Thursday, January 25, 2018

what kind of stove should we buy?

When we moved into this house, we installed a large underground gas tank for the hot water heater (although now we've partially switched to solar) and for the gas stove I’d be getting. But then costs piled up, as they are wont to do with building projects, and a friend offered to loan us an old electric stove he had in one of his rentals.


Now, twelve years later, that sweet little stove is on its last leg. The burners keep slipping down under the metal liners, turning the burners dangerously wobbly. The big one — my most-used burner — lost a screw (or something) and started swiveling out over the stove top. “Remind me to fix that,” my husband said. “I don’t want anyone to get electrocuted.” (And then he fixed it, so at least that’s no longer a problem.) Because I don’t want to be forced into an impulse purchase, and because the stove’s demise is imminent, I’ve finally started stove hunting.

Thing is, I can’t for the life of me figure out what kind of a stove I should get. All the options make my head swim. For a little bit there, I’d thought I’d settled on a stove (this one), but then we read the consumer reports and thought better of it — the oven was horrible, people said. (But then a friend told me she'd just bought that stove and it worked great, so, argh!)

“You need to do a blog post about it,” my husband said. “Get your readers to help out. They’ll know.”

So now, because my husband thinks the world of you, here I am, asking your advice. What kind of stove should I get?


My main question is whether to get a stove with a gas oven or an electric oven. My gut says gas — I can bake when the power goes out and it just feels more wholesome — but my husband says gas ovens leak more heat which would be a real pain come hot summer weather. Plus, we both wonder if electric ovens are more accurate. Also, how important is convection?

Several stipulations:
*The gas stovetop must have solid gridwork so pots and pans can easily be moved around and little kettles don’t get tippy.
*The oven must be well-vented so veggies properly roast.
*The stove must be under a thousand dollars (and preferably between six and eight hundred).

I wish there was a local appliance store — the kind where the employees can actually hold informed conversations regarding the products they sell — but there are none in our area, at least that I know of.  So it's up to you! What other important criteria am I forgetting? Is there a particular manufacturer that you trust more than others? Or one that I should absolutely avoid?

Thanks, y’all. xoxo!

This same time, years previous: the blizzard of 2016, rocks in my granola, five things, corn tortillas, pink cupcakes, movie night, baked Brie.

38 comments:

  1. Watching the responses for a friend.

    (Appliance are so much junk these days and so very expensive. If you needed a washer I would tell you Speed Queen but since they don't make stoves I have no idea.)

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  2. I know nothing about what brands to recommend, but from experiencing various gas and electric ovens:
    1. heat diffusion can be much more even with electric than gas (gas: all the heat is coming from the bottom; electric: heat from top and bottom). That said, we've been able to "correct" for this, sort of, using insulating materials underneath pans and decreasing baking temp and increasing baking time and such. But it's a pain and it doesn't 100% work for things like biscuits - in our least-insulated gas oven, while I figured out the stack of pans and silpat and such beneath the sheet pan to make it so the bottom of the biscuit didn't burn while the rest of the biscuit was still dough, as it did when baked only on an "air-bake" cookie sheet (!), but the browning on top is still pretty lousy and biscuits/scones needed to be made thinner than in an electric oven to be able to cook all the way through before the bottom became unacceptably toasted.
    2. I've never had a gas oven that could be manually ignited, so baking during power outages may still not possible.
    3. If you do get a gas oven, beware that a) the drawer under the oven may be a broiler, not a storage drawer, and b) even if it definitely is a storage drawer, it can get hot enough occasionally near the top that things can melt a bit (did our silpat melt when it was scrunched up somehow so that it nearly touched the inside top of the drawer? yes, yes it did...).

    But gas ranges are dreamy and I heartily endorse them. Really hot woks! Thin pans heating to a high heat very quickly! Turn the burner off and you can *leave the thing on the burner* because the burner is not still sending out heat like an electric one does.

    And I've heard (too late for our worst oven; the mice had, I think, stolen a lot of its insulation over the decades) that oven heat can be evened out with terra-cotta paving stones, which absorb and then radiate the heat.

