Kitchen Ranges: What Are They Exactly?

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When designing a new kitchen or renovating an existing one, there's no shortage of elements to consider. Of course, there's the overall aesthetic, the floor plan layout, tile, countertops, cabinet color, the number of sinks to install, and of course, a head-spinning array of appliances. But for those who love to entertain and cook, there's nothing quite like the rush of picking out a new kitchen range.

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What Is a Kitchen Range?

A range, not to be confused with a stove or oven, is a multifunctional appliance that combines both a cooktop and an oven in one. It generally has four to six burners on top and a single or double oven below. And for the culinary enthusiast, it's the pièce de résistance in a kitchen known for making impressive cuisine. Most experts agree that ranges are preferred for setups with spatial constraints, and limited wall and counter space. They're available in a wide variety of eye-catching colors and glinty finishes making them less of a purely utilitarian purchase, but also a design consideration in their own right.

A cooktop, on the other hand, is a kitchen appliance that's comprised solely of burners and is inset into a portion of the countertop (with the countertop exposed on all four sides). Cooktop controls are on top of the appliance, while the knobs of a range are either in front or at the back.

Adding to the decision-making process are range tops which, just as the name implies, are the top burner portion of a range without the oven. They have dimensions comparable to a full range and are installed with counter space on either side and drawers or cabinets below. The main differences between a cooktop and a range top are the location of the controls and the installation. A range top slides into the countertop, so part of it will have to be removed; whereas a cooktop is a drop-in.

Budget, kitchen layout, and cooking preference are the three biggest factors in determining whether a range or separate oven/stove is right for your space. If you select a cooktop or range top, you will need to install an oven (or two) separately so ample square footage is a must. A range is more economical than purchasing separate units.

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Gas vs. Electric Ranges

If you're embarking on a remodel or upgrade, the fuel type you select for your kitchen range might be determined by what you already have, out of convenience. For example, if you have a gas line installed, it'll be easier and more economical to purchase a gas stove. If you had an electric stove, it probably won't be worth it to run a dedicated gas line. If, however, you're doing a complete remodel or new build, many people prefer the flame and temperature control of gas while others are partial to the easy-clean benefits of electric.

Even though gas stoves tend to be favored for precision cooking and flame control, there's a movement away from gas and toward electric thanks to the fact that more cities are targeting the use of natural gas in homes in the name of climate change. Gas stoves have been linked to poor indoor air quality and a higher risk of asthma. Electric stoves are twice as energy-efficient, keeping utility costs down over time, however, if you lose power, a gas stove will continue to function.

Another option combines the best of both worlds: Dual-fuel. These ranges pair the power and speed of a gas cooktop with the precision and consistency of an electric oven.

Things to Consider While Shopping

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You have the choice between freestanding ranges and slide-in models. Freestanding is designed to stand alone or between cabinets and generally features controls at the back of the range. Slide-in models have front-mounted controls which prevent reaching over hot burners and their unfinished sides mean they are designed solely to sit between cabinets or drawers.

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Now it's time for the fun part: shopping! Here is a handy little buying guide complete with five ranges worth considering for your kitchen.

1. Amana 4.8 Cubic Feet Freestanding Electric Range, $499.99

This sleek freestanding kitchen range with an electric cooktop has modern undertones thanks to its seamless design and stainless steel finish. It features a smooth top with four ceramic burners, an extra-wide oven, and an integrated storage drawer.

2. Zline Kitchen and Bath RASeries 36-inch Freestanding Dual Fuel Range, $3,599.95

An all-over matte black range is sure to add depth and a focal point to any cook space. This hardworking option boasts six gas burners and an electric oven for maximum cooking flexibility. If you're into the restaurant-grade look, this kitchen range is also available in stainless steel.

3. Café 30-inch Smart Slide-In, Front-Control, Gas Double-Oven Range with Convection, $3,239.99

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Choose a range with unexpected details (brushed copper handles and knobs, anyone?) and a lacquered finish to update the look of a standard appliance. More than just another pretty face, this white gas-powered beauty is Wi-Fi enabled and can connect to a bevy of wireless platforms including Amazon Alexa, Innit, Sonos, and The Google Assistant, making it a smart addition to your kitchen essentials.

4. Hallman 40-inch Double Oven Duel Fuel Italian Range True Convection, $4,599

Embrace full-on color and make your freestanding gas range the standout design feature in your kitchen. This punchy emerald green option will make cooking even mundane meals a delightful treat. It has a European sensibility thanks to tapered knobs and handles along with five burners and a substantial size that can support two side-by-side ovens.

5. GE 30-inch Slide-in Gas Range with Self-Cleaning Convection Oven and Air Fry, $1,798

This up-to-date gas range includes an ingenious edge-to-edge stovetop design which expands the cooking surface and provides ample space for oversize pots and pans. A built-in, of-the-moment air fryer eliminates the need for separate cooking appliances, which frees up precious storage space. And if you needed more convincing, this range is available in five different finishes.

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Jaclyn Schatzow is a freelance writer living in Santa Monica, CA

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