Choosing a range

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-05-2003
Choosing a range
Sat, 03-29-2008 - 7:41am

For those of us in the market for new cookery appliances, we have a thread on choosing ovens:

and one on choosing cooktops:

But maybe your remodeling plans call for an all-in-one range.

Check out this article:

The first thing to consider when buying a range is whether or not you want the gas or electric type. With the drastic increase in natural gas prices recently, many people are changing to electric appliances. If you are simply replacing your existing range, this is no problem. If, however, you wish to convert from gas to electric or vice-versa, you might have to do additional work in your kitchen by adding wiring or gas inlets. Discuss this with your appliance dealer before purchasing.

When you visit the your dealer, take information on measurements and venting requirements for your existing stove. Ask about any other adjustments you will need if you want to purchase a different model from the one you have. If you choose a gas range, consider the pilotless electronic ignition type. This type range usually costs no more than the traditional pilot gas range but is much more energy efficient by as much as 25% over those with pilot lights.

Another money-saving feature for ranges is the oven window that allows you to watch your food cook. Be sure to add this feature since it will decrease the number of times you need to open the door to check food. This saves by eliminating the need for the oven to adjust itself to keep a constant temperature. These windows sometimes cost as much as $40 to $50 more but soon pay for themselves in saved energy costs. However, some of the newer radiant electric ranges suggest cooking certain foods with the door ajar and have even installed devices to hold oven doors open while cooking.

If possible, hold off buying your range until October, National Kitchen and Bath month. You can save about 25% off regular prices. Finally, when operating your new range, be sure to keep it as clean as possible. Burned-on food and grease deposits will make your range work harder and use much more energy than is required. Even with self-cleaning ovens, check often to make sure that there is not a build-up of ash deposits from the self-cleaning operation.


To make sure you get the cooking performance you need, you'll want to pay careful attention to several features when buy a kitchen range.

Select a Range Style

Three styles of ranges are available. To select a range style best for your kitchen will depend on the kitchen's design:

- Freestanding ranges have finished sides and controls on the backsplash.

- Slide-In ranges have a seamless built-in look with controls on the front of the range.

- Drop-In ranges have unfinished sides and may require cabinet modification for a tight fit. Controls are on the front of the range.

Choose a Range Top: Electric or Gas?

If you are replacing a range, you will more than likely replace it with same type of range. If you are choosing a range in new construction, here is some additional information to consider when choosing between electric and gas.

Electric ranges are available in coil element and smoothtop designs. Sizes range from 20" to 36".

Coil Element Ranges:

- Have radiant elements that plug-in and are easily removed for cleaning.

- Have drip pans that lift out for cleaning.

- Offer even heat distribution when cooking.

Smoothtop (Radiant Surface) Ranges:

- The radiant elements on a smoothtop cooktop heat quickly and some are adjustable in size.

- An adjustable element can accommodate either large or small pans.

- A triple element can heat a large 9" x 19" griddle or casserole dish.

- The durable ceramic smoothtop is sealed to the range so spills cannot drip down under the burner.

Gas ranges are available in open burner and sealed burner. Sizes range from 20" to 40". You must have access to natural gas.

Open Burner Ranges:

- Large openings in the cooktop for burner.

- The cooktop lifts up to be able to clean spills that drain into opening in the cooktop.

- Drip pans can be lifted off and cleaned easily in the sink.

Sealed Surface Burner Ranges:

Many cooktops are designed with the sealed burners recessed below the surface of the countertop.

- Sealed burners are attached directly to the cooktop.

- Spills and spatters are contained on the cooktop where they can easily be wiped up.

With a gas range, you can cook during power outages.

Bonus Features on ranges make cooking more convenient:

Some allow you to program the oven to start and stop the cooking process in your absence.

Electronic clocks and controls on ovens are easier to read and give you greater control over the temperature.

Hot surface indicator lights are available, as well as safety knobs that must be pushed in to turn on.

