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How to Buy a Range with Confidence

Buying a major appliance is always stressful. No matter how well prepared you think you are the variety of choice can be overwhelming. The trick to make this purchase less stressful is simply to be prepared.

Firstly, make a list of what you want, need, or desire in a replacement range. Check out the latest newspaper advertisements to narrow down the choices. The ads can give you an idea what is available and how much it will cost. Then make a few calls to your local appliance stores. Ask for some basic prices and whether they have a floor model of the style you are interested in buying. Only then, with list in hand, should you proceed to the appliance store.

The purchase of a new electric range can usually be broken down into the following segments:

1 Appearance and style
2 Price range
3 Options
4 Name brand

Appearance and style ---------- choices would include your preference for white, black, stainless steel, freestanding, drop-in, glass top, and digital or standard controls.
All these choices are arbitrary. They should match your personal preferences and the style you feel would look the best in your kitchen.

While white remains the most popular choice for a range both black and stainless steel is becoming more common. White will match most kitchen styles and colors, plus itís easy to maintain. Stainless is popular because it can give your kitchen a modern look. Plus its color is neutral, and will blend in with other appliances. Its disadvantages are that it can scratch easily, and requires a special cleaner to maintain its appearance.

A freestanding range is still the standard. It will be the least expensive when compared feature to feature with any other styles. It can be moved easily if spring-cleaning is required, or food is spilled between it and the counter. Its construction is basic so simple repairs can be done by the homeowner.

A drop-in (sometimes called a slide-in) range is one that installs level with the counter top. It has no rear console therefore all the controls are all at the front of the appliance. This may be considered an advantage since you never have to reach across the heating surface to regulate the elements. It is more expensive than a freestanding range and is often only available as a glass top model. It does give the kitchen a more customized look but you may find this style more complex to operate. Also, their added complexity means they are costly and usually involve at lot of digital items and displays. Future repair may be expensive.

Glass top ranges are definitely beautiful. They give any kitchen a more modern look when installed. Glass tops are usually available in both freestanding and drop-in styles. Their disadvantage is they must be fully cleaned after every few uses. If not done they quickly become stained and dirty looking. Extra care is also required not to allow pots to spill or boil over because burnt-on stains will result. Not all cookware works on a glass top range. You may have to purchase new flat bottom pots and pans. Some consumers find them slow to heat because of the temperature regulation devices necessary to protect the glass from overheating.

The basic freestanding range you are replacing probably has simple controls. You turn the element control higher or lower to get the required heat. Todayís higher end ranges offer digital controls. As you turn a knob a digital readout increase or decreases. This allows a more accurate regulation of the elements heat. But being digital they are going to be expensive to repair if they fail. Definitely not a job the homeowner will be able to do. Plus, like all things digital they can be affected by electrical fluctuations. Therefore if you live in an area where electrical power outages are common, avoid the computerized or digital ranges. Power fluctuations can seriously affect the electronics.

Price range ---------- will be important to you, just as it is to most consumers. A simple freestanding electric range with basic coil elements can be as low as 0, while a glass top drop-in range with all the options is probably priced at 00.

This wide variation in price means you should not go shopping without setting a price limit. Once in the appliance store you may be attracted to a model beyond your preset limit. If this happens ask yourself:
a) is it worth the extra money b) will it make my cooking easier or more efficient.

If unsure about your purchase leave the store, and come back later. Donít make a quick decision, nor allow any salesperson to pressure you into a sale. By walking away you will allow yourself the time necessary to make in informed decision. You can rethink the choices available and ask yourself if what you are about to buy is worth the investment.

Options ---------- available for ranges can seem endless. Some of the ones you will encounter are self-cleaning, convection oven, bridged elements, full door glass, warmer drawer, and clock features.

Self-cleaning is one everyone understands. It avoids the hassle of getting into the oven to clean out the grease and grime -- a job no one likes doing. The disadvantage is that it uses large amounts of electricity. The oven temperature will climb to approximately 900 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of three to four hours. But remember, even a self-cleaning it will require you to clean parts of the oven by hand. Itís not meant to eliminate manual cleaning, but it does a lot of the work. Also, the self-cleaning will only remove recent debris, stains left too long will become baked into the oven. Baked in stains require hand cleaning. They can be difficult to remove because normal oven cleaners or strong detergents cannot be used inside a self-cleaning oven.

A convection oven option allows faster baking, and more even baking throughout the oven interior. During convection baking a large fan draws air through the oven. It eliminates the problem of hot spots on different oven racks. Using a convection fan allows multiple trays of items such as cookies to be cooked at the same time. Rather than doing one sheet of cookies you can do four. This is a substantial time saver if you do a lot of baking.

Bridged elements are an option available on some glass top ranges. A special section of element is used to join the elements on a side of the top. Therefore when the two elements and the bridge are turned on, one side of the top becomes equivalent to a grill. This is an option you may find useful if you grill all the time. Like most options though it adds greatly to the complexity of the range. It will only be on high-end models so you will need to justify the additional money required to obtain this option.

A full door glass is cosmetic only. It gives the range a more contemporary style. It has no function other than hiding the regular oven glass.

Warmer drawers are utensil drawers with an element added to their bottom. They keep plates and food warming as you cook. Unless you have specific need for this option itís usually not worth the extra cost.

If you have small children a clock lockout might be a feature to consider. It locks the clock and controls so that a child cannot start the range elements or oven. This may be something to consider with drop-in ranges because the controls are at the front where they are more accessible to children. This option is usually not available as a separate feature, but as a secondary option on very high-end ranges such as glass top drop-in ranges.

Name brands ---------- can be important. They become a part of your final decision about which range to buy. The advantage of a brand name you recognize is that it will have a service network. This becomes important if the range has a problem during the warranty period. Name brand manufacturers also have a network of part distributors. This certainly makes obtaining a part a much easier process.

In conclusion, never make an impulsive decision when out shopping for a new electric range. A bad choice is one you will have to live with for many years. Therefore, go prepared with as much initial information as you can find. Whether from newspaper advertisements, flyers, catalogues, or word of mouth, you have to know your choices. Gather together your facts and prices before going to the appliance store. Being well prepared will greatly lower the stress involved in your purchase and allow you to make a good choice. One you will be proud to show the neighbours.

About the Author: C. McSorley is an independent writer about household appliances and consumer related subjects. Have questions about your household appliances? Then visit her website at for free information and consumer articles.

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