Range Buying Guide
Purchasing a Range
Ranges combine a cooktop and oven into a single kitchen appliance. Alternatively, you can have a cooktop and a single or double wall oven in place of a range. All ranges have the capability to bake, broil, roast and boil food. The major distinguishing characteristic is whether the range is gas, electric or dual fuel. Other differences include features such as self-clean vs. a convection baking oven, the type of burners and other features that make the specific unit unique.
What are your needs?
As with any significant purchase, it is a good habit to figure out what your needs are. Do you currently have a gas or electric range? Which type of range is better suited for your household? Do you have more cooking or baking needs? What type of burner do you want? Are there any specific features you are looking for? What is your budget?
The answers to the above questions will affect your purchase. It is advisable to know those needs before going into a showroom.
Types of Ranges
There are three types of ranges available; freestanding, slide-in and drop-in.
Freestanding Ranges have finished sides and a backsplash. They typically are placed between cabinets, at the end of a cabinet run or as a stand-alone feature.
Slide-In Ranges have a seamless built-in look with no backsplash, and controls are found on the front. The sides are unfinished so the unit should be situated between cabinets. Slide-Ins also have a small piece of cabinetry under the ovens.
Drop-In Ranges resemble slide-in but require cabinet modification for a snug fit. Their controls can be found on the front of the appliance.
Range Fuel Types
There are 2 main range fuel types with a variety of burner types all dependent on your needs and wants. Many cooks agree that gas ranges are more receptive to temperature changes as opposed to electric ranges. However, those who bake think that the even and consistent heat of the electric range is more suitable for their needs.
Electric Ranges vary in size from 20" to 36" and are available with a coil burner or a smooth top burner. Coil Burners are plugged into the stovetop and can be easily removed for cleaning. The drip pan also is removable for easy cleaning. The coil elements provide even heat distribution while cooking. The more rings the coil has, the more even the heat distribution. Smooth Burners heat up very quickly and are sometimes adjustable in size. They can accommodate both small and large pots as well as heat up a casserole or griddle pan with a connector piece. The cooking surface is uninterrupted and clean-up is exceptionally easy.
Gas Ranges are available with both open and sealed burners and vary in size from 20" - 60". You must have access to natural gas or propane to use a gas range. One benefit of this fuel type is that it can be used even during power outages.
Dual Fuel Ranges
Dual Fuel Ranges combine the accuracy of a gas cooktop with the even and consistent heating of an electric oven.
There are lots of exciting features on today's ranges. Below are a few common features found on most ranges.
In addition to the bake and broil elements, there is a 3rd oven-heating element called convection. Convection cooking uses the fan in the back of the oven to circulate air over, under and around foods. Food cooks approximately 30% faster than conventional baking.
Induction cooking is considered the most energy efficient cooking technology available, and can be used to prepare any type of food. This type of cooking is reliant on certain types of pots and pans.
There are self and manual cleaning ovens. Self cleaning ovens are more expensive, but the investment might be worth it if you don't want to spend hours scrubbing your oven. When it comes to cooktops, messes can be easily managed with recessed cooktops as they are flush with the countertop. If you have a gas cooktop, full-surface grates form a continuous stable surface so pots can be shifted without being lifted or causing spills.
Cooktops with power burners will quickly bring liquids to a rolling boil. A gas range typically has a 15,000 BTU power burner, while electric ranges have at least 3,200 watts of power.
Digital or touch-activated controls offer the most accurate temperature adjustment. The controls are simple to use and easy to keep clean. Cooktops often times have safety knobs which require them to be pushed in prior to being turned on as an added safety feature.