Freestanding or slide-in? Ranges can be are either freestanding or slide-in. Freestanding ranges allow for the most flexible installation. They have finished sides and generally -- but not always -- a backsplash with controls. Slide-in ranges provide a seamless, built-in look. Slide-in ranges have unfinished sides and are a bit wider on top so that they slide over kitchen countertops. This feature keeps spills and crumbs from falling into the gap between the range and the counters. There is no backsplash on these models, which allows owners to showcase a tile or other custom kitchen backsplash.
Where will you put your range? This is an important consideration in order to know the size and style of range that is best. Will it fit into an existing opening between countertops? Will it slide onto or into existing cabinetry? Most ranges measure 30 inches wide, although it's possible to find compact models as narrow as 24 inches and professional and designer ranges that measure 36 inches or larger.
Measure your space. If you need or want anything other than a standard-size freestanding range it's important to measure the height, width and depth of your space to make sure your new range fits properly.
Check your hookups. If you plan on purchasing a gas or dual-fuel range, you'll need to make sure you have a gas line in your kitchen. Gas stoves can run on either natural gas or liquid propane. For an electric range, make sure that the circuit it will use has sufficient capacity.
Do you want a convection oven? Convection ovens use a fan to circulate air within the oven, cutting cooking time and heating food more evenly. They've become standard now on all but the least expensive gas and electric ranges.
Is induction cooking for you? Induction stove tops work by heating the cookware rather than its surface. That's a great safety feature for households with small children, but requires the use of either cast iron or stainless or enameled steel cookware, which we cover in a separate report. The ovens in induction ranges are identical to the ones in standard electric ranges and offer conventional and, usually, convection cooking.
One oven, or two? Most ranges have a single, spacious oven. However, some cooks prefer a double oven set up. That trades off a little in terms of capacity in exchange for greater flexibility as you can prepare two different item simultaneously, without the settings and cooking smells in one oven impacting what's being prepared in the other.
Ranges, like just about everything else these days, are getting "smarter." Some high-end models already come with programs that allow users to store their favorite settings. Others enable owners to communicate with their range via their smartphone. Although the features aren't too advanced -- they don't yet allow for much more than monitoring of oven temperatures and timers -- they will likely become more so as technology continues to advance.
Elsewhere in This report: