July 22, 2014

Choosing Kitchen Appliances – Ovens, Cooktops and Hoods

Choosing new appliances is one of the biggest decisions homeowners make when remodeling their kitchens. You can’t make a good choice if you don’t know what’s available and what suits your needs. here’s some advice on choosing your oven or cooktop from appliance.net and HowStuffWorks.com

First, ovens:

The traditional range or stove, a single unit with cooktop above and oven below, is an affordable, space-conserving solution still chosen by most homeowners. But it’s just one of the cooking options offered today.

Some serious home cooks choose commercial-style stoves with six or eight burners instead of four, basting and grilling functions, and built-in warming ovens. (Real commercial stoves pose special challenges, such as special ventilation systems and noncombustible walls and floors, when used in the home, so commercial-style may be easier to live with.) Other people love the new modular cooktops that let you add burners, downdrafts, griddles, deep-fry and steamer units, woks, rotisseries, and grills. And these are just a few examples of what’s available!

The first decision in range shopping has always been gas versus electric. Many serious cooks prefer gas for its instant response, precise controllability, and lower operating cost over time. Others praise the evenness of electric heat and the lower initial cost of the appliance Today, you can get the best of both heating methods with “dual fuel” ranges that let you mix gas and electric heat sources; for example, gas cooktop burners and an electric convection oven/broiler. Convection ovens, most often electric, use heated air to cook up to twice as fast as conventional ovens that rely on radiant heating action. You can even get a combination microwave/convection oven.

Electric coils are the most popular kind of electric burners, and the least costly. Smooth-top surfaces are offered with one of three heat source types: radiating electric coils beneath the glass surface, halogen burners, or magnetic-induction elements. All require thick, flat-bottom cookware. If gas is your choice, sealed burners are easiest to clean, and a pilotless ignition system means no hot spot when burners are off. Commercial-style glass stoves offer high BTUs (British thermal units, the measure of cooking heat) and high style. They require heavy-duty ventilation systems.

What about controls? Controls that are located on the front or on the side of the appliance are most common and convenient, but universal access means just that: While someone in a wheelchair can reach front-situated controls easily, unfortunately, so can a curious toddler. People with young children may prefer controls located on the backsplash, out of reach of exploring fingers. Wherever they’re located, controls should be easy to understand and operate. Top-of-the-line ovens may include electronic temperature readouts and touch-pad, rather than knob or dial, controls.

There is also the option of under the counter ovens that blend into the kitchen design rather than stand out. Just be sure the oven is designed for under the counter use. This type of oven can have a cooktop installed directly over it or elsewhere in the kitchen. On eof the considerations in choosing a cooktop is ease of cleaning. “For easiest cooktop cleaning, consider ranges with ceramic glass cooktops housing electric or halogen burners; simpler knobs and handles; and a top and backsplash constructed from a single piece of metal, so there’s no seam to collect spills. Self-cleaning ovens come in two varieties: one that uses a high-heat cycle that turns cooked-on spills into ash you can wipe away, another that offers a continuous-clean function.”

On to hoods:

If you don’t have a ventilation fan above your cooktop that vents to the attic or outside, you’ll want a range hood with ventilation fan built in. Why? Even if you don’t find some cooking odors objectionable, vaporized grease can dull beautiful new kitchen surfaces, and moisture can compromise the efficiency of home insulation. The solution is an updraft range hood that funnels cooking grease and smoke into one area so that the fan can draw it through a duct to the outside.

Filters capture additional grease and odors. Look for range hoods that come in copper, stainless steel, and other good-looking, easy-care materials, or customize a standard hood with ceramic tile to create a major focal point, furthering your decorating scheme. As an alternative, down-draft ventilation, usually part of a cooktop or grill, also employs a fan and duct arrangement. Units that rise above cooktop level provide the most effective venting.

Comments

  1. Judith Cotter says:

    I HAVE A center island with a hood over my cooktop. I would like to upgrade to granit and want a new hood. Can you direct me to a site that shows center islands with a cook top in it with an overhead hood. I have a concrete slab so I have to have an up draft. Thanks, Judy

  2. How easy is it to care for stainless steel appliances, say a range and a stovetop, without them becoming dull-looking? With my current appliances, ceramic, I use ammonia and warm water for the range, and ajax for the stove. These are very effective, but I am not sure what products would be effective in getting rid of grease, while maintaining the shine of stainless steel.

  3. Of course, there may be a short circuit in wiring to the big burners.
    It is possible though, that the fuse is of the improper rating.
    . . If the fuse blows when the burners are not turned on, it must be a short circuit.
    It could be in the feed to either or both burner switches,
    or the branch to one burner switch.. . If it does not blow
    when only one burner is turned on, but does on the other,
    you can guess where the trouble is. If it blows only when both are turned on, it
    is likely that the fuse is of too low a rating.

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