Getting the Right Range
How much you need to spend depends on what features you want.
Synopsis: Options abound when you’re shopping for a kitchen range. Associate editor Patrick McCombe takes a comprehensive look at the most important things to consider: cost, warranty, convection, burners, self-cleaning, new double-oven designs, finish, installation, and style (freestanding, slide-in, or drop-in).
Even though huge restaurant-style ranges get all the attention in the design magazines and home-improvement shows, most consumers opt for something far less expensive. Self-contained ranges with multiple-burner cooktops and ovens below dominate the marketplace. Prices go from $400 for a bare-bones electric range to $3000 for a fully optioned slide-in model.
The best values, however, are found in the middle (from about $700 to about $1800). In researching ranges, I visited a number of big-box stores, home-improvement centers, and appliance retailers, both brick-and-mortar and online. I found the pricing to be pretty consistent in all channels. The costs given here are based on regular retail pricing, not sale pricing. Sales are common, though, so it pays to shop around. If you’re a bargain hunter, you can score even deeper discounts if you’re willing to take a chance on closeouts, floor models, and scratch-and-dent models, which are often hundreds of dollars less than regular prices.
Any discussion of ovens should start with convection cooking. Available on electric ovens starting at $700 and gas ovens starting at $800, this useful feature adds a fan to the oven’s interior to circulate the heated air for more-even baking and browning. Convection’s ability to evenly bake two sheets of cookies on different racks is the often-cited advantage, but it’s also good for more-even browning of large poultry and roasts.
The most basic convection ovens use a single fan in the back of the oven, but higher-end models sometimes include ducts or louvers to spread the flow of hot air more effectively. Because convection…