertain the local Codes, whether or not you require Certification to do the work you are contemplating. You may have to take an exam to obtain Certification. Your Fire Insurance may not be valid if the work is not done to Code by a Certified installer and you may be at risk from incorrect installation.

As a Power Plant Engineer, I leave electrical installation to an IBEW installer and insure the work is done to Code.-Dick

Link to post
Share on other sites

I know, I know: it's pathetic. I'm turning to you for help.

Chris, it isn't pathetic. Fear of badly done electrical work is a sign of good mental health. Electricians aren't cheap but I'd consider it money well spent. I will aways remember the look on my GC's face when he showed me the dangerous amateur wiring job lurking behind my kitchen walls after they were demo'd for the renovation. Changing a light fixture is one thing but I'd consider consulting an electrician for any appliance upgrade. Plus, as others have noted, building code requirements in your city may also have something to say. If I'd wanted to put a new range or oven in my pre-existing kitchen, I couldn't have done it within code without various upgrades.

To your question, it's not hard to find the electrical/plumbing specifications for any new appliance. Search the web for its installation manual. It will tell you what the appliance requires, from the necessary voltage and gas line size to specific location requirements for electrical or plumbing connections. The instructions for my range, for example, not only required that it have its own dedicated electrical line but also specified the exact location of the electrical outlet and the gas line. New appliances are finicky.

Have you already discovered the Home Forums on Garden Web? That site not only has specific subforums dedicated to kitchens but also electrical wiring and appliances. It's a black hole, but still can be very useful: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris, if I remember from your earlier postings on your new/old kitchen, the existing ovens are built-in. The manual for the Cadco says, in large friendly letters, Your oven is not designed for built-in applications or for side by side positioning. They even underline it, so it must be important!

Apologies if I'm wrong about the old ovens and/or teaching you to suck eggs, but the language if you bought one and then found you couldn't put it where you intended doesn't bear thinking about in a family forum like this one.

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

eGullet Ethics Code signatory

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Cadco works in the space but not like a regular "built-in" oven.

I have friends who had the same double Thermador ovens in their Eichler home and did not wish to do a major reno that would change the character of the original classic mid-century design. (This was also a "Gold Medallion" all-electric home which touted the "Live Better Electrically" theme. Some of the countertops had to be replaced but they were able to find the vintage Formica that matched and also a Formica and chrome dining set in near-mint condition. Their house was featured in a Sunset magazine article twenty-some years ago when mid-century modern regained some of its popularity.

Now Eichler homes, even in disrepair, are snapped up as soon as they are on the market, in spite of the bad real estate market.)

They had the cavity that existed to house the double ovens boxed in and completely tiled, except for the existing vent that was fitted with a small, integral exhaust fan (fitted into the vent pipe).

In this tiled space the Cadco oven has sufficient clearance on all sides to comply with its working efficiently and safely. There was enough free space at one end to allow for a storage area for sheet pans, etc.

They did have an electrician check the breaker box and the existing wiring as well as install some additional outlets on a new line to serve additional appliances.

There is also a strip of halogen lights along the top front edge of the space which really spotlights the oven. It certainly impressed me!

I've had the half-size Cadco oven for years and I love it. If I needed the bigger one, I wouldn't hesitate to buy it.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just got all new appliances for a house. The installers were able to do all the wiring for not very much extra. Normally I'm willing to do 110 volt wiring myself, but won't touch 220.

Also, if you need to change any plumbing check out Sharkbite adapters (at Lowes they're called Gatorbite). I was dealing with a little plumbing issue and as I wandered the plumbing isle at Lowes trying to fit together different pieces the plumbing guy there suggested these. When he explained how to use them, I was dumbfounded. It's snap-together plumbing. It works with copper, PEX, CPVC (two kinds of plastic pipe) and can be used to transition to/from any of these. To use, push it onto the pipe. That's it. There's a cheap little tool you need to remove it and reuse it if you make a mistake (which I did). I don't know about local codes, but supposedly it's approved for use inside closed walls.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to be clear, I am trying to learn me some electricity so that I can be a knowledgeable consumer of estimates, jobs, and products. I have no intention of doing this electrical work!

I have a pal who's smart about these sorts of things, and he wrote on my Facebook page:

A "High R Value" is totally subjective and without a number is kind of irrelevant. Ultimately the higher the R value the more efficient the oven should be...

CSA is the european equivalent of UL. Its a 3rd party agency that ensures that electrical products meet safety standards.

208 volt is what you would see in a commercial US kitchen, 230 would be standard in Europe, and 240 is what you would be using in your house, which is 2 legs of 120 volts, just like a dryer or hot water heater.

An L6-30 is a standard commercial high voltage twist-lock plug. The L means it is a twist lock, the 6 indicates high voltage (up to 250v) and the 30 means 30 amps.

Volts * Amps = Watts

For this oven you would want a dedicated 30amp circuit. If it uses an L6-30 it is looking for a 3 wire connection - 2 hots, and a ground. There is no neutral is this type of setup. I'm not entirely sure if it meets code for a house, but its very standard in a commercial kitchen.

