5 Expert Tips For Choosing The Perfect Range Oven For Your Kitchen

The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright believed that the hearth (or a fireplace) was the heart of the home, according to Isovists. However, we rely on fireplaces much less now that modern kitchen and central heating technology have rendered them inefficient. In some senses, the TV has replaced the hearth as the thing we gather around in the evenings, instead of the flickering of flames and the warmth of a fire. The other sense in which fireplaces were the nexus point of the home is that they were where most of the food was prepared. There is no finer modern equivalent of a fireplace as a foodie focus than the range oven.

A range is an oven with at least one hotplate on top. Even the smallest and simplest range cooker will likely be amongst the largest and most useful appliances in your kitchen. Moreover, modern range cookers come with a list of features that can elevate your cooking to the next level. Here's what you should consider when choosing the perfect range oven for your kitchen.

Identify why you need a range oven

A range oven can be so much more than simply a cooking appliance. Given the massive variety in the features that can be incorporated, it's key that you ask yourself exactly what you want and need your range oven to be able to do. If, for example, you would like an oven that also heats your home, you might be interested in an AGA, which has been a fixture in English country kitchens for years and is now making an impact stateside, according to Food Republic. These heavy, cast-iron appliances heat slowly and constantly, warming the home and cooking food in a gentle and thorough way. They are expensive to buy and certainly not cheap to run, but truly exemplify the idea of a range as the heart of a home.

Equally, it's possible to find range ovens that have been designed for the utmost efficiency or to evoke old-school charm. Normal ovens tend to be bland in design, whereas range cookers are visual products, design elements to be tweaked and customized, according to Glotech. Whether you begin the kitchen design process by searching for your perfect range oven, or if you design the kitchen, and then find the range that's best suited to fit, make sure you explore the fullest extent of the features available.

What fuel source?

Range ovens will use a lot of fuel over their lifetime. So firstly, find out which fuel sources you have access to — some people in rural areas have better access to solid fuel like wood or peat than gas or electricity, while cities like New York are beginning to implement bans on new gas lines, explains NPR, so it is important to accurately assess your options and the costs of each type of fuel. Gas ranges are a favorite among chefs due to their responsiveness and versatility. 

According to KitchenAid, there's nothing quicker at heating up an oven, or cooling down a burner, than gas. The most efficient way to power your range oven, in a perfect world, is with a dual-fuel model. As the name implies, these versions have both gas and electric heating — gas on the stovetop for the best temperature control and an electric oven beneath for dry, consistent heat. However, according to Whirlpool, you can anticipate higher purchase and installation costs for these more complex machines. At the other end of the spectrum, if you already use solid fuel to heat your home, consider a wood burning range, which provides heat for the stovetop, oven, hot water, and central heating, notes Stove Sellers.

Size matters

The larger your range oven, the more food it can cook at once. The smaller your range oven, the quicker it will heat up, and the less it will cost. Most cooks opt for the largest range that their space and budget will allow. Range cooker size is generally described by its width, and according to Appliance City, the most common sizes are between 3 feet, and 3 feet 8 inches wide. 

Even range cookers that are 3 feet wide have at least four burners and an oven. According to The The Rangecookers Blog, sizes beyond 3.5 feet usually include more than one oven, with several options having up to four ovens! While planning, keep an eye out for factors that will usefully limit your choices when it comes to the size of range oven. There are so many possible configurations, especially at the larger end of the spectrum, that you may welcome the limitation!

Price ranges

A good quality range oven will last for many years and provide thousands of meals, so it's easy to make the argument that they're cost-effective. However, there's no getting away from the fact that they are expensive. Good Housekeeping estimates that most range ovens start at $1,000, increasing to $8,000 for a high-end model, which is a lot of money for any household appliance.

Higher prices do generally equate with more features, better build quality, and size. However, per Consumer Reports, whilst you do get what you pay for in terms of bells and whistles, more money doesn't always mean better cooking performance. If you have your heart set on a dual-oven range, expect to be spending more than $1,000. Once the price goes above $1,500, fancy but superfluous features such as bread-proofing and slow cooking begin to appear.

If you're in the market for something particularly huge, heavy, or handsome, then the priciest brands will have your dream oven. But, if you're just looking for an effective, all-around kitchen workhorse, it's not necessarily worth looking at models over $2,000, unless you need dual-fuel capabilities.

Controlling your range oven

People naturally focus on the features of new appliances when making purchasing decisions, but don't forget that the controls are one of the main points of engagement between the oven and the user. That means both intentional uses of the controls while you're cooking, and potentially unintentional use by children, or someone leaning on the oven.

Front-control ranges are sometimes more expensive as they're more stylish and arguably safer. Back control ranges require you to reach over hot pans, which is potentially dangerous. If you are worried about small children being able to easily reach the oven control knobs, then it's relatively simple to replace the knobs with safety knobs — they work like other accident-proofing measures, requiring a strong pinch and turn to activate the oven (via Senior Safety Advice).

The other factor to consider when it comes to controlling your perfect range oven is the ability to connect it to a smartphone app. This allows for remote activation and is particularly useful for those ranges that also heat your home, or for people with a long commute — you can set the oven to preheat from the road. As noted by Lifewire, when using Wi-Fi to connect your oven to Alexa or Google, you can even adjust the oven temperature without leaving the couch!