Ranges still rule when it comes to cooking appliances. But an increasing number of homeowners are seeking the added flexibility of a separate cooktop and wall oven, with burners or elements and ovens placed in just about any location. A wall oven can also eliminate the bending required by range ovens.
Consider your fuel
Electric elements tend to heat faster and maintain low heat better than gas burners. But a gas flame makes it easier to see the heat level. Either is capable of fine performance.
Consider your cooking
If you often cook for a crowd, look for at least one high-powered element or burner and a large oven. You'll find more cooktops with the ultrahigh heat once exclusive to professional-style stoves. High-heat burners can be useful for searing, stir-frying, or heating large quantities. Wall ovens that excelled at broiling produced well-seared, evenly cooked burgers in our tests.
Balance convenience and durability
Electric smoothtops are relatively easy to clean but require a special cleaner and can be damaged by dropped pots and sugary liquids. Coil tops are tougher, but they require more cleaning time.
Keep high-tech in perspective
Models with special baking modes might not outperform conventional models. While touchpad oven controls are more precise than knobs, front-mounted versions are easy to bump and reset by accident. Be sure that they're well placed and visible while cooking. And while induction cooktops take the cake for quick heating, most begin at nearly $2,000.
If you choose a cooktop and wall oven combination, you can choose between two types of cooktops: electric or a gas. Some cooks prefer to see a visual confirmation of the heating element and choose gas. Electric wall ovens tend to be more popular but gas ovens are also available.
These can be electric coil, electric smoothtop, gas, or induction. Most are made of porcelain-coated steel or glass ceramic, with four elements or burners, though the 36-inch models we’ve tested generally have five burners, and more have a stainless-steel finish. Electric cooktops are typically 30 inches wide; gas models, 36 inches.
Pros: Cooktops allow more design freedom than a range.
Cons: You’ll probably pay $1,300 or more for a separate cooktop and wall oven, while some top-performing electric and gas ranges sell for less than half that amount.
Most are electric and offer single or double ovens. Width is typically 24, 27, or 30 inches.
Pros: Mounted at waist or eye level, a wall oven eliminates bending. Or you can nest it under a countertop to save space.
Cons: A separate wall oven and cooktop are expensive compared with a range.
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