Gas Ranges vs Electric Ranges: How to Choose
The kitchen is the heart of any home, and its range the centerpiece. When installing a new stove in your home there’s one key question to answer: gas or electric? Studies show most people simply choose the type of stove they’ve always had or the one they’ve grown up with. However, there may be some compelling reasons for you to make a change. Research these options carefully to select the best stove for your needs.
How These Ranges Work
Gas stoves are usually powered by natural gas, although some use butane, liquefied petroleum gas, and other gases. Gas flames distribute heat evenly to warm the elements. Their heat output is measured in British thermal units (BTUs). Low heat on a small burner usually measures around 5,000 BTUs while high heat on a larger burner usually measures 17,000 BTUs. Because they rely on gas, you’ll need a gas line running to your house to fuel a gas stove. That won’t be a problem in most cities and suburbs, but gas isn’t always available in remote areas.
Electric ranges rely on the power of electricity to heat their cooking elements. An electric range may have coiled elements or an easy-clean, flat glass-ceramic surface. Most electric stoves operate on a 240-volt power outlet.
How These Ranges Perform
Both gas and electric ranges perform well once they’re running, but electric models aren’t as responsive as their gas cousins. Since gas stoves respond almost instantly when you adjust the temperature, you’ll get more precise control when cooking your dishes. The stove tops of gas ovens are also more forgiving, offering even heat distribution even if the surface isn’t perfectly flat. Gas ranges can also handle some more advanced cooking techniques like flambéing and charring which electric stoves can’t manage. That’s why most chefs and even some committed home cooks swear by gas ranges.
However, sweet tooths typically favor electric ranges because they offer more even heat distribution for baking. Electric ranges also offer a dryer heat than gas ranges which is ideal for roasting.
Electric ranges are seen as the safest option because there are no naked flames. While millions of people cook on gas stoves without incident, any time there are naked flames there’s a risk of burns to you, your children, and your pets. You also run the risk of items near the stove, like paper towels or cleaning cloths, catching fire. Gas leaks are another potential hazard, although installing a carbon monoxide detector will help you catch leaks early.
It would be naïve to suggest there’s no risk of incident or injury using an electric stove, but these ranges are considered much safer. That’s especially true of electric ranges with glass-ceramic tops, which have sensors that show when a burner is still hot, even if it’s no longer glowing red. While electric ranges don’t carry the same risks, remember to exercise a healthy degree of caution and teach your children to never touch the stove.
Best for Your Budget
For many consumers, cost will always sway their choice. When considering costs you should think about the upfront price of your appliance and also the running costs over its lifetime.
Upfront costs don’t vary a great deal. Average electric stoves typically range from $650 to $2,800, according to home improvement website Bob Vila, while typical gas stoves range from $800 to $2,300. The upfront costs of a gas stove may increase if you don’t already have a gas line in your kitchen and need one installed.
There’s a real difference between operating costs. Utility rates vary from state to state, but natural gas usually costs less than electricity. That difference is usually somewhere between 10 and 30 percent which can amount to some serious cash over the life of your range.
Ready to Buy?
Once you’ve considered whether you prefer a gas or electric range, it’s time to make your purchase. Traditionally this would involve visiting brick and mortar stores, but you can find great bargains with online retailers that don’t have the same overheads. Look for stores with comprehensive product descriptions and customer ratings and reviews. These will give you the best understanding of the product you’re about to by, including any pros and cons.
Then think about how your range will work in your home. If you are a messy cook or favor frying, then you may prefer an electric range with a flat glass-ceramic top that can be easily wiped clean. Bakers and roasters tend to appreciate the even heat distribution and drier environment of an electric oven, while people who cook more on their stove top may prefer a gas range’s responsiveness. If you live in an area prone to power outages you may also prefer a gas range that you can count on during a blackout.
Size also matters. Do you regularly host dinner parties, or are you single or part of a couple without kids? Both gas and electric ranges are available in single and double sizes that can handle different amounts of food.
Think about your warranty too, as this will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and even from model to model. The longer the warranty, the more faith the manufacturer has in its product. Some retailers may also offer extended warranties, either for free as a special promotion or for an additional fee. This can give you some extra protection should your range fail. Just remember to read the terms carefully, because the manufacturer may not honor the warranty if you don’t use your range correctly.
Last but not least, set a budget and keep this in mind while you’re shopping. Many online retailers allow you to filter search results by price so you can eliminate the ones too expensive for your tastes. It’s easy to get swayed by the bells and whistles of luxury ranges, so you’re best avoiding the models outside your budget.
Gas and electric ranges both have their advantages and drawbacks. Consider these carefully to determine which type of stove will suit your family and your home.