Choosing between a range cooker and an oven can be a challenging choice, especially if you’re not sure what the difference is between these two appliances. Standalone ovens can be an excellent space-saving option, and may be best for those who don’t cook very often. However, a range cooker allows the chef or home cook to bake or broil food in the oven and simultaneously prepare food on the stovetop, which is great for families or if you just love to cook.
The difference between a range cooker and an oven is that a range cooker is an all-in-one appliance including both a stovetop and an oven and is capable of cooking multiple items simultaneously. Whereas, an oven can be installed on the wall as a single unit for longer bake times and cooking needs.
In this article, I’ll explore in more detail the differences between a range cooker and a separate oven. I’ll explain when one may be better over the other and cover the advantages and disadvantages of each to help you determine which one is right for you and your kitchen.
What Is a Range Cooker?
A range cooker is a common appliance found in many American homes. This appliance combines an oven used for baking, heating, and broiling with a stovetop for boiling, sauteing, and searing foods.
A range cooker can be powered in two different ways, via electricity or gas. This rectangular, box-like shaped appliance can come in various styles and sizes. Range cookers generally are plugged and piped (for gas) into a kitchen area in a space designed for its shape amongst the counters. Some range cookers offer double or two ovens, as well.
The stovetop part can come with a variety of burners for use under different types of pots and pans and offer different heating applications.
Stovetops on gas range cookers will have cast-iron grates that sit over individual burners that distribute a flame below your cooking device.
There are a variety of different tops on electric stovetops to apply heat with. An electric range cooker top may use a heating coil which has a slower and lower heat output, glass-ceramic radiant heat output which is smooth and flat and works well with flat bottomed cookware, or an induction style stovetop which works to heat up cookware that is made out of magnetic iron or steel.
Typically, a range cooker will have four to six burners on top so that you can cook multiple things at a time.
For example, there may be a spot on the stovetop that is designed to offer more heat for faster boiling. Another area may be elongated or oval-shaped for a long grilling plan for large amounts of food or pancakes. One spot may be designed just for simmering with precise low heat. One site may also apply medium heat suitable for general cooking purposes.
Additionally, range cookers often have a drawer for storing broiling pans and other kitchen tools at the bottom of the appliance, underneath the oven component.
A ventilation system needs to be installed over the range cooker to clear the area of odors, gasses, and steam that result from the heat and food preparation. These vents can be installed as a separate “hood-like” installation over the stovetop.
Vents can be placed under cabinets as a downdraft with a duct system. Or, a microwave can be installed on the wall over the appliance with a venting system on its bottom.
What Is an Oven?
An oven is an appliance designed to apply consistent heat in a closed space for efficient cooking or baking. Ovens can be single- or double-walled or single or double-freestanding and are powered by either electric or gas.
Ovens can be part of a range cooker or a separate appliance, commonly referred to as a wall oven. Single wall ovens are built into the kitchen layout under countertops, in the walls, or island countertops.
Freestanding ovens typically are plugged into the wall in space designed for them to sit at the same level amongst the counters. Double ovens can be installed the same way as single-wall or single-freestanding, but offer two ovens in the appliance.
Conventional ovens with a heating element at the top and the bottom are popular for many home cooks. Convection ovens are also gaining popularity for they are designed with a powerful fan to circulate hot areas for even heating on any rack located inside, reducing time to cook meals.
An oven has several parts that can be used for cooking and baking various things:
- Oven Racks: These can be moved to different levels within the oven for cooking near the top, bottom, or middle. An oven will come with two or more of these racks.
- Broil Function and Element: Often, users of ovens will move the adjustable racks up to the top of the oven near the broil element. This will provide heat directly on top of the food dish and is often used for cooking delicate food items such as fish. The bake function at the bottom of the oven will not turn on when the oven is in broil mode.
- Bake Function and Element: This element is where the main heat source comes from, located at the bottom of the oven.
- Convection Fan: This circulates air around the inside of the oven to help it maintain an even temperature throughout.
- Other: Ovens will also have an ignitor to start the heat and vent for moisture and air to circulate and release from the unit properly.
What Is the Difference Between a Range Cooker and an Oven?
The main difference between a range cooker and an oven is that a range cooker provides more cooking options for overall food preparation with the addition of a stovetop.
Range cookers can generally stand alone as appliances set amongst cabinetry and countertops.
A stovetop allows you to interact with the food directly to flip it, stir it, and so on using cooking tools with handles and lids. Generally, range cookers will be used to prepare side dishes such as steamed vegetables, pasta, or sauces that need more of the chef’s attention.
The food on top generally is used for preparing food quickly through boiling and other functions by applying heat directly to the bottom of a pot.
Stovetops can also be used for all attention-seeking food such as pancakes, bacon strips, or burgers, offering a grill-like function.
Range cookers need a wider variety of cooking tools, such as the following from Amazon.com:
- COOKSMARK Cookware Set. This set of dishwasher-safe, non-stick copper pieces are designed for use with any kind of stovetop, including induction. They are dishwasher safe with ergonomic handles for a comfortable grip as you prepare dishes.
- Culinary Couture Silicone Cooking Utensils. These heat-resistant tools are made with a sturdy steel base, and it comes with a spatula, mixing spoon, slotted spoon, ladle, pasta server, and a drainer tool. With the purchase, a customer will get a bonus recipe ebook.
While ovens are part of a range cooker, as standalone appliances, they don’t offer a way to reduce or increase heat quickly.
The oven applies heat all around the dish, and typically a chef will close the oven and only check on it periodically or when a timer goes off.
Most people don’t open the oven repeatedly to check on the food since doing so releases the heat from the enclosed environment, resulting in delays or improper cooking of whatever is inside.
