With the kitchen being the central gathering point in most homes, the cooking range is certainly the workhorse. Without a decent gas range as a focal point for you to cook different exotic foods, the kitchen loses its attraction as the hub of creativity. Sumptuous dishes are envisioned and executed there, with keen visitors crowding in during house parties and family gatherings to get first dibs at new portions coming fresh from the gas fire or straight out of the oven before the tasty morsels have even cooled.
Gas stoves don’t come as one size fits all solutions. The selection of stove brands, and model variations is almost endless. The number of burners, their relative sizes, single or double oven(s), and the racks inside the oven to grill or roast meat joints for family meet-ups are all entirely different.
The control systems for gas ranges are much improved from how they were in the past. Looking at the current gas range in your home, it will probably seem ancient compared to the newer models on the market. Space-age-looking silver facades, gleaming control knobs, and digital displays confirming modes and temperature levels take the kitchen to new heights.
One design aspect that is seeing a renewal of interest is the concept of going big and small with the burners. Many models have overly large burners along with a couple of smaller ones. The measurement for burner capacity is British thermal units (BTU) per hour. The larger burners often sport several 12,000 BTU burners and one or two smaller ones with 5,000 BTUs. In some cases, mid-size burners with a 9,000 BTU also offer the ultimate in flexibility.
The idea behind the large and small approach is with the larger burners stockpots come to the boil quickly. The smaller precision 5,000 BTU burners are ideal to simmer sauces without overcooking or burning them or melting down butter or reducing ingredients down to the right consistency to add to the main dish. The cooking flexibility this design approach offers is exceedingly useful and differs greatly from previous approaches with both gas and electric stoves that tended to only have single size burners.
Cooking on the flame is simply easier than cooking using electric-powered ranges (and a burner ignites with the strike of a match even during a power cut which electric ranges cannot do). The flame is visibly easier to see and judge its heat without needing to check the current heat level setting to know for sure.
Controlling the results from your culinary efforts makes delivering delicious dishes a cinch. We all know that chefs like to go off-book, not following the recipe from the cook book verbatim. Using both their eyes and senses while cooking transforms the whole experience into visceral one that instantly feels more personal.
Types of Gas Ranges
There are four main types of gas ranges available. The design of your kitchen and a possible central island within the kitchen often dictates the kind of range that you’ll require. Within those four categories, there are still many choices to be made to select a range that will be perfect for your needs.
The four gas range types are:
- Freestanding models
- Slide-in models
- Slide-in models with ventilation
- Dual Fuel models
Below we break down the differences, pros and cons, and other incidentals about each type.
The freestanding model is a gas range that can be an island unto itself, fit into an existing countertop along the side wall of the kitchen or used within a central kitchen island fixture.
A freestanding model is unrestricted as to width, depth and height issues that constrain a slide-in model that needs to fit a somewhat standardized pre-existing space between kitchen cabinetry and not stick out at the front. Since a freestanding gas range is usable anywhere in the kitchen, it is finished on all four sides to provide a functional, yet attractive appearance.
There may or may not be either a backsplash guard or edges that stick out on either side of the cooktop. The burner and oven controls – control knobs and/or digital display panel – are usually (not always) situated near the top burner level rather than on the front of the range pointing outwards.
Sometimes the controls have a unique area offset to the side or the corner of the highest burner area away from the heat. Other times, a silver or chrome backdrop is used for a raised control bar spanning the full width of the range. The second type is usually just in front of the burner area and more or less level with it.
It is unlikely that a hood/ventilation system comes with the range when it’s freestanding. For one thing, there is not always a place to put the overhead ventilation system with a freestanding unit. However, there is nothing to stop you from buying a separate one if you have a way to utilize it.
The slide-in model is a gas range typically between 32-inches and 40-inches in width that is designed specifically to fit between other cabinets in the kitchen or at the end of the row of cabinets. Slide-in ranges are sold in standard widths and reasonably standard depths to slide perfectly into the available space. It’s possible that a range overlaps on either side across the existing countertops too. There isn’t the same finish necessarily on the sides or back with a slide-in model because these aspects are not usually shown.
An attractive raised backsplash guard is often included to prevent food items from jumping out of the frying pan and falling behind the cooker. The backsplash also offers the benefit of protecting the wall from oil sprays, sauces, and other assorted items getting accidentally flicked there.
Unlike with the freestanding models, the control system with this type of gas range is presented at the front rather than being set level with the burners. The control knobs, and any temperature readouts or digital display are included on the panel at the front. The positioning is not always the most convenient because one sometimes must step back to view the readings, however, controls situated near the burners on the top of the range is not an ideal positioning either.
Bear in mind that with the purchase of a new gas range, it is often necessary to also buy a ventilation system. Occasionally, the gas line is insufficient for the requirements of the new range and arrangements must be made for an improved one.
Slide-in models with ventilation
Many slide-in models are sold with overhead ventilation hood that is installed above the range. The hood has several fans, grease filters, and an exhaust to expel any smoke, grease, cooking aromas, and other unwanted remnants of a cooking session.
For commercial kitchens, this type of ventilation is required by law when using gas-burning ranges. However, no such regulation exists when using a gas range in the home. Therefore, you need to consider how many burners you’ll use at the same time, what grilling you’ll do, and how much smoke, grease, and other aromas get generated and whether an extraction fan is necessary.
Some slide-in models are supplied with overhead ventilation at part of a complete package. To avoid grease collecting on the walls and ceiling which could potentially be a fire risk down the road, or to ensure that the rest of the home doesn’t end up smelling like the last supper, then it’s well worth considering a slide-in gas range with a hood.
There are two choices with overhead hood systems:
- Updraft Ventilation
- Downdraft Ventilation
Updraft Ventilation – An updraft ventilation system extracts grease and smoke upwards to the overhanging hood and out through the exhaust chute. This option tends to be more expensive but avoids the need to remove a grease build-up and remodel the kitchen later.
Downdraft Ventilation – A downdraft ventilation system works by pushing grease and smoke away from the range. Fans push airborne smoke and grease downwards to a filtering system under the range. In homes where the ceiling is too low or the layout of the kitchen isn’t suitable for an updraft ventilation unit, the downdraft option is a good one worth consideration.
A third option is to install a microwave above the cooker with its own external ventilation. While this is nowhere near as efficient as a full-blown extractor made for a gas range, if you are an experienced chef who doesn’t create much grease or smoke, and rarely uses the flying pan or deep fryer, then this is a cheap solution that might be suitable for you.
Dual Fuel Models
A dual fuel model is a range that uses both gas and electricity. The benefit of dual fuel ranges is the option for several chefs in the home to choose the method of cooking that they prefer without excluding the preferences of the other people in the home. Some people only cook well on an induction cooker; others need a real flame to get a sense of cooking temperature and the right cooking times for the perfect fillet steak cooked medium rare.
One of the positives of this type of range is that a cut-off in supply doesn’t necessarily prevent cooking the next meal. When the gas is shut-off due to a local gas leak, the electricity is still likely working. Similarly, in the event of a power cut, the gas supply can assist in preparing the evening meal without interruption is the pilot light isn’t electronically lit.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Gas Range
The selection of a new gas range is a complicated decision with many factors to consider before reaching a final choice. Here we run through a few of the issues and provide some guidance on what factors matter the most and which are immaterial.
Ranges – Gas vs. Electric or Induction
Ranges are available with a few types: gas, electric, induction, and dual fuel. There is no one right choice; each range type has its pros and cons. The available power source in the kitchen is likely to narrow your options, though. For homeowners with an old electric range, then quite likely they don’t have existing gas lines running into the property to support the installation of a gas or dual fuel range. When remodeling the kitchen and planning to overhaul the wiring and lines into the home, then even a home that presently doesn’t use gas, it’s possible to make the switch.
Gas ranges deliver exception heat levels. The flames and heat spread across the pan, wok or saucepan pretty evenly which makes cooking more predictable. Ranges with cast iron grates make it easier to slide pans across without interruption. The round flame provides an excellent visual guide during the cooking process.
Electric ranges rule out using heavier pans like skillets made of cast iron that damage the glass top when sliding them across. Burners aren’t messy to use unless accidentally dropping food directly on the ring and it sticks to it. Pans evenly heat food when they’re new because they conduct heat evenly across their bottom; older pans perform less well. Heat radiates out from the electric coils for a while after they’ve been turned off. Electric ovens perform well with proper heat management.
Induction ranges are a newer choice instead of electric ranges. Induction is safer to use and cleans up easier than electric ones because nothing burns onto the surface. Taking the pan away, the induction coil is safe; a feature that is ideal for small children in the house who can now reach up to the height level of the range. Select cookware is needed when using induction ranges which add to the cost of installing one.
For kitchens with extensive cabinetry, the new gas range must fit into the available space. Ideally, almost exactly without any significant unsightly gap on either side of the unit.
For instance, let’s say we are looking at a slide-in gas range that measures 30-inches wide x 28-5/16-inches deep x 36-5/8-inches in height. The gap between countertops must measure at least 30 inches and preferably a little bit more to make it easy to slide the unit in without it touching either side. It also must not have a gap too wider otherwise items will keep falling down the sides and be difficult to retrieve. The depth also matters. If the built-in kitchen cabinets have a significantly shallower depth than the above 28 5/16-inch depth of the gas range, then it will stick out in an unsightly manner.
With freestanding gas ranges, often the situation is far more flexible. When the range sits on an island all its own, then its width or depth doesn’t matter anywhere near as much.
Ease of Cleanup
Spills and messes are all part of mixing it up in the kitchen, playing with new recipes and seeing what happens. At the end of that creativity, the place looks like a complete mess and the cleanup begins.
Burners that are sealed are easy to wipe down. Liquid spills get contained with recessed pans. Extended burners are useful for cooked breakfasts. An integrated griddle is a useful addition to make cleanup faster. Some models also have self-cleaning modes which make it easier to get the oven clean on a regular basis.
Ranges now either come with burners with all the same power requirements or different ones each with a dedicated purpose. Burner capacity is measured in BTU per hour. A range may have 4-6 larger burners all with this same ability to cook the biggest pan at a high heat level, or it may segment the burners into dedicated units. The larger burners have a 12,000 BTU or greater. Smaller burners sometimes only have a 5,000 BTU which is ideal for bringing sauces to the boil gently or to melt down a knob of butter without scorching it.
Having large and small burners available makes efficient use of the cooktop space where you can efficiently produce mouthwatering results.
Avoid Lifting Hot, Heavy Pans
With a pan of water and fresh ingredients, the weight is considerable. A cast iron griddle is a lovely way to cook a hot breakfast but boy does it weigh a ton. To avoid lifting heavy pans from burner to burner, a continuous cast iron grate provides strong support and lets you slide pans across from one burner to another rather than having to lift them.
Going Digital in the Kitchen
Are you ready to go digital in the kitchen or are you all fingers and thumbs when it comes to technology? It is hard to find a gas range that doesn’t come with a digital display sporting programmable cooking options like a quick preheat or one-touch keep warm. For an old-school chef, it requires some adaptation. Are you up to it?
Location of Gas Supply Connector
Depending on how long the line is for your gas supply, the site of the gas supply connection to the range might be quite relevant. Check the specifications for the model to verify this information if you have a gas line that isn’t very long and is not easy to extend it.
Most control knobs are made from stainless steel, but with some less expensive products, you’ll find that plastic is sometimes used. This is even the case with some quality brands too. Consider whether this is a deal-breaker for you or not.
Oven or No Oven
Not every gas range comes with an oven underneath. While a convection oven is a nice thing to have, if you don’t ever bake or grill using your range then selecting a model that sticks just to the basics will save you a bundle.
Look for units that are CSA approved and ADA compliant Both certifications help ensure that your range is safe and energy efficient in your home.
Features of Gas Ranges
The latest gas ranges have a multitude of different features compared to cooking ranges just a few short years ago. Here we run through the features that are the most interesting.
Surface burners come in groups. Gas ranges usually have either 4 or 6 burners. The burners do not necessarily all offer the same power. The BTU runs from 20,000 right down to 5,000 BTU per hour for different burners. Smaller burners provide options to let sauces simmer or reduce ingredients while cooking the main dish over a more powerful burner.
