Oven vs. Range: How to Choose

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Many people who are accustomed to a traditional range do not consider that the oven and stove top do not need to be an all-in-one appliance and that many homes are better suited to having a separate cooktop and wall oven. If you're trying to decide if you would be better off with a new kitchen range or a wall oven and cooktop, you'll want to look at both your kitchen layout and the pros and cons of each of these cooking appliances before finalizing your plans.

What Is a Kitchen Range?

Since not everyone is aware of how a range differs from a wall oven or stand-alone cooktop, it's worth clarifying that a range is an appliance with a stove top and oven in one. There are many different range types available, including:

  • A drop-in range that has no bottom drawer or separate broiler and fits directly into the cabinetry.

  • A slide-in range where the range is designed to go between two cabinets. These have a top slightly larger than the oven so it can overlap the countertop, making cleaning easier.

  • A free-standing range, which has finished sides so it can slide between cabinets or be installed at the end of a cabinet run. These do not have a top that overlaps the countertops, so cleaning can be more of a challenge.

Another factor to consider when buying a range is where the controls are located. If the controls are on the front or top of the range, there will be no obstructions over the backsplash, but if all or some of the controls are built into a backguard behind the stove top, this can cover your backsplash. Having all rear controls can sometimes be dangerous, as this design requires you to reach over hot pans of food to use the controls, which could leave you at risk of steam burns.

Image Credit: Stephen Paul for Hunker

Benefits of a Wall Oven and Separate Cooktop

Consumer Reports says that ranges can't provide nearly the same flexibility and convenience as having your cooktop and oven separate from one another. Some of the many benefits of having these two kitchen appliances apart from one another include:

  • Reducing congestion in busy kitchens, particularly if you have more than one cook in your kitchen. The person using the stove won't have to move out of the way for someone using the oven.

  • Providing a more ergonomic option since wall ovens tend to be higher up than those on ranges. This can reduce back strain and reduce the likelihood that you'll drop a heavy dish full of hot food since you just have to turn to place it on the counter rather than lift it up to the counter.

  • If the cooktop is on a kitchen island, it will make it easier to socialize with your guests while cooking. It's worth mentioning that stove tops on islands should ideally feature induction burners, as these are the safest option since they are not hot to the touch.

  • Allowing more design options. While a range requires the entire unit to be fit into one solid box, a cooktop can be set into your counters themselves, making for a more seamless look.

  • Offering more oven space. While it's possible to find a double oven for your range, which will allow you to cook foods at two different temperatures at the same time, one of these ovens will almost always be smaller than the other. With a dual wall oven, you can actually double your oven space.

  • Providing the most flexibility based on your cooking style. Those who want two ovens don't need to add extra burners, and on the other hand, those who desire extra burners don't necessarily need additional oven space. Similarly, many people prefer cooking with a gas range and an electric oven, which is easy to do with two separate appliances, while finding a dual-fuel range can be difficult, and these are often prohibitively expensive.

Benefits of Ranges

One of the biggest benefits of the range is the cost. A cheap electric or gas range can go for under $600, according to Goedeker's Home Life, while a more quality model will usually run between $1,500 and $2,000. You can even find a decent induction range for $1,000. On the other hand, the price of a single wall oven often starts at $700, and a quality double oven may cost $3,000 or more. A wall oven will need to be paired with a cooktop, and these can start at $500 for electric models and be more than $2,000 for an induction cooktop.

The price of the kitchen appliances themselves isn't the only expense. You'll also need to hire an electrician or plumber to move the gas or electric lines, you'll need to have your new cabinets and countertops designed to accommodate the oven and cooktop and you'll need to add a hood over the stove top as well. All of these conversions can add thousands to the installation price. While those who are already doing a full remodel or designing a new kitchen may not need to concern themselves with the expense of changing the layout, the costs of moving the hood and gas or electric lines can still add up.

It's also worth recognizing that wall ovens require you to sacrifice counter space, which means ranges are generally a better option for those with small kitchens with limited counter space.

Layout Considerations for Wall Ovens

While not necessarily a pro or con of either option, it's important to consider your layout if you plan on installing a wall oven and cooktop. While you can have more flexibility when it comes to design since your stove top and oven can be set in separate areas, it's important to keep the kitchen workflow in mind. Most kitchen designers adhere to a design rule known as the "kitchen triangle." This rule states that the spaces between your range, refrigerator and sink should form a triangle, with each leg measuring between 4 and 9 feet and the sum of all sides being no more than 26 feet long. Also, kitchen islands should never intersect any leg by more than 12 inches.

When working with a separate oven and cooktop, the kitchen island rule should apply to the stove top, but the oven should still be located within 2 to 3 feet of the cooktop area to ensure the kitchen is as functional as possible.

Choosing the Right Option for Your Kitchen

There is no single answer when it comes to whether a range or a separate oven and cooktop is better. Ultimately, you'll need to take your budget, layout and cooking needs into consideration. If you're on a tight budget, a range is almost always your best bet. If you're more concerned about making your kitchen as functional as possible, a separate oven and cooktop might be a good option. Even then, if you don't have the space to make the layout work comfortably, you may still find yourself better off with only a range.


Jill Harness is a blogger with experience covering architecture, design and decor trends from around the globe. As she lives in what would politely be called a "fixer upper," she is particularly interested in writing about DIY projects and repairs. Most of her home design writing can be found at www.homesandhues.com. You can find out more about Jill's experience and learn how to contact her through her website, www.jillharness.com.

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