In this buying guide, we’re learning about ranges. By the end of this article, you’ll be more familiar with the different types, styles, and features available on the market today. So the first thing we’re going to talk about our fuel types. Gas ranges require a natural source in your home and plug into a standard 110 outlet. Gas ranges are available with open or sealed burners. Open burners have a wide opening around the burner and require you to lift the top surface of the range to clean any spills that may have fallen below the cooktop surface. Open burner ranges are typically more affordable but tend to offer the least amount of options. Sealed burners are completely sealed around the burner and have no openings within the cooking area making it much easier to clean messes and spills.
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Electric ranges require you to have a 220 volt connection in your home. New electric ranges are not supplied with the required outlet plugs needed to power them so you will have to purchase one with your new range. Now, you’ll have three range top options with an electric range: coil, ceramic glass, and induction. Coil burners have electric heating elements that radiate heat to the pan. These coils are easy to remove if necessary but will take a little more time for clean up. They are the least expensive of the three types but also offer the least amount of options.
Ceramic glass ranges are similar to coil ranges except the coils are underneath the glass making them much easier to clean. Ceramic glass range tops are most common and can be used with almost any kind of cookware including cast iron. Just remember, cast iron is heavy and your cooktop is glass so be careful when placing your cast iron onto your glass cooktop. Other than that, cast iron is no different than any other cookware.
Induction range tops use magnetic fields to induct a warming reaction and steel based pots and pans allowing the pan to heat the food and not the cooktop surface. Induction uses less energy and heats up and cools down quickly. The only requirement is that you use flat bottomed magnetic pans. The best way to tell if your existing cookware will work with induction is to take a magnet, stick it to the bottom of the pan. If it sticks, it works. If you’re thinking about replacing your electric range with induction keep in mind that all electric ranges run on 30 to 40 amps, whereas induction will require 50.
Dual fuel ranges are an all-in-one range that combines a gas cooktop with an electric oven. These ranges require a gas line and 220 connection to work. Dual fuel ranges give you the ease of gas cooking with the accuracy of electric baking.
So now that you’ve become more familiar with the different fuel types, let’s take a look at the different range styles. Freestanding ranges are available in gas, electric, dual fuel, and induction. They typically have a higher back, come in widths ranging from 20 to 40 inches wide, and fit easily into the required spaces, usually with minimal installation. Freestanding ranges are available with double or single ovens and have four or five burners. If you select the self-cleaning model, your broiler will be located within the oven cavity giving you additional storage space in the lower drawer. Keep in mind that most ranges today no longer come with broiler pans, so you can keep the one you have or you can purchase a new one with your new range.
Slide in ranges are very similar to freestanding ranges except the controls are located at the front of the unit allowing for the back of the range to sit more flush with your countertops. Slide in ranges require a more detailed installation but can be installed in an island or up against the wall. They usually have four or five burners and are available with a single or double oven depending on the model. Most traditional freestyle slide in ranges have a maximum width of 30 inches.
Pro style ranges are perfect for the true chef in your home or for the person who just wants to feel like a chef. Pro ranges are probably the most versatile of all ranges. They are available in widths ranging from 30 to 60 inches, can freestand or slide in, and are available with single or double ovens. So what sets pro style ranges apart from traditional ranges is that all the burners have the ability to go to very high BTU outputs, whereas traditional ranges only have one or two or maybe no high BTU output burner at all. Pro style ranges can be ordered with char grills, griddles, or French tops. You can get them with a high back guard, low back guard, or no back guard at all just by adding an island trim.