Kristen Hicks on February 2, 2016 1 Comment Table of Contents Types of Ranges Factors to Consider When Shopping Popular Brands of Ranges The range is a central component in most kitchens. A range combines two of the most important tools for cooking into one appliance: the stove and the oven. You don’t have to buy the two appliances attached as one, but doing so has its benefits. Ranges tend to cost less than buying an oven and cooktop separately and you only have to deal with one installation. Of course, buying a combined appliance means you have almost double the considerations to take into account in finding the right one. This guide will help walk you through the many options and factors to consider in your search to make sure you end up buying the best range for your kitchen. Types of Ranges There are two main categories to consider when determining which type of range is best for your home — what fuel source your range will use, and how your range will fit into your kitchen. 1. Fuel Type You have three options to choose form in terms of fuel type, but your choice may be limited if you don’t already have a gas hookup in your kitchen. Gas Range Many chefs (and amateur chefs) prefer gas ranges because they offer a level of precision on the stovetop that electronic ranges don’t manage. With gas ranges, you can move between different levels of heat on the stove within an instant. Because you can see the flame on a gas stovetop, you have a constant visual cue of how hot the burner is. Gas rates better than electric in terms of energy use. You can expect to save on your monthly energy bills by going with a gas range, but you’ll spend a lot more to get your gas range set up if you don’t already have a gas hookup in the kitchen. Benefits: Can cook with precise heats. Lets you change the heating levels quickly. Heats up and cools down in no time. Uses less energy. To Keep in Mind: Stovetops may be harder to clean. You need a gas hookup. Electric Range Electric ranges are popular with many consumers because smoothtop stoves have a nice, sleek aesthetic and are easier to clean than gas stovetops, which have many parts you have to take apart and clean individually. For anybody that doesn’t have a gas hookup in their kitchen, an electric range will be the easiest option and cost you less to install. You’ll find electric ranges with coil stovetops and those with smooth tops. Coil stovetops are some of the cheaper options you’ll come across, whereas electric ranges with smoothop stoves tend to be some of the most expensive options on the market. While experienced chefs usually prefer the precision of gas, experienced bakers prefer electric ovens, which produce superior baked goods since the heating is more even. Benefits: Better for baking. Coil stovetop models are affordable. Smoothtop models are easy to clean and often have extra features. To Keep in Mind: Heat levels on stove aren’t as precise as with gas. Use more energy than gas. Dual Fuel Range If you want the precision of a gas stove combined with the even baking of an electric oven, a dual fuel range offers both. They will typically cost you quite a bit more than going with one fuel type or another, but consumers that do a lot of cooking and baking and are particular about their cooking experience may find the difference worth the cost. Benefits: Gas stove better for precision cooking. Electric stove better for even baking. To Keep in Mind: Cost more. You’ll still need a gas hookup. You may need to spend extra to make sure you have enough electrical charge for the dual fuel range to work. 2. Design Type In addition to deciding on fuel type, you’ll need to figure out how your oven will fit into the allotted space for it. Freestanding Range A freestanding range is the easiest option in terms of installation. You can put them wherever in your kitchen you have a gas and electrical hookup. They have finished sides and a flat back and their sizes are standardized so they should fit into any standard range space. They typically have a backguard on them that both protects your wall from any mess or heat and is usually where the oven’s controls are found. They’re the cheapest and most convenient of the range design types. Slide-in Range A slide-in range has the benefit of looking like it’s built in and custom made for the kitchen, but actually being much easier to install than that, since you can just slide them into the available spot in your kitchen. They don’t usually have a backguard and the controls are located in the front of the range, so they have a smoother, cleaner look. They’re also wider on top, so there’s no space left between the range top and the counter and drips and crumbs can’t get through. Drop-In Range Like a slide range, a drop-in range has unfinished sides and a wide enough top to ensure there’s no space between the range and counter. Unlike a slide-in range, a drop-in range never touches the floor, but is rather installed on top of a cabinet baseboard. It makes the range look more built in, but it’s harder to install, as it often requires custom-made cabinets. Drop-in ranges aren’t as popular now as they once were, so you’ll find less selection with this type of range. Wall Oven A wall oven is just an oven, without the stove. Someone who desires more flexibility in their kitchen design can buy a wall oven along with a cooktop and place them wherever in the kitchen makes the most sense. This usually costs more than buying a range that brings the two appliances together, but ends up leaving you with more storage space in the kitchen and can sometimes add convenience when you’re cooking. Factors to Consider When Buying a New Range Ranges come in many sizes, different iterations, and with a wide range of different features. You’ll have an easier time figuring out which range will fit best in your kitchen if you have an idea going in of what your options are. Here are some of the most important factors to consider and main features to be aware of. 1. Cost Ranges can be costly. On the cheaper end, you can get away with finding one that falls in the $500-750 price range, but most are going to get into the thousands. With the higher end models, you’ll often be paying for things like more durability, extra features, a larger size and an attractive style. Electric ranges will often cost more than gas, with the exception of those that use the coil cooktops, which are cheaper (and use less electricity than other electric models). If you’re interested in newer technologies like convection ovens and induction cooktops, expect to pay a premium for them. Keep in mind the costs associated with buying an oven as well, such as how much it will cost to install (much more for a drop-in range than a freestanding one) and how much you’ll be paying in energy costs. 