Stoves

Things you should know about kitchen stoves

Finding a cooking range that complements your other appliances and your overall decor is an important part of creating a seamless kitchen design. Beyond aesthetics, ranges should offer convenience, energy efficiency, simplicity and minimal safety risks.

Kitchen stoves are sold in more varieties than most consumers are aware of, and if you don't know what's out there, you could end up wasting cash on an appliance that doesn't function the way you need it to. Take the time to research your options before you invest in a stove.

Kitchen Range Designs

As a prelude to shopping for a stove, you should determine which range styles your kitchen can accommodate. Kitchen stoves can contain a stovetop and an oven in one unit, or they can be separate appliances (a cooktop and a wall oven). They can also have multiple ovens, twice the normal number of burners, and even built-in storage space. Ultimately, the size and design of the stove will depend on where it will be located. The width of a cooking range varies from 20 to 40 inches, with a standard measurement of approximately 30 inches.

The three major options for range styles are drop-in ranges, slide-in ranges and freestanding ranges. Drop-in stoves are fitted into an existing cupboard base between two cabinets; they are an expensive custom option. Also, they offer no drawer storage under the appliance and may have to be specially ordered, so selection can be limited.

Slide-in and freestanding models both include storage, but slide-in stoves must be located between cabinets, as they have side panels that rest on the surrounding framework. Like a drop-in unit, the controls on slide-in ranges are positioned at the front, and overall, this style provides a similarly customized look at a reduced price. Because they don't require any support, freestanding units are the least expensive models and can be positioned wherever you have space. As an added benefit, the controls are located on the back panel, far away from the reach of small children.

Other Elements to Consider

In addition to deciding on a range style, you should know the type of fuel you want to use. Although there are many options, most kitchen stoves use electricity or gas. Gas stoves require a propane or natural gas line and should be well-ventilated for safety. Gas stoves achieve higher temperatures than electric and can be outfitted with specialized, professional-grade burners. Also, to reduce smoke and buildup from moisture, range hoods can be installed directly over the appliance.

Although they take longer to heat up and cool down, electric stoves are more commonly used. They typically offer touchpad controls with options for broiling, baking, warming, timed cooking and self-cleaning.

For the best of both worlds, you can also invest in a dual-fuel range with a gas stovetop and an electric oven.

The exterior design of your range will be influenced by the fuel type and the existing kitchen decor. Electric stoves may have coils or smooth tops, while gas stoves only use traditional burners. Most models are offered in standard white, black and stainless steel finishes, but homeowners with unconventional tastes can find high-end appliances in a wider range of colors.

If you're willing to spend the extra cash to create a themed room, there are many 50s and 60s-style stoves for a retro look and old-fashioned Victorian-style units for an antique feel.

Ranges and ovens have a fairly long lifespan, so whatever model you choose, make sure it's one that will satisfy your needs for years to come.