Selecting a Range

Just about everybody has a range in their home. It's where we cook our dinners, bake our cookies, and make Thanksgiving dinner. It's probably been a while since you've last seriously shopped for a range, and quite a lot has changed in the meantime. Rather than letting the incredible amount of models and options overwhelm you, go through this page and find the style, fuel, color, and features that you'd like your range to have. Odds are, you'll be able to find a model that has all the features you're looking for, and you'll spend less time searching for your new range which will give you more time to actually enjoy your new range.

STYLE
  • Free-standing: this is what most of us think of when we think of a range, and it's the most popular, so there are lots of different models from which to choose. A square metal box with a swing-down door in the front, burners on top, and a control panel on the backsplash. Electric ranges will have all controls on the backsplash control panel, while ranges with gas will have oven controls on the backsplash, with cooktop controls on the front edge. Some models may have dual ovens. The average free-standing range is 30" wide, but they are also available in 20", 24", 36", 40", and 48" wide.

  • Slide-in: a built-in style that is increasingly popular for people remodeling their kitchens; the top surface overlaps the countertop, creating the look of being built into the cabinetry. There is almost never a backsplash with these ranges, and the controls will be on the front panel. These are only ever available in single-oven models. These are all 30" wide.

  • Drop-in: a built-in style that doesn't actually stand on the floor, but is raised up so it is even more integrated into the cabinetry by allowing the cabinetry to continue below it. The top surface overlaps the countertop, and usually these don't have backsplashes. Controls will be on the front panel. These ranges are available in 27" and 30" widths. Be sure to choose the proper width for your space.

FUEL
  • Gas: Natural gas or LP – liquid propane (depending on which you have); some gas ranges cannot be convered to LP. Gas/LP provides almost infinite temperature control, though there are really only about 15 actual settings that are in any way recognizable. You may need a licensed plumber for installation, depending on the building codes where you live. You will require a gas hookup and a 110v outlet available.

  • Electric – coil: a steel rod is turned into a spiral through which electric current is run; this creates heat. Coils are seldom truly level, are very slow to heat, very slow to cool down, do not offer much in the way of temperature control, and can heat very unevenly. You must purchase a cord for electric ranges, because building codes have changed, but some homes may still have older outlets. There are 3-prong and 4-prong outlets, so be sure to choose the appropriate cord.

  • Electric – radiant: a ceramic-glass surface conceals coiled ribbons of metal that heat the surface, and that heat then transfers to the cookware. Radiant heat is faster than coils, and offers slightly better temperature control and more even heating. As with electric coil ranges, you'll need to purchase a cord.

  • Electric – induction: a ceramic-glass surface conceals copper coils that, when activated, create an electromagnetic field that excites the iron molecules in cookware, which creates heat at the molecular level in the pan and that heats the food. Induction is the fastest heating system available (water can be brought to a boil in as little as 90 seconds); fastest cooling (when it's turned off, the cookware stops creating heat immediately, leaving only residual heat; most finely controlled (up to 20 digital temperature settings); safest (burners do not run without cookware on them); and most energy-efficient (up to 1/3 more efficient than regular other electric or gas options). The only caveats are that iron-based cookware is required (stainless steel is the most popular option), and because it's a new technology, it does cost a bit more than other technologies. Again, you will need to purchase a cord.

  • Dual-fuel: gas cooktop with electric oven; provides the even baking heat of an electric oven with the temperature control and responsiveness of a gas cooktop. Dual-fuel and induction are the favored cooking technologies of professionals. Again, you will need to purchase a cord.
COLORS
  • White: traditional, least expensive

  • Black: medium popularity, usually about the same price as white

  • White-on-Black: white body with black door (and possibly black backsplash or cooktop); usually only for apartments with mix-and-match appliance colors, usually on low-end models, usually about the same price as white

  • Bisque: also known as “biscuit,” it's an off-white that is losing popularity, and is not as widely available as white, black, or stainless steel, price similar to white

  • Bisque-on-Black: same as white-on-black, except with bisque

  • Metal finish: a paint that mimics metal or stainless steel, to give a stainless look without the cleaning of stainless steel, usually $100 more than white

  • Stainless steel: true stainless steel is used for door trim and the control panel, and sometimes the body (and, in certain gas models, the cooktop); usually $100 more than white (except for high-end models, which will only be available in stainless steel)

FEATURES
  • Self-clean: oven has special cycle to burn off any messes in the oven cavity, reducing them to ash

  • Convection – basic: a fan circulates the air in the oven cavity to provide more even heating and better cooking results; an excellent choice for someone who wants their food to come out better but isn't a serious cook or baker

  • Convection – true/European: a fan (or fans) with a heating element around it (or them) blows heated air throughout the oven cavity, providing increased cooking speed, improved cooking results, and the ability to cook multiple trays of food at the same time; a must for anyone who takes their cooking/baking seriously

  • Dual oven: a smaller-than-usual main oven is paired with a much smaller second oven, which is useful for pizzas, casseroles, a tray of cookies or rolls, or for cooking one food at one temperature while cooking another food in the main oven cavity at another temperature

  • Power burner: a burner that reaches much higher temperatures than the standard burners, to reduce the time needed to boil water

  • Simmer burner: a burner that has more temperature control at the low end of the temperature spectrum, to make tasks like melting chocolate, cooking butter sauces, and other similar low-temperature cooking tasks easier

  • Double/Triple ring burner: a gas burner composed of a central simmer burner with a large ring burner around it, from which a very wide range of temperatures is available

  • Adjustable 6/9/12 burner: a radiant burner that has two or three sizes created by a central burner with a concentric ring or two that can be activated to allow that burner to accommodate small saucepans up to large stockpots

  • Bridge burner: a burner between two burners on a radiant range that bridges the gap between them, which provides even heating for griddles and roasting pans

  • AirGuard (Kenmore exclusive): a catalytic converter located in the back of certain Kenmore electric ranges that eliminates up to 85% of unwanted odors (used as an option while cooking if desired; runs automatically during self-clean)

  • Hidden bake element: instead of a baking element that sits on the bottom of the oven cavity, the element is concealed beneath the floor of the oven cavity, providing additional cooking space and making clean-up easier

  • Warming drawer: a drawer at the bottom of the certain ranges that keeps food at 155-175 degrees Fahrenheit, so foods can stay warm, rolls can be heated, or a meal can be saved for someone without it going cold

  • Glass touch control panel: instead of the traditional plastic touch panel with contacts behind the plastic, the glass touch panel responds to skin contact rather than pressure

  • Rolling rack: an oven rack that has two components – a lower part that goes into the grooves inside the oven, and a top part that acts as the rack for the food and rolls on wheels that are attached to the lower part, which makes removing heavy foods from the lower cavity of a dual-oven range safer and easier

  • Adjustable rack: an oven rack that has segments that can be removed to accommodate large foods below it while still allowing food to be cooked on the second rack closer to the center of the oven

  • Porcelain-coated rack: an oven rack that has been coated with porcelain and can be left in the oven during self-cleaning without risking warping or discoloration