How To Buy a Stove

Whether you call it a stove or a range, you’re going to want to keep these considerations in mind when shopping for a new … oh I give up.

black-electric-range

Though freestanding ranges are the most commonly used, slide-in ranges are growing in popularity. Featuring unfinished sides and controls on the front, this style lends a more built-in look, great for islands, and featuring decorative backsplashes.

Pro-Style Ranges

Professional ranges mimic the performance and appearance of a true commercial range. Pro-style ranges use the most durable components and achieve high temperatures for rapid boiling as well as extremely low temperatures for delicate and precise simmering.

Larger models (36”, 48” or 60” wide) can include built-in griddles and grills. Their ovens offer convection and high-temperature broiling. Convection ovens use airflow for even heat distribution and consistent baking, even with multiple racks. When cooking meats, convection fans sear the skin to retain moisture.

wolf-range

Gas vs. Electric Ranges

Professional and aspiring chefs usually prefer gas due to a common misconception of all-around superior performance; In most cases electric ranges boil liquid just as quickly and frequently. Electric burners reach extremely low temperatures for delicate and precise simmering. But the heat-retention qualities of electric coils and ceramic surfaces cannot range from high to low heat instantaneously as gas cooktops can. But glass surfaces of electric ranges are the easiest to clean and maintain.

When it comes to ovens, electric responds quicker to temperature changes, providing less heat variance overall for more consistent baking results. However, gas ovens provide more “moist heat,” which is better for meats and vegetables. For cooks who want the best of both worlds, the dual-fuel range has the flexibility and control of gas burners on the cooktop with the accuracy and precision of an electric oven.

Induction range burners use magnets to directly heat cookware and leaving the surface cool to the touch, combining an unmatched degree of safety with high power and the responsiveness of gas.

Hot Stove Features

  • Warming Drawer – functions as a keep-warm area.
  • Second Oven – additional cavity functions as a separate oven. Perfect for cooking short items such as pizzas, pies, casseroles, etc.

slide-in-double-oven-range

  • Split Oven Racks – can be partially removed as needed for cooking multiple dishes simultaneously.
    split-rack

    Split racks accommodate simultaneous baking of tall dishes.

    Featured image via Café

How to Buy a Dishwasher

Sizes & styles

Though dishwashers are relatively standard in size at 24” wide, you may have less than 34” in height if, say, new flooring was laid on top of old flooring. Or your countertops are slightly lower for handicap accessibility.

In these cases, you will need to seek out a “short tub” or ADA compliant dishwasher. An increasing number of dishwashers now offer hidden controls along the top of the door instead of front controls for a more seamless appearance. For a truly integrated appearance, several manufacturers offer models with an unfinished door, able to accept a custom wood panel.

Frigidaire's OrbitClean alternating arm action  focuses four times more water and detergent in a  concentrated area while rotating around the interior.

Frigidaire’s OrbitClean alternating arm action focuses four times more water and detergent in a
concentrated area while rotating around the interior.

Basic models offer just one or two spray arms, but most dishwashers have a spray arm on the bottom, in the middle, and at the top of the dishwasher tub. These spray arms typically have a direct feed of water as opposed to the indirect tower design of the past.

European-style models (i.e. Bosch, ASKO, Miele, Electrolux, etc.) use a slightly different approach to cleaning. These models feature high wash temperatures (30-40 degrees more than comparable models) and increased water pressure. The increased water temperature and water pressure creates a more effective wash cycle, able to cut through even the toughest baked-on grease.

miele-cutlery-tray

Traditionally, silverware baskets are located front and center in the lower rack, but some models feature a long basket on the side of the lower rack, which often can be split into sub baskets and relocated or removed. Some high-end dishwashers offer a flat, dedicated silverware tray at the top of the dishwasher that frees up more space in main racks.

dcs-tall-dishdrawerFor flexible use options, consider dish drawer dishwashers, which can be purchased as single drawer (using half the water and electricity of a standard dishwasher) or double units (each drawer runs independently for convenient flexibility). Drawers also reduce bending for those with back or knee problems.

