Range tops are built into your countertop in a space that is cut to fit it. Range tops are sturdy and can handle heavy use. Range tops can either be powered by electric or gas. Range tops have knobs and controls on the front, which come in handy when trying to manage your cooking with multiple items on the burners. Let’s check out how the Built in range top works.
Slide-In vs Drop-In Range: Major Differences
Slide-in models usually have a built-in bottom drawer below the oven chamber for storing cookware. Drop-in range models have no cookware storage drawer, and this means you’ll need an additional cabinet or drawer to house your pots and pans. The base of the cabinet that houses a drop-in range can’t always be turned into a storage compartment.
Built In Range Top
It’s also important to note that drop-in ranges differ from drop-in cooktops, which are commonly seen on kitchen islands and surrounded by cabinetry for a truly custom, built-in look. A drop-in cooktop doesn’t have an oven.
A slide-in cooking range has contoured sides with a slightly-protruding cooktop, which allows the installer to slide it in between two adjoining cabinets so that the cooktop rests on top of the countertop on each side. The contoured sides and cooktop keep food from falling in any spaces between the range and cabinetry.
Drop-in ranges came into vogue in the 1940s and 1950s during the boom in home construction. Today, the drop-in range is used as a replacement range in older homes or used infrequently for kitchen remodels. They are not in demand today because they require customized cabinetry and are dropped into a prepared base that includes a cabinet front panel at the bottom.
Slide-in models usually have a built-in bottom drawer below the oven chamber for storing cookware. Slide-in ranges offer a more customized look with cabinetry when compared to freestanding ranges. There’s typically not a top dashboard for controls. The controls are usually placed at the front edge of the cooktop.
Drop-in ranges don’t have a built-in bottom drawer since they’re dropped down into a custom base. Drop-in ranges can provide an integrated, high-end look to the kitchen. Drop-in ranges usually have no top dashboard; instead, the controls are conveniently placed at the front edge of the cooktop.
Best for Appearance: Slide-In Range
You’ll always have a place to store cookware in the built-in bottom drawer of a slide-in model. However, either of these two styles will give the kitchen a more streamlined look since the ranges blend fairly seamlessly with the base cabinets.
The standard width of cooking ranges is 30 inches, though you can find larger units if you like. But size options are somewhat limited when it comes to drop-in and slide-in ranges. Always confirm physical measurements with the dealer or manufacturer, ask for complete installation guidelines, and provide these to the installer, along with all range specifications.
There must be base cabinets positioned on each side of a slide-in model. The range’s side panels are not finished as they are on freestanding stoves, but instead, have alignment grooves to assist with installation. Freestanding ranges are the most economical to install, followed by slide-in ranges.
Drop-in ranges require careful planning and usually requires the installation of specialty cabinetry, so it’s not an ideal option unless you’re already doing a full kitchen makeover and prefer the style. Drop-in ranges are the most expensive style to install.
Best for Installation: Slide-In Range
Slide-in range models simply slip into place between two base cabinets. There’s no need for any cabinet customization. All range types are available in both gas and electric models, although the style variety is wider for electric models. Serious home chefs often prefer gas ranges.
For comparable functions, a freestanding range is more economical than a slide-in model. A slide-in range costs less than a drop-in model.
When compared to a freestanding and a slide-in, the drop-in style is most expensive. Drop-in models are not as easily found in retail outlets and may require special ordering. Brand and market availability is limited.
Best for Cost: Slide-In Range
Most retailers carry a large selection of slide-in range models along with freestanding range models, but not so many drop-in ranges. Slide-in ranges are available in both gas and electric models, although the style variety is wider for electric models. Serious home chefs often prefer gas ranges.
Slide-in ranges are generally considered to be easier and less costly to install than drop-in ranges, while both models give a kitchen a streamlined look. You’ll also have more storage with the bottom cookware drawer on slide-in ranges. In addition, you’ll be able to easily find and purchase slide-in ranges over less popular drop-in models.
- GE is a major manufacturer of slide-in and other style ranges and is one of two companies selling drop-in ranges.
- Frigidaire also sells slide-in and other style ranges and also sells drop-in ranges.
- Bosch sells upscale slide-in ranges.
Power options for stoves and ovens
The heat output from electric cooktops is measured in watts. Output varies from stove to stove and burner to burner, but the output generally falls somewhere between 1,200 watts for low heat on a small burner and 3,800 BTUs for high heat on a large burner, though we’ve seen outliers at both ends of the spectrum. There are different types of electric cooktops from which you can select:
Smoothtop (glass-ceramic cooktop)
These cooktops are made of smooth glass-ceramic with heating units under the surface. A built-in sensor lets you know when a burner is still hot. This is important with smooth electric cooking surfaces, because the burner doesn’t always turn red if the heat is low.
Keep in mind that this type of cooktop is prone to scratches, and not all cookware is safe to use on the surface (the appliance’s manual will give you those specifics).
These burners convert the electricity that runs into the coil into heat. These cooktops contain thermostat sensors that notify you when a burner is on, but not necessarily whether it is still hot. Electric coil stoves are notorious for uneven cooking because of uneven distribution of the coil.
