Cooktops versus Ranges: Find the Best Stove For Your Kitchen

Whether you're replacing appliances in your existing kitchen, equipping a rental unit to prepare for new tenants or putting together the kitchen of your dreams from scratch, you'll want to make sure you're buying the right kitchen stove to suit your needs. At Sears you'll find a wide variety of cooking surfaces, powered by several types of fuel sources and made by many different quality makers, which may make it difficult to narrow down your options. The best way to figure out what kind of stove you're looking for is narrow down your choices step by step, and the first step is to decide whether you want a cooktop or a range in your kitchen.

Cooktops are smaller, self-contained units which are designed to fit neatly into your kitchen countertop. They are made to be independent of your oven; this gives you the option to either install it in a countertop over a low-mounted oven, or on its own in a kitchen island. Kitchen ranges, on the other hand, are full-sized appliances which incorporate powerful stove burners and a spacious oven into one standalone unit. The burners sit above the oven cavity, which will concentrate your cooking and baking activities in one area of the kitchen. Reading up on a comparison of the two stove types will help you choose between a cooktop and a range.

Advantage of Cooktops

The first advantage of a cooktop is one you will notice as soon as you bring it back from the store; its smaller size and lighter weight simply makes it easier to move in to your kitchen. This can be a real advantage if you live in a smaller apartment, or if you have to wrestle your new purchase up a narrow flight of stairs. If you'd like to take your cooking surface with you when you move out, a cooktop is much easier to transport than a full-sized range. Just undo the gas or electrical connection, unfasten the mounting brackets screws and slide the range back into its original box. Its flat, narrow shape fits easily into small spaces in a moving truck or car trunk.

Cooking-wise, a cooktop's main advantage lies in its convenience. By having the stove burners separate from the oven, multiple people can do different kitchen tasks at once without getting in each others' way. The oven door can freely open and close without hitting the cook's legs, which is especially important when cooking for big holiday celebrations where every stove burner and spare inch of oven space is in use. The cook won't need to step away from stirring gravy at the stove or chopping salad at the cutting board when the turkey needs to come out of the oven. Having separate ovens and cooktops also lets you mount the oven higher, at waist or even chest height. This is especially helpful for older cooks or those with back problems because they won't have to bend over using it.

Don't forget that a cooktop can be installed it any flat surface where you can run a gas line, allowing you to position it as you please. Ranges lock you into staring at a wall or at best a window while you cook, while cooktops can be installed in a kitchen island for a more open, cheery feel to the kitchen.

Advantage of Ranges

When it comes down to it, kitchen ranges have one serious performance advantage: power. Whether you prefer cooking with gas or electric, ranges are available in higher heat levels than cooktops are. Some types of cooking require a very hot burner, and this is where kitchen ranges really shine. If you're searing a steak in a cast-iron skillet, preheating a pizza pan before it goes into the oven or tossing noodles into the wok for a stir-fry, you can't produce that savory, seasoned flavor of high heat cooking any other way. Also important is the placement of the burners. Because the burners on a range are right underneath the range hood, any smoke, odor or airborne grease produced in cooking gets cleanly sucked up the hood and vented outside. Cooktops often have to rely on downdraft or side-mounted ventilation, which is much less efficient.

Ranges are also more affordable than separate cooktop and oven setups. Not only is it cheaper to purchase an all-in one range than it is to buy two separate appliances, but it's also less expensive to install.  You can easily slide a range into a recess in your kitchen counter, or just have it sitting on the end. Install the gas or electric connection and both stove and oven are ready to go. Cooktop and oven combos, on the other hand, require you to do two separate installations. Modifying your wall space to accommodate a separate wall oven setup takes some extra work and causes the dollars to add up. Keep in mind that a wall oven will also take up wall cabinet space, whereas a range oven will not.

Buying the right cooktop or range for your kitchen is really not as complicated as it seems at first. You just have to ask yourself what's more important to your day-to-day cooking routine. If you prefer high power, lots of cabinet space and having kitchen activities concentrated in one place, ranges are the way to go. If you prefer to spread out your kitchen activities so multiple cooks can stay out of each other's hair, as well as the ergonomic convenience of a high-mounted oven, you can't go wrong with a cooktop. Whichever you choose, you're sure to find the right cooking surface for your kitchen here at Sears.

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