Sealed burners are the best option. They have a metal plate that goes on each burner which prevents liquid and food remnants from dropping inside the internal workings of the burner. With sealed burners, cleaning is much easier too.
Griddle or Grill Plate
A few larger ranges include a bridge burner or separate burner expressly for using with a detachable griddle or grill plate. More energy efficient than using the grill inside the oven and easier to clean.
Continuous Cast Iron Grates
A continuous cast iron grate is an ideal covering for the burners. The weight of the grates ensures they don’t slide around and can hold several full pans and saucepans. Being continuous, pans don’t have to be lifted from a high-powered burner to a lower-powered one because they just slide across the level surface.
A glass touch-screen control has become common among the latest ranges. Access all the available programs like broil and self-clean with a quick tap. If you use a smartphone regularly, then it doesn’t feel much different to that.
Double Oven or Single Oven
Ranges that include convection ovens either come as a single oven or a double oven and reach temperatures as high at 500-550 Fahrenheit. With single ovens, they have 3-5 racks placed in up to five rack positions. Double ovens have separate doors and controls to regulate how hot each convection oven gets. With a double oven, it’s possible to grill bacon in the top oven and cook a roast joint for lunch in the bottom oven. The added flexibility comes in handy, especially when preparing elaborate dishes or when many guests regularly come to share a meal.
A proofing mode is a pre-cooking mode for ovens that helps pastry dough and cakes rise more successfully.
A gliding rack is a lower tray that slides out on a rail system. It can slide out easily and rest mostly outside the oven in a slightly elevated, extended position. Sometimes the gliding rack is height adjustable too.
A few models have a warming drawer to keep already cooked food warm for longer. The feature is a useful one to have that’s already included with many outdoor BBQ grill sets.
A Sabbath mode prevents access to the controls on the range during the Sabbath religious period.
Timed Bake Shut-off
This feature ensures that cakes and pastries don’t overcook and spoil because you forget to tend to them at the correct time.
A control lock is a type of parental control feature that prevents small children from accessing the range when it’s already been turned off.
A ventilation system or hood is not always included with a gas range. While commercial gas ranges require a ventilation system to comply with safety codes, this is not the case with home installations. There are updraft and downdraft ventilation systems available. The updraft ventilation is a hood that is fixed directly above the range at a distance to pick up smoke and grease and remove it through the exhaust system. The downdraft ventilation system sits below the range helping to push smoke and grease away from the cooking area. The latter is useful when there is no space overhead for a hood to be fitted.
Depending on the range, some come with a choice of finishes to make the model fit in better with the existing kitchen décor. The standard finishes are stainless steel, slate black, or white.
The knobs are most often made of stainless steel. A few units use plastic instead which is not recommended. Burner control knobs need to be comfortable to use and clear when moved into the “off” position.
Units occasionally now come with a chemical self-cleaning mode for the oven(s). Only a few gas ranges have the feature, unlike many electric and induction ranges where the feature is pretty standard. Rather than needing to get on your hands and knees to scrub out the oven(s), the integrated chemical cleaning feature makes light work of the job for you. Using disposable foil is a good way to avoid grease build-ups too. The self-cleaning mode won’t clean the cooktop for you, but you can’t have everything.
Gas ranges often use stainless steel or metal coated with a heat-protected enamel for their outer shell. The cast iron grates amply support heavy cookware needed for an even cooking performance.
Accessible Pilot Light
It’s always possible that the pilot light goes out. For this reason, easy access to the pilot light is desirable to re-ignite it quickly after the problem occurs. Some models have an electronic ignition, with an auto re-ignition feature to avoid the pilot light staying off.
If you live alone in an apartment, it’s entirely possible that a simple two-burner or four-burner with a basic oven is sufficient. However, if you’re part of a large family, then a four-burner or larger capacity unit with a single or double oven is more likely to be what’s needed.
Gas or Liquid Propane (LP)
Most gas ranges run off regular gas only. A few units are setup to use liquid propane or run with either gas or LP. Several range manufacturers sell self-service conversion kits to switch a gas range connector to LP fuel.
