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recommendations for best value electric stove

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I'm in sort of a pickle. We have a crappy kitchen we'd like to renovate, but we don't want to do it until we can afford to spend a lot more for really durable and sustainable elements, good design, high quality workmanship. So we're content, more or less, to muddle along in our crappy little kitchen, knowing that :::someday::: we'll reach Kitchen Nirvana and sucking it up now it part of what gets us there. Okay, fine.

But.

You knew there was gonna be a "but," right? <sigh>

But... our stove, which was a complete piece of junk on the day the previous owners bought it, is not working. We've already sunk money into repairing it and we're just at a point where spending more on such a lousy appliance seems pointless.

I have never bought a stove. I project the new kitchen will not be for 15 years, +/- (that's when the chowpup will be 21 and hopefully almost done with college). So I can't buy some new crappy little thing that won't last or that will be as much of a stupid inconvenience as the last. We don't have gas hookup and it's a conventional space - I guess 24", right?

So I guess what I'm looking for is your opinion on the best electric stove for the money. We are somewhat flexible on what we spend, and I am really into cooking, but clearly we are not talking Aga, Viking, Wolf, La Cornue. We're talking more like Sears scratch-n-dent or the local independent kitchen appliance dealer. I want something that will never break with normal use, self-cleaning, possibly flat surface, EnergyStar rated, unsure about other features... what do you use and love? Or hate? What is over-engineered nonsense? What's easy to clean? What's picky but worth it? What takes a beating and what's destined for the landfill in the foreseeable future?

Thanks in advance for any insight, experiences, etc. that you can share!

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  1. I am looking for the exact same information. I have had a gas stove for the last 20 years (Westinghouse) and it's lasted very well, but it's time for a new one and I'm switching to electric so I can move it to clean underneath, and because the electric stoves are almost half the price of gas stoves (I have to be a bit recession-minded these days). I'd appreciate any recommendations too! I have no idea what to look for in an electric stove.

    1. Coil? Smooth-surface?

      2 Replies
      1. re: ferret

        Flexible on that. Unless there's a performance or safety advantage or a *great* price advantage with coil, I think smooth since it's easier to clean... any reason I should be thinking otherwise?

        1. re: Mawrter

          Most of the electric ranges are pretty similar. Besides the smooth surface/coils, you should assess if you need self cleaning and/or convection. If it's going to be a while on the full-blown reno, I would stay away from the bargain basement ($200) models as they may not last. You could research this to death but your best bet may be to go to a scratch and dent/appliance outlet and see what they have. You have to check them out frequently as stock changes. You should be able to find something (well) under $500 that will do all you want. Also check out craigslist and freecycle websites as sometimes folks doing renos will post there to get rid of their old appliances.

          I do a lot of research on GardenWeb's Applicance forum and recommend a spin through there to get some opinions on the various brands. http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/appl/

          If you do any high heat cooking (wok, water bath canning, pressure cooking), the coils will produce the best results. Smooth top surfaces get hot enough but cycle off/on based on temperature.

          Measure your existing stove; standards are pretty much 30". 24" is standard in some older city apartments and not very common in homes.

      2. Mawrter. may I invite you to think outside the box? We had a similar situation to yours eleven or twelve years ago. In our case, it was a dying/dead 40" wide coil-top electric range from the early 1950's that simply could accept no further repairs. But it was "built in" to a peninsula, which meant that we had to replace it with something 40" wide or have an ugly gaping maw in the kitchen; and the only available replacements were newly manufactured still-in-the-line units of the same electric range, virtually unchanged for 45 years, thoroughly outdated, but hostage-taker priced. No way we were going to pay that much for that inferior a product.

        What we did was replace the range with kitchen "base cabinets," like the ones you eventually will get to remodel your kitchen. If you plan to get fancy ones in the future, you can go cheap on base cabinets this round; Ikea has them for a song. Then we installed a cooktop in the countertop (actually, pretty much it comprised the countertop) of the cabinet, and a "wall oven" below, in the base cabinet. That gave us flexibility for the future, in that either the cooktop or the oven could be replaced individually in the future, and not necessarily at the same time.

        Now here is where we hit the home run: with a little diligence, a little patience, and a LOT of good luck, we scored -- inexpensively -- a warranty return/refurbished induction cooktop, which alone made our project a huge upgrade from the cooking standpoint. Although we ended up paying standard "street" price for the separate oven, the combined price of the cabinet, cooktop, and oven was no more than the price of a mid-level complete slide-in range, but there is no way we could have afforded a slide-in range that combined all of the features, especially induction, that our assemble-it-ourselves makeshift "range" had.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Politeness

          Hey Politeness, thanks for describing your deal... I am _ALL_about_ thinking outside the box (especially since the entire kitchen is a miserable, ill-designed, poor-quality little box - why stick with assumptions I never wanted anyhow, you know? So I totally love your unusual approach and would be very open to doing something similar if the right stuff came along - cool! It never occurred to me to consider anything other than a range+oven together, but heck, why not? Very very insightful, especially since I love to pour over those Craigslist ads anyhow.

