The kitchen range is your home’s workhorse. Rarely does a day pass without the use of this appliance to create the food we enjoy, so a working range is pretty much essential to a smooth-running household. With good maintenance, a range will last up to 15 years.
Regular maintenance can keep your range working efficiently and prolong its life. This is mostly a matter of routine, thorough cleaning. Here are some basic steps in caring for different types of kitchen ranges:
The control panel
Use a light-duty cleaner or simply soap and water with a rag. Using abrasive pads or too harsh of a cleaner can wear off the decal indicators, which identify the knob controls for each burner.
Smooth electric stove tops
If a heavy spill occurs, use a razor scraper to remove large food deposits. Apply a cooktop cleaner. Remove the remaining residue with a scratch-free pad and then apply a coat of cooktop protectant.
Gas stove tops
Some gas stovetops are made of porcelain-coated steel and can be cleaned exactly the same as an electric smooth top. Stainless steel tops should be cleaned with heavy-duty degreaser and a non-abrasive pad. Avoid using too much water when cleaning, especially around the knobs, as this can cause a short.
The oven interior
Whatever model you own, you should clean the interior of your oven three to four times per year. Spills and drips should be removed as soon as possible, as they will smoke and may eventually catch on fire.
Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using the self-cleaning function. This feature heats the interior of the oven to a temperature high enough to incinerate food particles and spills. The process generally lasts for 2 to 4 hours.
Important: Never use a cleaning solution to clean the interior of a self-cleaning oven unless it is made specifically for self-cleaning ovens.
Simply wait until the oven is cool to the touch, remove the oven racks and spray oven cleaner directly onto the interior surface. Wipe with a clean rag.
Clean the racks by letting them soak in the sink. Then, scrub the racks using regular kitchen sponges. Don’t leave racks in an oven during a self-clean cycle.
Clean your fan blades with warm soapy water on occasion to prevent buildup of dirt and grease. This will help avoid excess stress on your motor and keep it from overheating. Clean the filter frequently as it is the part that will collect grease the fastest.
How to Choose a New Range
Once your range has reached the end of its useful life, there are many considerations in choosing a replacement. Pricing can range widely, with many good options at $1000-$1500. High-end brands like Kitchenaid, Viking, Thermador, and Jenn-Air have models selling for up to $6000.
There are a variety of range types. The most popular and easiest to install are freestanding ranges. With this model, the oven control panel is typically on the back panel, above the cooktop surface. Some kitchens have slide-in ranges, which easily slide in between surrounding cabinets and give a custom, built-in look. The oven controls are on the range front and there’s no back panel, which showcases your backsplash.
Most electric and gas ranges are 30-inches wide. Pro-style ranges usually span 36 inches or more. Capacities generally range from 2 to nearly 4 cubic feet. Ranges can be fueled by electricity, gas, or a dual-fuel system, which pairs a gas cooktop with an electric oven. Both power sources have their advantages. The type of range you choose may be dictated by the existing setup in your kitchen.
#1. Electric smoothtop
Ranges with electric radiant smoothtops are the most popular type. Most models have at least one high-power burner and expandable dual or triple elements that let you switch from a large, high-power element to a small, lower-power element within it.
One downside of this type of cooktop is that there is a lot of residual heat, so when reducing the temperature it can take a few minutes to reach the lower setting.
#2. Electric Induction
Electric ranges with an induction cooktop use magnetic coils below the ceramic glass surface to quickly generate heat directly to the pan, offering precise simmering and control.
Magnetic cookware is needed for induction to work. If a magnet strongly sticks to the bottom of a pot, it will work with an induction cooktop. Some stainless-steel cookware is induction-capable, and some isn’t.
Gas stoves provide more responsive and precise heat. The flame makes it easier to judge the heat, to get a feel for it, and to quickly move from a high setting to a lower one. Most ranges have four surface burners in three sizes, and some have a fifth burner instead of a center section.
Once you know which type of range you want, it’s time to take a look at the available features. Here are some popular ones:
Control lockout—These let you disable the oven controls, and are especially good for homes with small children.
Double ovens- Great for cooking a big meal. You can cook at different temperatures simultaneously.
Expandable elements- these can accommodate griddles and larger pots for more efficient heating.
Convection- Convection ovens use one or more fans to circulate hot air and reduce cooking time.
Time/Delayed Start- This lets you set a time for the electric or gas oven to start and stop cooking.
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