How to Choose the Best Kitchen Range and Range Hood
Steve Sheinkopf | June 14, 2021 | 10 Min. Read
June's seminar is on planning the right range for your kitchen and best ventilation practices.
The topic was requested from May's kitchen trends webinar (previous webinar recordings will be at the end of this article).
I was thinking of how to start this topic when I was over at my folk's house.
Their bizarre kitchen layout and baffling appliance selection are a cautionary tale on how you can be seduced into buying the wrong cooking and venting appliances.
You don't want to start your new range only to discover the roasting and broiling modes are worse than your old stove.
You have been led to believe dual fuel is your best cooking option because you have the speed of gas with the dry, precise heat of an electric oven.
Yet, in this example, it is not the best, especially in this size.
Induction is better. The Wolf induction has the same oven, but induction is faster. It has a lower simmer, is easier to clean, requires less venting, and my four-year-old daughter cannot accidentally turn it on.
However, my Mom loves broiling. Her shoe leather steaks are famous (sorry, Mom).
Electric ovens with their electric calrod broilers are not very good. How many of us have electric grills outside?
Gas is better, especially the direct heat of infrared. The best range with infrared is Miele.
It's 23,000 BTU identical to the sear elements of a Lynx grill and 3,000-8,000 BTU better than the other brands.
My Mom also likes to make pot roast. Gas has a moister heat better for roasting, so that this oven would have been perfect for her.
Except, she has the wrong hood for any high output cooking. Her hood is too shallow to capture any smoke, grease, or even steam.
So maybe a less powerful range is a better idea. Still, most have a high output burner in the front.
As funny as this may seem, you will walk into an appliance store or interact online and frequently be sold the "best" product.
But you have a very good chance of choosing the wrong product for the way you cook.
This article will cover the most common cooking and ventilation mistakes made by people today.
The most ineffective product for your home is ventilation. Internal air pollution studies have shown some pretty serious consequences of poorly ventilated spaces.
You will also learn the best practices of ventilation in this article.
Let's get started.
Choosing Between a Wall Oven and Cooktop or a Range
Only cooking appliances and sink placement can fundamentally change the layout of your kitchen.
Let's look at a good kitchen design.
Old-timers in the industry like me will talk about the "Kitchen Triangle" parlance for never being one step away from your most-used appliances.
From a location standpoint, a range and a cooktop have to be in the middle, but a wall oven can be anywhere.
Wall ovens will have more capacity in a double oven than a range. A double oven is like cutting two freestanding ovens and placing them on a wall.
You can also choose a greater selection of customizable features like steam, speed, microwaves, and warming drawers.
Ranges have become more advanced, but those options are only available in the larger 48 and 60-inch sizes.
Price is hard to quantify based on the many options, but a range will be less expensive than a wall oven and cooktop with similar features.
Another benefit to a wall oven is not bending to lift that heavy roast.
- Range: Centralizing your cooking in one space needs less space and is less expensive.
- Wall Oven and Cooktop: More options for placing the wall oven, less bending, more features, and capacity.
How to Choose the Best Range for Your Kitchen
All Gas vs. Dual Fuel vs. Induction
Your choice depends on how you cook and what size range you are considering.
You already know electric is better for baking, and gas is better for broiling and roasting.
Where Induction Is Best
Induction is the better top for almost every facet of cooking, from faster broil to lower simmer. It requires less venting. The top doesn't heat, so it's easy to clean.
The magnets are metal sensing, so you cannot accidentally turn on induction.
However, induction ranges use nearly 100% of your electrical circuit, so they can become vulnerable to voltage spikes and outages.
Induction cooktops require less amperage and do not have that issue.
You also do not have the integrated grill, griddle, and French top options available in induction.
Where Dual Fuel Is Best
Manufacturers will add features like clocks, timers, steam, or speed ovens and more choices on the top in the larger pro ranges.
Larger dual fuel ranges can include:
- Miele: Master Chef controls, steam functionality, speed oven, and warming drawers on their 48-inch ovens.
- Wolf: Enhanced burners, Wi-Fi Smart functionality, touch screen, better convection system.
- Hestan: Marquise swipe controls
- Thermador: Self Cleaning and other modes
- Signature Kitchen Suite (SKS): Steam oven and steam assist
Where Gas Is Best
Once again, gas is better for roasting and especially good for broiling and tends to use less power, and is less expensive.
