Today's ranges and stoves are innovative, multitasking appliances able to cook more dishes at once, saving time and energy. The right stove adds a good measure of convenience to your kitchen, and improves any recipe, making mealtime that much more enjoyable.
Three styles of ranges are available. To select a range that fits well, think first about your kitchen's design:
- Freestanding ranges have finished sides and a backsplash. They can go between cabinets, at the end of a cabinet run or stand alone. The electric ones have controls on the backsplash while gas ranges have controls in the front.
- Slide-in ranges have a seamless built-in look with no backsplash and controls on the front. The sides are not finished or enclosed, so they require a cabinet on both sides.
- Drop-in ranges look similar to slide-ins but may require cabinet modification for a tight fit. You can tell slide-ins by the strip of cabinetry under their ovens. Their controls are on the front.
Range Fuel Types
Most cooks agree that gas elements are more responsive to temperature adjustments than electric elements. Those who bake often will enjoy the even and consistent heat of an electric oven. A dual-fuel range combines an easy-to-control gas cooktop with an even-heat, electric convection oven. Most dual-fuel ranges require a 240-volt outlet in addition to a gas hookup.
Electric ranges are available in coil element and smooth-top designs. Sizes range from 20" to 36."
- Coil Element (radiant surface): This radiant element plugs in and can be easily removed for cleaning. The drip pans also lift out for cleaning. Coil elements provide even heat distribution when cooking. The more rings a coil has, the more even the distribution.
- Smooth-Top (radiant surface): This radiant element heats quickly, and is sometimes adjustable in size. It can accommodate large or small pans with an adjustable element, and it can heat a large griddle or casserole dish with a connector element. The cooking surface is uninterrupted for exceptionally easy cleanup.
You must have access to natural gas from your home to use a gas range. A gas range is available in open and sealed burners, and works the best for even cooktop cooking. Some gas ranges have continuous interlocking grates that allow a pot to easily be moved between burners. Sizes vary from 20" to 40." Also, with a gas range, you can cook during power outages.
- Open Burner: Includes large openings in the cooktop for the burner. The cooktop lifts to clean spills that drain into the cooktop opening, and drip pans can be easily cleaned in the sink.
- Sealed-Surface Burner: The burner is recessed below the surface of the countertop, and a sealed burner is attached directly to the cooktop. Spills and spatters are contained on the cooktop for easy cleanup.
- Coil Cooktop: Perfect for cast-iron pots, canning and inexpensive repair.
- Ceramic-Glass Cooktop: Easy to keep clean and offers flexibility for dual elements and simmer burners.
- Induction Cooktop: It's the most efficient cooking method and provides accurate temperature control. Induction uses the power of electromagnetic waves to quickly turn the bottom of the pot into an active heating surface, rather than the cooktop, to provide a cooler surface temperature.
Want the best of both worlds? Try dual fuel. It combines the accuracy of gas cooktop cooking with the even and consistent heating of an electric oven. These ranges have the best features of gas and electric cooktops.
Range Size and Features
Before you choose a range, measure your available space. Use the simple table below to determine the oven size best suited for your family:
|Size of Family||Oven Cavity Size|
|1-2 people||2-3 cubic feet|
|3-4 people (small family)||3-4 cubic feet|
|4 or more people (large family)||4+ cubic feet|
After you measure, you can start thinking about the good stuff — new features. Here are a few options:
In addition to the standard bake and broil elements, there is a third oven-heating element around the fan in the rear of the oven.
- Convection cooking uses a fan in the back of the oven to circulate air over, under and around foods, to cook approximately 30% faster than conventional baking.
- Convection ovens allow you to choose between conventional baking and roasting or convection baking and roasting.
- By circulating hot air around the oven, convection cooking can eliminate hot and cool spots for more even cooking. A turkey roasted in a convection oven will brown all over, rather than just on top.
- Manage your mess with a recessed cooktop. It’s flush with the countertop — sitting at the same level as the countertop — since the grates can sit lower. This helps to contain spills, making it much easier to clean.
- If you have a gas cooktop, consider full-surface grates to form a continuous usable surface, so you can shift a full pot from one burner to the next without lifting it — or risking a spill.
- Some ranges have programs available on the oven, so you can start and stop the cooking process in your absence.
- Many cooktops include hot-surface indicator lights to remind you the cooktops are still hot.
- Cooktop controls may include safety knobs that must be pushed in to turn on.
- Look for a cooktop with a power burner if you want to quickly bring foods to a rolling boil. A gas range typically has a 15,000-BTU power burner. An electric range’s power burner has at least 3,200 watts of power.
- Certain dishes require excellent low-heat control. A simmer burner lets you prepare delicate sauces or melt chocolate with low, even heat. The simmer burner on a gas range typically has 5,000 BTUs. On an electric range, it has 1,200 watts to 1,500 watts. You can also use your simmer burner to cook small quantities of rice, hold an emulsion without it breaking and keep a finished meal warm without it overcooking.
For the most accurate temperature adjustment, go with a digital or touch-activated screen control. This control is simple to use, and its flat surface is great for fast and easy cleaning. This style is available on electric cooktops.
While there aren't any ENERGY STAR® approved oven ranges on the market, you can still find ways to save.