Features to consider

  • Anti-Leak Safety – shields hardwood floors from damage in the case of an internal leak. Water will be contained within the pan, shielding hardwood floors from damage. A sensor within the safety pan may also shut down the dishwasher to prevent further damage.
  • Internal Water Softener – ensures soft water is used, which reduce fogging and etching to glassware and improves cleaning power of detergent
  • Stainless steel interiors are less likely to absorb odors or stains than plastic interiors and results in a quicker overall dry time through condensation
  • Third racks may be adjusted and nearly removable to use otherwise-wasted space. Sometimes used as a glassware rack for the frequent entertainer.
  • Hard food disposers typically grind up food particles and flush them out, but European-style models’ high wash temperatures and increased water pressure emulsify food waste that is washed away at the end of the cycle. Not using a disposer means less energy consumption and fewer moving parts, resulting in fewer breakdowns and quieter operation. A food trap prevents more durable items, such as chicken bones, from entering into the mechanics of the unit.

Star-Sapphire_time

  • LED electronic read-outs – show the time remaining in a cycle. Wash times are longer today than they were in the past to make up for today’s more eco-friendly but less-potent detergent. A normal wash used to be 45- 60 minutes, but is now between 90-135 minutes, depending on the model.

How To Choose a Range Style

Now that you’ve figured out where to buy a stove, use these quick tips on how to buy a stove.

The fastest way to narrow your options – beside knowing your existing fuel type, is to identify your style.

Freestanding Ranges

The freestanding range is the most commonly used range style in homes, probably because it’s the most affordable and easiest to install. Featuring finished sides and a flat back, this range sits flush against a back wall.

>>Shop freestanding electric ranges

>>Shop freestanding gas ranges

Built-in Ranges

With the growing trend of decorative backsplashes, the slide-in range has become one of the fastest growing segments in the industry. Featuring unfinished sides and back, this style is designed to be built in between two cabinets.

The body of the range is typically 30 inches wide. The top of the range is slightly wider to prevent crumbs from getting in the crevices between the countertop and range. The oven and burner controls are located on the front of the range, just above the oven door.

Though similar to a slide-in range, the drop-in range has waned in popularity in recent years.

While a slide-in range touches the floor, a drop in range sits on top of a cabinet baseboard. Though a drop-in range looks more built in than a freestanding range or even a slide-in range, it’s also more difficult to replace because of its height and the limited selection of drop-in style ranges.

>>See built-in gas ranges

>>See built-in electric ranges

Professional (pro-style) Ranges

While it is the most expensive range style available in the industry today, the professional range is gaining steam in gourmet kitchens. Pro-style ranges take the performance and styling of a true commercial range and make it safe to use for a home cook.

The oven and burner controls are always located on the front, just above the door.  Professional ranges feature burners capable of reaching high temperature for rapid boiling as well as extremely low temperatures for delicate and precise simmering. Larger models (36”, 48” or 60” wide) offer flexibility in the cooking surface, allowing for the addition of built-in griddles, grills and other specialty surfaces. Large ovens generally boast convection capabilities and intensely high-temperature broiling.

Professional ranges generally come in a stainless steel finish. However, some manufacturers such as Viking and Dacor offer distinctive colors (i.e. beyond white and black).

>> Read more advice on buying a range in our Range Buying Guide.

>>See all our Appliance Buying Guides

How To Choose a Refrigerator Size

Every once in a while, our sales staff gets an email reminder to make sure that customers really measure the size of the opening when buying a refrigerator.

Unfortunately, the reminder comes on the heels of enough deliveries of refrigerators that failed to fit into a customer’s space that it merited mention. And that’s too many.

Laugh now, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to make the mistake of thinking your refrigerator size is “standard” or that you’ve properly measured your space.