In short, it is hard to keep the coil perfectly level, which can make all of the food in the pan slide to one side. In addition, electric coil stoves are slow to heat and slow to cool. But ranges with this type of cooktop are cheaper than comparable models.
Induction burners use the heat created from electromagnetic energy to cook your food. An element just below the surface of an induction cooktop creates a magnetic field. When you put a piece of cookware containing iron on top of that magnetic element, it causes a vibration of sorts that converts to heat through a series of magnetic interactions with iron (you can read more about the science behind induction here).
These cooktops are safer than gas or electric burners because they don’t use flames or direct heat — induction burners won’t start to heat if you put something on them that doesn’t contain magnetic material. Induction cooktops are also more efficient and heat things quicker than other types of burners (the ones we’ve tested have boiled a large pot of water in an average of 6 minutes).
There are a few downsides to induction cooktops. You have to make sure you have cookware that will work with the cooking surface, and ranges with induction burners tend to cost more money than comparable electric or gas ranges.
Electric ovens: This type of oven uses a heating element that is either visible on the top or bottom of the oven, or hidden. Our baking tests show that they often cook more evenly than their gas counterparts.
Both home and professional cooks have valued gas stovetops because of the how uniform the heat output is. An open flame surrounds the bottom of your cookware, which evenly distributes the heat around it. This heat output is measured in BTUs (British thermal units). Like electric models, the power range varies from model to model, but the output generally falls somewhere between 5,000 BTUs for low heat on a small burner and 18,000 BTUs for high heat on a large burner. We’ve seen burners on high-end ranges get as low as 800 BTUs and as high as 20,000 BTUs. If you’re a speedy cook, be aware that our cooking tests show gas cooktops tend to take longer to boil large pots of water than electric or induction cooktops.
When it comes to gas ovens, we’ve seen in our cook tests that they have a harder time producing even baking results than electric ovens.
Some ranges use two types of power: gas for the cooktop, and electric in the oven. These dual-fuel ranges are a good compromise for folks who want the direct heat of a gas burner but the even cooking of an electric oven. However, these hybrids cost more than traditional one-power-source ranges.
Freestanding ranges are designed to fit anywhere in a kitchen. Oven controls are often located on a back panel that raises up above the cooktop. These are less expensive than slide-in models.
These ranges don’t have a back panel and are meant to fit in flush with the surrounding countertops. Slide-in ranges are often more expensive than freestanding models because of the mechanics that go into putting all the controls up front.
Drop-in ranges are similar to slide-in models — they sit flush with the surrounding countertops and all the controls are located at the front of the unit. But this type of range looks like you dropped it between two cabinets because of a strip of cabinetry you place beneath the appliance.
The search for an oven or range can resemble a visit to a car dealership — there are always opportunities to upgrade. Assess your needs and decide if these bonus features are worth throwing down more money for an appliance.
Companies have become more proactive in including wireless capabilities such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and near-field communication (NFC) in their ovens and stoves so you can control your appliance from your smartphone. For example, you could begin to preheat your Wi-Fi-enabled oven on your way home from the grocery store, so it’s ready for your frozen pizza by the time you get home.
Manufacturers have also started to connect appliances with smart-home products to add some automation and voice control in the kitchen. For example, GE’s Wi-Fi-connected ranges work with Alex and Google Assistant, so you can give voice commands to control your appliance. And Jenn-Air wall ovens work with Nest Learning Thermostats ($269 at Amazon) so you can automatically lower your home’s temperature when the ovens get hot.
Convection fans are built into the back of oven walls. They circulate the heat in the oven so hot air is more evenly dispersed, which means your food will bake more evenly. You’d want convection fans if you’re baking food like cookies on more than one oven rack at the same time. Midprice ovens will have at least one convection fan. Some ovens have what’s called “true” or “European” convection, which means there’s a heating element that surrounds the fan that warms the air as the fan blows. Read more about the science of convection here.
Special cooking modes
Your basic oven can bake and broil. But as the price for ovens increases, you’ll see that there are more cooking options. For example, ovens with convection fans will have modes for convection baking and convection roasting, which will enable the fans and heating elements. Some ovens also come with cook settings for specific foods, such as pizza or turkey, or food preparation methods, like dehydration or bread proofing.
Bottom drawers (baking/warming/broiling)
Some ranges come with a bottom drawer that can serve one of many purposes depending on the model. Some range ovens offer a baking drawer, which enables a person to use the main oven to roast or broil, and the baking drawer for smaller dishes, so you can cook more than one thing at the same time using different temperatures. A warming drawer will keep food warm, but it won’t cook the food. Some ovens have a broiler drawer, which functions like a traditional broiler and must be watched just as closely to ensure that food does not burn.
Temperature probes plug into the wall of your oven, and you use them to monitor the internal temperature of meat as it cooks. The temperature displays on the control panel of your oven, so you don’t have to open the door to see if your dish is done.
Double ovens in conventional space
The ovens on some ranges have dual baking chambers, which give you the flexibility of double wall ovens without the need for more space. These ovens allow the convenience of simultaneous cooking at different temperatures. Some ovens come with a divider that allows you to split your single oven into two unique temperature zones that will remain separate as long as the divider is in place.