Electric Cooktop Ranges Review
Why Buy an Electric Range?
The top performers in our review are the Samsung NE595R0A, the Gold Award winner; Kenmore 95053, the Silver Award winner; and Frigidaire FGEF3055MF, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 electric ranges.
The modern kitchen has come a long way in the last fifty years. Touch controls and digital displays on modern electric ranges look like science fiction from half a century ago. As the modern kitchen further evolves, electric ranges continue as a staple appliance, getting families through normal meals and Thanksgiving feasts alike.
Electric ranges differ from each other in a variety of ways. Size and power features, burner style, installation method, appearance and maintenance are factors to consider when purchasing an electric range. The best electric ranges have a smooth glass ceramic cooktop, spacious ovens, convection cooking and many user conveniences. For more information, check out our articles on electric ranges.
Smooth Operator: What to Look for in a Cooktop
The flat surfaces on modern electric ranges makes a huge difference when preparing food. The smooth ceramic glass keeps cookware on a flat surface. While this requires you to use only flat-bottomed cookware, the glass doesn’t warp or bend pans the way crooked coils often do.
The best electric stoves have expandable burners that fit two elements in one. The smaller inner element usually ranges from 6 to 9 inches while the larger outer element ranges from 9 to 12 inches. These elements can accommodate large pots and pans without taking up lots of space on the compact surface.
The wattage is generally higher on these models than electric coil ranges. Wattage indicates how quickly an element on the stove or oven heats up, not necessarily its temperature range. The higher the wattage, the faster the element reaches the heat level you want. Cooktops with a Power Boil element often produce over 3,000 watts to boil water, stock or sauces quickly. If you're remodeling, you can also purchase standalone electric cooktops to install directly into a counter or island.
Oven Lovin': What to Look for in an Oven
If you have a large, often hungry family, you may want to consider differences in electric range ovens. These appliances can hold anywhere from 2 to over 6 cubic feet. Obviously, the more people in your family, the larger your oven needs to be. Larger ovens also require more power, especially models with a convection mode. Double ovens are also a viable option for large families and enthusiastic cooks.
The best feature in modern kitchen ranges is convection cooking. Convection is the process of heat transfer by mass motion of air or fluid. Modern ovens are often equipped with fans in the back of the oven chamber to circulate hot air and eliminate cold pockets. Convection ovens receive praise generally for producing evenly cooked food inside and out. Convection ovens tend to bake hotter than traditional models, so temperature conversion is necessary when following a recipe. This can take some getting used to, but it's worth it for tasty, evenly baked food.
Keep it Clean: Range Maintenance
Smooth cooktops are easier to clean than their coil counterparts are. This style is great for removing surface crumbs and stains. We recommend using specialized cleaner to remove smudges and add a shine to the smooth surface. When you encounter cooked-on messes, most spatulas, scrapers or even old credit cards can remove the soil from the cooktop. When it comes to keeping a modern-looking stove up to date, clean often and use proper cookware for the best results.
Properly cleaning your oven can feel like a Herculean task, but thankfully, most modern electric ranges have a self-clean feature. Most commonly, the self-clean cycle uses extremely high temperatures to reduce baked-on food stains to fine ash. These cycles usually last from two to four hours and can produce smoke, fumes and odors that can be harmful to pets or kids.
Newer models have started to incorporate a steam clean cycle on their list of features. Like the heated self-clean cycle, the steam cycle uses high temperatures to dissolve food stains. These cycles require a little water, usually under two cups and about 20 to 40 minutes to complete. This self-clean cycle doesn't require chemicals, dangerously high temperatures or produce harmful fumes, making it a far safer option for families.
The Heated Debate: Gas vs. Electric
There is a lot to debate about the pros and cons of electric power. Gas and electric ranges work generally the same way. A range consists of a stovetop, oven and controls. The number of burners, ovens and the position of the controls vary depending on the style of range. Electric ranges are easier to install and typically less expensive than gas ranges. You also don't run the risk of dangerous gas leaks when you use electrical power to cook. Gas ranges are faster to heat and cool than their electric counterparts, and natural gas continues to work even after a power outage.
Electric ranges take longer to cool after you turn off the burner. This can be an advantage for any slow cooking or simmering but ineffective if you need to change heat quickly. Also, while they cost less initially, electric ranges can hike up your power bill, and they're less ecofriendly than gas powered ranges.
