If you like to cook stove-side, you obviously need a kitchen range, and believe you me, there are a variety to choose from. There are basic kitchen ranges without the extras, offering nothing more than four burners and an oven; middle-of-the-line kitchen ranges that offer extras like timers and extra burners on the surface; and top-of-the-line kitchen ranges that offer convection and gas heating, clocks, digital displays, etc. Which features are important when you’re sorting through all the kitchen ranges out there? Let’s take a look.
Types of kitchen ranges
Among the many factors you need to consider before purchasing a new kitchen range, the most important is the type of kitchen range. There are four basic options you can choose from.
Electric ranges are the most popular type and among them, the most widespread is the electric range with exposed electric coils on the top cooking surface. The reason this type of range is so popular can be generally summed up in one word: price. This type of range is the least expensive on the market. General Electric, Hotpoint, and a few other brands offer budget-priced electric ranges that easily fit within even the tightest budgets.
While electric coil ranges are great for those with little money to spare, they offer some distinct disadvantages and chief among them is cleaning. Keeping the oven clean is no different from other ranges, but keeping the cook top clean is a different story. Not only does one have to clean up splattered food and grease, they also must scrape burnt-on food off the coils and scrub out the drip pans underneath each coil. Often, the mess can get so bad that the drip pans have to be replaced completely. The clean-up process alone could discourage many potential buyers from purchasing this type of range.
These electric ranges are favored by many consumers due to their smooth surface. Smooth top electric ranges are more expensive than the coil electric ranges, but they offer many advantages that many feel makes them worth the added cost. The most important among them is the ease of cleaning. These electric ranges offer a smooth surface, with the coils hidden from view underneath the surface. Cleanup is easy because there is no need to remove and scrub drip trays or scrape burnt foods from the coils. All you have to do is wipe the surface clean.
Smooth top electric ranges are often more stylish, but there is one fact that may concern some consumers: You don’t always know when the surface is hot. Smooth top ranges usually have a light that indicates when the surface is too hot to touch, but many people do not pay attention to this and may touch the surface unknowingly, resulting in a blistering burn.
Gas ranges operate by the use of natural gas. The gas is fed into the range from a natural gas supply and, since natural gas is flammable, it quickly ignites from the smallest spark. A pilot light is constantly lit inside most gas ranges, hidden from view. When the knob is turned, gas is slowly released underneath the burner. The pilot then ignites the gas, resulting in a hot, blue flame.
Gas ranges offer certain advantages that make them a better choice for certain circumstances. With a gas range, the heating is instantaneous because the flame appears immediately upon turning the knob. There is no waiting time for an electrical current to properly heat the coils to the desired temperature.
Gas ranges do have their critics and the main problems cited with gas ranges include their tendency to cook food less evenly than electric ranges, due to the placement of the open flame. The fact that gas ranges have an open flame is another concern to many consumers, not to mention the fact that natural gas is flammable and thus poses the risk of an explosive fire.
Convection/gas combination ranges
This type of range offers the ability to cook via electricity or gas and it is a favorite among more serious cooks who want the best that both types of ranges have to offer, all in a single appliance. These combination ranges usually offer gas burners on the top surface and an electric convection oven. The electric convection in the oven is perfect for the meticulous chef because gas ovens, as mentioned above, do not always cook foods evenly. The use of electric convection eliminates this problem.
A combination of your needs and your budget should decide which kitchen range is right for you. You can find no-frills versions of all four types of kitchen ranges, and you can find ones with plenty of bells and whistles as well. Just keep in mind the dangers of each when you buy.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on The Goods and was written by Viewpoints Reviewer Bryan-Carey.