- Induction: Best top for boiling, simmering, venting, cleaning, and child safety.
- Gas: Broiling, roasting, less expensive, and the most reliable.
- Dual Fuel: Better options in the larger pro sizes
Pro vs. Slide-In Ranges
JennAir Rise 30" Pro Range JGRP430HL | Café Appliances 30" Slide-In Range CGS750P4MW2
Back when I was selling, pro ranges had more BTU, while slide-ins had more functionality.
Now that's not always the case.
The Cafe has two ovens, six burners, and more overall BTU.
JennAir has better controls, twin convection in the oven, a better-infrared broiler, and is less expensive than the Cafe after the rebate.
You have to look at the range for your best features, whether pro or slide-in.
Over the years, the more powerful pro in some brands has become more feature-oriented, while the slide-in ranges have been upgraded with more output.
You will see a huge variance in both categories with BTU output and overall features:
Pro Ranges With Basic Controls:
- Thermador (Harmony and Pro Grande)
- Wolf all gas
- Hestan all gas
Pro Ranges With More Robust Controls:
- Wolf dual fuel
- Miele gas and dual fuel
- Hestan dual fuel
- Café Appliances
- GE Profile
Grills, Griddles, or French Tops
You have several options for your cooktop. Even at lower prices, you can still have your choice of more burners or a griddle.
Let's look at what each can do.
Back when Yale was on Canal street in North Station, I used to eat lunch at Demos across the street. They cooked everything on a griddle. I mean everything from omelets to hot dogs to hash browns to burgers.
A griddle is incredibly versatile, with the heat source built directly underneath. Wolf and Miele have their infrared burner as the heat source.
JennAir has a chromium coating for easy cleaning.
French tops are the polar opposite of a griddle with designed inconsistent heat in the middle spreading outwards.
With a French top, you can cook many different items at varying temperatures. Unfortunately, French tops are only available in larger stoves.
If you think an inside grill can't be as good as your outside, you are somewhat mistaken.
The infrared grills are identical to the sear burners on the Lynx pro-style grill, albeit smaller and lower temperature at 17,000 vs. 23,000 for a Lynx.
Buy the infrared because it's easier to clean. In addition, the intense heat burns off most of the drippings.
The two most popular cooking brands are Wolf and Thermador. They offer good features, and each has its own service departments.
However, Wolf is now quoting six months for some of their ranges. Thermador's CEO just posted a public apology for the lack of availability right on their website.
For the new term, it may be time to consider other brands with better availability.
Let's look at some promising new brands.
From Sonoma Valley, Hestan brings its commercial pedigree into a residential range.
You are looking at the industry's most powerful range by far with a 30,000 BTU burner as well as a combination of 23,000 and 15,000 BTU burners.
The griddle is the only thermostatically controlled with temperature instead of 1 or 2 settings.
Read More: Are Hestan Professional Ranges Any Good?
Signature Kitchen Suite (SKS)
SKS has a ton of features: steam oven, steam assist, Sour Vide, and induction. It all works as tested by our chef.
SKS is also another powerful range with 23,000 and 15,000 BTU burners.
Read More: Should You Buy a Signature Kitchen Suite Professional Range?
For lower-priced slide-ins, Beko is a good alternative. It has an 18,000 BTU burner plus seven different cooking modes.
Read More: Best Gas Slide-In Ranges for 2021
How to Choose the Best Range Hood for Your Kitchen
It's great to have the latest and greatest cooking.
However, ventilation is important to ensure a healthy environment for you and your family.
Gas ranges have increased BTU output over the years. When I started at Yale, the burners were 10,000 and 6,000.
GE had the first power burner at 12,000 BTU.
A basic Whirlpool range (shown below) will have two high output burners of 15,000 BTU on the front of the range.
Yet ventilation has not changed.
In this section, you will learn the four crucial elements of ventilation and then a list of ineffective yet bafflingly popular hoods to avoid.
CFM stands for cubic feet per minute or how many cubes of air are evacuated out of your house in a minute.
A professional blower of 1200 CFM means 1200 cubes of air is exhausted out of your house per minute.
