Last Updated on January 10, 2023
Have you ever asked yourself, ‘what do the numbers on a toaster mean?’
Understanding how your toaster dial works will surely change your toast’s outcome. It can mean you will either toast your bread perfectly or end up with something burnt beyond recognition.
Now, we know that toast lovers have their own personal preferences for their toaster settings. They know what they like and time it perfectly with their coffee pot or cup of tea being at the perfect temperature.
So, let’s see if we can make life easier for you by explaining how to use your toaster dial to perfection. It really will make a difference to the end result.
Toaster Dials Indicate Time
The numbers you see on a toaster dial refer to the length of time the toast will be in the toaster before it pops up and your toast is ready.
Most timer toasters will have numbers going around the dial. This is linked to the mechanical timer within all toaster models that have this option. However, it does provide you with the opportunity to control the final toasted product.
It’s More Than Just Time
All modern toasters have a timer included in the dial controls, but we need to delve deeper into how they work and ultimately control the toasting process.
The dial equates to a specific voltage being pushed through the toaster. It also relates to a higher current when you have the toaster dial set to a lower number. In this instance, you will see that the toast is less done when the toast pops.
The reason for this is simple. Timer toasters tend to have it set up that the lower the dial leads to the toaster heating up for less time. That is why your toast is less toasted, as it has been exposed to that heat for a shorter period of time.
Different Types of Toasters
Keep in mind that you have many types of toasters available, and different toasters refer to different things when it comes to the dials.
If you look at a timer toaster, then you have mechanical timer controls that regulate how well toasted the bread is at the end. In this instance, it’s easy to understand the dials, as the number on the dial equates to the same number of minutes before the toaster pops up.
Another common type of toaster is the capacitor toaster, which is slightly different from the timer model. However, this is the type of toaster most of us own.
In this instance, the toaster runs on a circuit system, and the capacitor charges until it reaches a certain charge, at which point the toast pops up. This is because the circuit cuts out when it reaches a certain voltage. With this, the different models control the resistance rate, so the numbers on your toaster relate to the resistance level, and the time it takes to get to that level.
Bimetallic Strip Toasters
The final option is a toaster that uses a bimetallic strip. These types of toasters are outdated and are not the most common kitchen appliance nowadays. The aim of the bimetallic strip was that it would gradually bend as the heat warmed it up until it reached the point where it would be so bent out of shape that it would break the circuit.
In this case, the number setting on the dial equates to the amount of electricity going through the toaster. If you set it to a lower number, more electricity passes through the bimetallic strip, heating it up faster. Controlling how much electricity goes through the toaster then determines how brown your toast is once it pops.
As you can see, the dial functions are all doing the same thing, but how the toaster stores energy and toasts your bread does change.
It’s Not As Complicated as it Seems
The numbers on your toaster are not complicated to understand. However, toasters do have limits when it comes to dials. Even the older bimetallic strip toasters could only work for a certain length of time before the heat was disengaged.
The key here is to play around with the dials. See which settings correlate to how brown you want your toast to be, and then change the setting accordingly. After all, we have personal ideas of how we want our bread to be toasted, so at least toasters manage to provide you with those options.
Getting the Perfect Toast Each Time
Now, no matter if you have expensive toasters or cheap ones, a huge factor in getting the perfect toast is understanding how the dials work.
Remember that the heating elements work whenever you have the circuit system connected inside the toaster. It doesn’t matter whether that’s done via electricity or resistance or a simple timer.
The toasting time depends on what you like, rather than what the toasters can do. Across all different types of toasters, the numbers on your toaster refer to the same basic things. The higher the number, the longer you have some heat running through the toaster and toasting your bread.
If all you do is remember that toaster numbers relate to how long the heat is on the slice of bread, you should have no problem getting the perfect toast. Forget about the physics involved in older models, and don’t worry about completing the circuit quicker or anything like that.
But there’s also a point to make about the bread. Some bread has higher water content, which changes how you can toast a slice. Also, constant usage plays a role in how toasters toast the bread. If you use it once and then toast another slice of bread right after, you’ll have residual heat on the device inside the slats. In this case, the toaster numbers are going to be slightly off. On the other hand, you will find that a toaster tends to brown your bread better the more you use it.
So, the next time someone asks you the question, ‘what do the numbers on a toaster mean?’, you now have an answer! You can try to blind them with science to show them that there’s a lot more to this than just numbers on a toaster.
Instead, you can tell them how it changes the heat and power going through the toaster to ultimately deliver that perfect toast each time. In all honesty, the bread plays only a minor role in all of this. The key is in using your timer toaster in the way it was intended.
Paul is the type of person who never met a problem he couldn’t fix. He can always be found tinkering with something in his house, even if it isn’t broken! His tips and tricks are often shared on our site. He’s the one you call when something breaks because he has been known to improvise fixes for everything from leaky faucets to malfunctioning dryers.