    However, my impression is that you do enough baking to be happier with an electric oven. Can you do a trial run of any of your most-normal but most-finicky recipes in friends' ovens to see what they do? (high heat, low baking time, with browning on top, or very low steady heat [dehydration, for instance] are the two things I've found hardest to deal with in gas ovens)

    Good luck!

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  3. Do you know someone who is an appliance repairman? We asked ours which washer to buy and he said Speed Queen. It is the the first washer we have owned on 24 years in this house that does not walk all over our laundry room and we have had it for 2.5 years trouble free. Last two were Whirlpool which had problems by this age. He has been a wealth of information for us. He said our Bosch dishwasher only has one little switch that goes bad and can be expected to run trouble free for at least 20 years. We have a 40 year old Jenn Air range and Jenn Air is the only thing we can replace it with but the new ones are just expensive garbage so we continue to repair the one we have. It has convection and I use it maybe once every two months. It is great if you do something like oven fried chicken but I have found little other use for it.

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  4. We use Martins Appliance (we/they are located in PA). I know that might be a haul, but for some reason I think you visit my lovely state. Sears has been helpful too. I wish I had more to offer, but I am all electric with convection and love the convection for more even cooking.
    Best of luck!

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    1. Thanks for the tip! It may be worth adding a visit when we next got to PA, especially since we're not under any pressure to purchase just yet...

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  5. Electric ovens do tend to be better overall than gas, but since the only option in our home is an all-in-one range, I'll suffer a gas oven to not have to deal with an electric stove. I'm pretty sure this is our range: http://www.sears.com/kenmore-elite-5.6-cu-ft-gas-range-w/p-02275233000P?sid=IDx01192011x1009789628&gclid=CjwKCAiAnabTBRA6EiwAemvBd-qGNRjfHR8eW5MCMm9sl6xiJdWKdQlVw1TNQKmc_14__zptI5huMxoCwXoQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CPOb7d-P9NgCFXbJ4wcdaIUEtQ
    I've been quite happy with it over all. I will say I don't use the middle long burner as much as I had hoped. I invariably get annoyed with it and slide my cast iron double griddle over to the left burners. But it does at least provide some built-in width so I can run two big pots at once (super helpful when canning) and the top is solid gridwork, which I also find to be an indispensible feature.
    The oven is quite good, I think. The broil function is surprisingly even. The drawer underneath can be used as a warming draw, but it has it's own on/off button and I have had no issues storing reasonably heat-resistant pans there. One of the features I've come to like best is that there is a recessed "pan" on the bottom of the oven. So for baking bread I set my soapstone on a rack just above it, preheat my oven for a good half hour, and then I slide my dough on the stone and pour boiling water directly into the recessed pan. Compared to a similar effort in my parents electric oven with pouring water into a preheated pan to steam the bread, our oven performed the task leagues better. I've had better results baking sourdough with this set-up than when I've tried the commonly recommended dutch oven method.
    We got our at a Sears Outlet, so less than "suggested retail," because it had cosmetic damage on the side that you can't even see once it's in place.

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    1. Yes, I want a recessed "pan" for water/ice for bread baking! I forgot to mention that in my list (but I've seen it in a lot of ovens, so maybe it's common?).

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  6. I'm a big fan of Kitchen Aid products. We're renovating our kitchen this year, and will be replacing our old Kitchen Aid electric top with a Kitchen Aid gas one. Five burners, and the oven is split; a large, main compartment and a thinner one; perfect for a casserole or such (perfect when you need to cook 2 things at different temps simultaneously!)

    Kim from Philadelphia

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    1. Do you have a link to that stove? It sounds lovely!

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  7. I didn't read the consumer reports on that stove until well after it was installed, because as you know, we went out and bought what we could find in the scratch and dent section, brought it home and installed it.
    Having lived with it for 6 months, there are things I don't like about it, but things I do really like about it. I like that it is a gas range with a convection oven option. When I teach cooking classes at the school up the street, I have to use their convection oven, which is helpful, because there is a learning curve. That said, I love having a convection oven - the air circulates, things bake faster and more evenly. There is also a dehydrate setting on my oven - I love that and have used it.

