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In the past, the main question when purchasing a range, an appliance with both a cooktop and an oven, was always "gas or electric?" But today we have many more choices and options to consider. Evaluating how you cook and how you plan to use your range can help you decide what types of options to look for while hunting down the perfect appliance for you.
Traditional controlled gas flames, measured in Btus, or British thermal units, heat open burners. According to Consumer Reports, the common setup is one small burner of about 5,000 Btus, one or two medium-power burners of 9,000 Btus, and one or two large burners of 15,000 Btus.
Another popular option for cooktops, electric burners, heats food without a flame. Unlike controlled gas flames, electric coils under a ceramic-glass surfacewarm the smooth cooktop. The coils heat the surface, which in turn heats the pot or pan. This stove top option is typically the most affordable.
Similar to electric cooktops, induction cooktops harness the power of electricity to create heat. Induction cooktops feature electromagnetic coils below a ceramic-glass surface that transfer energy directly to the pot or pan above the coils, keeping the cooktop cool to the touch. Induction heats quickly and more efficiently than gas or other electric options, but requires magnetic cookware.
While stovetop choices are an important element to consider, you also need to select a range with an oven that will suit your needs. If you're an avid baker, perhaps a professional-grade range is the right fit for you, but if your meals are typically quick and simple, a less complex model might be better. Convection baking uses a fan to circulate oven air, which bakes more evenly and reduces the time required. Convection ovens are available in both gas and electric ranges.
Steam is an emerging technology with limited availability. But if you can get your hands on a steam oven, you'll find that it allows food to retain more natural moisture and nutrients than with other oven options.
As with most kitchen appliances, stainless steel, black, and white are the most common range finishes. But if you crave a more custom look, high-end brands often let buyers customize the look with different trim options, knob finishes, or full-body coloring. Consider these customizing options when your range will be the focal point of your kitchen.
When buying a new range, make sure you keep the size of your kitchen in mind. For a small kitchen, a range with multiple features, such as a convection oven and cooktop griddle, effectively maximizes space. A standard range is 30 inches wide, though there are models out there as narrow as 24 inches and as wide as 60 inches.
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