Ranges are a staple in many homes around the world. People tend to prefer a range, rather than a wall oven & cooktop combo, as a range provides for all cooking functions to be in one centralized location, providing more efficient use of space in the kitchen. Because the range combines two cooking appliances in to one, they can also be more affordable. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about purchasing a new range, as well as explain many of the features found on modern ranges.
Sizing Your RangeWhen purchasing a new kitchen range most people will go with the same size of range they already own, which is usually the industry standard 30 inches. However, if you are building a new home or remodeling your existing kitchen, you may want to consider a larger 36 or 48 inch commercial-style range. Here are a few things to consider when sizing a new range:
- Available Space - Measure the available space where you will want the range to go. Make sure to get the dimensions for the Height, Width and Depth. If upgrading to a large unit make sure you have available space to expand the existing opening.
- Oven Size - One aspect of the range that many don't consider is the actual size of the oven unit. Depending on the size of your family, you will want to have enough room to cook large enough meals, especially as the holidays come around.
- Overhead Cabinets - Take into account any overhead cabinetry or microwaves you have or will be installing. Ensure there is enough space so the cabinetry is not affected by the heat from the cooktop.
- Ventilation - Another consideration you need to take into account when purchasing a range is the type of ventilation you will use. Many higher performing, commercial-style ranges require an overhead hood. If this is the case, you will need to plan for the installation of the vent hood as well.
- Oven/Cooktop Combination - Another option to consider when purchasing a kitchen range is combining a wall oven and cooktop instead of the traditional all-in-one range unit. Many homeowners like the wall oven/cooktop combination because it allows for more freedom with the installation and can provide a much cleaner, modern look for your home. It is important to remember, however, that installing the wall oven/cooktop combination will require more carpentry and possibly plumbing skill than traditional freestanding or slide in ranges.
Range TypesWhen you purchase a range, you are essentially purchasing two appliances in one unit. The cooktop, which will include the burners, and the oven unit below. The type of range you buy will depend mostly on the available fuel sources in your home. For example, if your current range is an electric model, you will most likely purchase another electric range. The three most common types of ranges include, electric, gas and dual fuel models.
- Electric Ranges - Electric ranges are traditionally less expensive than comparable gas ranges. Unlike most gas ranges, electric ranges give you the ability to maintain low heat temperatures and depending on the burner style, can be much easier to clean. Many people who bake prefer electric ranges, because the electric oven allows for precise temperature control.
- Gas Ranges - While electric range burners allow you to maintain lower levels of heat, gas burners provide much more precise temperature control, letting you adjust your cooking temperature almost instantly. While gas ranges can be more expensive initially, gas is less expensive than electricity, which can make the purchase of a gas range a better investment in the long run. Gas ranges are available with two fuel options: natural gas and propane.
- Dual Fuel Ranges - Many consumers are looking to dual fuel ranges to get the best of what electric and gas ranges have to offer. Combining the accuracy that gas cooktops provide with the even heating of electric ovens, dual fuel ranges are easy to clean and operate but you must have access to both gas and electric fuel sources.
- Induction Ranges - An induction range uses induction heating for cooking. Much more modern than other forms of cooking, heat is generated directly in your cookware instead of being generated in the cooktop by electrical coils or burning gas. Induction ranges require a specific type of cookware made of ferromagnetic metal.
So how does it work? A coil of copper wire is placed beneath the cooking pot. When the range is in use, an alternating electric current flows through the coil. This produces an oscillating magnetic field, which induces an electric current in the cookware. Current flowing in the cookware produces resistive heating which heats the food. While the current is large, it is produced by a low voltage. Induction ranges are quicker and more energy-efficient than a traditional electric range. The possibility of burn injury is significantly less than with other methods since induction only heats the cookware itself. The surface of the induction range is only heated from contact with the vessel.