    Had I read anything before purchasing my stove, I would have thought twice. But having gotten it at 60% off, if I don't get 20 years out of it, I'm good.

    I would definitely recommend a gas range with a convection oven option, but I know when we looked at every store in town last July, that was pretty standard in every model beyond the basic one.

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  8. Of course, there's always the option of going to the used appliance store and trying to score an older stove/oven that might have a better chance of being quality construction... and really inexpensive -- gas or electric. Mine only has a broken timer (only stays in buzzing mode) which is no big thing since I always time things on my watch anyhow.

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    1. I second this. Our used gas stove/oven from Senger's on 42 is a work horse and better than any new option we could afford.

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  9. Ok...third attempt...thanks Google. Here we go. Gas, gas, gas! Cannot speak for your part of the country but up here in New Hampshire, if a mosquito farts sideways we lose our power. That being said, the last misery, known as the "Halloween storm" power outage debacle, left us without power for FIVE days. We got through because of our two rain barrels which gave us clean water to flush and splash water on our delicate bits AND that dang gas stove kept us alive because we could still put a meal on the table and by running the oven occasionally, kept some degree of heat in a small portion of the house. Just saying. Good luck with the search. X

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    1. "Delicate bits" and "if a mosquito farts sideways" --- you are hilarious!

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  10. I have a used electric stove/oven that I got from a neighbor, and it has the smooth surface (I don't know the correct term), which I LOVE! So easy to clean and junk never getting under the burners! I make roast chicken and roast vegetables all the time, and everything comes out great. The brand is Tappan. The stovetop burners heat up immediately (but cool down kind of slowly), and I am very happy with it.

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  11. Convection, convection, convection. It is the ONLY setting I have cooked with for the last 5-7 years and I LOVE it. Food cooks more evenly and faster. {We've had both gas and electric ovens and I couldn't tell a difference}.

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  12. I have had a GE Spectra for 12 years, gas all the way, and I love it. It bakes so evenly that I never rotate baking pans unless I'm filling the oven really full - then the things closest to the oven walls might get browner. If it dies, I want to get one of those clever split ovens that Kim from Philadelphia was talking about.

    I adore my timed bake and use that feature quite often. When my sister got a new gas stove a few years ago, it was cheaper to get one without timed bake but I would never forego that feature.

    I have a broiler in the oven, and I use the storage drawer for my some of my cast iron pans - it never gets hot in there. I also have no problem roasting things in my gas oven, but when I cook with electric ovens in vacation houses, I find that they sear the outsides of foods without cooking through the middle, so I'm not a fan of electric ovens. And some of these electric ovens are newer, up-to-date models. We have convection ovens at church and I've used them, but not often enough to really love them, I guess.

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    1. If the power goes out, can you still use your oven?

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    2. No ask me how I know. This is my second one in two different houses. And they both ran propane . As we currently and will until the Angel of Death comes never move again. That being said there are no lines of any kind as we are on 42 acres totally off grid.

      Both stoves came with the house and if I were to have a new one it would not have an electric start within one hundred miles of it. Give me the good old oven pilot light please.

      My last one we had when we lived in Fresno county were it gets to 114 daily for weeks at a time with a low of 75 at 4 in the AM. Trust me you will never have an issue with the small amount of heat the pilot gives off.

      Good luck!

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    3. No, I can't use my oven without electric, but I can light my burners with a match and a stovetop is totally sufficient for a short while. However, our previous stove had standing pilots and no matter what we did, there was always a slight smell of gas in the kitchen. Also, living downtown, we rarely lose power (but I guess that could change if something horrendous happens. . . ).

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  13. Jennifer, in my experience gas ovens take much longer to come up to temperature compared to electric. Gas cooktops are wonderful!

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  14. I have the stove you linked to, have used it for maybe 4 years now? And LOVE it. Good controls, easy to clean, I have nothing but praise for that stove!

