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Unlike microwaves, on every stove-top/oven I've used, a dial that controls the stove elements can be turned backward to click to the maximum setting, while the dial that controls the oven temperature, works in opposite direction.

Why is this?

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Feels like a question for a mechanical engineer. Probably just a reflection of the differences in the hardware used to control each. –  dennislees Mar 11 at 2:20
    
I think we can only speculate but on a gas stovetop, my guess is that we often need 'highest' quite frequently and being gas, it's fairly instantaneous. Rarely do we need an oven to go to high and if we do, it's not going to be an immediate thing. –  DA01 Mar 11 at 2:20
    
Also on a gas stovetop, you need the 'high' by default to get the most gas flow to ignite it properly. Then dial-down to low once lit. –  DA01 Mar 11 at 2:21
    
The oven is an enclosed space, so the sudden burst of the flame is not going to hurt or scare anybody, but the open flame of a burner may. –  PatomaS Mar 11 at 2:42
    
In my oven, you have only one direction to turn the dial. –  PatomaS Mar 11 at 2:43
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1 Answer 1

This is done for safety concerns. To my knowledge, this design is followed only on stoves. (I'll be pleased to know some other examples.)

Not just microwaves, every mechanical rotating controller, like volume on a music system or speed regulator in a fan, works the "normal way"; rotate clockwise to increase, counter clockwise to decrease, rotate all the way right for max, like so. Here's how this "normal way" would be a hazard on a stove:

There is a threshold minimum gas flow required for the flame to keep burning. If the gas flow becomes lower then that threshold, the flame will extinguish and the leaking gas will fill up the room. So, to make sure that you don't make the gas flow lower than that limit by mistake, they made you rotate it to the extreme right for lowest setting. This way, you wouldn't try to make the gas flow lower than that. If it was done the normal way, there was a chance that you'd unknowingly make the gas flow lower than the safety limit.

Also, like stated in the comments, when you start the stove, you initially want the gas flow to be maximum so that it's easier to ignite.

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BlueFlame, by nickname you seem to be the person of trust here ;) And yes, this is what I wanted to write about it as well. One more thing: initially, the gas ovens were controlled directly with valves (probably there is a bit more technology implemented now, some electronical flow control or something), and it was valve mechanism limitation that let you add more or less gas as you turn the knob right or left - but opening the valve suddenly to its max could cause - with time - some leaks, which in case of ovens could lead to dramatic results. –  Dominik Oslizlo Mar 11 at 8:54
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