That's the equivalent of a small room per minute.
Every minute a small room of air is leaving your house.
CFM is the easiest element to understand because more is better. The blowers can be inside the hood, inline or in the ducting, or outside your house.
How much CFM do you need? It depends on how much you cook.
Wok, grilling, or high output cooking needs more.
For my Mom's pro range, 600 CFM is adequate. However, at 36 and 48, you should consider 900-1500 CFM, especially with a grill.
Capture is defined by the width and depth of your hood. It's crucial for many reasons.
Look at my Mom's hood again (shown below).
Where are the high output burners on that range or any other range?
High outputs, almost without exception, are placed in the front of the range, so smoke will billow past the shallower hoods.
If you cook a lot, plan on having a minimum of 24 inches in depth for your hood.
3. Venting Direction
We have been writing the blog for 14 years. As a result, a high percentage of questions are always about venting.
They always start with: "Is it OK if I do..." Unfortunately, the answer to that question always seems to be no.
Venting direction is easy.
You want to use gravity and run your venting up and straight out.
If you are on a wall, then straight back is fine.
Venting down, using multiple elbows will never work, even if you use a booster.
4. Duct Size
Use the recommended rigid duct size, please. That is not dryer venting or any flexible ducting which will trap grease between the joints.
Venting Products to Avoid
Let's look at venting products to avoid.
If we are saying you need an excellent capture area, downdrafts have none. They always reduce the static pressure of the vent by adding at least one elbow.
Either place an island hood in your kitchen or place your cooking against the wall.
2. Over-the-Range Microwaves
The over-the-range microwave centralizes your cooking and is super cheap to buy. However, it's still only 310 CFM and 15 inches deep.
The range it was designed to vent has twice the output.
3. Slide-Out Hoods
We once lost a multi-million dollar bid because the developer wanted to use these hoods. We did not bid on them because they would not work in that application.
However, they ended up spending $500,000 for us to fix the issues.
You will love the look of this vent. You slide it out, and the hood works. But you also have no capture area whatsoever.
Make-Up Air and Why It's Important
If you live in Massachusetts, Make-up Air is the law.
You have to make up the air with a vent over 400 CFM.
This law makes sense as well. Think about it.
If you are venting 1200 cubes of air out of your house, then you need to have a place for air to infiltrate back into your house.
Air will return whether you plan for it or not.
The air made up will be from your attic, your garage, or your furnace.
That's not healthy.
For new construction, you can install make-up dampers in your HVAC.
Otherwise, the law states 10 feet away from the stove on the opposite, so you aren't returning exhausted air.
Broan has inexpensive make-up air kits of a Smart damper opening when you activate your hood.
How to Choose the Best Kitchen Range and Range Hood: Key Takeaways
For kitchen planning purposes, the choice of your range versus a cooktop and wall oven is the most important consideration for any appliance.
A range is better to centralize your cooking and uses less space. The cooktop and wall oven have better choices. You also don't have to bend for your food.
After that, it's crucial to recognize which features are important to you.
No one range or brand dominates every baking, broiling, and roasting facet, so pick what you will use the most.
Venting is so important, and it's so easy to make a mistake. Instead, execute on the four elements for a safer and healthier environment for you and your family.
How to Choose the Best Kitchen Range and Range Hood Webinar
When: June 23rd at 11:00 AM
We will be discussing this topic and more in greater detail in our 7th webinar.
These webinars have attracted about 30,000 views on Youtube.
The session is about 22-28 minutes, but we answer your questions live. They can be on any topic for home improvement.
- Ricky Robitaille: Certified GC, 27 years of trade experience, former head of Yale installation, and now head of facilities. He is familiar with Green construction and has a plumbing and electrical background.
- Saba Wahid: Yale Chef and Grande Champion of the Chopped series, winning the Martha Stewart challenge twice. She uses appliances and blogs about them almost daily.
- Dennis Macdonald: VP Sales and Display, he has designed well over 100 kitchens in his 20-year career at Yale.
- Manny Goncalves: Head of Training, fantastic resource for staff development.
- Pat Palingo: Yale CMO, Moderator of the Yale Podcast and webinars.
You can sign up by clicking here. If you cannot attend, we will still send you the presentation and answer session.
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Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.
Steve has also been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.
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