Tools of the Trade: Cookware for Your Electric Range
Commonly used cookware like aluminum, stainless steel and cast iron are compatible with the glass ceramic surface on an electric range. However, there are measures you need to take to maintain the health of the electric stove and cookware alike.
Aluminum is an excellent conductor that heats and cooks food evenly. Aluminum cookware does well with a flat stovetop as long as the bottom is flat. An aluminum pan dragged across a glass cooktop will likely leave a skid. Thankfully, you can remove these marks easily if you catch them early.
Stainless steel heats slowly and often unevenly, but it's easy to maintain and relatively affordable. This type of material can leave skids and marks on the cooktop. Like those left by aluminum cookware, you can remove these marks easily if you clean immediately.
The biggest concern with using cast iron is avoiding cracks or scratches. You need to be careful to lift the pots or pans when handling any cast iron cookware on a flat glass stove. The flatter the bottom, the better but the rough iron can still scratch the stove.
How We Evaluated, What We Found
To select the best electric ranges, we focused on cooktop and oven capabilities, as well as extra conveniences and features. The main function of any electric range is to cook food quickly and evenly, so we accounted for any feature that contributes to this purpose.
Our lineup consists of different brands across the board with homeowners and renovators in mind. Each of these ranges are freestanding, meaning they have finished sides. This style of oven is flexible for remodeling and moving because it fits easily into cabinets and works well, even in small kitchens.
Electric ranges generally have one of two types of stovetops. When researching on top home improvement, hardware and cooking sources, we found an overwhelming amount of smooth glass stoves over coil models. This style has increased in popularity over the last few years because of their sleek looks and easy cleaning.
We found that oven capacity is the most important factor when it comes to baking or broiling in an electric range. Even if you don't cook Thanksgiving-size meals often, the larger the oven, the more space thermal or convective heat has to move away from the food. Smaller ovens will heat faster because of this, but larger capacity ovens suit families of three or more best.
If you're remodeling, consider the type of range you need. Freestanding ranges can sit between or at the end of your cabinets. The backsplash controls also put the heat out of reach of children. Slide-in ranges look built-in but have unfinished sides, requiring them to slide between cabinets. These models house controls in the front, making them easy to operate but can be a hazard to any small curious children. Drop-in ranges are similar to their slide-in counterparts, but require cabinetry under the oven.
User conveniences improve how you measure baking time, clean and operate the range safely. Most electric ranges have familiar features like a timer or digital clock. These features may be common, but they make cooking far easier, allowing you time for prep and cleaning while the meal cooks. There are less common features like a warming drawer to keep rising dough and food-specific controls for easy items like pizza, chicken nuggets and even turkey.
Large kitchen appliances like electric ranges are essential to the kitchen. They're expensive and used often, which means fixing them can be a pain. Be sure to pay attention to warranty details when selecting an electric range. Look for warranties that last at least a year and access to plenty of support methods to find answers to your questions.
Verdict and Recommendations
The Frigidaire FGEF3055MF is the winner of our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award. The oven in this electric range holds 6 cubic feet and has a scorching max wattage of 3,900 watts. Like the other winners, this Frigidaire model has a flat cooktop with two expandable burners. The oven is unique in that it has a half and a full rack available to make room in the oven with seven different positions. This model comes in white, stainless steel and solid black to match your current or dream kitchen.
Our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award winner is the Samsung NE595R0A. This range has an oven capacity of 5.9 cubic feet and two racks with seven possible positions. The stainless steel and black finish on this kitchen range helps it blend in with most kitchens, and it has all the conveniences we looked for, including chicken nugget and pizza buttons. The glass cooktop on this electric range has five elements total with two expandable elements. The smaller element expands from 6 to 9 inches, the larger starts at 9 inches and expands to 12. This Samsung model is also one of the few ranges on our lineup with a power boil feature.
The Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award goes to the Kenmore 95052. This range has five powerful burners and holds 6.1 cubic feet inside its oven. The 4,000-watt broiling element is one of the most powerful we reviewed. The oven is spacious enough to fit three racks that can be arranged in seven different positions. Like the Gold Award Winner, this Kenmore model has a power boil feature, so the pot will boil quickly whether you're watching it or not.
Ultimately, the best electric range for you depends on what, how often and how much food you cook. Families of four or more should have an oven with at least 4 cubic feet of oven capacity. Child safety features are important if you have a large family with small children, so look for electric ranges with backsplash controls and locking doors. Other family-friendly features include easy preprogrammed cook times for frozen food like pizza or chicken nuggets.