Price vs. Value
Basic gas ranges cover a wide price range from low three-figures for a two-burner basic model up to low four-figures for a five-burner, all singing, all dancing, model. The higher price brings with it extra burners, a mix of high-powered and lower-powered burners, possibly a detachable griddle or grill plate, double ovens or a single oven with more racks/levels, and increased electronic controls.
The warranties provided with gas ranges are often in two stage ones. The first warranty tends to cover parts and labor for one year. The second warranty which activates immediately after the first one has ended often only covers parts but not labor for 3-10 years. Many manufacturers do not offer a secondary warranty at all, and the coverage ends after the first year. Sometimes an additional warranty may be purchased.
Best Gas Range Brands
The major electronic household goods manufacturers are involved in producing gas ranges. Many of the names are well-recognized and engender a good deal of trust in the brands behind their products. Here we look at the brands themselves.
General Electric is an old, established global corporation that is involved in many industries from aeronautics to home appliances to finance. There are few industries that they’re involved in which they don’t either dominate or hold an entrenched top 3 position. Former CEO, Jack Welch, once stated that GE should not participate in any industry where it cannot be in the top 3. The results of this stated goal are clear to see years after his departure from the company’s leadership.
Samsung is a global electronics company that is perhaps currently best known for its range of smartphones and tablets. The business is deeply involved in all kinds of electronics, home appliances, and numerous other product categories. Their product quality tends to be good, and there is a support network established to cover repairs and replacements when needed.
Kenmore is all about home appliances. From blenders to gas ranges to microwaves, the company wastes no time being involved in as many markets as possible.
LG has its fingers in many pies too. The company produces great home appliances, market-leading smartphones, and stays on the edge of the curve when it comes to innovation. The business is global and has a deep catalog of well-respected products.
Maytag, founded in 1893 by Mr. Maytag and acquired by Whirlpool in 2006, their focus remains firmly in the home appliance marketplace. They produce cookers, dishwashers and microwaves, washers and dryers, air filtering equipment, and heating & cooling equipment too.
Electrolux may be better known for their vacuum cleaners and other cleaning products, but they’re heavily involved in many types of home appliances, including gas ranges.
Whirlpool has extended their range of products well beyond whirlpools and baths. Following their acquisition of Maytag in 2006, they are involved with home appliances with two separate brands now.
Frigidaire is an established player in the kitchen, laundry, air conditioning, HVAC systems, and home appliance markets. Their smudge-proof stainless steel is an innovation of theirs that they use across several product lines.
KitchenAid produces a full range of kitchen appliances, like ranges, refrigerators, dishwashers and grills, along with countertop appliances like blenders and juicers. The company also makes plenty of homeware to keep the kitchen cabinets well stocked.
ThorKitchen focuses on the premium end of the market with their “affordable luxury.” Their limited product line includes gas ranges, range tops, dual fuel ranges, hoods, dishwashers, and wine coolers.
What Consumers Say
Scratches on Stainless Steel Cooktop
Beware of stainless steel cooktops that are prone to picking up scratches when cleaning them. Check the reviews to see whether that model picks up scratches easily. With models like these, use a microfiber cloth to clean to prevent scratches.
Extended Warranty for Display Panel Errors
For ranges with display panels, should the electronic panel malfunction outside of the initial warranty period, it could be difficult to resolve. Some ranges have frequent issues with display panel circuit boards malfunctioning. Look at buying an extended warranty if worried about this possibility.
Smudge-Proof Stainless Steel
At least one manufacturer offers several products, including their gas ranges, with their smudge-proof stainless steel. For freestanding ranges with gleaming surfaces on all sides and slide-in ranges with only the front to worry about, avoid sticky smudges and fingerprints with this innovation.
Check Your Cookware
Modern gas burners get hotter than old ranges used to. It is possible that the larger burners that reach as high as 20,000 BTU could damage old cookware not designed for this heat level. Verify that your cookware is up to the task beforehand (non-stick aluminum pans tend to be okay), or keep the temperature levels lower than the maximum allowable to avoid problems.