Gas Range or Electric Range: Which is best?

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

Which is better, a gas range or electric range?

Advantages of a Gas Range

Gas ranges have several advantages over electric such as instant heat and instant off.  When you turn off an electric burner, heat lost while it cools down is wasted energy

When you can see the flame, you have a better indication of the intensity of the heat and how well it is covering the bottom of your pan.  Adjusting temperature is quicker with gas. This is one of the main reasons most restaurants use gas. Depending on your electric rate, a gas range is usually less expensive to operate. This is another reason most restaurants use gas. 

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On an electric range, pots and pans with irregular bottoms do not heat evenly and are not efficient.  On a gas range, they still cook evenly as the flame wraps around the bottom. 

Electric ranges with ceramic or glass cooktops are prone to scratching and require extra care when cleaning. Gas ranges with metal grates are much more rugged and forgiving of sliding pots and pans over them and when cleaning. 

When your electricity goes off, you can still use most gas ranges by simply lighting the burner with a match.  Even if you have a backup electric generator, it may not have enough capacity to power your lights, refrigerator, and an electric range. 

What if I want to switch from an electric stove? Can I afford to have a gas hookup installed?

Don’t let the cost of adding gas plumbing to your kitchen scare you off.  In most cases, the cost of adding gas plumbing to your kitchen is offset by the energy savings of gas. Get a cost estimate from your plumber. 

Tip:  If your electric water heater is near end of life, consider a new gas model. It could pay for itself in the long run and installing it along with your gas range will save on overall installation costs.

Choosing the Right Gas Range

Gas range prices start at a few hundred dollars and can rise into the thousands of dollars.  So, how do you pick the best value for your family? The key factors are Right Size, Right Type, Right Style, Right Features, and Right Price.  

Make Sure Your Gas Range is the Right Size

“Right size” has a double meaning here.  You need the right size of gas range to fit the space in your kitchen, and you need the right size and number of burners to fulfil your cooking needs. 

Be sure to check the physical dimensions of the space for your gas range. The standard width is 30 inches, but ranges can vary, especially those with extra features.  Check the depth and height to make sure it is compatible with your kitchen counter. Don’t forget to check the width of your doorway!

Your gas range needs the right number of burners with sufficient heating capability to meet your needs.  Typical is four burners; two large and two small. Heating capacity is measured in British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/hr.).  Large burners are typically in the area of 15,000-19,000 maximum BTU’s. Small burners are typically rated at 5,000 or 9,000 maximum BTU’s.  Of course all of the burners are adjustable, but large burners can be difficult to set for a slow simmer. Therefore, it is handy to have burners of various BTU rates.

Choose the right type of gas range

Make sure your gas range is compatible with your type of gas.  City gas is Natural Gas (NG) and comes to your home through underground pipes.  Away from city gas the most popular gas is Liquid Propane (LP) gas or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), a blend of propane, butane, and small amounts of other gasses.  If you are not using Natural Gas, you may need an adaptor. Ask your salesperson and check the owner’s manual. Your gas plumber can set up your gas range for the proper type of gas and do your installation.  

Choose the right style of gas range

Slide-in, stand alone, and cooktop are the most common styles of gas ranges.  A “slide-in” is designed to slide into your kitchen counter. They usually do not have finished sides.  The controls are usually on the front, which is convenient as you do not have to reach over the food and burners to get to the control knobs.  A stand-alone gas range has finished sides and usually has controls on a back panel. But, some do have controls on the front. A cook-top does not have an oven.  It is just the cooking burners and controls and mounts in a hole cut into your kitchen counter. 

Choosing the right features for your gas range

How do you find out what features are available and how do you know which ones are worth having?   One way is to look at a few high end gas ranges to see what features are available. Cross off the features you don’t need or even want, then mark those features you feel are “must have”.   Now you are left with the “nice to have” features. This gives you a starting point. Remember, the simpler the range, the less there is to break and easier to find repair parts years from now. 

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Popular gas range basic features

At least one high BTU output burner
At least five position oven rack levels and two racks
Self-cleaning oven (Although you are still going to have to do some cleaning yourself.)
Child-proof controls
Storage drawer below the oven

Some “nice to have” features

Convection gas oven: Helps food cook more evenly
“Dual Fuel” range  (Electric oven, gas cooktop)
Oven temperature probe:  Cooks roasts to exactly the right temperature
Slide-out oven racks make heavier dishes much easier to maneuver.
Flat cooking griddle
Oven pre-heat notification

Features of questionable value

Controlling your gas range over the internet:
Fire marshals cringe at this feature as they highly recommend not having your range or oven (electric or gas) on when no one is home. 
Wireless technology is changing so fast, your range’s mode of wireless could become obsolete quickly. 

Special cooking modes for specific applications, such as bread, roasts, etc.:
This feature can make cooking easier, but you have to assess if you would really use it very often. 

Do your homework

Look online at several gas ranges and compare features and prices.
Here are a couple of examples:

https://www.kitchensanity.com/appliances/best-gas-range-reviews/     

https://www.thekitchn.com/this-is-how-much-you-should-spend-on-a-new-range-242740

Ask your friends for recommendations

Once you have collected some data, go to a few appliance stores for a “touch and feel” test.  Ask the salesman about popular features and reliability. Check with your gas plumber or a gas range repair service for tips on what to watch out for. 

More features do not necessarily mean it will do a better job.  Look first for basic functions, then look at “nice to have” features that you will actually use.  Then, if there is more room in your budget, you can look at “fun to have” features. 

With nearly two decades of experience, Cole’s Plumbing is professionally qualified to install your gas appliances, as well as add and repair gas lines.  We have the right equipment, tools, and experience to do the job right – at an affordable price.  Call us at (806) 367-5159 with your gas range questions.