If the kitchen is the heart of the home, at the very center is the range. When it's time to upgrade your at-home cooking experience and purchase a new oven range, there are a few things you'll want to consider. Choosing a new kitchen appliance is an investment and if you're using your range regularly, you'll want to make sure it fits your style and needs. Here are the details to consider when choosing a new oven range.
Stove vs. Oven vs. Range
Though the terms "stove," "oven," and "range" are often used interchangeably, they're actually all quite different.
- Stove: A stove functions by providing direct heat, usually via gas or electricity. In the kitchen, the stove is often referred to as the "cooktop" and can be part of a range, or separate and mounted within a wall or counter.
- Oven: The enclosed space/chamber used to heat or cook food. While it can be part of a range, it can also be mounted in a wall or counter. An oven uses gas or electricity for heat, and has temperature control features and timers.
- Range: A range is a stove and oven, combined into a single appliance, fueled by either gas or electricity.
When it comes to oven ranges, there are three standard style options: freestanding, slide-in, drop-in.
- Freestanding: A freestanding range tends to be the style most people are familiar with. It tends to be the most economical since it doesn't require any cabinetry and can stand on its own or between cabinets/counters. The controls for the freestanding range are typically found on the back panel, and it has a storage or warming drawer on the bottom of the appliance.
- Slide-in: As the name suggests, a slide-in range slides between surrounding cabinets and sits flush with your countertop. This type of range gives your kitchen a more custom, built-in look. The controls tend to be on the front of the range so there's no back panel, meaning your backsplash can be better showcased.
- Drop-in: A drop-in range fits into customized cabinetry and sits on top of a base or matching cabinet. There is no storage or warming drawer with a drop-in range, and the control panel is found at the front of the range. A drop-in range won't interfere with the look of a backsplash, are often incorporated into an island, and are traditionally the most expensive option.
When purchasing a new range, it's also important to consider what type of burner you want on your stove/cooktop. There are three main types of burners: gas, electric, induction.
- Gas: Gas burners employ an instant, hot flame you can easily adjust. These types of burners cook food quickly since the heat is instant, but not always evenly. Gas burners also cool down faster than their electric counterparts so the stovetop isn’t hot to the touch. As the name suggests, a dedicated gas hookup is required.
- Electric: Electric burners convert electricity to heat via coils that are either exposed (electric coil) or below the cooktop (smoothtop). While electric stovetops are often the most affordable, they are notoriously slow to heat and slow to cook.
- Induction: Induction cooktops use electromagnetic coils beneath a ceramic surface to transfer energy (aka heat) directly into cookware that contains iron. They heat up fast, use less energy, and are generally safer than gas or electric burners because there’s no flame or direct heat. Induction stoves also use electricity.
There are two options when it comes to powering your stove: gas and electric. If you’re replacing a stove, you’ll likely need to choose one with the same power source—converting from one to the other can be extremely expensive. If you’re building a new home, you may be able to choose depending on what’s available in your area.
As previously mentioned, gas ranges require a dedicated gas hookup, heating and cooking food via flame, whereas electric ranges run on electricity, which is easily accessible. However, if your home loses power, you also lose the use of your stove.
There are ranges that employ a dual-fuel approach: gas cooktop and electric oven. This hybrid approach is appealing if you're looking for direct heat burners but more even heat in the oven. However, these tend to be the most expensive option since they also require multiple power sources.
Size: Most standard ranges are 30” wide, 25-27” deep (excluding handles and knobs), and 36” tall (excluding control panels), and are designed to fit standard cabinet cutouts. Depending on your cabinets and countertops, there are additional size options.
Capacity: The internal size of the oven is referred to as “capacity” and is measured in cubic feet. When the oven is part of a range, it is typically five cubic feet; when the oven is separate, it is typically three cubic feet.
Convection fans: Built into the back of oven walls, convection fans circulate heat so that it's more evenly dispersed, which leads to more evenly-baked food.
Drawers: Some ranges feature bottom drawers that act as a baking drawer for smaller dishes while you use the main oven for something larger, a warming drawer to keep food warm, or a broiler drawer
Additional burners: Most standard cooktops include four burners, but additional burners are useful when you need more space.
Specialty burners: Burners like “simmer” and “high heat” are meant to offer specificity and flexibility when temperatures need to be adjusted or food/water heated quickly, whereas “grill” and “griddle” burners expand the possibilities of what can be cooked on your stovetop.
Cleaning: Some ovens offer a self-clean option, either high temperature or steam. With the high temperature method, the oven locks and gets extremely hot (as high as 900-1,000°F) to burn off residue over several hours. Steam-clean self-cleaning involves adding water to the born tom of the oven that will turn into steam to remove residue.
Color + finish: Traditional colors for ranges are white, black, and stainless steel. However, newer models and designs embrace color and customization. For finishes, the shine of high gloss and gloss looks fresh and clean, but easily smudges. Matte and slate options give a modern look that hides fingerprints, but aren’t as bright.
Warranty: A new stove will come with a standard limited, five-year manufacturer warranty that covers defects and malfunctions. Be sure to also check the details of your home warranty as it may offer additional coverage.
Energy usage: Using your range on a daily basis will consume a lot of energy, so it's important to consider energy-efficient options. Traditionally, gas stoves are more efficient—it takes three times as much energy to deliver electricity to a stove than gas.