          1. re: Mawrter

            Politeness executed beautifully. I've noticed that the 2 Sears clearance stores around us always have electric wall-oven units on sale at substantial reductions. We just got a $1,200 Kenmore coil top with convection oven for $439. It only had a scratch on the oven handle. Definitely not worth any more though.

            By the time you get your dream kitchen induction cook tops will be the standard. Coils are cheap and reliable. Smooth tops are high maintenance. A neighbor is a Sears technician who says most new stoves aren't built as well as they used to be because few people really cook any more. So think "disposable" stove, or go Politeness' route.

            If you go induction you may need new pots and pans.

            1. re: iamafoodie

              You nailed it: flashy, over-featured, disposable kitchen stuff is EXACTLY what I don't want. Used to be lasting for decades was what you could count on, even it it wasn't well-designed, over-endowed with features, high-performance, etc. Now it seems like you can drop serious coin on ultra high-end, or get cheap plastic crap that never performs well and won't last.

              It's also occurring to me that although I compromised with my dh and said sure, another electric; sure, a smooth top... I don't think I really want that. I *really* prefer gas, although we hadn't planned to install the gas line until the whole kitchen re-do. I cook in cast iron all the time, though, and I think you can't use it on smooth-top. I wonder if you can use cast iron on induction? I don't think I'm willing to give up cast iron.

              Just thinkin' out loud here, and appreciate your feedback & examples!

        2. I believe that consumer reports rates the very inexpensive Hotpoint RB757WH quite well, for very even oven heating and overall performance. Hotpoint is a budget priced GE product, and the GE products seemed to have performed similarly. The hotpoint is around $450

          I went from an apartment GE electric coil range that had seen better days (but still worked acceptably well) to a beautiful Samsung stainless electric flat top with convection and what a wonderful range. I am still getting a feel for the cooktop, but overall it is working great and the oven is pure heaven to bake in, I got crispy brown skin on my roast chicken for the first time with this oven. It has a regular bake feature, convect bake, convect roast, proofing, keep warm and many other features, I this stove is $998 at lowes and I got it for 10% off with a sale.

          Hope this helps. The oven was the most important feature for me since I bake all the time.

          2 Replies
          1. re: bakeman

            what is the difference between convect bake and convect roast?

            1. re: danna

              danna, the terminology may differ from brand to brand. In our Bosch wall oven, there are actually four heating coils: two (exposed) in the roof, one under the floor, and one with the convection fan behind a grill at the rear of the oven. The user settings all use one to three of those elements in different combinations (no setting uses all four). I should have to look at our owners manual to tell you with confidence the exact combinations of those elements that apply to each of the settings, but IIRC, the Convection Bake is fan element + one of the top elements (to promote browning on crusts) and the Convection Roast is fan element + the beneath-floor element.

          2. Hey, thanks, Bakeman. I appreciate your tip about the stove you got & the one in CR. I may not really lean on CR too much this time because the last time we got an appliance, we bought the top-rated dw per CR, and it has been nothing but trouble.

            This saga just goes on and on. I told me dh that we probably shouldn't get a smooth-top since we cook with cast iron and he was pretty bummed. Ease of cleaning was the one consolation for us, knowing we were gonna have to replace the stove before we could really afford something high performance. Now that we're not thinking smooth top anymore, we're trying to figure out if we should get the gas line put in even though we're not ready for a total renovation yet. ??? Is that crazy? Might we need to change the gas line when we later renovate? Or is it worse to buy another electric stove if gas is what we prefer?

            Thanks again for all the suggestions... happy to hear any other thoughts!

            10 Replies
            1. re: Mawrter

              I'd stick with the electric for now. If you're going to go through the trouble to get a gas line put in, it's not really going to be worth it unless you have the money to fork out on a nicer stove. Cheap gas stoves in my experience are far worse than cheap coil stoves. There is more temperature control on the latter and the oven is actually functional. As someone mentioned above, you're not planning on doing a total renovation for years, at which point induction may very well be the standard.

              1. re: Mawrter

                Mawrter, we are just returning to this thread after some time away. To answer your question of a couple of weeks ago, cast iron performs beautifully on an induction cooktop, better than it performs on an electric coil or gas cooktop, because the inside of the pot/pan (where you do your cooking) starts to heat up at the same instant as the outside, so you need not wait for the relatively slow conduction of heat through the thickness of the cast iron.

                Have you actually priced the installation of a gas line into your kitchen? We have gas lines running down the street in front of our house, and (when we looked into a replacement water heater a few years back) we found out that the gas line installation would cost $3,000. (The gas company would subsidize that if we were willing to switch three major energy users -- such as our clothes dryer and our kitchen range as well as the water heater -- simultaneously; we passed.)

                You could get a really high-end induction cooktop for much less than $3,000, and have a more powerful and responsive cooktop than a gas one. That does not mean that that option is the best one for you, but you need to put the cost of installing a gas line into perspective.

                1. re: Politeness

                  Oh my goodness - that is everything I wanted to know, plus opinions and firsthand experience - thank you!

