No matter what you choose for kitchen flooring (e.g., hardwood or something more traditional), you’re going to need a cooking range. Your main options are freestanding units, slide-in and drop-in units, wall ovens paired with range tops, and hybrid or front-control units. While freestanding ranges are by far the most popular of the four options, there are times you might want to consider a slide-in or drop-in type range, such as when you’re looking for a more streamlined or customized look in your kitchen. Today we’ll take a look at the similarities and differences between slide-in, drop-in, and freestanding range units to help you figure out which is the best choice for your kitchen.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a slide-in range?
Slide-in cooking ranges are essentially freestanding ranges wedged between cabinetry. They include angled sides with cooktops that protrude slightly beyond the general width of the range. As a result, they’re installed by sliding them between cabinets (hence the name) with the end goal of resting the cooktop on the adjacent countertops. The advantage of this approach is a cleaner, sleeker look; you’ll frequently see slide-in ranges in upscale homes, in magazines, and on cooking shows. You can readily customize them with cabinetry and achieve a more cohesive kitchen compared to freestanding ranges, which never quite match as well with cabinetry. You also can store additional cookware at the base of most slide-in models in a bottom drawer. The downside to this approach is that you can’t install a slide-in range without cabinets on both sides, as the stove’s side panels will be unfinished and will include alignment grooves. The GE PS950SFSS 30″ slide-in double oven electric range is a good example of a quality, mid-level slide-in range.
What are the pros and cons of a drop-in model?
A drop-in range is essentially a more complicated slide-in range. You don’t just need to fit it between cabinetry, you also need to customize the cabinetry from the ground up, setting up a base and a front panel with the same materials as the cabinetry. The advantages of drop-in models are tied to style and appearance; when done well, they can appear seamlessly integrated into your kitchen, giving it a high-end look for years to come. However, drop-in ranges don’t include storage drawers for pots and pans, meaning you’ll need a separate cabinet or drawer elsewhere to hold your cookware. Drop-in ranges are also generally hard to find, which means you’ll have fewer brands to choose from and might need to special order them. They typically feature controls on the front top panel and are usually 30″ wide. You can buy wider units, but you’ll pay much more for the privilege due to the customization issues already discussed. The Frigidaire FFED3025PS 30″ electric drop-in smoothtop range above is a good example of a trending style in drop-in ranges.
What are the benefits and drawbacks to freestanding ranges?
Finally, you’ve got the more traditional options to consider: freestanding ranges and wall ovens. The benefits of freestanding ranges are their versatility, space efficiency, and affordability. They’re the most common type of range on the market, which means you’ll have the most options when it comes to style, color, brand, and price. You’ll also pay less for them in general because they require no customization whatsoever, unlike slide-in, drop-in, or wall-mounted units. They’re also make a much better use of space than wall ovens because the cooking surface is directly on top of the oven, which means you don’t need a separate cooktop as you would with a wall oven.
The drawbacks of these designs are that they don’t integrate quite as seamlessly into existing kitchens and cabinetry as slide-in, drop-in, or wall units. Additionally, if you want a double oven, you’ll need a lot more kitchen space to fit one in in a freestanding design. The Kucht KRG3080U range is a good example of an attractive, durable, and powerful stainless steel range.
What are the pros and cons of wall ovens compared to freestanding, slide-in, and drop-in units?
Compared to the other three options, wall ovens are undoubtedly the most chic. There’s a reason you’ll find them nearly unanimously in high-end homes: they look amazing. They’re also by far the best option for aging in place and baking with convenience, as it’s the only design of the four with the oven placed at arm height, which means you’ll never need to stoop, strain, crouch, or bend to get food in or out of them. Additionally, if you do enough backing to warrant a double oven, you’ll get the most bang for your buck with a wall oven setup, as you can fit two full-sized ovens on top of each other more efficiently in this design than with any other.
The disadvantages of wall ovens are tied to price–they’re more expensive due to the additional labor and design requirements–and space. If you want to use a cooking surface, you’ll need a separate range top, which will cost additional money and will take up additional space elsewhere in your kitchen. The GE Profile PT7800SHSS combination convection and microwave oven is a good example of a popular wall oven.
What’s the best value in a range right now?
Given how much more value you get per dollar with a freestanding range over any other kind (e.g., a wall oven and range top, a slide-in range, a hybrid setup, or a drop-in range), we typically recommend them over the other options when you want the most for your money. Right now, two freestanding ranges that give a lot of power, performance, and reliability for a relatively modest sum are the Thor Kitchen HRG3080U 30″ range (reviewed here) and the Kucht KRG3080U range (reviewed here). The units themselves are the same; the Kucht just costs a bit more because the company provides better customer service and people are willing to pay extra for it.
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