Ranges - Electric vs. Gas
If your kitchen decorating plan includes cooking up a new range, take a look at the options to consider before you invest in a new kitchen appliance. A range is a combination cooktop and oven, and while it is the most efficient use of space, some serious chefs prefer a cooktop with a double wall oven when whipping up a meal.
If you’re in the market for a new range, your first consideration will be the fuel source – electric vs. gas. While professional chefs tend to prefer gas for the quick response and instant flame, electric elements generally heat faster and can regulate lower heat better. Dual-fuel ranges combine a gas cooktop with an electric oven.
If you live in a rural area, you may not even have access to a natural gas source for a gas stove, but you can have a propane tank installed that can be used for a gas stove, as long as it can be converted. Usually it’s only a matter of a small conversion kit to make a range operable under propane versus a natural gas source.
Ranges with smooth cooktops have been in vogue for several years now. They feature heating elements in various sizes, with the difference being not only the size, but the watts that are put out. Smaller elements put out approximately 1,200 watts, while larger elements put out double that amount and then some. One option to consider if you’re cooking for a large family or entertaining is a fifth center element that can be used as a warmer, with about 100 watts of energy.
Because of their sleek look, consumers have been ignoring the old fashioned looking coil top ranges. But don’t count them out completely, as looks aren’t always everything. Coil tops tend to be lower in price and offer the best performance for the price.
New to the scene is the induction element, which uses coils below a smooth surface that generates heat right to the pots and pans rather than to the cooking surface which would then in turn heat the pan. Basically, it cuts out the middle man. While they are more energy efficient and heat quickly, they cost more and need special magnetic cookware.
Most professionals and avid chefs prefer the gas range because of the instant flame and the ability to turn it off immediately rather than having it cool down. Gas range capacity is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units) and range in power from 5,000 BTUs for small burners to 9,000 BTUs for larger burners. When choosing a gas range, consider sealed burners to keep crumbs from dropping under the cooktop.
It’s purely a personal preference, but remember that a kitchen should look up to date and efficient, and your range should look that way as well.