Range Buying Guide

Looking for the best kitchen stove or range? CNET editors help you choose between gas stoves, electric stoves, and other kitchen ranges to meet your specific needs.

What types of ranges are available?

From gas to electric, ranges now come in a wide range of options. Some cooktop ranges are inserted into a countertop and have a matching wall oven that is installed separately. There are free-standing models--range and oven combos--that have panels on both sides and can stand alone in the kitchen. There also are slide-in models, which have no side panels or backsplash and fit between two cabinets. Then there are drop-ins, which are fueled by electricity only, and are installed between cabinets on a pedestal with no bottom drawer below oven.

Here's an overview of the types of ranges and combos you'll find on the market:

Cooktop and wall oven set
This style offers more flexibility in terms of placement because the cooktop and wall oven aren't connected. However, it requires more installment/carpentry expertise in many cases than a freestanding range.

Freestanding ranges
The range and oven are all-in-one. These typically cost less than cooktop and wall oven combos. They are easier to install in most cases, but the oven and range height are fixed.

They fire up quickly and you always know when they're on. They are powered by natural gas, which has to be available in your community, or liquid propane, which you have to buy and have delivered. They are slightly more expensive to buy than electric ranges but are slightly less expensive to operate. They can come with unique burners for very fast high-temperature heat (searing, boiling) and for gentle low-temperature heat (simmering). Look for sealed burners for easier cleanup. Another plus: You can cook during power outages.

Gas cooktop for quick response with good temperature control, including an electric oven for more even heating.

With electric ranges you have less control over heat output--for example, water can take longer to boil. However, you can get better overall performance from the oven. Models are slightly less expensive than gas ranges but also cost a bit more to operate from month to month.

Convection or trivection
Convection is an oven option that uses fans to circulate heat more evenly throughout the oven, which cooks food faster while using less energy and heat. One plus is that there is no need to place cooking trays on certain levels of the oven since heat is distributed evenly. You can switch between conventional baking and roasting and/or convection baking and roasting. In addition to convection, another speedier cooking option is trivection, which uses thermal heating, convection, and microwave heating power.

With the home chef and kitchen upgrade trends, some people want the professional look and power of a commercial range. Most commercial-style ranges have at least four and sometimes up to eight burners. They generate high heat output (typically 15,000 Btu/hr.), which requires more cooking finesse. One downside of these ranges: They sometimes have a high-repair history.

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