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What to know when buying a cooktop and wall oven

How big, how much, how reliable, and other considerations

Published: February 05, 2015 04:15 PM
Photo: Whirlpool Digital Library

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Swapping a range for a cooktop and wall oven can be appealing. The look is sleek and modern and you have some flexibility where you install the appliances. You can place the wall oven at a height that works for you making it easier to reach in and eliminating bending. But the cooktop-wall oven combination is more expensive than most ranges, so here’s what you’ll want to consider.  

Fuel

What are your options? Consumer Reports tests electric wall ovens as they’re the most popular. Our cooktop tests found that both electric and gas are capable of delivering fine performance, but the highest scores go to induction and smoothop cooktops.
Electric: Electric elements tend to heat faster and maintain low heat better than gas burners. Smoothtop models are more common than induction. Induction uses an electromagnetic field to heat pans directly, offering precise simmering and control and, in our tests, heated a large pot of water 20 to 25 percent faster than smoothtops.
Gas: If you prefer gas, we get it. The gas flame makes it easier to judge the heat, to get a feel for it, and you can quickly move from a high setting to low. And with most burners you can strike a match to light them when your power is out.

GE Café CP350STSS
Photo: GE

Size

The size of your kitchen and layout come into play.
Cooktops: Electric cooktops are typically 30 inches, while gas cooktops are often 36 inches wide. But you’ll find models 21 to 48 inches wide. Some cooktops have five or even six burners but that doesn’t mean you can fit all those pans at once. Put your cookware in reach by adding storage below the cooktop.
Wall ovens: Most are 30 inches wide—that’s what you’ll see in our Ratings—but you’ll see 24, 27, and for higher-end models, 36 inch wall ovens. And while older wall ovens had smaller capacities, new models have usable space that’s comparable to a range.

Cost

Induction cooktops are usually the most expensive and of course the wider the cooktop the more it costs. Double wall ovens increase the price; they’re not twice as much as a single oven, but expensive enough that you have to ask if you’ll put them to full use.
Electric cooktops: The 30-inch smoothtops in our tests cost $640 to $1,500, while 36-inch are $830 to $2,200. Induction models 30-inches wide are $1,200 to $2,300, and the 36-inch are $2,100 to $5,000. Yes, $5,000. But check it out for its cool factor. It’s the Thermador CIT36XKB and a top pick.
Gas cooktops: The 30-inch are around $1,200 and the 36-inch are $560 to $2,200.
Single wall oven: We tested models that cost $1,000 to $4,000.
Double wall oven: $1,700 to $6,300 (for example, the Wolf DO30-SF/S).

Bosch HBL5450UC

Features

Think about how you cook and how often you host parties.
Cooktops: You’ll want at least one high-power element or burner on your cooktop. They’re good for searing, stir-frying, and quickly bringing water to a boil.
Wall ovens: All of the wall ovens in our tests are self-cleaning, some much better than others. More wall ovens have a large window. It lets you keep an eye on the food without opening the door. Convection cuts oven time for some foods, such as roasts, but you’ll pay more for this feature. Temperature probes and remote control also add to the price.

Reliability

Cooktops: Jenn-Air is among the less reliable brands of electric cooktops. For gas cooktops Bosch is one of the more reliable brands while KitchenAid is the least reliable brand. That’s what we found when we asked more than 6,000 readers who bought an electric or gas cooktop between 2011 and 2014 about their experiences. See our brand reliability to find out more.
Wall ovens: GE is among the more reliable brands of electric wall ovens. That's what we found when we asked more than 9,600 readers who bought an electric wall oven between 2010 and 2014 about their experiences. Check out the brand reliability graph.

Thermador SGSX365FS
Photo: Thermador

Top cooktops and wall ovens

30-inch smoothtops
KitchenAid KECC604BBL, $900
Maytag MEC7430WS, $700
Kenmore 44273, $1,150
Frigidaire Professional FPEC3085KS, $950
GE Café CP350STSS, $1,200

36-inch gas cooktop
Thermador SGSX365FS, $1,900
GE Monogram ZGU385NSMSS, $1,400
Viking VGC5366BSS, $2,200
LG LSCG366ST, $1,300
Bosch NGM8654UC, $1,200

Single wall ovens
Whirlpool WOS92EC0AH, $1,500
Maytag MEW9530AW, $1,400
GE PT9050SFSS, $2,600
Bosch HBL5450UC, $1,900

Our Ratings of cooktops and wall ovens, single and double oven, give you all the details and let you compare models. Be sure to check the brand reliability and user reviews too, and if you still have questions e-mail me at kjaneway@consumer.org.

Kimberly Janeway

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