|

Ranges

Range buying guide

Last updated: July 2015

Getting started

For fine performance either a gas or an electric range will do. Serious cooks often prefer gas for the quick response and visual confirmation of a flame. But electric elements generally heat faster and maintain low heat more precisely. Dual-fuel ranges combine a gas cooktop with an electric oven.

Electric smoothtop ranges are the big sellers and are tops in performance and value. The best blend superb cooktop heating and simmering with a large oven and even a cooktop warming zone that keeps the side dish warm while you finish the main dish. You'll also find ranges with an induction cooktop. Induction uses an electromagnetic field to directly heat pans, offering precise simmering and control. In our tests no other technology was faster than the fastest induction elements, but we're talking 2 to 4 minutes faster to bring 6 quarts of water to a near boil.

Pro-styles

Most electric and gas ranges are 30 inches wide, pro-style ranges typically span 36 inches or more. Pro-style ranges are big on style, but aren't the best ranges we've tested. And even regular ranges now have beefy knobs, rugged grates, and stainless trim for a lot less money.

How to choose

Zero in on our test scores. If you enjoy baking, compare ranges with impressive baking scores. A roomy oven also comes in handy when baking or hosting friends and family; we measure oven space you can actually use so check the capacity scores. Love a good steak? Then key in on our broiling scores.

Focus on features. Look for at least one high-powered burner or element for quick heating. Expandable electric smoothtop elements let you match their size to the pan. Ranges with at least five rack positions provide added flexibility when cooking on more than one rack, and ranges with dual ovens let you roast a turkey and bake a pie at the same time and at different temperatures.

Don't buy strictly by Btu. Short for British thermal unit, range and cooktop Btu are often a selling point at the store. But that measure merely indicates the amount of gas used and heat generated, not performance. Indeed, higher Btu hasn't guaranteed faster heating in our tests.

Types

There are three types of ranges based on fuel: electric, gas and dual-fuel, which pairs a gas cooktop with an electric oven. Freestanding ranges are easy to install, and the oven control panel is on the backsplash, above the cooktop surface. Slide-in ranges give a custom built-in look but easily slide in between surrounding cabinets. The oven controls are on the range front and there's no back panel, showcasing your backsplash.

Electric ranges

Most smoothtop ranges have four surface elements in three sizes: one or two medium-power elements (about 1,500 to 1,800 watts), a small element (about 1,200 watts), and one or two large ones (more than 2,000 watts, often 2,500 watts or more). Some have a warming element in the center section.

Smoothtops, which place the elements beneath a sleek ceramic surface, have displaced coil tops in all but the lowest-priced models. Induction ranges have magnetic coils below the ceramic-glass cooktop surface that quickly generate heat directly to the pan, offering precise simmering and control.

Pros:

Coil tops are generally less expensive as a group. Smoothtops are sleeker and make it easier to wipe up spills because there are no electric coils or gas burners protruding above the surface. Induction cooktops take the cake for quick heating, the surface stays cooler, and they have fast heat response.

Cons:

Coil-top models won't win any styling awards. Induction ranges are expensive and require magnetic cookware.

Gas ranges


The capacity of a burner is measured in British thermal units (Btu) per hour. Most gas ranges have four surface burners in three sizes: one or two medium-power burners (about 9,000 Btu), a small burner (about 5,000 Btu.) and one or two large ones (about 12,000 Btu or more). Some have a fifth burner instead of a center section. Gas-on-glass models that mount gas burners above a smooth ceramic surface are an option.

Pros:

An experienced cook may find it easier to judge heat by the appearance of the gas flame, and gas burners can accommodate a variety of pot types and sizes. Gas burners let you quickly move from a high to low setting, unlike radiant electric smoothtops and coil elements which tend to retain heat longer. And if a storm hits and your power is out, you can strike a match to light the burners of most gas ranges and then eat by candlelight.

Cons:

Natural gas may not be an option where you live.

Features


When buying a new range keep high-tech options in perspective. Some individual features are no guarantee of good overall performance. Here are range features to consider.

Control lockout


It lets you disable the oven controls. We recommend it if the electronic-oven control panel is at the front of the range, rather than on the backsplash.

Convection

Many mid- and higher priced ranges use one or more fans to circulate hot air in the oven. Some ovens, usually electric models, have an additional convection heating element. Convection typically reduces cooking time, especially for large roasts.

Digital display


Found on most models, it displays temperature and sometimes other oven information.

Double ovens

Two separate cavities let you roast a turkey in one while baking pies in another and at different temperatures. Some ranges pair a smaller top oven with a larger oven below, others have two same-size ovens. Keep in mind there's no storage drawer and usually the convection feature is in the bottom oven, although some have convection in both ovens.

