Width: Ovens are generally 27 to 30 inches wide, though some models may be wider. Consider both the space you have available and the interior size of the oven before you buy.
Color: White, black, and stainless steel are by far the most common finishes for ovens. You may want to coordinate the oven's finish with your cooktop and refrigerator purchases as well.
Gas or electric: If using an existing connection, be clear on what is there and if the connections can handle the model oven(s) you want to buy. For new installations, check with a plumber or electrician to make sure power and/or gas can be installed (or moved) to the oven's location.
Types of heat: Standard heat, broiling, convection, microwave, and steam are the main choices in heat. Budget ovens usually only offer conventional heat, while luxury models will have more heat options. Some "combination" ovens feature a combination of heat (such as conventional with microwave).
Cleaning: Self-cleaning settings are included with most ovens. If this feature is a must-have for you, be sure to check how it works for the model you'd like.
Interior space: Consider the foods you like to cook when choosing an oven's size. Basic models may be too small for a huge turkey. Top-of-the-line ovens often include larger interior space, heavier racks, and precision temperature controls. Some manufacturers also make smaller "convenience" ovens meant for flat items such as one casserole dish or a pizza.
Oven controls: Budget models include knobs or dials to regulate heat and timers. Some may include digital displays as well. More expensive ovens may have options such as one-touch baking, infinite temperature settings, recipe memory, and preprogrammed settings.
Optional accessories: Interior lights, flexible rack systems, thermometers, rotisseries, and other features may be available for your oven.
Do your homework. Browse Web sites and magazines that compare current models and features. Consumer Reports is an excellent source for unbiased information and recommendations. Visit: www.consumerreports.org/
- Conventional ovens are also called radiant or thermal ovens. Design is based on two heating elements, one for baking and roasting and the other for broiling. Heat radiates up and pushes cold air down, creating a potential for uneven heating.
- Convection ovens circulate heated air for faster, more even cooking than conventional ovens can offer. A fan installed in the back wall of the oven circulates the hot air. Even heat distribution allows for more of the oven space to be used. Convection ovens also warm faster than conventional ovens and may reduce cooking time for some foods. Disadvantages may include noise from fans on some models and drying or overbrowning caused by the forced air.
- Microwave ovens have become standard kitchen features. Microwave recipes are usually designed for the typical microwave cooking power of 600 to 700 watts. If you own a lower-wattage (under 600) microwave, adjust cooking times.
- Steam ovens: Some manufacturers offer ovens with steam as the sole source of heat, via a refillable water tank that does not require a direct plumbing connection. Steamed foods are healthy and quick to cook as well.
- Combination ovens combine convection with microwave heat, convection with conventional heat (and steam in some models), or microwave with conventional heat. Combination ovens are often used to save space and provide a wider range of cooking options.