Range Cooker vs Built-In Ovens – A Comprehensive Comparison
There are a lot of decisions to make during a kitchen renovation, but one I come across all the time with my clients is choosing between a range cooker or built-in ovens. How do you know which is right for your needs?
While both have their merits, there are numerous reasons why you might choose one option over another.
In this post, I’ll discuss the differences between range cookers and built-in ovens and give you the pros and cons of each so you can make a solid decision that’s right for your needs.
Let’s get into it!
In a hurry? Here’s the key takeaway:
👨🍳 Choosing between a range cooker and a built-in oven hinges on your cooking habits, kitchen space, and design preferences.
While range cookers offer versatility and a statement piece for larger kitchens, built-in ovens provide a sleek look and modern tech for those seeking integration and efficiency. Consider your needs first, and then style!
Read on to learn more…
What Is A Range Cooker?
A Range Cooker, often simply referred to as a “range”, is a standalone kitchen appliance that combines a hob (or cooktop) and one or more ovens in a single unit.
Instead of buying a separate hob and oven, the range cooker provides an all-in-one solution and is often the centrepiece of the kitchen due to its size and functionality.
Range cookers are arguably a more traditional choice, although they look great in modern kitchens too.
Hob: Most range cookers come with multiple burners or heating zones. These can be gas burners, electric plates, induction zones, or even a combination of these.
Fuel Type: They are available in a few fuel-type options for the ovens and hob. All electric, all gas or mixed fuel. So you can find the perfect combination that suits you and the fuel you have available in your kitchen.
Multiple Ovens: While some range cookers feature a single, large oven, many modern designs incorporate two or even three ovens. This allows for multi-level cooking, perfect for those big holiday feasts where you’re roasting, baking, and grilling simultaneously.
Grill Compartment: In addition to standard ovens, many range cookers have a separate grill or broiler compartment.
Storage Drawer: Some range cookers come with a handy storage drawer at the bottom. It’s a convenient spot for storing baking sheets, pans, or even that pizza stone you use every now and then.
Size and Dimensions: The most common range cooker sizes are 90cm, 100cm and 110cm. However, you can get range cookers as small as 60cm and as wide as 220cm. But you’ll need a seriously big kitchen to fit one of those!
Finish and Aesthetics: From classic enamel to sleek stainless steel, range cookers are available in a wide variety of finishes. Whether you’re going for a vintage look or a modern aesthetic, there’s likely a range cooker that matches your style.
A Range Cooker, in essence, is the Swiss Army knife of the kitchen. It offers versatility, power, and convenience, all wrapped up in one sizable appliance.
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Advantages Of Range Cookers
- Space Galore: Range cookers offer a considerably larger capacity than built-in ovens, providing ample space not just for cooking but also for storage.
- All-in-One Marvel: A single range cooker typically incorporates a hob, grill, and often a warming or storage drawer, eliminating the need for multiple separate appliances.
- Simultaneous Culinary Adventures: With models boasting two or more ovens, you can conveniently cook different dishes at varied temperatures all at once.
- Kitchen’s Crown Jewel: Beyond their practicality, freestanding range cookers often serve as an aesthetic centrepiece in kitchens, adding a touch of elegance and character.
- Feeding the Masses: Their spacious design makes range cookers ideal for those who frequently cook or have large families, ensuring you’re always ready for grand meals.
- Tailored to Your Taste: With an array of styles and colours, from sleek modern designs to retro classics, it’s easy to find a range cooker that aligns with your kitchen’s decor.
Disadvantages Of Range Cookers
- Overkill for Infrequent Cooks: For those who don’t often cook, range cookers might provide more features than they’ll ever utilize.
- Bulky Presence: Their substantial size can dominate a kitchen, especially if space is limited.
- Interrupted Aesthetics: For lovers of minimalist, seamless kitchen designs, the freestanding nature of range cookers can disrupt that clean, unified look.
- Lacking in High-Tech Features: Many range cookers may not boast the latest technology features such as WIFI, touchscreen interfaces, or advanced auto-cooking functions.
