What the best range has

  • Reliable cooktop performance. A range should have a variety of burner configurations to be able to handle both high heat (for boiling, sautĂ©ing, stir frying) and low heat (simmering, melting) duties.
  • Consistent oven temperatures. Some settings -- like convection, keep-warm, rapid preheat, et cetera -- can help overall oven performance, but accurate and consistent temperatures are most important for baking.
  • A good capacity. Overall oven capacity should take into consideration the size of your family and the amount of cooking and baking you do on a regular basis.
  • Generous usable space. Experts say an oven with five or more rack positions is best to bake multiple items of various sizes.
  • Convenient features. The sky is the limit when it comes to features. Some of the most popular and user-friendly features include a self-cleaning cycle, warming or baking drawing, sealed burners (on gas cooktops), indicator lights, audible timers and control lockout.

Know before you go

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? The most common range is a 30-inch freestanding range that fits between countertops or stands alone.

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. Most homes are set up for an electric range.

What's to come

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. Other models 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.

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