2. Size Another important concern is the size of the range you go with. Most consumers will be satisfied with the typical 30” range with 4-5 burners. Those who live in tight spaces may prefer a smaller range that will more easily fit in their kitchen and those that do a lot of cooking and have the space may want to upgrade to a larger model with more oven space, extra oven racks, and more burners to work with. Whatever your preference, you have to make sure you have the space for it. If you’re replacing an old range that no longer works, you’ll want to stick with whatever size the original was, unless you’re willing to pay extra in remodeling costs to make the space for a new one. If you’re doing a full kitchen remodel, figure out early on where you want your range to be and how big you want it, so you know what you’re looking for by the time you do your shopping. 3. Cooking Uses As we’ve already addressed in our types section, different types of ranges are considered better for cooking different things. Many chefs swear by gas as the best fuel type for cooking with on a cooktop, while bakers insist on the superior quality of baking with an electric oven. Which type of fuel to go with (and whether or not a dual fuel model is worth the cost) is based on what you cook the most often and how particular you are about how your food turns out. You’ll also want to keep in mind the different cooking settings and features you’ll find in different range models. Many stovetops will have different burners devoted to different levels of heat, like a power burner meant to heat up very fast for boiling water, and a low-heat burner that’s good for simmering. Some electric cooktops will also include an option for keeping your food warm once it’s cooked at a low enough level to avoid burning it. 4. Kitchen Design Most people putting the time and money into a kitchen remodel will want everything to look and work just right. Consider the placement that makes the most sense for your range, the aesthetic that will work the best with the rest of your kitchen, and where you should put it to be the most comfortable while doing your cooking in the kitchen. Talk to your designer or contractor about your options and get their experienced opinion on whatever placement, design, and particular range you’re considering. This is a big enough purchase that you want to get it right the first time. 5. Ease of Use and Cleaning You don’t want using your range to add any work to your cooking. Many ranges have features that will help make them easier to use, such as digital controls (only on electric models) or a self-cleaning feature for the oven. You’ll also find options that heat up and cook faster for extra convenience. Induction and smoothtop models are the easiest types of stove-tops to clean, as gas and coil electric cooktops require you to manage more pieces. And freestanding models will be the easiest to install. Weigh how much convenience is worth the extra cost or other tradeoffs for you. For many people those little touches that make life easier are worth paying extra for. 6. Safety Some ranges will come with a child lock for families with children that want to ensure they won’t be able to use the range without supervision. Most electric cooktops are slow to cool, so will stay red until the surface has cooled as a warning. Gas ranges can be risky for those that aren’t careful, what with the open flames on the cooktop and the release of gas that can quickly become both toxic and make your home highly flammable if you accidentally leave it on. If safety’s a particular concern, induction cooktops are your best bet, and any range with knobs toward the back and out of reach of your kids can minimize risk. For all types of ranges, the level of risk they present has more to do with how they’re used than how they work. Be careful to keep flammable items off of the stove, remember to always turn off the gas, and use the back burners for any pots that have liquids if you want to keep the handles out of reach of your kids. 7. BTU You’ll see BTU (British thermal units) claims used in the marketing of ranges quite a bit. This is a measure of the amount of heat a range produces. For most consumers, BTUs won’t be much of a concern — any range you buy will get hot enough for the main tasks you’ll need it for, and a stove that gets too hot can actually damage your dishware if you’re not careful. Seasoned chefs may be a little more picky. Certain types of cooking can benefit from higher BTUs. If you’re likely to do that kind of cooking, you probably already know how important high BTUs are to you and what levels to look for. 8. Advanced Technologies You’ll find some ranges on the market that make use of heating technologies that have been recently developed. These will be more expensive than most of your other options, but offer a number of benefits that many buyers consider worth the cost. 9. Convection Oven We’ve discussed how an electric oven provides more even cooking than a gas oven, but if you want the absolute utmost in even baking, you should splurge for a range with a convection oven. Convection ovens have a fan and exhaust system that moves the heat around in a way that ensures faster and more even cooking. Convection ovens bake items faster than other types of ovens, produce better results in terms of flavor and texture, and use less energy. They’ll usually cost you more than your other options, but many bakers swear by the difference they make. 10. Induction Stove Like the convection oven, an induction cooktop will heat your food faster and save you time in the kitchen. It uses an electromagnetic charge to cook food without the surface of the oven ever even getting warm, so families worried about the safety issues of a hot stove should especially consider induction. They do require a certain type of cookware (anything that’s attracted to a magnet should work), so you may have to buy some new items, but induction cooking is becoming increasingly popular as more people enjoy the benefits of the speed and precision it offers. As with convection ovens, ranges with induction cooktops will come at a higher price than most other models (this is especially true for any range that offers both convection and induction), but induction cooktops pretty consistently get rave reviews from customers. If you like the idea of buying the latest technology and saving some time in the kitchen, a range with either a convection oven, induction cooktop, or both may be a worthwhile investment. 