- Ergonomic Concerns: Being freestanding units installed on the floor, they can require users to bend or stoop frequently, especially when accessing the oven section.
- Maintenance and Cleaning: Due to their size and the combination of multiple components (hob, oven, grill, storage/warming drawer), range cookers can sometimes be more cumbersome to clean and maintain.
- Power Requirements: Range cookers often need a dedicated separate power supply, which can be a concern for some setups.
- Flexibility in Kitchen Design: Since they’re a singular, large unit, it’s harder to rearrange the kitchen design without considering the space the range cooker occupies.
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What Are Built-In Ovens?
A Built-In Oven, as the name implies, is an oven that’s designed to be integrated or “built into” kitchen cabinetry.
Unlike the standalone nature of range cookers, built-in ovens are installed within kitchen units, either at eye level or below the countertop, providing a seamless and often more space-efficient solution for cooking.
Placement: One of the most prominent advantages of built-in ovens is the ability to position them at eye level. This not only offers ergonomic benefits, minimizing the need to bend over but also allows for easy monitoring of your dishes.
Multiple Oven Types: There are multiple types of built-in ovens, including single ovens, double ovens, compact/combination ovens, steam ovens as well as warming drawers. (Okay, warming drawers aren’t technically an oven. But they are still part of the built-in family and you can cook in them!)
Mix & Match: A key benefit of built-in ovens is the ability to install multiple ovens next to, or on top of, one another with a sleek appearance. You can also mix the type of built-in oven to give you more features. The most common combination I see today is a single oven alongside a compact oven with a microwave function and a warming drawer.
Advanced Features: Compared to range cookers, they will often have many more modern ‘techy’ features, such as WIFI, touchscreen controls and auto-cooking functions.
Finish and Design: Although not as varied as range cookers, built-in ovens also come in a variety of style options. Usually prioritising a sleek and minimalistic design, they typically have stainless steel and black glass, and can effortlessly blend into the kitchen landscape.
Built-in ovens are the more discreet option. They don’t always command the centre stage like range cookers, but they charm with their subtlety, sophistication, and advanced features.
Advantages Of Built-In Ovens
- Tech-Savvy Features: Many built-in ovens boast technological enhancements, such as multifunction cooking, Wi-Fi connectivity, and intuitive touchscreen controls.
- Variety in Functionality: From steam ovens that retain moisture and nutrients to units with integrated microwave functions, there’s a built-in oven tailored to every culinary need.
- Ergonomic Installation: Built-in ovens provide the flexibility to be installed at any desired height, making it convenient for those with mobility concerns or those who want to avoid constant bending and stooping.
- Sleek Aesthetic: Their design lends a streamlined, modern appearance to the kitchen, complementing contemporary decor seamlessly.
- Space Efficiency: Especially ideal for compact kitchens, built-in ovens maximize space by integrating into cabinetry and not occupying any floor area.
- Power Flexibility: Many built-in ovens can be connected to standard power supplies, eliminating the need for dedicated circuits in some cases.
- Efficient Energy Use: Modern built-in ovens often feature enhanced insulation and energy-efficient technologies, ensuring optimal cooking with minimized energy consumption.
Disadvantages Of Built-In Ovens
- Capacity Constraints: To match the expansive capacity of a range cooker, one might need to purchase multiple built-in ovens or additional warming drawers.
- Separate Hob Requirement: Unlike range cookers that come with an integrated hob, built-in ovens necessitate the purchase of a separate hob, potentially increasing overall costs.
- Understated Appearance: While their sleek and seamless design is a pro for many, some might find built-in ovens lacking in character or a tad monotonous in appearance.
- Installation Complexity: Installing a built-in oven might be more complicated than placing a freestanding unit, especially if cabinetry adjustments are needed.
- Cost Implications: While the initial cost might seem lower when you factor in the purchase of additional ovens, warming drawers, and separate hobs, the cumulative expense can be significant.
