Why your next upgrade should be an electric range

Research has long indicated that gas stoves reduce indoor air quality by increasing the amount of soot and nitrous oxides present in a home. This year, a new study showed that the very existence of gas stoves leads to the same amount of methane emissions as 500,000 fuel-burning cars per year. Even when you’re not using your stove, it continues releasing tiny amounts of powerful greenhouse gases that are detrimental to health and the environment.

This has reignited the debate surrounding gas stoves and added fuel to the fire on top of the known dangers of leaky natural gas pipelines. Environmental researchers now have even more ammunition to get homeowners to move on to cleaner electric ranges.

But from a homeowner’s standpoint, it’s often not economical or even feasible to throw out a perfectly good gas range. Even further, it’s not good enough to simply upgrade to a newer, supposedly cleaner gas range; even new, high-efficiency models contribute to methane leaks.

Amid rising inflation and the difficulty of applying scientific studies to daily life, many homeowners rightly wonder if it’s worth upgrading right away for health reasons. While it probably won’t make a huge difference to your quality of life in the short term, there are compelling reasons why your next upgrade should be a radiant or induction stove.

Burning gas indoors isn’t healthy

A 2013 meta-analysis evaluated a wide range of prior studies and determined that children living with gas stoves are nearly 25% more likely to be diagnosed with asthma. As many as 42% of children in homes with gas stoves will experience asthma symptoms, even without a lasting diagnosis. That’s alarming in itself.

Burning gas produces particulate matter called soot which is bad for the respiratory system. It also creates carbon dioxide and multiple nitrous oxides, which are bad for health and contribute to the greenhouse effect that drives climate change.

Compounding the issue, a surprising number of homes report having insufficient ventilation or simply not using it while cooking. In other words, this isn’t a problem that a new range hood can solve. To make matters worse, it only takes a few minutes of using a gas stove for indoor air pollution to reach levels the Environmental Protection Agency considers unsafe.

The future of natural gas in homes

Environmental researchers gain more leverage as continued study shows the danger of the overall natural gas ecosystem. This is despite the oil industry’s pushback against greenhouse gas-reducing measures. Nonetheless, the trend is to move away from gas stoves and replace them with less polluting electric options.

While there are many great new gas stoves to choose from, municipalities such as Berkeley, CA are even banning the use of natural gas lines in new construction. Cities like this are currently few and far between, but the percentage of gas stoves used in the US continues to decline. In that light, it’s easy to guess that similar bans will soon be popping up around the country.

Most important electric range features

Width

Unless you’re completely remodeling your kitchen, you’ll have to stick with a range that fits your existing space. Most ranges and the spaces they fit in measure 30 or 36 inches wide.

Number and strength of burners

One stage range typically includes four burners, and many mid-level ranges and better have an expandable burner that can accommodate especially wide pans. Some ranges have a fifth burner that may be elongated to work perfectly with a griddle, turning your standard electric range into a flat top grill.

A convection oven

Integrated convection fans, sometimes coupled with an added heating element and thermostat to deliver a constant temperature, are increasingly common. You once had to spend a lot of money to get reliable convection in a home oven, but it’s relatively easy to find in midrange options today.

A glass cooktop

You could save a little money by opting for a range with old-school exposed coil burners. However, cleanup, maintenance and reliability on those old elements can be tough, and they often aren’t as powerful as newer, glass-covered burners. Plus, there are plenty of great models with glass cooktops that aren’t terribly expensive.

Freestanding vs. slide-in

The main difference between the two is related to installation and kitchen configuration. Freestanding ranges have finished sides and built-in backsplashes that often house the controls and timer. Slide-in ranges, by contrast, have front-mounted controls, unfinished sides and no backsplash. You can streamline the look of your kitchen by moving to a slide-in model, but it might require some extra tile work and custom cabinetry.

