A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Range
What's the Difference?
Sometimes you'll hear certain industry lingo that might confuse you. The words "oven", "cooktop" and "range" are sometimes used interchangeably. Here's a quick breakdown of the three terms.
- Cooktop - The flat surface used for simmering, boiling and frying. Cooktops are also referred to as “stoves.”
- Oven - The specific space dedicated to baking, cooking and broiling your favorite foods.
- Range - The combined unit that features a cooktop and an oven.
Trying to install a range that is too bulky or small not only makes it an eyesore, but it also makes the unit unusable. Before you buy an appliance for your kitchen, make sure it fits your space properly. Consider these useful tips to make sure your range will fit properly.
Measure Width, Depth & Height of the Opening
- Using a tape measure, check the opening's height from top to bottom, width from left to right and depth front to back.
- Make sure your range cooktop is level with your cabinets and your countertops.
Measure for Door Opening & Hinge Space
- In order to have clear access to the oven racks, the door(s) should be able to open 90 degrees or more. Most ranges are between 30" and 36" wide.
Check Your Doorways
- Check the doorways to ensure your range can easily get into your home. Measure from the stops on each side since those are the closest contact points.
- Some models have handles that can be removed while transporting and reinstalled once inside. Make sure to check the manufacturer guidelines before performing any disassembly.
- Measure the corners and hallways along the route to your range’s new home.
TIP: To avoid damaging the floor during installation, use plastic mover strips or part of the cardboard box it came in under the range's legs so you can slide the unit into place easily without scratching your floor.
Refer to a measurement cheat sheet or hire a general contractor for additional help installing your new appliance.
If you have a natural gas line in your home, gas ranges are a great choice for heating up your favorites. Your food on the cooktop and in the oven will be heated with an open flame. Certain options feature ovens with fan convection heating.
- Brings heat quickly - Turning on a gas range gives your food direct heat so food heats up faster than electric models. Plus, it’s perfect for broiling.
- Doesn't waste electricity - Gas ranges run on either propane or natural gas that is available in many homes, so you can save money on your electric bill.
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Cut the flames and plug in an electric range. Choose between coil, smoothtop or induction cooktops. Select models come with true convection or fan-only convection options.
- Save money where it counts - Electric models provide a gas-free option for cooking your food so you can say goodbye to your gas bill.
- Cooks evenly and precisely - Since most options come with a flat, smooth cooktop surface, you’re food will cook more evenly than most gas cooktops. You also can accurately control the temperatures in the oven than a traditional gas model.
- More accessories available - Select electric ranges come with accessories you won’t find on traditional gas ranges like grillers and more.
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Dual-fuel ranges give you the best of both worlds with a gas cooktop and an electric oven. Certain options come with convection features.
- Precision meets power - The ability to precisely control the oven's temperature in an electric range comes together with the high, direct heat of a gas cooktop.
- Keep the gas line - If you still have a gas line from your previous range but want to use an electric oven, this is the perfect option for you.
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These styles are traditionally found in most homes. Single-oven ranges don't take up a lot of space, and they add a classic look to any kitchen's design.
Double-oven ranges give you more cooking space so you can get more done in less time. Most designs come with low-capacity ovens, but the combined total capacity certainly makes up for this.
Combo Wall-Oven Ranges
The built-in look of the latest combination wall ovens and microwaves add convenience to your life by bringing every essential appliance within arms reach.
Designed for chefs and food TV channel addicts alike, pro-style ranges are the centerpiece to any home. They come with a sleek, professional look that is sure to become the talk of houseguests.
Freestanding ranges are traditional configurations that feature controls on the backsplash panel and have finished sides. Most options come with a bottom drawer for additional space when you need it.
- Fits just about anywhere - Electric, gas and dual-fuel freestanding models are designed to fit almost anywhere in your kitchen.
- Space for what you need - These ranges come with optimal oven space, and many feature a bottom drawer for storage, warming or broiling.
Slide-in ranges give your kitchen a built-in look with a range that fits perfectly with your kitchen cabinetry. Controls are found in front, and some units come with unfinished sides. However, like freestanding ranges, most slide-ins come with a bottom drawer or storage or warming food below the oven.
- Designed for your kitchen - Most of these models are built for a perfect height to sit flush with the tops of most kitchen cabinets.
- More room on top - With no backsplash panel, you'll have more elbow room for pots and pans on the cooktop.
- Easy to install - All you have to do is plug the unit in and slide it between your cabinet countertops. Installation is that simple. Some accessories are required.
At first glance, drop-in ranges are nearly identical to slide-in models. Like slide-ins, they don't have backsplashes, the controls are found in the front and they're designed to fit flush with the top of your kitchen cabinets. However, these options require custom-designed cabinets for installation and come without a bottom drawer.
- Ideal for kitchen upgrades - Pro-style and drop-in ranges are designed with a professional kitchen look. You may need to hire a general contractor when remodeling.
- Custom fit - Much like slide-in options, these ranges are a perfect when you want to create a look that suits your space best.
TIP 1: Make sure your range will fit flush with your cabinets, level with your countertops or can be installed inside your wall before purchasing. Hire a professional contractor for any installation assistance.
TIP 2: Consider capacity when deciding the style and configuration as models vary by capacity. If you live alone or with another person, it’s recommended to aim for 3 cu. ft. If you cook for a family of two or more, consider a range or wall oven with a capacity of 5 cu. ft. or more.
- Fan convection cooking - When you turn this mode on, a fan placed in the back of the oven circulates hot air inside to make sure food cooks faster and more evenly.
- True convection cooking - Similar to fan convection, the setting comes with a third heating element so the fans blow heated air. This gives your oven a more uniform temperature and makes sure food comes out fast and is perfectly cooked.
- Induction cooktop - On a smooth electric cooktop, induction technology uses electromagnetic energy to heat your food upon contact with magnetic pots and pans. This style is typically safer than a traditional gas and electric model as the cooking surface is always cool to the touch. Special cookware is required.
- Variable broil - Most ovens that come with a broil feature are set at a fixed 500° F. Ovens with variable broil let you adapt the broil settings to whatever you put in the oven.
- Delay timer - This features lets you set the range to turn on at a specific time so when it's ready to bake when you're ready.
- Hidden bake element - Standard ranges feature an exposed heating element on the top or bottom of the oven. Select models come with a hidden bake element that stores the element below the oven floor. This makes it easy to wipe down when it’s time to clean.
- Warming drawers - Warming drawers use low heat and temperature sensors to make sure your food stays warm and ready until it's time to serve. Plus, humidity controls make sure food inside doesn't dry out.
- Expandable elements - Switch from a small low-power element to a large high-power one without switching spots with an expandable element. Select models come with triple elements that accommodate 6", 9" and 12" size cookware.
- Steam clean or self clean - Select models feature self-clean that uses high-heats to turn stubborn stains into ash, making it easy to wipe clean. New models feature steam clean that uses a cup of water to get rid of light spills and reduces the need for frequent self-clean cycles. Steam cleaning is faster than conventional self-cleaning and uses less energy.
- Sabbath mode - This mode shuts off the ranges heat for those whose religious practices restrict use on the Jewish Sabbath and other holidays.
- Range hoods - These help rid your kitchen of smoke, steam and odors during or after cooking.Vented options directs the exhaust outside and non-vented models recirculate the air and filter out exhaust.
Cooktops feature burners with a variety of heat outputs. Gas options use British Thermal Units (BTUs) as a measurement for heat while electric models measure heat in watts. Here are the different types of burners you'll find.
- Simmer burners - These options cook food at a low and gradual heat, perfect for soups and sauces.
- Power burners - Power burners produce high heats, perfect for boiling water. Plus, these models reach higher heats than standard burners.
- Dual element burners - These electric radiant burners have multiple heat rings to accommodate large and small cookware. Some models let you use both elements for powerful heating.
- Sealed gas burners - Sealed gas models emit flames from a cap instead of directing flame straight up to your cookware. They come with a metal drip pan around the base for easy cleaning and protecting your cooktop from food and grease.
- Open gas burners - These feature jets that project flames directly upward toward the cookware.