What To Consider When Deciding Between A Range Cooker And Built-In Ovens
If you’re still having trouble making a decision; Here are a few more things to consider and questions to ask yourself when deciding between a range cooker and built-in ovens.
1. Size & Kitchen Layout
Probably the biggest consideration to make is the physical size of each appliance. Do you have enough room in your kitchen to comfortably fit a range cooker while still leaving enough space for all your other appliances as well as enough countertop space?
You may be in love with a big range cooker and desperately want one in your kitchen.
However, if having one is to the detriment of good functional kitchen design, workflow and practical countertop space, your day-to-day experience using the space will drive you mad and you should probably reconsider and look at built-in ovens.
2. Budget & Value
Whilst there is an option for any budget these days, price is still a consideration. It may seem that range cookers are far more expensive but you have to factor in you are getting a few appliances in one.
And while a single oven and small hob will likely be cheaper than a range cooker, that’s not an equal comparison. Think about what you really need and weigh up the cost as equally as you can.
3. Aesthetics & Design
This one is purely aesthetic. Do you prefer the sleek and integrated look of built-in ovens? Or are you in love with a beautifully big range cooker as a fantastic focal point for the room?
Whilst built-in ovens do look (slightly) different you will have far more choice of colours and style variations with a range cooker. Just look at some of the striking colour options Bertazzoni offer!
4. Features & Functionality
Range cookers can feature multiple ovens and a grill, and some even have a warming/storage drawer. Whereas you would need to buy multiple separate built-in appliances to get the same amount of features.
However, most modern built-in ovens offer special cooking functions, such as multifunction cooking, self-cleaning capabilities, touchscreen controls, Wi-Fi connectivity, and more.
While some range cookers may have some of these functions you’re far more likely to have these included built-in ovens.
Think about what features and functions you need to help decide which is the best choice for you and your cooking.
5. Energy Efficiency & Connections
Both range cookers and built-in ovens are pretty equal when it comes to energy ratings. But it is always good to check out the ‘A’ rating and running costs for the specific appliance you’re considering.
However, a more practical consideration is to check if you have the correct wiring (and/or gas supply) in place. If not, you may need new supplies installed in your kitchen.
A range cooker will likely need a larger dedicated electrical supply as it will be over 3kW. Whereas some single ovens are under 3kW and can simply be plugged into a 13amp socket.
If you’re unsure, check with an electrician before you buy anything.
Making an Informed Decision
Making the choice between a range cooker and a built-in oven is more than just selecting a kitchen appliance; it’s about understanding your unique needs, preferences, and circumstances.
Like any major decision, especially one that has a direct impact on your daily life and home environment, it requires careful thought and consideration.
Know Your Cooking Habits: Think deeply about how you cook. Are you someone who prepares lavish meals every weekend, needing multiple burners and ovens working simultaneously? Or do you lean more towards quick and simple meals? Your cooking habits should align with your appliance’s capabilities.
Space is Key: Your kitchen’s size and layout are paramount. Remember, an appliance shouldn’t just fit; it should also work with the flow and design of your kitchen. Be wary of overcrowding or making impulsive decisions based purely on aesthetic appeal.
Budget and Value: Cost is invariably a factor, but it shouldn’t be the only one. Look for value — not just in terms of price, but longevity, functionality, and the pleasure it brings to your cooking experience. Sometimes, spending a bit more upfront can save money and headaches in the long run.
Tech and Features: Modern built-in ovens might tempt you with the latest tech, while range cookers offer a robust, multi-functional approach. Decide which features you’ll actually use and which ones might just be ‘nice-to-haves’.
In the end, the decision between a range cooker and a built-in oven comes down to individual needs and preferences. Do your research, weigh the pros and cons, and most importantly, envision your daily life with each choice.
While there’s ultimately no wrong choice, deciding between a range cooker and built-in ovens isn’t always easy.
Really the only practical consideration is if you have enough room for a range cooker.
Once you decide whether you have the space to accommodate a range cooker, then it’s important to look at your needs (and wants!).
No matter what you go for, I hope this guide has helped make the decision that little bit easier.
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Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.