If it’s time for you to buy a new range, the first thing you’ll notice is that there’s a lot of choice. Do you want gas or electric? Smooth top or electric coils? How many ovens do you need, or more specifically, what type of oven do you need?
Whether you’re cooking for your family or you’re a pro baker with a flair for sheet cakes, choosing a good range, cooktop, or wall oven is one of the most important appliance decisions you’ll make in your home.
Types of cooking appliances
The terms stove, cooktop, range, and oven have all been used to describe the appliance in your kitchen that cooks your food, but there are important differences between them.
Stand Alone Range
A stand-alone range is an all-in-one cooking unit that slides into a designated spot in your kitchen. It includes an oven for baking, stovetop for cooking, and comes in a wide variety of styles.
A dual-fuel range looks like a standard gas range, but it uses a fan system to rotate heat in both directions and has a third element to cook food even faster.
Electric Wall Oven
An electric wall oven does not have a cook-top or stove, but instead can be mounted within your kitchen cupboards or other designated spot. Wall ovens are great for avid bakers, because you can have a double oven or even a wall oven/microwave combo.
A cooktop is simply that: a cooktop or stove that sits on top of your counter and cooks your food. Cooktops are available in electric, induction, or gas varieties.
Questions you may have while shopping for a range
There are a lot of different types of ranges and ovens available, so before you get started, you might want to ask yourself a few questions.
What type of range or oven will fit in my kitchen?
The size and shape of your kitchen will influence what type of range, oven, or cooktop you buy. If you already have a designated spot for your range and are simply upgrading or replacing a unit that’s given up on you, you might want to stick to another range.
If you’re in the middle of building a new house or renovating and you’re looking for something completely new, the sky’s the limit. You can choose a wall oven, cooktop and wall oven combo, or just a great new range.
Do you have gas hookups?
Gas ranges are among the most popular ranges available right now, but they’re not for everyone. That’s because not every kitchen has a gas connection, and some people don’t want to hire a gas fitter to connect one.
If you’re in the process of building a new house or are renovating your existing house, it’s a great time to ask a contractor to install a gas line to hook up a gas range.
What type of cook are you?
Do you like to make huge family dinners or are you more of a heat up and serve type of chef? If you create big meals or enjoy baking several dishes on one day, you might want to consider a larger range with dual ovens or wall oven.
Would you like self-cleaning?
Ranges are pretty much plug and play, until it comes time to clean them. Unless you have a self-cleaning range, you’ll spend a fair bit of time scrubbing out the interior cavity of your oven.
With a self-cleaning range or oven, all you have to do is turn on the cleaning cycle, wait a short time, and wipe out the left over dust. Some of the latest ranges can self-clean using only water in 20 minutes flat.
Smooth top ranges and cooktops are also simple to take care of. There’s no fussing with removing burners. If you spill, just use a soft cloth and buff clean.
Features you’ll find on ranges, cooktops, and wall ovens
The latest ranges, cooktops, and wall ovens have unique features that make cooking and baking both easy and fun.
Dual or Double Ovens
If you’ve ever made a huge Thanksgiving dinner for a large group of people, you’ve probably wished you had more than one oven. Dual ovens are becoming more and more commonplace for serious cooks and bakers.
When you have two ovens you can bake different dishes at different temperatures. If you choose a dual oven range you may find one oven smaller than the other, and you might only have the option of having convection in one oven instead of both.
Oval burners or bridges
Depending on the type of range or cooktop you choose, you may find oval burners or bridges between burners. These burners let you use different sizes of cookware including rectangular casseroles or griddles.
Hot surface lights
A hot surface warning light comes on when the burner does, and it stays on for as long as it needs to when the burner is turned off and the surface is cooling.
Some models of range or cooktop have fast boil, and can produce over 3000 watts to bring your water to a boil in a hurry.
Whether you want to set the temperature of your oven or you’d like to delay the start time, a touchscreen display will simplify your baking and cooking.
Having a time delay or a delayed start on your range or wall oven gives you added flexibility when cooking. You can put your food in your oven, hit delayed start, and it will only turn on when it’s scheduled to.
When you have a Wi-Fi connected range, you’ll be able to perform different functions right from your smartphone. Some models allow you to connect to a voice assistant and ask it verbally to turn off or on, while others use an app to turn on power, set timers, or download programs for your appliance.
