Convection, induction and gas – oh my!
Picking out a range feels very much like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book: with so many different options and combinations, it can be a challenge to decide what will be a good fit for you and your family.
To make the decision process a lot easier for you, we’ve brought you answers to some of the most common questions people ask when searching for their new stove.
- Gas, electric or dual fuel: Which is best?
- What’s the difference: Freestanding vs. slide-in?
- Is a coil-top or smooth-top stove better?
- What is an induction cooktop?
- Do I need a double oven?
- How does convection work?
- Do self-clean cycles really work?
- Can I use pans of different shapes and sizes?
- How can I keep prepared food warm?
- Do I need a range hood?
There are three types of fuel for your range:
A gas range uses natural gas to power both the cooktop and oven. The biggest reason people love this type of stove is the immediate response time of the cooktop: when you adjust the settings, the pot and the food in the pot instantly experience that change. The not-so-great thing about gas is that the oven doesn’t maintain a consistent temperature, which can result in uneven cooking.
Many people like electric ranges because there is no open flame or risk of a gas leak. And while the cooktop doesn’t deliver precise heat like a gas range does, an electric oven delivers a much more even temperature to make cooking and baking easier.
Dual-fuel ranges are the best of both worlds. They combine the precise heat of gas cooktops with the uniform temperature of electric ovens.
The difference between freestanding and slide-in ranges is small, but it can definitely alter the look and feel of your kitchen. Freestanding ranges are the most common design; they have finished sides so you can put them anywhere in your kitchen, and the control panel is located on a raised section at the back of the stove.
Slide-in ranges relocate the control panel to the front of the stove, and the sides aren’t completely finished. These ranges are meant to fit snugly between two counters for a sleek, built-in look.
When it comes to electric ranges, there’s the “old-fashioned” coil top and the more modern smooth top. Each design has its own pros and cons, so choosing a cooktop style is based purely on your personal preference.
Smooth-top ranges offer a sleek appearance and are really easy to clean. However, the top is also prone to scratching, which limits the type of cookware you can use.
Coil-top ranges are great because there’s no worry about scratching the burners, and the elements can easily be replaced if they stop working. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to clean around the coils and keep them level, which can result in the food sliding to one side of the pan and uneven cooking.
Induction ranges look just like any other electric range, but the cooktop functions differently. Induction cooktops use magnetic coils beneath the cooktop to quickly generate heat directly to the pan. This offers precise temperature control. Because the cooktop works only when cookware is present on the burner, this is the most efficient style of range.
An induction range requires magnetic cookware with a flat bottom in order to work. If a magnet sticks to your pot or pan, then you can use the cookware on an induction stove.
If you don’t want to purchase all new cookware, you can use an induction disk between your non-magnetic pan and your induction cooktop. However, this method is much less efficient because your pan is being heated like it would on any other non-induction stove.
Double ovens are the perfect tool for cooking multiple dishes requiring different temperatures at the same time. Whether or not you need one really depends on your style of cooking.
How often do you cook large suppers or entertain guests for dinner? A double oven can remove limits on your menu now that you can cook more dishes at one time. However, the addition of a second oven means there’s no room for a storage drawer, and often only one of the ovens has convection.
If you find that you cook big dinners only once or twice a year and you can easily manage preparing multiple dishes, then a single oven is probably a good fit for you.
In a convection oven, fans circulate hot air so heat is distributed more evenly and food receives the same amount of heat no matter where it is in the oven. Convection reduces cooking time and produces more uniform cooking results than non-convection ovens.
Convention ovens are great for cooking some types of food, but not others since they produce a very dry heat. If you’re doing any kind of roasting or making pies or cookies, then a convection oven will get the job done right. Breads and cakes, however, do much better in a traditional oven since the stationary air is more humid than in a convection oven.
Self-clean cycles increase the temperature of your oven upwards of 1000 degrees to turn any food particles and spills into ash, cleaning cooked-on spills without the use of harsh chemicals. Once the stove has cooled down, you need to wipe away the ash left behind. Now your oven is clean without too much elbow grease involved.
However, the high temperatures that make self-clean cycles work can also be damaging to your oven. Because it’s difficult to vent heat from hidden heating elements and keep air circulating at the same time, fuses can pop and control panels can burn out.
A good alternative to the high-heat self-clean feature is an easy-clean or quick-clean cycle. For this cycle, you spray the inside of your oven with water and set the cycle. During a period of 10 to 30 minutes, the oven heats up (to a lower temperature than the normal self-clean cycle) to create steam that helps release spills and food particles from the interior – just like when cleaning a microwave. Then you can wipe away the mess once the stove is cool.
To give you the flexibility you need in the kitchen, manufacturers often feature a special burner on the cooktop. On electric ranges, this may be an expandable burner that lets you choose the element size that best matches the pot’s diameter.
There are also bridge elements: this element spans two burners to accommodate a griddle or other oblong cookware. For gas cooktops, there may be an oval burner that accommodates this same type of cookware.
When it’s not being used to store cookie sheets, your stove’s drawer can be used as a place to keep food hot. Some range models come equipped with this warming drawer, while others have the traditional storage drawer.
Many electric ranges also have a warming element. So if supper is ready before the family is or your spouse is working late, you can leave the pan or plate on this burner to keep dinner toasty warm. These extra functionalities are especially helpful when cooking big suppers.
Absolutely! A range hood is crucial for filtering odours, smoke, grease and hot air out of your kitchen. Without a range hood, your kitchen – and your whole house – would get smoky and smelly really fast.
If you want to kill two birds with one stone, an over-the-range microwave is the perfect combination appliance. This microwave features a fan and filter that will leave you with clean kitchen air.
Find Your Match
When it comes to finding a new range, there are so many features and options that it’s nearly impossible not to find something that suits your needs. Whether you’re looking for an induction stove, a gas range or a sleek, smooth-top model, you can find a wide variety of options at TheBrick.com. When you’re ready to go, The Brick can also help with delivery and installation of your brand new range.