Buying a new kitchen range – whether you’re replacing one that’s old or broken, or upgrading as part of a larger remodel – is one of the more important decisions you’ll have to make in terms of your kitchen design. They’re big, relatively expensive, and at least theoretically will last you quite a while. That means you’re making a commitment for the start-up cost, long term expenses, and (maybe most importantly) an appliance that you’re probably going to use every day. So, here are a few important factors to give some serious thought before you buy a new kitchen range.
The first and perhaps most important decision you’ll need to make when buying a new kitchen range is what type of fuel that range will use. The debate comes down to electricity, gas, or both, each of which have their own advantages and drawbacks in terms of performance, operating costs, and initial price. I explore all the factors in much more depth here, but for a quick summary: gas cooktops are more powerful, electric ovens cook more evenly, and dual fuel ovens (which combine a gas cooktop with an electric oven) offer the best of both but are significantly more expensive. Ultimately whether you choose an electric range, a dual fuel, or a gas range is largely a matter of personal preference and local availability, but it’s a decision that definitely deserves serious consideration.
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Most standard kitchen ranges are 30 inches, with some smaller ranges in apartments or older homes clocking in at a leaner 24 inches. But new, professional quality or commercial-style kitchen ranges can be much larger, at 36 or even 48 or more inches wide. If you’re replacing an existing range, you want to make very sure that you’re getting a new one that’s the right size for your space. In a larger remodel, you want to consider whether the added functionality of a larger range (usually a larger or second oven and two extra burners) is worth the loss of counter top workspace.
…And Also Size
Of course, size consideration is about more than just the physical width and depth of your range. It’s also about the size of the cooktop and individual burners, and the capacity of the oven. If it’s at all possible, you should always try to compare your most-used cookware against the burners of your prospective range, looking for burners that allow your pots and pans to sit flat and cover the burner entirely. The better the fit, the more even your cooking. And having a cookware that sits well on a range can even help cut down on energy use, since all the heat is going directly into your pan. As for the oven, you want it to be large enough to cook the biggest meal you’ll need it for (usually a Thanksgiving turkey!). For everyday use, you want to make sure your range has no less than five adjustable heights for the oven racks so you can make the most of the interior space of the oven.
Type Of Cooktop
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Once you’ve got these basics out of the way, you want to look at the layout and features of your cooktop. Some of these features are dependent on the type of fuel your range uses. For example, electric cooktops come in conventional coil top or more expensive, more finished looking and easier to clean smooth-top versions, as well as increasingly popular induction cooktops. Similarly, gas cooktops either have exposed pilots or more expensive but much easier to clean sealed burners. Some have grates that cover the entire surface of the range, making it easy to transfer pots and pans from one burner to another. Regardless of fuel type, though, you want to have at least one high powered burner for fast cooking, one low powered burner for slow simmering, and two mid-range burners to offer maximum utility.
Double, Multi-Function, And Convection Ovens
You also want to consider the second part of the kitchen range: the oven. Now, there are a whole lot of technological features that get packed into ovens these days, and you’ll need to give serious thought to which ones you’ll actually use. Self cleaning features are becoming ubiquitous, but work better in electric ovens than gas (especially propane) ranges, and typically add about $100 to the total cost of the range. Double ovens are excellent for entertainers and those who feed big families, as they allow you to simultaneously cook multiple dishes at different temperatures. On the more exotic end, convection ovens (which have special fans that help circulate heated air throughout your oven) can dramatically reduce cooking time and ensure more even cooking. Often, convection ovens also have multiple functions, allowing you to alter the type of heat (and sometimes humidity) conditions in the oven and use it to proof dough, high heat grill, and everything in between.
All About Accessories
Many professional quality kitchen ranges emphasize power and speed, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, other designers are focusing more on modular functionality. It’s crucial to find out what, if any, special features your prospective kitchen range has. From grills and griddles that fit easily atop the burners to rotisseries in the oven and a warming drawer below, many modern kitchen ranges offer the ability to emulate or even outright replace many common small kitchen appliances.
Standalone kitchen ranges make up far and away the majority of ranges out there, with built-in, drop-in, and slide-in taking second fiddle, in large part because they’re much more difficult to install. But a traditional kitchen stove, with an oven and a cooktop in a single piece, isn’t the only option. In fact, many designers are separating the two, pairing dual wall mounted ovens with a standalone cooktop (usually either gas or an induction cooktop) installed directly into your counter top or kitchen island. This offers much more flexibility of design and a greater cooking capacity, but is almost always more expensive, and can mean sacrificing valuable workspace.
Think Outside The Range
Importantly, choosing a kitchen range that’s perfect in every way for your remodel and your personal cooking style isn’t enough on its own. Especially if you’re opting for a high-powered, professional quality range, you absolutely have to take the heat and other fumes a commercial grade cooktop will produce. That means that in addition to paying attention to power and dimensions of the range itself, you need to match that with the strength and capacity with a coordinating range hood. The more cooking you do and the more powerful your cooktop the more important this is, but even for a very basic model, you want to ensure that your kitchen has proper ventilation. (Note: many high end luxury models can be paired with matching range hoods, or even have them built into a single piece.)
Love The Way It Looks
This might seem obvious, but you want to get a kitchen range that will look good in your kitchen. Stainless steel finishes have been quite popular in recent years, though traditional black and white are still far and away the most common choices. Higher end designers will offer ranges in a variety of different colors (Bertazzoni offers ranges in bold, colorful finishes applied with the same technology used to paint a Ferrari). That said, always ask for swatches to make sure the finish matches your cabinetry before you buy. Unlike most kitchen appliances, ranges are designed to stand out, but you don’t want it to be in a bad way. Some of the aesthetic features of your range are functionally important as well. Look for heavy duty, sturdy feeling metal controls, or alternately clear, easy to use digital displays. Being able to simply control your range is a must, and element indicator lights (especially on smooth-top electric ranges) are an incredibly important safety feature.
Playing The Pricing Game
Finally, it’s important to remember that all the features here, from high powered gas ranges to that cherry red finish, come with their own price. The very most basic kitchen ranges will only cost you a few hundred dollars, while top of the end luxury, professional quality ranges can edge up into the low five figures. There are plenty of ranges in between, but regardless of your budget, it’s important to remember that a kitchen range is a long-term investment and a crucial one for people who do a lot of cooking. So be sure to weigh each feature, comparing the cost it adds to the range with the amount of utility you’ll get out of it and decide what you want, what you need, and what you can afford to get the right range for your kitchen.
Buying a new kitchen range is a major purchase, and one that deserves extensive and serious thought. It’s a choice that will impact not just your design, but the way you use your kitchen for years to come. What are you looking for in a kitchen range? Any questions or concerns you have that I haven’t addressed here? Let me know in the comments!
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