Ovens are generally used for food items that need constant and consistent heat for more oversized items. This could include dishes such as
- Whole turkey or chicken
- Broiled fish
Ovens are also often used for flour-based dessert items such as cake, cookies, and pies.
Ovens generally use larger tools for baking and more, which require heat-safe gloves or “potholders” to remove them from the oven. Here are some examples found on Amazon.com of pieces you might use to cook with an oven:
- Amazon Basics Bakeware Baking Set. This 6-piece non-stick steel set comes with the basic things that you’ll need to start baking such as different kinds of pans and a baking sheet.
- KEGOUU Mitts and Pot Holders. Made from non-slip silicone, this 6-piece set includes two gloves and two potholders. It also comes with two kitchen towels.
Advantages of a Range Cooker
Range cookers are a popular choice for many homeowners and restaurants. These appliances offer unique benefits and can meet many of your cooking and baking needs.
Here are some advantages of a range cooker:
- Offers a larger space for both cooking and storage.
- Comes as one appliance with lots of features, such as burners on top for quicker cooking, an oven component, a storage drawer, and a control panel with a timer, light, and clock.
- Allows you to cook several different dishes simultaneously at different heat sources and temperatures using both the stovetop and oven.
- If a pot boils liquid over the edges, the heat can be turned off, and messes can be quickly cleaned up after the heating element cools.
- You can increase and lower heat to your needs, fine-tuning it to avoid burnt food.
- Freestanding appliance that can be an eye-catching centerpiece of your kitchen, designed to fit in amongst countertops or an island.
- Excellent options for making large amounts of food for many people or for those who love to cook a meal with various dishes and side dishes.
- Many colors and style options available, giving consumers a choice for their decor and cooking and baking needs.
Disadvantages of a Range Cooker
There are several disadvantages to owning or installing a range cooker. Consider the following:
- A range cooker may not be a practical investment for those who don’t often cook since they’re designed for cooking large amounts of food at once.
- Range cookers are bulky appliances that take up a lot of space in a kitchen. If you have a small kitchen area, these may not be ideal. If you like a seamless look in your kitchen, the bulkiness of these range cookers breaks up a space’s clean-line look.
- This appliance may not have updated technology features such as WiFi, touchscreen, or functions for automatic cooking, making them a somewhat outdated tool for cooking and baking.
- Freestanding ovens are installed at the same height as your countertops. This means you will be bending over and stooping to look at and retrieve food from the inside.
- Range cookers typically need an individual power supply separate from other appliances. A pipe will also need to be properly installed if you have a gas-powered range cooker. This could limit where you put a range cooker in your kitchen.
- By using more fats and oils for cooking some foods on stovetops, you may be eating more unhealthy foods, and the process of boiling causes food to lose some of its nutrients.
Advantages of an Oven
Ovens are a great appliance to have in kitchens and restaurants, with some people opting for more than one. Here are some of the biggest advantages of having an oven:
- Ovens can be installed at any height, making the retrieval and peeking in at the food much easier on your back with stable footing.
- Separate ovens often come with advanced technological features, such as connecting to WiFi, being controlled by touchscreen, and offering multifunctional cooking options.
- Various oven types can be installed for specific purposes, such as steam ovens or an oven with a microwave function. People can also install more than one to best fit their needs.
- Ovens offer a streamlined and visually pleasing look as they blend in with modern kitchen decor.
- Ovens are better suited for small kitchens or cooking spaces by being installed on the wall.
- An oven may not require a separate outlet to power it.
- Baked foods are healthy options since the dry heat results in foods that lower in fat. This is due to not using oils. Foods taste rich and are full of nutrients since they bake in their juices and don’t lose nutrients as in other cooking methods, such as boiling.
Disadvantages of an Oven
Ovens can have several disadvantages depending on the needs a family, kitchen, or restaurant needs daily. Consider the following cons:
- Ovens don’t provide the same capacity as range cookers for large amounts of food that may need to be held warm. Therefore, more ovens may need to be purchased.
- If you use recipes that require boiling, you’ll need to purchase and install a “hob.” This is a separate stove top with burners that typically goes on top of counter space.
- An oven may not have a storage drawer.
- Ovens generally use more energy to maintain a consistent temperature, thus raising your usage costs.
- Food in an oven generally takes longer to cook, ranging from ten minutes to several hours. As a result, longer cooking times require planning to get food to the table for a hungry family.
- Many recipes for the oven require different temperatures, meaning you may not be able to cook more than one item or recipe at a time. If you have more than one item in the oven, it could also affect the overall cook time as the heat works on more things.
- If you make a mistake with your recipe, you may not know it until after the timer on the oven goes off. This is because you won’t open and close the oven door to check on it to avoid affecting the heat levels inside.
Which One Is Right for You?
If you can design your kitchen, making the right choice for your needs can be a challenging one.
You can determine which one is right for you by thinking about the size of the appliance and your kitchen area, budget, design, functions, and power source. There’s no wrong choice, as it’s based on your personal preference.
Keeping in mind the advantages and disadvantages of range cookers and ovens mentioned above, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have enough room to fit the size of the range cooker or oven in my kitchen so that I have enough counter space left?
- What is my budget for purchasing the appliance as well as installing it? Will I need a hob if I only get an oven?
- Is there a style or design that I absolutely love and am willing to base my decisions around that?
- Does the appliance have the features and functions that I need for my recipes?
Whether it’s on the floor or in the wall, having the space available is a significant factor in what appliance you get. If either will work, then your creativity can get to work setting up this central location to bring food to your family and friends for many years.