The range is the workhorse of the kitchen, and if it’s stylish, it’s probably the centerpiece, too. The choice between gas and electric ranges is largely dictated by what you have. Gas ranges require you to have either natural gas or propane service at your home, while an electric range will work in any house, provided you have a 220-volt electric line in your kitchen. An electrician can install one if you don’t.
If you’re replacing an existing range, buying a new model of the same type and size ensures that the new range will fit. If you plan to switch from gas to electric, or vice versa, you’re likely to need an electrician or a plumber to run new lines. Same goes for upgrading to a dual-fuel pro-style range, which partners gas burners with an electric oven and requires both the standard gas and electrical connections.
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Based on more than 50 hours of research, we’ve selected the best ranges for families of all sizes, from singles to those with many children. Our top electric range is the $1,099 Samsung NE59M6850SS, a sophisticated electric range that offers plenty of performance and stylish good looks. Our favorite gas range is the $679 Samsung NX58H5600SS, which has a large, roomy oven and space to hold many pots and pans on its five burners.
What to Consider
Freestanding ranges are the most widely sold and easiest to install. Typically the oven control panel is on the back panel, above the cooktop surface. Slide-in ranges give a custom, built-in look and easily slide in between surrounding cabinets. The oven controls are on the range front, and there’s no back panel, so your backsplash can be showcased.
Most electric and gas ranges are 30 inches wide. Most pro-style ranges start at 30 inches wide but can climb to 48 inches if you custom-configure them with extra burners and ovens, or add-ons such as integrated grills, griddles, or woks. We test 30-inch and 36-inch pro-style ranges. They’re big on style but aren’t the best-performing ranges in our tests. Even regular ranges now typically have at least one high-power burner, a convection oven, and a dedicated simmer burner.
A roomy oven comes in handy when baking or entertaining. We measure oven space you can actually use—some manufacturers include space below the lowest rack position, so check the capacity scores in our range ratings. The smallest ovens in our tests are a little more than 2 cubic feet; the largest is nearly 4 cubic feet.
One Oven or Two?
Many ranges now come in single- and double-oven configurations. Double-oven ranges typically have a smaller oven up top and a larger oven below. They’re great if you want to bake or roast two different foods at different temperatures. If you’re reheating, say, pizza or chicken nuggets, you can activate just the upper oven and save some time on preheating. Just know that when you cook a large roast in the lower oven, it can be more difficult to remove because the door is close to the floor.
What powers your range? The critics are divided on the benefits of gas and electric-powered ranges. Gas is faster and more controllable, say some, while others favor the simplicity and easier cleaning of electrically powered models. We’ve looked at both options, but there are also dual-fuel models that use electricity for the burners and worktop and gas for the oven. For many, the decision may be made by what is available, as gas ranges require a gas outlet nearby, while electric ranges require a separately fused 220 Volt outlet.
One subset of the electric models is the induction range, which uses magnetic fields to heat up pans and dishes without direct heat. These are easier to use and clean, as the surface is a simple sheet of glass. They are also safer, as the heating only happens when you put a pan on top of this surface. They only work with pans that are designed for induction use, though: use a non-induction pan on one of these and you’ll get cold soup.
Other electric ranges are called smoothtop models, as they hide the heating coils under a smooth glass surface that the radiated heat can pass through. These share the easy cleaning of induction models but can be used with non-induction pans.