We’re in the process of renovating our kitchen. We haven’t needed to purchase a new stove in about 15 years and let’s just say things are mighty different – and in a good way! But it can be confusing too, between trivection, convection, induction, French top, dual fuel – the choices are overwhelming. How do you know which range is right for you? Hopefully, this article will give you some insight into the different features and functions for ranges and help make your decision easier.
Cooking Fuel Type
When it comes to fuel options – there are several to choose from – electric, gas and dual.
- Gas – We were happy to finally switch our range from electric to gas – for us that was a ‘must have.’ Why? Better control over temperature. I like to see how high the flame is and adjust my temperature as needed. With a gas range, you can have either propane or natural gas. Natural gas is the typical choice, unless you live in a remote area without natural gas. Gas ranges push out a lot of heat so you’ll want to add a good vent above it.
- Electric – This is typically your least expensive option. It’s easy to install. Plug in and you’re ready to go. These have a smooth top which is stable for pots and they’re easy to clean and turn on and off. They are also slower to cool down when a burner is turned off and subject to power outages. The biggest trouble with electric stoves is they are slow to change temperature. If you’re cooking something that starts out on high heat, but then needs to reduce to a simmer, you very quickly end up burning your food.
- Dual – A dual fuel range will usually have a gas cooktop with an electric oven, since many cooks prefer to bake using electric ovens.
Types of Cooktops
- Coil cooktops remain the most economical and are easy to replace burnt-out elements Coil cooktops have come a long way when it comes to cleaning. Today, they are easy to lift and clean underneath. Many have a seamless top feature so there are no crevices to catch dirt.
- Smooth glass or ceramic cooktops look very clean with their smooth lines, but require special cleansers and care to maintain their stylish looks. When choosing a smooth-top range, look for models that have a raised edge so that you can stop messy boil-overs from running down and into the door vents. Spills should be cleaned immediately before they get a chance to bake on and harden, making removal difficult. But that’s easier said than done when you are working with a very hot surface.
- Convection –Speeds cooking times by using one or more fans to circulate the oven’s hot air. Many chefs say convection creates a more even cooking/baking experience, but cooking times will vary considerably so there will be some practice required. When shopping, make sure to look for one with an auto conversion feature. Automatic convection conversion translates conventional oven baking time and temperature to the recommended convection baking settings with the press of a button.
- Induction -Delivers fast cooktop heat and precise simmering and control. Induction brings water to a boil about 25 percent faster than the electric smoothtops and is even faster when compared to gas. Induction uses an electro-magnetic field to deliver excellent results, but you’ll need special, magnetic cookware for the induction to work.
- Trivection– A higher priced option, but with a great features, this range combines microwave, conventional and convection for quicker cooking times. Again, there is a learning curve and you’ll need to test cooking and baking times and adjust as needed.
- French Top – A cast iron surface with several rings in the center that diffuse the heat and creates variable heat zones. The burner underneath the French Top heats the cast iron so you are cooking on indirect heat instead of direct heat. Think of it as a big flat surface that can easily accommodates 5-6 pans. Since there is no direct flame under the pan the liquids won’t evaporate as quickly which lets the food cook gently and develop flavor. This is especially ideal for French chefs who like to melt chocolate or simmer sauces. For gentle simmers you move the pan to the back and foods that need more heat you move the pan closer to the center.