Electronic touchpads


Be sure they're well placed and visible while you cook.

High-power elements or burners

On electric and gas ranges look for at least one high-power element or burner especially if you often cook for a crowd. High heat sears and stir fries especially well, and it can heat large quantities quickly. For electric ranges a high-power element is over 2,000 watts and often 2,500 watts or more. For gas ranges, high-power burners are about 12,000 Btu or more.

Hot-surface light

This light warns when an element is still hot and is particularly useful on smoothtops.

Induction

Induction uses an electro-magnetic field to heat pots directly, offering precise simmering and control. In our tests no other technology was faster than the fastest induction elements, but we're talking 2 to 4 minutes faster to bring 6 quarts of water to a near boil. To learn the pros and cons of induction ranges, read this blog.

Low-power simmer burner

In a gas range, a small, low-power burner provides extra-low flame settings. But this feature is not essential; the other burners should be capable of simmering.

Raised edge around the cooktop


It contains spills and makes cleanup much easier.

Self-cleaning cycle

Typically this cycle uses high heat to burn off spills and spatters in the oven. An automatic safety lock on self-cleaning models prevents the oven door from being opened until the oven has cooled. Some ranges have a countdown display that shows the time left in the cycle. The self-cleaning cycle helps eliminate the drudgery of cleaning an electric or gas oven by hand. Other low-temperature self-clean cycles are available, but haven't performed as well in our testing.

Five or more oven-rack positions

The more the better. You can adjust for the size of the food and distance to the broiler element or flame.

Smoothtop surface elements vs. coils

Only the least-expensive electric models use coils these days. Smoothtops, both radiant and induction, make it easier to clean up spills but require a special cleaner, and dropped pots and sugary liquids can damage them. Coils are sturdier and easier to replace, but they require more cleaning time.

Most smoothtops have expandable (dual or triple) elements that allow you to switch between a large, high-power element and a small, low-power element contained within it. Some have an elongated bridge element that spans two elements to accommodate large cookware. The surface of smoothtop induction ranges doesn't get as hot as conventional (radiant) smoothtops. Many have one or more hot-surface warning lights--a key safety feature for radiant elements because the surface can remain hot long after the elements are turned off.

Time/delay start

This lets you set a time for the electric or gas oven to start and stop cooking. But this feature is not essential--you shouldn't leave the oven on when it's unattended, and most foods shouldn't stay in a cold oven for long.

Warming drawer

This convenient feature helps keep plates and food warm and comes in handy when you are hosting friends and family.

Variable-boil

Most electric and gas ovens have it. It provides adjustable settings for foods that need slower or faster cooking.

Brands

Amana arrow  |  Bosch arrow  |  Electrolux arrow  |  Frigidaire arrow  |  GE arrow  |  Hotpoint arrow  |  Jenn-Air arrow  |  Kenmore arrow  |  KitchenAid arrow  |  LG arrow  |  Maytag arrow  |  Samsung arrow  |  Thermador arrow  |  Viking arrow  |  Whirlpool arrow  |  Wolf arrow

In addition to the familiar brands you grew up with, you'll find more big names—and some newcomers—competing at the "pro" end of the price spectrum as kitchens morph into places to show off as well as cook. This guide will help you to compare ranges by brand.

Amana

This value-oriented, mass-market brand sells appliances priced between $400 and $1,000. Amana offers stylish appliances with clever features at affordable prices. The cooking line includes gas and electric ranges. More than 40 years ago, Amana introduced the first countertop microwave and changed the way Americans cook.

Bosch

This high-end brand offers a full selection of German-engineered kitchen appliances. Bosch ranges are available in gas, electric, and dual-fuel models, with prices starting at around $800. Bosch is sold at Lowes, Sears, Best Buy, and independent appliance retailers.

Electrolux

This upper-midlevel brand offers cooking appliances priced between $1,500 and $2,500. The cooking line includes gas, electric, and dual-fuel ranges. The Electrolux name is new to the U.S. market, but has been used in Europe for more than 70 years. The appliances feature a modern design and touch glass controls.

Electrolux also has the high-end Icon line, with most cooking appliances priced at $4,000 and $6,000 each. The line includes gas, electric, and dual-fuel ranges. The line promotes innovation, performance, and flexibility with premium features at premium prices. Icon appliances are sold through independent appliance retailers.

Frigidaire

This midlevel, mass-market brand sells appliances priced between $500 and $1,500. The Frigidaire cooking line includes gas and electric ranges loaded with time-saving and high-performance features with a classic design. The appliances are sold in matching kitchen suites.