Best electric ranges

GE JB735

GE JB735

In addition to a surprisingly complete feature set for a $1,000 range, it comes from almost certainly the most dependable manufacturer of these common appliances.

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GE JB645

GE JB645

This is just about the most affordable electric range on the market. Although it lacks most advanced features, it works just fine for most people.

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GE Profile PB965

GE Profile PB965

If you’re willing to make an investment, this premium dual-oven and five-burner option can cook a tremendous amount of food at once.

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Frigidaire GCRI3058AF

Frigidaire GCRI3058AF

There aren’t any other induction ranges that cost this little, and it doesn’t even make many sacrifices in terms of features such as high-powered convection.

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Samsung NE63B8611SG

Samsung NE63B8611SG

A slide-in design, fingerprint-resistant black finish and easy-to-clean induction cooktop make this one of the best-looking options whether it’s actively in use or not.

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Samsung NE63A6511SS

Samsung NE63A6511SS

If you like the idea of controlling your oven remotely via Wi-Fi, this advanced option lets you do so at a surprisingly reasonable price.

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Amana AER6303MFS

Amana AER6303MFS

If you’re on a tight budget, this no-frills model should get you by for several years at least, although the burners are slightly underpowered.

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Frigidaire FGIH3047VF

Frigidaire FGIH3047VF

Powerful true convection, convenient digital controls and high-efficiency induction technology make this one of the best midrange purchases you’ll find.

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Frigidaire FCRE3052AS

Frigidaire FCRE3052AS

If you don’t need anything fancy and want to save a buck, it’s hard to go wrong with this low-cost model from a reliable manufacturer. It lacks convection cooking but has five burners, including a 3.000-watt quick-boil element.

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GE Cafe CHS950P2MS1

GE Cafe CHS950P2MS1

Although it is pretty expensive, it’s part of arguably the best-looking and most well-made line of consumer ranges on the planet. It offers considerable versatility with 6.7 cubic feet of space split between two ovens.

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Whirlpool WGE745C0FS

Whirlpool WGE745C0FS

It’s not exactly cheap, but it doesn’t cost a fortune for a dual-oven model. It also offers better-performing convection than most others.

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Gas vs. electric range FAQ

Q. Are gas stoves cheaper to run?

A. One area where the fossil fuel industry hangs its hat on gas stoves is operational cost. It rightly notes that gas stoves are 10%-30% cheaper than electric stoves, depending on where you live. However, depending on how you measure, oil and gas companies receive anywhere from hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars in subsidies each year. Those subsidies ultimately make gas infrastructure cheaper and more attractive to both businesses and homeowners.

Despite the lower cost, gas ranges still take more energy to cook with than electric models. This is because of the inefficiency of burning gas to create heat for cooking. Also, while gas is currently cheaper to cook with, that could change within our lifetimes.

Q. Are electric ranges harder to cook with?

A. In some ways, it’s significantly easier to cook with gas. That’s part of why almost all restaurants use it. But the simple convenience of electric stoves, without the grime, grit, smoke and fire risk, makes them great choices. It’s worlds easier to clean spilled food from a glass cooktop, and there’s no worry of a burner clogging when a boiling pot overflows.

There’s also an increasing selection of induction ranges and standalone burners, which are even more convenient than radiant electric stoves.

Q. How do induction burners work?

A. A radiant burner works by heating and transferring heat to a pan using conduction. Induction, however, uses a magnetic field that causes iron-rich pans to heat up on their own. This practically eliminates wasted heat that’s guaranteed with radiant burners. In terms of operational costs, induction ranges are just about in line with gas.

Q. Why doesn’t everybody use induction ranges?

A. While they’re faster and more efficient than radiant electric ranges, they’re also usually a lot more expensive. They also require somewhat specialized cookware, as only magnetic pans with almost perfectly flat bottoms work on induction burners. Buying a new range is expensive and often an unplanned expense. For those reasons, consumers (understandably) hesitate to buy something they might need entirely new cookware to use.

 

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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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