Welcome to the second installment of our Choosing Appliances mini-series! In this series, we’ll be doing our best to help you through the sometimes-stressful research process for purchasing a new appliance. While appliances are not quite the sticker shock of a home or a car, they still are big financial investment. This mini-series will hopefully help you cut time and worry on your choice.
In part two, we’re covering ranges and microwaves. If you missed our previous installment, check it out for this same experience on refrigerators and dishwashers.
Let’s get into it!
Before you go to the store or start to search online there are some things we can narrow down and think through:
- Measure the area the appliance will fit in (height, width, and depth)
- Note unique factors (for ranges: be sure you can open your oven door fully without hitting anything in your kitchen. It’s also important to note the space needed between your kitchen hood or ventilation system. Also note what kind of prong your oven has.)
- Make a purchase plan
- What’s your budget range?
- Are you going to purchase during a sale? (most big box stores have Memorial Day and Labor Day sales)
- Will you need delivery? If so, consider cost. Or do you have a truck/trailer?
- Will the appliance fit in your doorways? Will you have to take it up stairs?
- What will you do with your old appliance? You can haul it away, have a company take it or sell it.
An important note is to check availability. More recently what’s in stock is more prevalent to your purchase. If you’re casually looking you may not mind a three-month backorder. However, if you needed it yesterday, going into a store and asking about what they’ve got in store is a good place to start. That way you don’t get attached to something that isn’t available or won’t be for a while.
Ranges really are the heart of the kitchen. Even ancient cooking spaces had a cold underground place for refrigeration and a hot fire, maybe with stones or iron ore to cook on. Ranges are fundamental to cooking throughout humanity, and nowadays we’re spoiled as to all the ways we can cook our food.
We use oven and range pretty interchangeably in the south, so I actually have to keep myself in line to say range which includes both oven and stovetop. Today, it’s less likely that they’d be separate, but it’s not unheard of. If you have an older home or are interested in a retro feel you might have an eye level or wall oven with either no stovetop or just a separate stovetop. You may also live in a small space and have a portable, single burner. But for our purposes, we’ll zero in on ranges including both parts!
Most ranges fall between $550 – 2,000, but you can definitely spend above that. Now it’s time to look around and get an idea of what’s available.
There are 3 main types of ranges:
- Induction (runs on electricity)
Seemingly the more common is the electric range. Which usually has burners/ heating elements that are coils on top of the stove top or underneath a glass or ceramic top. These work by heating the metal coil, which heats the surface, then heats your pan. These tend to be the most affordable.
Induction stovetops are traditionally more expensive. They are electric but use heat and energy through a magnetic current. Induction stovetops heat copper coils and that directly heats your pan. So, this option kind has no middleman because it doesn’t have the extra step of heating your stovetop surface. These tend to offer a quicker heat than electric ovens and are typically more energy efficient.
Gas stoves run off your natural gas or propane hookup instead of electricity. This option has long been loved for its efficiency and quicker cooking. However, some are uneasy about the safety of it. For people that want to cook over an open flame and don’t mind spending a little extra, this is the perfect fit.
Within these choices there are conventional ovens and convention ovens. Essentially, conventional ovens have a heating element at the top and bottom of the oven, versus a convection oven has both heating elements plus a fan to distribute the hot air. Convection ovens are known to have more of an advantage with allover heat and higher heat. A conventional oven may be easier to navigate in your everyday as it will follow most recipes’ cook times and temps where a convection oven will require some adjustment.
Now, you’re ready to start looking for yourself. Don’t forget to decide on the color you want and to keep an eye out for any small, unique details you like that you see available for ranges. Be sure if you choose an electric option that you have the proper prongs to fit in your outlet. Happy shopping!
Microwaves are sort of like dishwashers in that not everyone views them as a necessity. Some people would prefer to heat things up in a toaster oven or stove top. However, if you eat a lot of leftovers then it may be a good fit. They also can be rather inexpensive. $300 is about the average for a good one, but you can find an inexpensive one around $60, depending on your budget.
Now it’s time to look around and get an idea of what’s available.
There are two main types:
Countertop microwaves are common but the drawback is that they do take up counter space. In a kitchen with limited counterspace, you might want to consider an over-the-range style. These microwaves are a sleek, tucked away option. Other options are built-in and convection microwaves, plus microwave drawers and wall oven combinations. If you’re wanting to spend a little more and need to save space, any of these could be a good fit.
There are tons of features such as ENERGY STAR® Certified and smart technology options for microwaves. They are always a great way to incorporate a pop of color as they tend to have more color and style options than most appliances.
This one is pretty simple so you’re ready to jump in on your microwave search. Need some help picking out the right one? Check out this guide to get you started.
We hope that this has helped you be an informed shopper, but most importantly we hope that it’s reduced the stress of the unknown and prepared you for some of the options you’ll have to decide on. While today we discussed purchasing new appliances, know that there are used options as well. You can go to a local wholesale or resale store. Don’t forget yard sales, too! For online options you can try a local selling site or something similar. Stay tuned to our mini-series! Next time we’ll cover laundry room appliances!
*ENERGY STAR® and the ENERGY STAR® mark are registered trademarks owned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.