GE

This midlevel, mass-market brand sells appliances priced between $500 and $1,500. The line includes gas and electric ranges with a timeless look and up-to-date features that offer excellent performance and value.

GE Profile
This midlevel, mass-market brand sells gas, electric, and dual-fuel ranges priced from $1,000 to $2,000. The line includes a wide variety of prices and features, possibly the most in the industry. The appliances are sold in matching kitchen suites.


GE Café
This upper-midlevel, mass-market brand sells gas and dual-fuel freestanding ranges priced above $2,000. The latest brand from GE, the Café line is characterized by stainless-steel exteriors and updated styling. Think modern restaurant kitchen.


GE Monogram
This high-end line offers pro-style ranges priced from $5,000 to $7,000 for gas, electric, and dual fuel. Monogram appliances are made to be top performing, and positioned for high-end consumers. The appliances are sold in matching kitchen suites and are sold through independent appliance retailers.

Hotpoint

This value-oriented mass-market brand offers electric and gas ranges priced between $400 and $800.

Jenn-Air

This high-end line offers appliances priced between $1,500 and $6,000. Jenn-Air makes high-performance cooking appliances in a choice of stylish collections that include stainless steel and other finishes.

Kenmore

This midlevel, mass-market brand sells appliances priced between $500 and $1,500. Introduced in 1927, Kenmore has earned a solid reputation with consumers. The appliances are sold through Sears stores.

Kenmore Elite
This midlevel, mass-market brand sells appliances priced between $500 and $1,500. Kenmore Elite offers more innovative features than the Kenmore line. The appliances are also sold through Sears stores.

Kenmore Pro
This high-end line sells cooking appliances priced between $1,500 and $6,000. Taking inspiration from professional kitchens, Kenmore Pro offers pro-look gear with styling and features such as stainless-steel construction, heavy-duty knobs, and other premium features. The appliances are sold through Sears stores.

KitchenAid

This high-end brand sells a broad range of cooking appliances priced between $1,500 and $6,000. Its Architect Series II collection includes built-in wall ovens, electric, gas, and dual-fuel ranges, induction, gas, and electric cooktops, microwave-hood combination ovens and hoods, and a slow-cook warming drawer. Its pro-style ranges have convection and steam-assist technology.

LG

This midlevel brand sells cooking appliances priced between $1,000 and $2,500. New to cooking appliances, LG is known for high-tech design and technology and gear characterized by stylish controls and a large capacity in its freestanding ranges. Its Dual Convection System claims a 30 percent faster preheat time for ovens.

Maytag

This midlevel, mass-market brand makes appliances priced between $500 and $2,000. Maytag, the first brand to introduce the double oven range in North America, offers a full line of dependable and durable cooking appliances such as built-in ovens, freestanding ovens (single or double), gas and electric cooktops, microwave/oven combinations, and downdraft hoods.

Samsung

This midlevel brands sells cooking appliances priced between $1,000 and $2,500. In 2008, Samsung released a range with the SteamQuic cleaning system, a three-fan true-convection range designed to cook food more evenly.

Thermador

This high-end brand sells cooking appliances priced between $1,500 and $6,000. Thermador is known for its innovation and today the company is aiming to combine state-of-the-art cooking with great style. These ranges are sold through independent appliance retailers.

Viking

This high-end brand sells cooking appliances priced between $4,500 and $6,000, including gas, electric, and dual-fuel ranges. Viking ushered in the pro-style look more than a decade ago, and is considered the benchmark for gourmets. The company adds premium features to its ranges, including high-output burners. The company offers the Professional and the Designer series, both sold through independent appliance retailers.

Whirlpool

This midlevel, mass-market brand sells appliances priced between $500 and $1,500. Whirlpool’s freestanding ranges offer features such as hidden bake elements, power burners, and convection technology. Whirlpool introduced a range designed specifically for the Hispanic consumer in 2006 and features English and Spanish controls, as well as a comal for heating tortillas.

Wolf

This high-end brand sells cooking appliances priced above $5,000, including gas and dual-fuel ranges. Wolf targets consumers who want a pro-appliance look and high performance. These ranges are sold through independent appliance retailers.

   

Find Ratings blob logo

Ranges Ratings

Subscribers can view and compare all Ranges Ratings.

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters!
Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Appliances News

Connect

and safety with
subscribers and fans

Follow us on:

Cars

Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more
left arrow right arrow
See also:
83 rated down arrow
122 rated down arrow
212 rated down arrow
52 rated down arrow