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If you're a fan of the gas range, you're in good company with us! Lots of people prefer cooking with a gas range because they feel more in control over their heating elements and, therefore, their culinary results.
The market today has a plethora of choices when it comes to gas ranges. There are different designs — freestanding or slide-in; different fuel choices — gas, electric, or dual; number of burners — two, three, four, or more; and more options to consider when it comes to finding that perfect fit for your kitchen.
But buying a new gas range can be expensive as you might also need to invest in a ventilation system, or a new gas line. At BestReviews, we're all in favor of delicious, home-cooked meals. To that end, we spent hours studying the best gas ranges on the market to help you decide which one to go for.
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In this shopping guide, we'll answer your burning questions about gas-powered ranges, and provide valuable information to help you select a new one.
Before you buy a new gas range, consider where you'll be putting it. Does your kitchen’s configuration lend itself to a freestanding or slide-in model?
Freestanding models are ideal for centralized kitchens islands. These gas ranges sport four finished sides and do not always include a backsplash or overlapping edges. Your existing gas line’s range may limit where you can place a freestanding range within your home. However, you could probably hire a professional to extend that range.
Slide-in models are designed for kitchens in which the cabinets, counter tops, and sink can accommodate a 30- to 42-inch range, fuel line, and ventilation system. Since a slide-in must fit a precise space, its sides may overlap neighboring counters and cabinets. Unlike a freestanding model that can be seen from all angles, a slide-in gas range typically has two unfinished sides that remain hidden after installation.
The law requires most commercial kitchens to ventilate areas with gas-burning cooktops. You may see a large overhead hood with powerful fans, exhaust ducts, and grease filters in a professional kitchen.
These regulations don’t necessarily apply to homeowners with smaller gas ranges, but proper ventilation is still a good idea. Excessive smoke is always a possibility while cooking, and grease tends to accumulate on the ceilings and walls of poorly ventilated cooking areas.
The retail price of a new gas range may not represent its final cost. If local building codes require, for example, a hood or other ventilation device, the price goes up. It pays to plan ahead.
Traditional Overhead Hood System
You might choose to install a traditional overhead hood with an electrical fan system and exhaust ductwork. This is known as “updraft” ventilation, as the smoke and grease draw upward through the hood and release via a duct. Buying and installing an overhead ventilation hood costs a pretty penny, but it’s preferable to the cost of repairing damages caused by smoke and grease to the ceiling and walls.
Instead of an updraft system, you may choose to install a downdraft system that draws smoke and grease away from your range. In this system, a powerful fan pulls smoky, greasy air down to a filtering system below the unit. Those who don’t have space for an overhead hood may appreciate a downdraft ventilation system.
Perhaps you live in a cramped apartment and don’t have room for an oven hood. Or perhaps you want a versatile, money-saving alternative to the ventilation solutions mentioned above. If so, consider installing a microwave with an external ventilation system above your gas range. Plenty of gas range owners say they’re satisfied with this low-tech approach.
By its very nature, a gas range needs to be a rugged piece of kitchen equipment that will last 15-20 years or more. A sturdy construction and thoughtful design help ensure the longevity of your appliance. When selecting a new range, pay attention to the following.
What is your favorite gas range made of? Many manufacturers use heavy cast iron burner grates to support larger pieces of cookware. As for the appliance’s shell, it may be stainless steel, or it may be metal finished with a heat-resistant enamel coating. Both materials are highly recommended.
Whenever possible, shoppers should opt for models with sealed burners. A sealed burner system features a special metal plate that fits around the central burner and prevents food and liquids from falling into the interior.
Those who prefer a self-cleaning oven may be disappointed to learn that most gas ranges don’t include this feature. However, they do respond well to chemical oven cleaners. In addition to chemical cleaning, we recommend the use of protective foils and disposable burner covers to minimize build-ups.
Other Valued Features
The price of a new gas range varies considerably, from around $150 for a basic gas cooktop with two burners to over $2,000 for a pro-grade model with five burners. The price difference essentially comes down to capacity and total BTU output.
A single person with minimal cooking needs could be satisfied with a two-burner cooktop and a small oven, but a family of four would likely appreciate a four- or five-burner model and a broiler/oven combination. The goal, of course, is to purchase a gas range that matches your cooking aspirations and needs.
A gas range’s heat output is commonly measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. The higher the BTU rating, the more heat generated by the gas burner. You’ll often see different BTU ratings for different elements on the same range.
Gas range owners quickly learn which burners on their stove run hotter than others. The challenge lies in coordinating a meal with recipes that require various cook times and heat settings. Fortunately, a gas range with variable BTU outputs allays this challenge considerably.
The great “gas vs electric” debate centers largely around heat control. Some cooks prefer gas burners because the heat source is easier to gauge. Rather than relying on an electric dial, the cook can quickly adjust the height of the gas flame.
In addition, a gas range affords you the opportunity to broil, flambé, blacken, and braise your food. These techniques can also be done with an electric range, but a gas range allows more precision.
Many gas ranges use natural gas as their main fuel source, but some can be retrofitted with an adaptor kit to accept propane or other bottled fuels.
Q: What specific benefits does a gas range offer over an electric model?
A: As mentioned above, a gas range gives you greater control over your heat source than an electric range. For example, it’s far easier to achieve the subtle differences between medium heat and medium-high heat thanks to the visual cues the flame provides. Electric range burners are adjustable, too, but this takes time, and there is no easy way for the cook to measure the change.
Q: Do I really need to ventilate a gas range?
A: While some users may see a ventilation hood as an unnecessary expense, the reality is that most gas ranges require ventilation for safe operation. Fortunately, installing a large and expensive overhead ventilation hood is not the only option. Some gas ranges can be ventilated via an overhead microwave. Others suffice with downdraft fans and exhaust filters.
Q: Are natural gas and propane family-safe sources for my new gas range?
A: Are you worried about carbon monoxide build-up or a gas-fueled explosion? Most gas ranges possess a number of safety features that prevent such events from occurring. While no kitchen appliance is 100 per cent safe, a properly installed and maintained gas range is just as reliable as its electric counterpart. What’s more, a gas range could fill a crucial role in an emergency situation like a power outage.
Q: Could a gas range damage my cookware? I’m concerned about the high heat.
A: Most modern cookware can withstand exposure to electrical heating elements and gas burners equally well. Granted, some high-end 22000-BTU burners could damage thinner cookware if not handled properly. But as long as you maintain a reasonable heat, your cast iron Dutch oven and nonstick aluminum frying pans should be just fine.