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Before You Buy a Range - Cooking Range Buying Tips

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Kitchen appliances such as cooking ranges require a considerable investment especially if you prefer the higher end, full-featured or professional models. As these home appliances are long-term purchases, you 'll want to ensure that your new range fits perfectly in your kitchen and has all the features you're looking for. These tips will help you navigate through the different options and features available so you can make good buying decisions and be perfectly satisfied with your new cooking range.

Cooking Fuel Type Considerations

First thing to consider is what type of range you're looking for, an electric or, if gas is readily available in your home or area, you may might want to consider a gas or dual fuel model. A dual fuel range will usually have a gas cooktop with an electric oven. Gas may be propane or natural gas, though propane ranges are often used in remote areas where electricity or natural gas are unavailable. Before considering gas, ensure that it's available and you can meet installation requirements. Gas ranges often have power burners which can really heat up your kitchen, you may want to add a vent above it.

Design Features

Freestanding ranges for the most part are more economical to purchase than any other type of cooking range. Other styles include drop-in models which require a built-in cabinet to drop into. These provide the best custom look but drop-in models do not have drawer storage. Slide-in models are easily installed and designed to fit flush with the cabinetry and usually have a storage drawer. A standard freestanding range is 30" wide, but smaller 24" ranges are available. Other models such as professional ranges can be much larger. Measure your available space and take the measurements with you to ensure a good fit.

Cooktops & Wall Ovens

Another custom look option is a wall oven and cooktop. Wall ovens are mostly electric, but cooktops can be gas or electric. Cooktops vary in size from 24" to 30" and from 4 to 6 burners. Single or double wall ovens are available in 24" to 30" widths, and are very handy if you do a lot of cooking. However, cooktops do tend to reduce counter workspace - this may be an important consideration for your kitchen. The extra convenience of separate cooking areas will cost you about twice as much as a freestanding range. Check installation requirements before purchasing, as they vary per model.

Cooking Oven Preferences

A conventional single oven is the most economical, and other oven options include double ovens, convection or trivection cooking. Convection uses air circulation to cook/bake quickly and evenly. But cooking times will vary considerably - look for one that has an auto conversion feature. Trivection cooking on some higher end ranges combines microwave, conventional and convection for quicker cooking - a great feature but be prepared to pay more for this oven. Any enhanced cooking method will increase the price and you'll need some time to adjust your cooking and baking.

Range Cooktop Preferences

Coil cooktops are still the most economical and easy to replace when an element burns out. Most coil cooktops are now liftable to make it easy to clean underneath, with a seamless top without a crevice to catch dirt or cause paint to chip. Smooth glass or ceramic cooktops are very stylish and have become much more affordable, but they do take special cleansers and care to maintain their good looks. When choosing a smooth-top range, look for models with a no-drip raised edge to prevent boil-overs from running down into the door vents.

Smooth Cooktop Burner Considerations

The most economical is a smooth top with the standard 4 burners, two large and two smaller ones. However, expandable burners which can adapt to a larger size pot, or those that can expand to incorporate a front burner (cover two burners) are very convenient for grills or odd shaped pans and are well worth the extra cost. A simmer or warming burner is also a handy feature, as are additional burners or grill add-on's. Induction cooking is available on some models, however you may need to replace your cookware for magnetic pots for this type of cooktop.

Range Finishes & Accessories

Ranges come in white, color, black, stainless steel, stainless or other finishes. Blend with your existing decor and be sure you'll like the finish for a long time. Stainless may or may not be stainless steel - don't be afraid to ask. White is the most economical and prices are influenced by quality stainless steel finishes. You may want to think about relocating your microwave over the range to save counter space - choose one with a fan and light. Adding a warming drawer to your kitchen or as part of the range is a handy feature and a range hood is well worth the cost, especially over a gas cooktop.

Installation Considerations

Measure your available space including overhead if considering a hood or microwave installation over the range. Overhead cabinets should also be high enough so as not to be affected by the cooktop heat. If considering a handy water tap over the cooktop, ensure plumbing won't be a problem. Before installing gas ranges and cooktops, confirm requirements with your fuel company, review installation configurations and ready the hook-up. Counter cooktops and wall ovens may require dedicated wiring, review manual guidelines.

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