Freestanding electric ranges are commonplace in most home kitchens. They are generally the most affordable type of kitchen range and testers say the latest models do an excellent job of cooking all types of dishes. While the sky is the limit on pricing and features, you don't have to break the bank to get a reliable, sleek-looking range. The best-performing models are also among the most affordable.
The Whirlpool WFE540H0A (Est. $850) gets excellent performance ratings from owners who say it does everything well -- from consistent temperatures and even heat in the convection oven to quick heating on the smooth, glass stovetop. It's also loaded with convenient features like variable radiant burner elements, a keep-warm zone, hidden bake element and seven rack guides in the oven.
Users are especially appreciative of the extra-large 6.2-cubic-foot capacity oven -- which is large enough to bake several items at once. One user at HomeDepot.com says it has "… enough room to cook anything I want to!" It also has a large viewing window on the oven door.
The most common complaints for this model center around the steam-clean option -- several owners say it doesn't work as advertised and requires a lot of extra scrubbing to get the oven clean.
Those who prefer a traditional self-cleaning mode -- one that heats up to extremely high temperatures to turn debris into ash -- may appreciate Whirlpool's step-down model. The budget-priced Whirlpool WFE510S0A (Est. $600) performs just as effectively as the WFE540H0A according to users, but it lacks some of the bells and whistles. There's no convection heating, for example, nor is there a keep-warm zone. It's also smaller at 4.8 cubic feet, but reviewers say it has plenty of room to meet the demands of most home kitchens.
If you don't do a ton of cooking and just want something that will get the job done without a bunch of extra fancy features, the Whirlpool WFC310S0A (Est. $500) is a bare-bones option that works just fine. The coil burners may not have the same "cool" factor as smooth-top ranges, but it gets the job done, according to testers at Reviewed.com -- performing better than some models that cost three times as much. It also has a good-sized 4.8-cubic-foot capacity.
One drawback to all three Whirlpool models, according to users, is the storage drawer. Reviewers say it's small and flimsy and it doesn't align very well -- there are no rollers or tracks to keep it in place. Most, however, agree this is a minor nuisance that doesn't affect overall performance in any way.
If you have a decorative backsplash or just want a more built-in look with your range, a slide-in model may be a good option for you. Slide-in models lack back guards and finished sides in order to fit more seamlessly with kitchen cabinetry. They also have a slightly wider stovetop that sits on top of kitchen counters. This feature adds to the cleanability of the range because it eliminates the gap between the stovetop and counter, which is typically a trap for crumbs and spills.
The 4.5-cubic-foot Whirlpool GY397LXUS (Est. $1,400) tops user reviews in this category. Owners say it provides the best marriage of style, function and affordability. The four burners heat up quickly and the oven bakes evenly -- even though it lacks convection heating. The range is easy to clean with a spill-proof lip on the ceramic stovetop and an excellent self-cleaning mode in the oven. Furthermore, it has easy-to-use features such as a broiler function, delay bake, control lock and Sabbath mode.
Users point out that some units have a manufacturing defect that causes the control panel to fail after approximately 18 months of use. The warranty only lasts for one year, so an extended warranty may be worth considering.
If you're looking for something more high-end with countless features, the 5.8-cubic-foot Samsung NE58F9500 (Est. $1,800) is worth a look. It costs more, but testers at Reviewed.com say the extra features and ease of use "more than justifies its hefty price tag." Although the oven temperatures were not always accurate in testing, experts say all of the dishes came out perfectly or nearly so. The stovetop burners heat up extremely fast -- nearly as fast as induction cooktops -- and provide a lot of options for various sizes of cookware.
The Samsung range is loaded with features including a convection oven with a broiler, food temperature probe and LED display. There aren't a lot of user reviews for the NE58F9500, but of the 30 or so we found at HomeDepot.com and Lowes.com, most say the range is very stylish and user-friendly.