Once you give us accurate dimensions, we’ll help you find a fridge to fit. A good rule of thumb is at least 1/2-inch larger opening than the refrigerator. This allows for stuff you just can’t see, like unlevel flooring and bowing refrigerator sides, to name a few.

There are oddities that you just might not consider…

This is an outdated picture of my kitchen, but you get the idea.

I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but my new refrigerator (installed New Year’s Eve)  only fit because our delivery crews are like the appliance version of Bear Grylls: amazing in difficult situations. I measured the width of my opening from my lower cabinet, never dreaming that the upper cabinet actually narrowed my space by about an inch — weird.

Also, I forgot that having a bottom freezer means that the drawer now would pull straight out instead of a door swinging over, meaning that the window frame on the opposite side of the cabinets a few inches in front of my refrigerator would basically block that function. Because of the narrower width of the upper cabinet, I couldn’t just move my fridge to the left. Oops.

Thankfully, the crew was able to subtly shift the refrigerator, say, 15 degrees.

You don’t notice that my fridge isn’t straight, and the drawer cheats the window frame by a hair 🙂

So, even Appliance Retail Royalty make mistakes in their measurements. Be thorough.

Buying a refrigerator: Which style is best for you?

If you’re looking to buy a refrigerator, the last time you researched your options likely was years ago. Well, a lot changed in the last decade.

Before, most refrigerators for sale were just the standard top-freezer refrigerator. Now, there are four major styles to choose from, not to mention refrigerator drawers, columns and compact options — which I’ll save for another post.

Top Freezer Refrigerator

The classic top freezer refrigerator remains  among one of the most popular styles in the market place today. The freezer is at eye-level, which is good if you use frozen food most often. Plus, the refrigerator has wider shelves than a side-by-side refrigerator, making it easy to store large trays of food and allow easy access to things stored in the back of the refrigerator.

If you have space constraints, you’ll likely end up with a top freezer, because some models in this style fit a smaller footprint. And from a budget perspective, top freezer refrigerators are an affordable style that boast convenience features such as factory-installed icemakers, chilled water dispensers (on some models) and glass shelves. Plus, top freezers are the most energy-efficient style, and are rated to last the longest.

Side by Side Refrigerator

On a side by side refrigerator, two compartment doors wing out from the center; the freezer compartment is located on the left side and the refrigerator compartment on the right.

If your kitchen has a narrow walkway or an island, you’ll like the side-by-side refrigerator’s smaller door swing clearance.

Many side by side refrigerators have the option for a filtered ice and water dispenser. And if you’re looking for lots of storage, most side by side refrigerators are
23-26 cu. ft., which is more overall cooling space than most top freezer refrigerators.

Bottom Freezer Refrigerator

The bottom freezer refrigerator is the most popular refrigerator style. Heck, I have one!

Because most people access the refrigerator compartment 9-10 times more often than they do the freezer, bringing the refrigerator section up to waist or chest level offers the most accessibility.

Many brands offer a choice of either a swing-door freezer or pull-out freezer drawer. The drawer design allows for easier access to the back of the freezer by minimizing the amount of bending and crouching needed. From a budget perspective, bottom freezer refrigerators are becoming more affordable as most brands now make them.

French Door Refrigerator

French-door refrigerators (I’ve also heard them called “3-door refrigerators”) combine the best of both worlds.

The refrigerator compartment is at waist and chest level like a bott0m-freezer, but the refrigerator has French doors (side-by-side) opening from the center, which means symmetrical styling and less door clearance is needed if a walkway or island is involved.

But the two doors open to the same, sole refrigerator compartment so you still have wide refrigerator shelves to accommodate large party trays or oblong dishes. Similar to the bottom freezer style, French door refrigerators feature a freezer drawer design. Many models also offer the option of an ice & water dispenser on the freezer door or an internal water-only dispenser.

Cabinet depth refrigerators