A convection oven is an oven with a one or more fans built in. These fans circulate hot air to every part of the oven so you’re sure to have even heat distribution. Convection ovens also tend to reduce your overall cooking time.
Wall oven and microwave combinations
If you want a compact spot to put your microwave while still taking advantage of the space savings you get from a wall oven, you can choose a wall oven and microwave combination.
If you’re interested in a new range
If, based on your kitchen and your cooking preferences, you’ve decided you’d love to bring home a new range, you’ll have a lot of fun choosing. There are many great choices, with options for all types of cooks and any type of kitchen.
Freestanding or slide-in range
A freestanding range is the type of range you’ll see most frequently. It has a backguard that sits up against your wall or tile, and that’s usually where the burner and oven controls are.
If you’re into the seamless look and have a nice backsplash you don’t want to cover, a slide-in range may be the option for you. Slide-in ranges have a seamless appearance, and all controls are on the front of the range.
Smooth top range
Both freestanding and slide-in ranges can be found with smooth tops. Smooth top ranges are a great choice because they’re easy to wipe clean, provide an even heating surface, and built-in sensors will let you know if the burner is still too hot to touch. Everything you cook will have even heat distribution, and the hot light indicator will come up when the stovetop is too hot to touch.
An induction range looks like a standard smoothtop range, but an element sits just below the surface and creates a magnetic field. When you put your pot on top of the magnetic element, vibrations are converted to heat.
People choose induction ranges because they’re more efficient than electric or gas ranges. To use induction you’ll need to upgrade your cookware to cast iron or certain types of stainless steel.
Electric coil range
Freestanding ranges can also have electric coil burners. These are a simple choice for ranges, and they have familiar controls and work by running electricity into the coils.
Freestanding and slide-in gas ranges are fast becoming one of the most popular choices for ranges, and they generally have 4 or 5 sealed burners with various BTU (British thermal units) to bring liquids to a boil quickly.
Depending on the make and model you choose, there are a lot of innovative features on gas ranges. Some features include superboil burners for consistent, even heating, removable stovetop griddles for grilling, and fifth burners for extra cooking flexibility.
Deciding on a cooktop
If you opt out of having a full range because you don’t have the room or you want that extra space for cabinets, a cooktop is a great choice. They’re perfect for small homes, dorms, and tiny kitchens and they come in four types—smooth top, smooth top induction coil, and and gas cooktops.
A smooth top induction cooktop will cook everything perfectly because your pot or pan becomes the heat source. This results in a cooktop that will only heat the surface that’s in contact with the pot or pan – everything else around it remains cool. Food cooks very quickly this way.
Gas cooktops work in the same way gas ranges do, and they’re great for everything from boiling liquids to searing foods as you have precise control over the heat source.
Choosing a wall oven
Ranges and wall ovens are available in a few main oven types including electric and convection. Electric ovens have the coils you often see in standard ovens, and they heat food from above and below.
Convection and true convection
Convection ovens are available in two types – convection and true convection. A convection oven has two heating elements. There’s a bake element on the bottom of the oven and a broil element on the top, and it uses a fan on the back wall to move air from the bottom up and around the interior of the oven so the food cooks quickly and evenly.
The true convection oven also adds a third element so food is cooked even more uniformly than simple fan convection. The heating element is near the fan on the back wall, and food is heated from the side as well as top and bottom. This means that if you have a few racks of cookies baking at the same time, they’ll all be cooked evenly because heat is hitting them from all angles.
You may see the term ‘speed oven‘ when shopping for a wall oven and wonder what that means. Available in certain models of wall oven, a speed oven is smaller and can cook faster than a standard wall oven.
Electric wall oven
If you choose an electric wall oven, you’ll find models with single ovens or double ovens for more cooking, roasting, or baking space.
Although your new range, cooktop, or wall oven will the main attraction in your kitchen, you might want to consider a few adds-ons to enhance your culinary experience.
A range hood ensures adequate ventilation when you’re cooking. You can find range hoods with lights built in so you can have extra task lighting, and others have multiple fan speeds to remove even the strongest cooking odours.
A warming drawer sits underneath your wall oven or is available as an option in some ranges. You can use a warming drawer to keep your meal warm until you’re ready to eat it, but many warming drawers have unique features like bread proofing, heating several different meals at once, or options for warming towels.
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