A convection oven offers many cooking benefits:

- In addition to the standard bake and broil elements in the oven, there is a third oven heating element around the fan in the rear of the oven.

- Meats cook up to 30% faster.

- Convection ovens allow you to choose between conventional baking and roasting or convection baking and roasting.

In gas ranges, make sure the bottom of the oven cavity deflects heat equally.

In electric ranges, look for a model that uses both the top and bottom elements while cooking.

Co-CL for "The Stitcher's Niche" and "Remodel & Renovate" and CL for "Antiques and Collectibles"

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CL for

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-05-2003
Sun, 03-30-2008 - 9:43am

What if you have a historic home and want to make you kitchen look like it's of the era (but not necessarily WORK like it's o the era!)?

Here's an interesting article:

The Full Range of Cookstove Issues: Getting the right stove in the right place in old-house kitchens.
By Carolyn Murray

Every old house has a story. Did your old house grow up in the city or country? Were there servants in the kitchen preparing meals for the owners? Is it a simple house or a grand mansion? Was there even a kitchen in the house when it was new? When you renovate a kitchen in an old house, you should balance your cooking requirements with the historical and architectural needs of the building. The story your stove tells should add a new layer to the story of your house. As you shop for your stove, considering the following issues will help you make the best choice.

Understanding the Story

Yes, stoves have a lot to say. Think about it. What image comes to mind when I mention a classic commercial range manufacturer like Viking? What about other venerable products like Wedgewood, Heartland, or Kenmore? What do you see? Size? Color? Finish? Old? New? How does this image fit your own kitchen's proportions, age, or look?

Do you have to have a cast-iron, coal-burning stove if you live in an Eastlake Victorian? Heavens, no. You simply need to consider the effect your choice will have on the way your kitchen will look when it's done. A kitchen that has no historical or visual reference to the rest of the house feels disjointed. The stove is often the focal point of the kitchen, so even while you bring the most modern technology into the space, you can use the stove to keep the conversation going between the new and the old.

Before you begin shopping, you should understand your options for a stove. Ahh, so many choices (see box below). One obvious solution might be a restored antique stove, which will become an immediate focal point for your kitchen. Another would be a reproduction stove. These days, there are even mid-20th-century repros from manufacturers such as Heartland or Elmira Stove Works.

Then there are new stoves that look like what they are. In the oven you can have a choice of radiant or convection heat. On the cooktop there are drop-in modules and ceramic or glass tops, in addition to the familiar coils and burners. With a new stove, though, be careful to avoid the siren call of what's in vogue now. Your house may not support this choice either stylistically or structurally. Also, a decade from now you may wish you had made a more timeless selection. Once you've determined how you want to cook, what your fuel source options are, and how much you want to pay, the choices will narrow considerably. Keep these historical guidelines in mind.

• If you live in a house where the original kitchen was in an outbuilding or the construction predates 1820 (when meals would likely have been cooked over an open fire), it's useless to try to effect a true restoration unless you plan to live in a museum. In this situation you face an interpretive restoration—that is, renovating with the original context, rather than the literal chronology, of the house in mind. This view gives you the opportunity to have the working kitchen as modern as you like, with all the bells and whistles of today's technology. Regarding your stove choice, the design elements of color and scale will be what contribute to or detract from the finished kitchen.

• In general terms, all stoves were black or dark green (from stove blacking or Japan paint) until about 1910, when porcelain enameling became common. From then to the early 1930s, the color choices would have been black, white, or grey. Color arrived in the 1930s and has varied along with stove fashion ever since.

• Stainless steel became popular as a material for domestic use in the 1940s. Monel metal, its rustless precursor, was widely advocated in the 1930s but, being expensive, appeared in high-end kitchens.

• Don't forget to consider the style, finish, and scale of the cabinetry relative to the stove. For example, if you choose a simple, 30" four-burner stove, you will want to keep the cabinetry simple too. Avoid elaborate door styles and high-end natural wood finishes. When you get into the grander stove choices, the door style can go from simple to elaborate, the finish can be rustic or fine, but the scale of the cabinets should match the scale of the "cooker" so that it doesn't overwhelm the kitchen.

