Ranges, which are also known as stoves, combine an oven and a cooktop in one unit. Since a range often costs less and takes up less space than two separate units, it’s a good option if your budget or space are limited. The first step in buying a new range is deciding what best suits your kitchen and cooking style. The first and most obvious question is the source of power gas, electricity or both. Traditionally, gas burners have been favored over electric coils because they allow for more immediate control of the heat.
Electric ovens, however, are known to cook more evenly than gas, and they tend to dry out the food less. While these advantages and disadvantages still apply to most conventional ranges, technology is beginning to overcome the long-standing limitations of each power source. For example, new magnetic induction elements heat and cool almost immediately, and built-in heat deflectors resolve problems with uneven heat in gas ovens. ln most cases, though, selecting options is secondary; the most significant factor in your decision will be your current source of power. Although it’s possible to convert to another power source and remodeling offers that opportunity-after researching the options, you may not feel that the rewards justify the expense if you have to resort to a propane tank or run gas piping through the walls.
Standard dimensions for ranges are 30 in. and 36 in. wide; double-oven models can be much wider. Prices start at around £250 and go up to over £2,000. For more information about features for range ovens and cooktop burners, see Cooktops on page 106 and Wall Ovens on page 105; most of the available options offered for individual cooktops and wall ovens can also be found in range units. Gas Ranges Gas ranges use natural or liquid propane gas to fuel the cooktop burners and the oven. They also require a 120-volt, 20-amp outlet to power the oven light, timers and flame-ignition modules. Although the U.S. Department of Energy reports that only about 40% of American households currently cook with gas, it suggests that gas cooking is on the rebound. Among the reasons: electronic ignition reduces safety concerns surrounding pilot lights; gas ranges with electronic ignition cost less than half as much to operate as electric units; improved burner designs make newer models easier to clean than their predecessors.
Electric ranges use a 240-volt current to heat the cooktop burners and the oven; they require a dedicated 50-amp electrical circuit. (Remember-if you’re replacing a gas range with an electric model, you may need to have your electrical service upgraded.) Better electric ranges with such features as radiant-ribbon burners or microprocessors that regulate temperature utilize the natural advantages of electricity (safety precise oven temperature control) while minimizing the disadvantages (burner response time, expense of operation).
Dual-fuel ranges combine the advantages of both gas and electric cooking: The cooktop surface uses gas, while the oven is electric. For some cooking enthusiasts, these ranges offer the best of both worlds in kitchens that don’t have enough room for separate units.