One of the most important tools for any home cook is their range.
Ranges provide your primary cook zone and are used for everything from frying to boiling to sauteing. Ranges come in all shapes and sizes, and one major question generally arises when deciding on which to buy: are electric ranges ever worth it?
The Three Kinds of Ranges
When deciding on a range for your kitchen, you have three main options: gas, induction, or electric. While all three types of ranges accomplish the same ultimate task (cooking your food), their methodologies are a bit different. Gas ranges perform their job through open flames which are fast, precise, and easily adjusted in real time. Induction ranges use electromagnetism to transfer heat from a hidden metal coil beneath the range top into induction capable cookware (must contain iron). Lastly, electric ranges utilize electricity to slowly heat up a metal coil or hidden heat element beneath a ceramic glass top.
The biggest benefit of an electric range is that they're cheaper than their competition. For instance, a good electric range can be purchased for around $500 whereas a similarly-styled gas range would be at least $50 more. Induction ranges are significantly more expensive. Electric ranges are also much easier to maintain and clean than their gas-based counterparts, requiring a simple wipe down as opposed to a deep clean of nooks and crannies. Moreover, electric ranges won't heat up your whole kitchen like a gas range will, making them especially beneficial during the summer months.
Electric ranges have a number of major downsides, too. Outside their price range and relatively easy maintenance needs, they don't outshine their competition in any real capacity. They're slower to heat up than gas and induction ranges, and their heat levels are noticeably more difficult to control. They stay hot long after shutting off, too. Also, their dependence on electricity means that you can't cook during a power outage, which isn't a problem for gas stoves that can be lit with a match. And while they are easier to clean, they're also easier to damage with their ceramic glass tops being notoriously fragile.
When is Electric Worth Buying?
So is an electric range ever worth buying? Possibly. Induction ranges are an improvement over electric ranges in every way possible, so if you can afford an induction range, electric is the clear loser. That being said, the price difference is significant, so on a tighter budget you're choice comes down to electric or gas. The question then is what matters to you more – accessibility or technical capability? Electric ranges are easier to maintain and use than gas. Gas, on the other hand, is more precise and versatile while cooking.