Why are oven doors hinged at the bottom?

I assume there’s a practical reason why modern oven doors are typically hinged at the bottom. It’s standard even on most toaster ovens. Almost no other door one usually encounters works that way; they are almost always hinged on one of the sides.

Why the exception for oven doors? Is it just so you can “crack” it at the top?

(Yes, I’m aware you can buy ovens with side-hinged doors)

An oven door is typically large enough to put a lot of extra stress on vertically mounted side hinges. Bottom hinged doors also have extending support brackets that hold the weight at the bottom of the swing.

I was always told that since heated air rises, stooping a little and opening the bottom hinged door slowly while back a step reduced the risk of steam burns.

(If that’s just an old wives tale, someone please let me know.)

I think it’s much safer. The door down in the open position forces you to keep your feet (and therefore your lower body) well away from the oven and to bend down from the hips as you remove items. If you drop something, it will likely fall onto the door rather than onto your legs and feet.

It’s also a surface on which to safely place hot items temporarily if you remove something from the oven to check it, or to rearrange items in the oven. But I think this is secondary to the safety issue.

As the OP said, not all oven doors are hinged at the bottom. In restaurants, often the doors swing open to the side.

I have many burns from bumping into those open doors while they were open. I would assume that that is also a good reason why home kitchens have them open from the bottom.

It’s true that a side-opening door will give you a worse burn if walk into it than a down-opening door. But a down-opening door left open will be more likely to trip someone. I wonder if the logic is that in a commercial kitchen the tripping issue is a greater hazard.

No just walking into it. Reaching in to put stuff in or pull stuff out. Not that hard to lean just a little bit the wrong way and flesh touches metal.

I do think that this is a large part of the answer to the OP’s question, that side swinging doors are going to cause a whole lot more burns.

Most kitchen ovens I’ve worked with tend to be higher up, rather than on the floor. The are typically taller than your typical home kitchen, so having it swing down would probably stick out too far. Having side doors means that the door only sticks out half the width of the oven, rather than the full height.

My oven door drops down and then slides in, like this.


Ovens with broilers are often used with the door partially open to allow heat to escape and keep the broiler element hot. A side swinging door would need to be fairly wide open to avoid a differential in heat from one side of the oven to the other.

Drop down oven doors don’t pop back up and burn peoples hands and arms and knock hot containers of food out of peoples hands. A side hinged door on an oven that is not level can swing shut on it’s one while being used.

Our wood stove had a side-open door. As did our coal fire. In retrospect, they had heavy doors, and tough hinges, so part of the reason was that they could open sideways because of the hinges, and couldn’t open down because of the weight. Those doors were hot, and there was good clearance in all directions around the kitchen and around the fire.

Our oven door has struts, and complicated hinges, to stop it falling open, or falling when it’s opened, and is gradually failing, so whatever the reason it’s not because it’s mechanically better.

Refrigerator doors always seem to open on the wrong side, and block your view and access from one side, but allow you to reach deep inside the refrigerator. Comparing the experience, I’d say that

  1. You don’t want to reach deep inside a home oven, pushing past the door – that’s how you get burned.

  2. Access from the correct side is important – you don’t want to have to go to the wrong side to get something from the oven, then walk around the door.

  3. You don’t want the door to hide the view of someone walking on the other side – you want to have a clear view of where you are going with the hot item.

All of these problems could be mitigated by having a bigger kitchen with fewer people in it.

Refrigerators that I’ve seen have doors that can be mounted to open either left or right. Take a closer look at your fridge. Everywhere there are mounting screw holes for any of the hinges, handles, or various brackets, there are also similar holes on the other side. The actual handles and hinges can be attached at either side.

The same is true of at least some front-loading washers and dryers.

Dishwashing machines open the same as ovens.

I mean, they always open on the wrong side, no matter where you are or what you are doing. It’s the buttered-bread principle of the inherent malignancy of nature …

Having the doors open to the side means that the manufacturer would have to build 2 versions (left open and right open*) and the stores would have to stock twice as many of each model. That would increase costs for both manufacturer, seller, and buyer – to no purpose; no great amount of customers are demanding side-opening ovens, and people would still only buy one oven, so no increase in sales. So it costs the maker money, and doesn’t increase profits – won’t happen!

  • Manufacturers could design ovens like refrigerators, with switchable side doors. But that adds complication, and more expensive manufacture (and more work for sales stores, in moving the doors). All for no discernable increase in profits.

Yup, I’ve broiled with the door cracked many times. Having it open on the top is the best way for the heat to escape. If it opened any other way it wouldn’t be nearly as efficient.

This is a strange idea to me. By “broiler” I assume you mean cooking at a low temperature, but why does the door need to be open? Simply set the oven at the temperature you want - mine goes down to 50°C which would be a hot day in many parts of the world.

I do “crack” the door open sometimes when I am using a high temperature (200° plus) and want to avoid that blast in the face.

Not quite. Broiler is a setting that just turns on the top heating element. The food is usually put on the top shelf so it’s close to the heat.

Additionally, it is very high heat used to sear steaks and quickly brown toppings like cheese or buttered breadcrumbs. Cracking the door open facilitates drawing the heat over the surface of the food.

A Crash Course to Using Your Broiler

Over the range type ovens usually have side hinged doors. Many of the disadvantages to a side hinged door on an under the range oven are mitigated when the oven is at eye level and not easily hit by legs and knees. The racks on under range ovens slide out so that food can be lifted off of them, but that would not be an advantage on a top oven and a bottom hinged door sticking would just make it more difficult to get food in and out of the oven.