When it comes to a new stove, you may think you know what you want, but with a little research you may be surprised at what you actually end up with! One thing for sure: not all stoves are created equal.
Sizing It Up
First, measure your current stove or range top and then measure the space you plan to install the new one. If remodeling is not in your budget, be sure to replace the stove with one the same size as you currently have.
Typically, residential stovetops measure 20, 24, 30, and 36 inches wide. Unless you are buying a stovetop for a kitchen island or for professional use, a standard-sized stove does not require any special installation.
Professional stoves, which are far more expensive than residential ranges, usually require custom installation, which can range from a fortified floor to a heavy-duty exhaust system.
If you want to switch from electric to gas, make sure you can pipe in natural gas or install a propane tank. The intensity of the gas burners are measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units) and some burners will have more BTUs than others. A home gas stove's BTUs will range from 3,000 to 7,000 BTUs. The lower number will be for burners designed for simmering and the higher for boiling and other high-heat cooking. Unless you are a avid home cook or a professional, you won't need higher BTUs -- and in fact may burn food if you try cooking on very hot burners.
What's Your Style?
If you're not a serious cook, don't pay for something you won't use. There are numerous ranges designed for the home that resemble professional ranges in appearance and power. These usually are more expensive than more ordinary stoves.
Also be aware of "appliance families" and you might find some savings.
Did you know that Maytag manufactures for Magic Chef, and that KitchenAid ranges are designed by Whirlpool? Roper is the low-cost relative of Whirlpool and GE produces some Kenmore and Hotpoint stoves.
Log onto websites to comparison shop. Try appliance411.
Consider safety before making your purchase. If you have young children safety should be a top priority - but even if your kids are teens, don't give safety short shrift. Safety latches on oven doors and deactivation modes are available to prevent children from turning the oven on.
How accessible are the burner knobs? How easy are they to manipulate. These kinds of questions will guide you when making a choice.
Clean and Easy
Self-cleaning ovens save big time when it comes to time and your health. Inhaling oven cleaner fumes is not good for man or beast. Ovens with self-cleaning features are also especially well insulated so that they work more efficiently.
Examine the burners and the surrounding area on the stovetop. Do these look easy to clean? Are the grids easy to lift on and off?
Give any range you are considering a good test run in the store. Open and close the oven door. It should close with a smooth vacuum and with a slam. Can you see through the oven door? Is the interior light powerful?
Make sure the oven's cavity is large enough for a large turkey and your cookie sheets -- and that the oven racks are sturdy enough for said turkey.
Make sure your kitchen is ventilated sufficiently for the stove you are buying. Professional-style ranges may require a more elaborate ventilation system than you currently have. This is not a minor consideration; it can cost dearly to install the proper ventilation.
Pop-up rear vents are common among newer style stoves, while overhead hoods are good sources of ventilation. Some ranges have downdrafts, built right into the stove. This might fit your needs.
Finally, check the warranty. Typically, the manufacturer will offer a one-year warranty on the appliance, which should cover all labor and parts.
After a year, you should expect to pay for parts, labor and service calls. Some manufacturers offer extended warranties for an additional cost, which typically cover from two to ten years.
Once your new stove is installed, get busy in the kitchen. Cooking just got easier!