                  I would be really into induction, but as you pointed out, probably not until the price comes down a little. I hadn't even been thinking about it - not because I'm opposed, it sounds great, but because I thought it was too pricey & required special cookware that might not be what I really want to use anyhow. These details that you're helping me fill in - very, VERY helpful! TYVM!

                  1. re: Mawrter

                    You shouldn't need to replace that much. I ended up moving into an apartment equipped with one around 5 years ago and had to replace only 1-2 of my pots. I've heard that newer models are better about working with more materials. I'm pretty sure there are solid, lower end models out now for around $1700 or so. Since I was in an apartment, I imagine I had the lowest end of the spectrum and still found that it was superior to anything else I had before.

                    1. re: queencru

                      queencru: "I'm pretty sure there are solid, lower end models out now for around $1700 or so."

                      In fact, we purchased a replacement LG induction cooktop (four "burners") six months ago (to replace our unrepairable orphaned Jenn-Air induction cooktop) for $1,300 after a bit of old-fashioned haggling. Right now, with the economy the way it is, it is a wonderful time to be in the market for a big-ticket item.

                      As for cookware, the last time I was perusing what was hot at Tuesday Morning (the remainders store), they had a lot of Berndes Injoy cookware, designed to be induction-compatible, as the name suggests, at very low prices. (That packaging says designed in Germany, made in China.) It is not necessary to spend a lot of money for induction-capable cookware.

                      1. re: Politeness

                        Goodness. Do you know since I started this thread I have ruined 2 pots because of the wonky connection on one of the burners? Sometimes the connection doesn't fire and it doesn't turn on, and sometimes the heat doesn't regulate properly.

                        Another pot just got has permanent black stuff on the bottom and (just realizing this now) yet ***another*** one was ruined before I started this thread. I guess my bias against replacing cookware is (almost literally) melting away!

                2. re: Mawrter

                  If you go gas, we live in a rented apartment and have a relatively new Magic Chef cooktop that's surprisingly good for a $300 gas cooktop. It was installed about 4 years ago and is still doing well. Three burners are 9500 BTU and one is 12500, which is not bad for an inexpensive cooktop--sealed burners with sturdy grates. When I looked up the specs, I noticed that they also make versions that are standalone units with ovens. We have a double wall oven and drop in cooktop, because that's the way the kitchen is set up, and the landlord owns the appliances.

                  This is a few years old, so I don't know what the latest versions look like, but it would be a brand to consider.

                  1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                    David_A._Goldfarb, Four years ago, Magic Chef was an Amana brand. In 2009, Magic Chef is a Whirlpool brand. That is not necessarily a turn for the worse; Whirlpool Corporation makes some excellent appliances. But historical experience with Amana Magic Chefs probably cannot be translated directly to Whirlpool Magic Chefs.

                    1. re: Politeness

                      Thanks for the info. I haven't followed the brand beyond looking up our own cooktop.

                  2. re: Mawrter

                    Mawrter: "I may not really lean on CR too much this time because the last time we got an appliance, we bought the top-rated dw per CR, and it has been nothing but trouble."

                    Consumerreports.org has a "Forums" section (no subscripotion to Consumer Reports required to participate) in which the same complaint as yors is repeated over and over and over. Consumer Union tests only brand new appliances; it relies on consumer surveys (not its own testing) for frequency of repair data. The frequency of repair data (usually) is not factored into the Ratings in any manner. Therefore, many of the products that rank very high in the Ratings can be (and frequently are) among those that require the most frequent repairs.

                    There was a time years ago that I was one of the biggest fans of Consumer Reports and a tireless proselytizer of Consumer Union (the publisher of Consumer Reports). Over the years, though, I found that the manner of thinking at Consumer Union is dominated by engineers who think like engineers, which is both a great blessing and a great curse. The typical engineer is brilliant at answering well crafted questions with precision, but not very good at crafting the questions to be asked; that often shows in the Ratings.

                    What caused us finally to decide not to renew our subscription occurred about 30 years ago. We had just purchased a clothes dryer, and clothes dryers had not been recently rated by Consumer Reports, so I had had to conduct the research myself. Among the factors I decided was important to us was that the door hinge be at the bottom, so the door would drop down, creating a shelf to catch any wet clothes that might be dropped during transfer from the washer before the clothes fell to the (not terribly clean) floor. (Our laundry area is in our unfinished basement and the floor is concrete.) Having just purchased the dryer, I was interested to read the Ratings in the Consumer Reports test, where I noted that every single bottom-hinge dryer was at the very bottom of the Ratings.

                    Somebody else must have noticed the same thing, because a couple of issues later, there was a letter to the editor from a woman who said that she specifically valued a drop-down door feature on a dryer to catch her wet clothes before they fell to the floor, and was disappointed that none had made it to the top of the Ratings. Consumer Union had a reply to that letter that said that the REASON that the bottom-hinge models were at the bottom of the Ratings was BECAUSE the doors dropped down and therefore it was easier to bark one's shins on a drop-down door than on a side-opening door, so all drop-down door models were automatically placed at the bottom of the Ratings below even the lowest ranked side-opening door models. The CU response went on to say that CU had considered the letter writer's position, and that it had decided that she was wrong and CU was right, so there.