Also - the lack of a ground on the other stuff - Rightfully you should have a ground on all your outlets, but obviously rewiring the whole house is a big proposition. To get rid of the adapters in the short term - you can just replace your 2 prong outlets with new 3 prong outlets. They cost next to nothing and it takes maybe 5 mins per outlet to do.

Realistically the biggest problem with no ground is that a surge protector cannot function - beyond that most any other piece of equipment is fine. One thing I would recommend is that if you have any outlet near a sink to replace it with a GFCI. They cost maybe $10, but will keep you safe in the event your wife tries to kill you by throwing a vintage toaster into the sink while you are doing dishes.

That last part is not a reflection on marital harmony at Casa Amirault. Ahem.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not an electrician, but my family owned a hardware store for 83 years... here is what I learned from my time there.

...an overhead four-bulb fluorescent lighting fixture

Is this light flush with the ceiling, or is it mounted to it? A flush mounted light may be a bit of work due to the drywall work needed to fill the hole.

Right now I'm running all my appliances and gadgets through two-prong outlets with adaptors: what risks does that pose? What the heck do these things mean?!?

A modern three prong outlet has a grounding post to help prevent you from getting shocked in case of a fault in the appliance or if you accidently spill liquid over it. Three pronged outlets also have a larger slot on the left for appliances with a polarized plug. Ideally, you will want to replace these outlets with GFCI outlets for the most protection. Most municipalities require them. Replacing an outlet is not rocket science, but it is best to have someone who has done it before help you out.

Here is more detail on this.


Regarding your friend's comments on Facebook. Given that your house was built in the mid 50's on the East coast, I will bet a beer or two that your electrical is based on flexible metal conduit with rubber coated, cloth covered wires. The outlet grounds to the conduit via the standard metal electrical box. The conduit then grounds back to the circuit panel, and then to ground or the water pipe coming into your house.

Edited by DanM (log)

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, DanM.

Is this light flush with the ceiling, or is it mounted to it?

Mounted to it in a big, ugly box with wires sticking out. Gotta remove that whole thing and stick something else up there.

I'll be in touch about that beer....

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

Chris, your friend steered you dead right but for one little mistake a commercial electrician might miss. You can only replace a two prong outlet with a three prong IF it is a GFCI circuit. This is true any where in the home and has been in the National electric cod since the 90's.

All the outlets down stream of a GFCI are protected by it if the wiring is parallel so they may be just standard three prong outlets, your friend will understand this. All kitchen outlets should be GFCIed so the few bucks will help keep your family in better stead.

Don't know if a locking plug for an oven would be required here so I would check your local code. I would just hard wire it, I can't see a home oven need to be cord and cap connected. In a restaurant where appliances need to be moved often for cleaning, make sense though.

I'm a half assed cook but I do hold a Master Electrician license in Washington State and a Journeyman IBEW Card since 1972.

I do like that kitchen.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris, your friend steered you dead right but for one little mistake a commercial electrician might miss. You can only replace a two prong outlet with a three prong IF it is a GFCI circuit. This is true any where in the home and has been in the National electric cod since the 90's.

That's not true if there is a ground available in the box except for certain locations. As long as a separate grounds conductor is available you can install a normal 3 prong receptacle in bedrooms, living rooms etc. GFCI's would definitely be required any place in the kitchen but not necessarily in some other places. That's one of the reasons to consult an electrician familiar with your local codes.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I hadn't considered that a 1958 house might have a ground wire nor did I remember that many places in the east required conduited systems in which case, they have a ground system. A cabled system of that era might also have an armored cable system [bx] and that would likely have one of those 16 or 18 reduced size grounds. I have nearly zero experience with the old loom cable systems but I think they quit installing them around the end of the forties. I don't know if they had a grounding conductor or not.

In any of these cases a properly installed 3 prong outlet would be acceptable but the kitchen should still be GFCI.

Chris have your buddy get you a xerox of National Electric Code article 210.8, It will provide the knowledge of what to expect you will need when the electricians give you a proposal.

Thanks MSRandell, good catch.



Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Similar Content

    • By Stuart Tett
      Hi, I recently visited a local appliance store to look at gas ranges and hoods. I currently have a low-end 30" Samsung gas range and a ducted hood which doesn't do a good job with smoke or grease. It will hold up a piece of paper successfully, but the smoke detector goes off any time I'm cooking bacon or roasting anything in the oven or cooking with high heat on the cooktop.
      So I went in to the appliance store nearby and the guy recommended Vent-a-hood. He demonstrated how quiet they are, how easy they are to clean, and claimed they are way more effective. In fact he had a 1 track mind, and didn't think there were any other hoods worth looking at.
      Same for ranges. He showed me the Blue Star ranges and said that there's no comparison. Other high-end appliances like Wolf, etc can't sear a steak as well. He even said that people's complaints of Blue Star not being able to get very low was incorrect and demonstrated putting a piece of paper on a burner on low and it didn't burn. He claimed that the cast-iron is easy to clean (my wife doesn't believe him on this).
      I do think both of these products are impressive, but I want to know what others think. I want to hear why he's might be wrong and/or are there other products that are just as good?
    • By Porthos
      For economic reasons we've had to defer a lot of maintenance items in our home. We can now start. We are planning on selling and relocating on another state, hopefully next year. 
      Item one on our list is the kitchen. This is not a remodel, just all new surfaces. We've elected to reface our cabinets. My (still hoping) Blue Star range will be after we move.
      I had a misguided and idealistic expectation that we would go to Home Depot, pick out everything we wanted in one trip and proceed.  This is not to be. You can stop laughing any time. We don't need any new appliances so that part is simple.
      I didn't take any before pictures but it's a typical California tract home built in the 80s.
      Because this is going to take WAY longer than I expected we're working on the front bathroom in tandem.  We have a relative that was an employment victim of COVID 19 so we're paying for some much-needed labor to help us along. Oh, and I really HATE painting. In the kitchen we've stripped off the 25+ y/o wallpaper and are prepping the walls for a primer coat. Tomorrow we'll start on cleaning and sanding the ceiling. 
      The biggie in the kitchen is repairing the wall behind the sink. There's a bit of black mold to deal with but I've purchased the right PPE and can handle that.
      Wish us luck.
    • By Dryden
      Hi folks!  We are redoing our kitchen and while we know what we're doing most everywhere, it turns out we need to upgrade our existing range hood to something new and we know nothing whatsoever about them.  We're in an apartment, so it needs to be a non-venting hood.
      Does anyone have one they really like (and why?)  Price not an object here at all.  It's for a 36" range if that matters at all.
    • By Franci
      I need your help guys in organizing my thoughts. It looks like we are going to be moving again, still in Miami this time. The only difference is that we are buying a place for the very first time after 20 years of moving around. It feels premature to me to add picture because, we haven’t signed a contract yet, we only made an offer and it has been accepted. 
      Of course, I am already thinking of what I need to buy for the kitchen. I am not going to renovate the kitchen. It is honestly not the ideal time and even if it’s not my dream kitchen, it has been done 2 years ago. We have an outdoor patio and I am hoping to do a lot of cooking outside, especially at night. So, I am telling you what I have and what for sure I’ll be needing. 
      The cooktop looks vitroceramic and the oven I don’t remember which brand it is but definitely I will replace it. I don’t know yet if I can get gas there but I had one experience with an induction cooktop in the past and it was great. It was Sauter, which is common in France. It was something like this and I wouldn’t mind something similar. 
      So, first induction cooktop, I don’t have a clue of prices out there,  if I recall correctly,  I spent 500 euros at the time. 
      Second, oven. Let talk about ideal. In this house I have a Wolf oven which allows me to go to 550F, which is really cool so I can make some pizza in teglia.
      I had a couple ovens in the past that I loved for different reasons.
      1. I had a tabletop Cadco oven (Stefania), half sheet 120V with manual, external steam injection and it could reach 550F. Because of the manual steam, it was awesome to make bread with that oven and to make pizza in teglia again. So sorry I sold it for little when I closed my business. But honestly it’s not the first choice for home use, not too pretty or practical to have on the countertop. 2. I had the CSO and I really loved it but doesn’t solve the problem of making bread or pizza in teglia. 
      the outdoor I was thinking either the ZioCiro mini , which is really like a miniature brick oven, differently than the Ooni  which is another candidate, you can use also for cooking bread or small round trays of food.  The Zio Ciro anyway is not big enough for pizza in teglia. I wish I can get an Effeuno honestly. 
      So, I see myself wanting 5 ovens at the same time 😁 A pizza oven for the outdoor but don’t want to spend 3,000 for a bigger ZioCiro. A CSO, a steam oven for bread and an Effeuno for pizza in teglia and and air fryer if it’s not too much to ask 🤣🤣🤣, you got the situation. Ok, I need to make choices. And no, I don’t have a budget yet because it will depend on the final price of the house and some extra work we are doing from a room and a bathroom. 
      And finally, yes, I want also a vacuum chamber, thanks,  and would really love to have a irinox blast chiller. I know I am very reasonable 
      The kitchen is not huge and I cannot start cluttering it with my stuff.  Maybe something like my Wolf oven that reaches 550F plus a steam function with bread. And a CSO for daily use? Ooni outside or I cannot resist the ZioCiro anyway. Does it should more reasonable. Do you have such an oven to suggest? Thanks  
    • By Norm Matthews
      I saw an episode on the Property Brothers where they did  kitchen cabinets in dark blue.  I showed Charlie some kitchen like that on line. He liked them too. I have been planning new floor and counter tops but this I could do myself. The job isn't finished but it is far enough along to see how it looks.  The next one was taken within a month of so after we moved in in 2012 and the last one is how it looked in April.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...