11. Other Features Those are some of the main options and factors to consider, but you will also encounter a few additional features that may be important to you. Vent Hood: Some ranges will come with a hood that clears out the steam and odors produced by your cooking and moves them outside. A lot of the time you’ll have to buy a range hood separately, but one that comes with your range can add some convenience and savings to the process. Self-cleaning Oven: Very few buyers (if any) will relish the idea of dealing with cleaning the oven or a range. A self-cleaning feature can save you a lot of time and trouble, even if it usually costs a little more. Although, it must be noted that there are a few hazards associated with the self-cleaning feature. Warming Drawer: Any time you’re entertaining and will be using the oven for multiple dishes, a warming drawer will let you keep the first dish you made warm as you cook the second one. It might not be something you use all the time, but having it there when you need it can be very useful. Storage Drawer: Storage space in the kitchen is a constant issue for many consumers. A storage drawer gives you a little more space for storing pots and pans so you can use your cabinet space for all that other stuff. 10 Popular Brands of Ranges A range is a significant enough investment that it’s well worth it to do the research and make sure the range you buy is from a quality brand. To help give you a head start on that research, we looked at the user reviews of ranges produced by a number of top brands to get a feel for what actual consumers think of them. 1. Bosch Bosch sells a number of ranges of various types that get solid reviews from customers. Reviews say they look good, work well, and are easy to use. If you find a Bosch model you like, they’re a reliable brand to go with. 2. Dacor Dacor makes ranges that get extremely mixed reviews – the positives are very positive, and negatives very negative. Some of the differences are product specific; some models seem more prone to breaking than others. Their prices tend to be on the higher end, so if you’re considering a Dacor, check the reviews of your particular model first to make sure it’s one of the ranges that customers rate well. 3. Danby Danby sells affordable ranges that mostly get pretty positive reviews. We found complaints about pieces breaking with a couple of models, but the main theme we found repeated in reviews of their ranges was customers happy with the value for the price. 4. GE GE’s a familiar brand name that many people trust, but we actually found their range reviews fairly mixed. Some models seem to get almost uniformly positive reviews, others get complaints about quality issues, parts breaking, and the range being difficult to clean. Their ranges usually fall in the middle of the range pricewise, and some customers do praise the value. This is another brand that customers would be smart to check out the reviews and reputations of individual models for before purchasing. 5. ILVE An Italian brand, ILVE produces attractive high-end ranges. We didn’t find just a ton of customer reviews on ILVE ranges, but the feedback we found was very positive. ILVE has a reputation for performing well and looking fantastic. 6. Premier Premier makes affordable ranges that have the selling point of being made in the United States (including all the parts). They get mixed reviews, many customers praise the value for the cost, others don’t think they’re especially well made and think spending more for a nicer range is worth it. If affordability is a top priority for you or you prefer to buy U.S.-made products, then Premier may be a worthwhile choice to consider. 7. Samsung Samsung is another familiar name in appliances that sells ranges that earn mixed reviews from customers. Many reviewers mention that the ranges have good extra features, but others complain about them being hard to clean, not lasting long, or just otherwise having quality and usability issues. Some models get much stronger reviews than others, so if you find yourself gravitating toward a Samsung range, take the time to see what past customers have to say about the one you have your eye on. 8. Smeg Smeg is a foreign brand that makes attractive mid-priced ranges that get strong reviews. We didn’t find a lot of reviews for Smeg ranges, but those we did find are almost entirely positive. Reviewers praise their Smeg ranges for both looking and working great. 9. Summit Summit makes ranges that are good for small spaces. Most of the reviews we found for their compact ranges were positive, with a few complaints about quality that seem specific to particular models. If you need a range that will work in a small kitchen, they’re a brand worth checking out, but do check the reviews for any particular model you consider before buying. 10. Verona Verona’s another Italian manufacturer making sleek looking ranges. The reviews we found of their ranges are mostly positive. Reviewers say they look amazing and work well. We came across a few complaints about ranges needing repairs, but they were in the minority and most customers were happy with the range for the price. In Conclusion As you can see, when you combine two important appliances into one, the factors to consider tend to get complicated. A range can get pretty costly, but a good one can serve as a useful, easy-to-use, and attractive centerpiece of your kitchen. Carefully consider your needs, your wants, and how you expect to use your range in the years to come. Considering the important role a range plays in the typical home, investing in the range that’s just right for you will be worth it.