Mechanical Conundrums

Suppose what you really want is a commercial range, or a big, cast-iron enameled stove like an Aga, Rayburn, or La Cornue? How do you balance this choice with the overall scheme of your older home? The first and foremost issue is weight. The typical 48" commercial range weighs in at 500 to 600 pounds. Be sure your floor joists are strong enough to support this load. (You might have to reinforce the floor from below with masonry.) Are your door openings large enough to carry the stove into the kitchen? Can your fuel supply handle the demand? What about fire safety? Remember big stoves get hot, and local codes often list minimum clearances to combustible materials—such as cabinets.

Speaking of BTUs, is your kitchen big and well-ventilated enough to mitigate excess heat from your stove in warmer months? You will need a hood and vent system of some kind, even if there isn't one there now. The vent removes moisture and odor generated by cooking and improves air circulation. It should have a high air-flow capacity. People often lose focus here because the stoves displayed in showrooms can be too modern-looking, and the hood ends up detracting from the rest of the kitchen. There are more options than meet the eye. Hoods can be hidden in the kitchen's structure in cabinetry, and with the right shape, size, and material, made to look like they belong to the house.

Before you purchase your ventilation system, you have to know what your house can handle regarding the movement of air to the outside. Which way do the rafters run? Where can the ducting exit the house? Perhaps there's a chimney flue with room to hold an 8? or 10? duct? Check out all these conditions, along with your local codes, before finalizing your plans. Also make sure your fan can move adequate amounts of air.

If you decide to hide the hood inside cabinetry or building framing, you only need to buy a hood liner. This is an insert—the mechanics of fan, vent, and lights without a cover. It will save you some money, so be sure to bring up the possibilities with your dealer. If the liner is going into the cabinetry, have it shipped to the cabinetmaker so they can build around it.

Once you have decided on your stove and hood options, you'll be ready to plan the rest of the kitchen. Here are a few parameters to follow:

Be sure there is at least 15" of countertop on one side of the stove and 18" on the other. The more you have-at least on one side—the better.

If you can, use a heat-resistant surface on the countertop (at least on one side of the stove) for resting hot pots.
Consider flow in your work triangle. Whenever possible, locate your stove closest to where you will eat, with plenty of adjacent counter space. This way you can take food off the stove and prep it for serving without too many steps.

When choosing a stove for an old-house kitchen, there are likely to be one or two conflicting issues. By prioritizing your list, you'll determine what is most important to you. The decisions you make about the style, size, finish, and location of your stove will affect the outcome of your project. Taking a look at all of these factors and balancing them with your cooking needs before you begin will save you money by avoiding mistakes, and will keep that conversation going when your project is complete.

Co-CL for "The Stitcher's Niche" and "Remodel & Renovate" and CL for "Antiques and Collectibles"

Visit me at That Yank In...
and Traveling with That Yank


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Stitchery WIPs: "Bath 5¢", "Walking to Town", a selection of 8 San Man snowman charts, 2 sets of curtain tie-backs using a DMC freebie chart and the DMC linen threads, a Kooler Design Studio chart form JanLynn called "Needlework Shop", "Tsunami Charity Sampler" from the fall 2007 Sampler & Needlework Quarterly, and "Autumn Leaves" from the December 2006 New Stitches

CL for

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-05-2003
Sat, 02-07-2009 - 9:45am

her's a interesting article on buying and refurbishing vintage ranges:

CL for

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-05-2003
Wed, 11-04-2009 - 12:10pm

Heat Things Up

Wall ovens & microwaves

Our favorite gas ranges

Cook in style

Co-CL for "The Stitcher's Niche" and ""Shake Up Your Style" and CL for "Remodel & Renovate"

Visit me at That Yank In... and Traveling with That Yank

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