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  15. I had a Kenmore dual fuel range that I LOVED. Gas cooktop (super solid burners) and electric oven for all the baking.

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  16. Random thought about the stove you linked to: Do you have any short people in your house? I’m 5 feet tall, and there’s no way I could use a stove with the oven controls behind the burners. I can barely reach the wall behind my current stove...

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    1. All tall people here. (Actually, I prefer controls at the back of the stove, out of reach of little kids....)

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  17. I have a gas cooktop, and I will never got back to electric, never! It is fabulous to cook with since it responds immediately to ups and downs. I have an electric oven. I have never seen a difference in gas and electric ovens. I don't use convention very often, but I don't bake a lot of bread. My cooktop is a GE profile 5 burner, and I have never had a moment's trouble with it. I like having a separate oven and cooktop. And gas is very nice to have when the power goes out. You can still cook!

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  18. WE have an electric stove...and I HATE it. I can't wait to put a gas stove in! It takes a bit longer to heat up but the heat is consistent, there aren't any hot spots like with our coil burners. My parents just had a new gas stove put in, I love it more than their old gas stove. It has the convection oven and cooks so evenly, especially for baking. I have been looking for a new stove, decided against coils because they leave hot spots on all my pans. Especially my large stock pots. And with smooth top stoves, you aren't supposed to use cast iron in case they scratch or break the glass top! So I know it's a gas top range/oven for me all the way. You can get some now with dishwasher safe grates. Also if it matters at all to you, I would make sure it comes with an oven light. you'd be surprised how many don't have that. Which is silly because when you're baking, you don't want to crack open the door to look all the time.

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    1. I got mine new, so I guess I didn't know this, but I ONLY use cast iron cookware on my smooth top stove, and I have never had any problems. So easy to clean!!!!!

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  19. I don't know how to link, but it's a Kitchen Aid 30 inch gas double convection oven with 5 burners. Hopefully Google will help you locate it!
    Bonus- it has a removable, sliding griddle for pancakes and grilled cheese!

    Kim from Phila

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    1. Is it this one?

      http://www.simplebites.net/kitchen-tour-range/

      I am tempted....

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    2. That sounds like the one my sister in law bought when they got married and updated the house. She is very happy with it. They use the griddle a lot. We have a gas cooktop and I feel gas is the best for that and then we have a separate electric double oven and I believe electric is best for the oven, and is also more accurate temperature wise than gas. I cook and bake daily, something is always going on.

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  20. Yes, that's it!
    It's over $1k, though- at least at Lowes.
    If you head to Delaware there's a great appliance place there, plus no sales tax!

    Kim from Phila

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  21. After skimming this colloquy I googled "gas stove electric oven" just, you know, in case? Anyway- found this: http://bit.ly/2DE0NiX
    Am a gas guy myself because the range is so much more important/used around here and an electric cooktop gives me fits.
    -Jackie C.

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  22. Late to comment but here goes. Installed a gas stove when we remodeled the house.It was a Kenmore bought at their scratch and dent warehouse. I was more concerned about price then anything else. The stove had an industrial look with 4 burners and a griddle/grill down the middle. Loved it.
    Also installed an electric convection oven/microwave/stove fan unit above. So I ended up with the best of both. Loved having the microwave off the counter.

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  23. Hey, want me to take a pic of mine for you? I do four rounds of sourdough in it at a time, with no temperature change midway b/c convection works well. Bathtub floor with hidden element so steaming's a breeze (no steam pan needed). Massive stove... but it is electric and glass top. We got the display they were retiring at Lowe's or HD, can't remember. -MAC

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  24. Lowes has a huge appliance clearance gin on right now and some are 50% off.

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  25. A few notes for consideration - I love my gas stove - it has heavier burner grids that will easily accomodate a large pressure canner. Another benefit that I like with gas stove burners is the temperature change is instant rather than graduall. There are sometimes warnings to not use pressure canners on solid stovetops, but two of my children do so without problem.

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