BTUs vs. Temperature
Unlike electric rangetops, where the power is measured in an industry-standard watts, gas rangetops are often measured in either BTUs/hour(British Thermal Units/hour) or temperature interchangeably. Both measurements provide an assessment of the rangetops performance but can be confusing for consumers.
Basically, a BTU is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of liquid from 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 61 degrees Fahrenheit when the atmospheric pressure is constant. If all burners were the exact shape and size, BTUs would be an accurate measurement of the burners performance. There are several other factors, however, that contribute to a rangetop burners performance, including the size of burner and the distance from the burner to the cooking vessel. This means that depending on the burner configuration, a 1200 BTU burner can achieve a lower cooking temperature than an 800 BTU or even 300 BTU burner.
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Range StylesDepending on the design of your kitchen, there are a few different styles of ranges available. Normally, people will choose a range that is the same style as their current model unless they are planning on doing a little kitchen remodeling.
- Freestanding Ranges - Freestanding ranges have finished sides and do not need to be fitted into the cabinetry of the kitchen. Normally, freestanding ranges are equipped with a back splash and controls can be on the front or on the back splash for electric models.
- Slide-In Ranges - Slide-in ranges are designed without finished sides and controls are always on the front of the range. Slide-in ranges are designed to provide a seamless look and fit in between your existing cabinetry. For this reason it is important to ensure that the range you purchase is the correct size for your kitchen.
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Range FeaturesModern ranges are available with a wide array of features depending on the model you choose that make meal preparation and clean-up faster and easier than ever. It is important to note that depending on the features you want, the overall cost of your range will rise accordingly. Some of the more common features found on modern kitchen ranges include:
Convection Cooking - Available on both gas and electric ovens, the convection cooking feature is designed to cook up to 30% faster than traditional ovens because of the the heating element located around the fan that circulates the heat around your food. Modern convection ovens provide the option of choosing between conventional or convection cooking.
Self Cleaning - Self cleaning ovens have become increasingly popular. Removing the need for toxic chemicals and scrubbing, self cleaning ovens utilize high heat (up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit) to burn off leftover spills. For safety, self cleaning ovens also feature a locking mechanism to keep the door locked during and after the self cleaning cycle.
Sealed Burners - Available on many gas ranges, sealed burners take the hassle out of cleaning by providing a removable drip tray which can be washed in the sink.
Simmer Burners - Simmer burners, like the Dual-Flow from DCS provide more precise, lower temperatures (as low as 140 degrees) on gas burners that make it easier to prepare delicate soups, sauces and even chocolate on your gas range top.
High-Heat Burners - High-heat burners offer the other end of cooking, allowing you to boil or sear foods quickly, offering heat output reaching an amazing 21,000 BTU/hr.
Programmable Timing - A common feature available on many modern ranges is programmable timing. This feature allows you to preset your oven to turn on and off and cook meals when you are away.
Grease Management System - Available on DCS ranges with grills, the Grease Management System channels grease away from the flame to reduce the chance of flare-ups while cooking.
Infrared Broilers - Available on all gas-only DCS ranges, Infrared Broilers allow you to sear steaks perfectly every time, similar to the tender cuts of meat you would get from your favorite steakhouse.
Warming Drawers - Warming drawers are a great option on ranges, especially for holiday cooking,and allow you to keep food warm while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Cooktop Configurations - To help make food preparation even easier, several ranges are available with customized cooktop configurations, including wok rings, griddles and grills which allow you to prepare delicious steaks, stir-fries, pancakes and a variety of other foods.
Coil Burners - Electric ranges with coil burners are generally less expensive and normally feature removable burner coils which are replaceable. While the burner coils are more susceptible to spills, they will have replaceable drip pans to catch excess spills that are easy to remove, clean or even replace.
Smooth Top - By far the easiest style cooktop to clean, smooth top ranges feature radiant elements that are installed below the glass cooking surface. The elements are designed to heat up quickly and evenly, providing a great cooking experience. Many people enjoy smooth top ranges because they offer a sleek appearance which compliments modern kitchen designs.Back To Top