After 35 hours of research, we think that the Samsung NE59J7630SS is the best electric freestanding cooking range for most people. It’s a sturdy, easy-to-clean machine with true, heated-fan convection to help baked goods cook more evenly. If you’re fortunate enough to have a gas line in your home, the Frigidaire Gallery Series FGGF3058RF is probably your best bet. It’s a classic-looking range with super-solid parts and an intuitive knob-and-control-panel interface. Both ranges are solidly built—without too many extra bells and whistles—and that simplicity should help them keep running reliably for 10 to 15 years.
The Samsung NE59J7630SS is one of the most versatile radiant electric ranges we’ve found for its price.The oven cavity can fit a huge turkey, and it’s one of the few electric ranges under $800 with true convection. The cooktop has a power burner that should boil water faster than those of competing electrics, and also has one of the most sensitive warming elements for simmering sauces.
For its price, the Frigidaire FGGF3058RF gas range looks better and feels sturdier than competing models. All the most important features are here, including convection, continuous grates, and a strong power burner, without any frivolous extras to drive up the price or complexity. Its oven cavity is a bit smaller than those of some of the range’s competitors, but still large enough to hold a big turkey or ham for holiday dinners.
Cheaper ranges will still cook your food, no problem. We like the Amana AER5630BAS for radiant electric and the Whirlpool WFG505M0BS for gas. With these two models, you won’t get a convection fan, water won’t boil as quickly, and you’ll need to keep a closer eye on your sauces because the low-power burners are still pretty strong. But these ranges have strong reputations for reliability and look pretty good for their price, too.
We think the Electrolux EI30IF40LS is the best value for an induction range, thanks to its versatile cooktop, huge oven, and relatively reasonable price.Ranges with induction cooktops cost more but offer performance, safety, and efficiency advantages over both gas and radiant electric models.
Why you should trust us
I have some background on this topic, as I spent a few years as an appliance reviewer and staff writer at Reviewed.com. We also tracked down as much sales and trends data as we could from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, Trakline, and other industry sources. Since we couldn’t do our own hands-on testing, professional reviews from the likes of Reviewed.com, Consumer Reports, and CNET helped us make sure we picked models with solid cooking performance. However, we did head to a few showrooms in the Boston metro area to get a feel for the build and sturdiness of our finalists and to see how they compared to other models. We also pored over hundreds of customer reviews and comments to identify trends for any real-world quirks or reliability problems. And most important, we interviewed some industry experts, including Chris Bellio of Expert Appliance Repair in Dexter, Maine; Jeffrey Adkins of Appliance Repair Experts in Las Vegas; Steve Sheinkopf, CEO of Yale Appliance + Lighting in Boston; a handful of other sales and repair experts, and some everyday home cooks.
How we picked
Any range will cook your food, but after 35 hours of comparing specs, reading reviews, and interviewing appliance experts, we learned that the best ranges stick to a simple set of features because they’re more reliable that way. A sturdy build, an uncluttered interface, and easy-to-clean surfaces will make a range more satisfying to live with for the 10 to 15 years that you’ll have it. The only superimportant cooking features you’ll need are a strong power burner for boiling big pots of water, a sensitive warming element for simmering sauces, and a convection fan for better baking.
The best ranges stick to a simple set of features because they’re more reliable that way.
Freestanding ranges are the most common style of range in the US, defined by a 30-inch width, large oven cavity (anywhere from 2.5 to 6 cubic feet), a cooktop, finished sides, and a backsplash that usually includes a control panel. Some people call this kind of appliance a stove, though that word can refer to a few different types of heating and cooking devices, so we’re sticking with “range” in this guide.
If you have a gas line in your kitchen, you should use it. Gas is almost always more cost-efficient, and most cooks prefer the responsiveness of a gas flame on a stovetop compared with electric burners. That said, radiant electric ranges are much more common in the US, accounting for about 63 percent of sales, and there are plenty of great options if electric is what you have to work with. (We cover induction ranges, which also run on electrical power, below.) For what it’s worth, electric ovens are usually better at maintaining consistent temperatures, which can be an advantage for baking.
An excellent range with all you need and nothing you don’t costs around $800 for electric and about $900 for gas, give or take.
When you spend less than that for a freestanding range, it usually won’t have a convection fan in the oven, the power burner will be weaker, and the cooktop will often have only four burners instead of five, which often means losing the low-powered warming burner altogether. That said, a cheaper range still works fine, and we recommend some budget-friendly electric and gas options later in this guide.
When you buy a range that’s more expensive than our main picks, you get a sturdier, better-looking machine, though we’re not sure it’ll last any longer than our picks. That’s because more-expensive ranges tend to be stuffed with tons of extra hardware, which tends to mean more reliability issues. But if you want a stylish slide-in range (no backsplash), or extra cooking features such as a double oven, you can expect to spend somewhere between $1,200 and $2,000. At around $3,000, you start to creep into the territory of professional ranges, although many home cooks with this kind of budget opt for a separate wall oven and cooktop rather than an all-in-one range. We’re not covering any of these kinds of specialized, upscale products in this guide (maybe we will do a guide about them someday), so you should talk to a dealer or even a designer if you’re interested in them.
“A lot of newer stuff has a ton of electronics in it, and in most cases that’s just more stuff that can break.”—Jeffrey Adkins, Appliance Repair Experts
The most important takeaway from our research was that you want a simple range, because extra features increase the risk that something will break and need repair. Jeffrey Adkins, a repair technician for Appliance Repair Experts in Las Vegas, specifically told us that “less is more.”
“A lot of newer stuff has a ton of electronics in it, and in most cases that’s just more stuff that can break,” Adkins said. “Unless you have a need for all the extra features that newer models have, there’s no sense in buying it.” All but the cheapest ranges have some kind of electronics in them these days, so you do take on some risk that you will need to replace your range’s control board. But you can mitigate the risk by sticking to a range with basic cooking hardware: a cooktop and an oven with a broiler and convection fans. Ranges with high-end features such as double ovens or dual fuel sources have more hardware, more electronics to control that hardware, and more complicated designs that can be harder to take apart and service. So unless you have a good reason to believe those features will be worth the potential extra visits and bills from a repairman, stick with a simpler range.
A range should last for 10 to 15 years, as long as it’s built from quality components. It’s hard to predict that from a spec sheet, but you can learn a lot by delving into user reviews. One of our tentative finalists, for example, had mostly positive ratings (as most ranges do), but a concerning number of owners complained that the plastic backsplash warped over time, just from the heat coming off the stovetop. It was common enough that it seemed to suggest a persistent manufacturing flaw, or just a poor design, so we nixed it from consideration. Another almost-finalist we considered had great user reviews and specs that went above and beyond our targets. But when we checked it out in person, it had a flimsy touchpad with loose laminate and cheaply built knobs—those are the kind of annoyances that will likely bother you throughout years of ownership.
Personal tastes vary, but certain designs usually make a range more intuitive for almost anyone. Electric ranges with sealed cooktops are much easier for you to clean than those with exposed-element cooktops. Gas ranges with continuous grates over the cooktop offer you more flexibility for positioning large pots or pans than cooktops with grates over each individual burner. Sealed gas burners, which are standard-issue these days, are easier for you to clean than open burners. Any decent range will also have an oven window. And not all control schemes are created equal, either. For the cooktop, we think physical knobs are always better than a control pad with dedicated buttons because knobs are easier to adjust quickly if you need to. But for the oven, it’s the other way around because the control panel lets you dial to a specific temperature, set a timer, and operate all sorts of other functions.
Most decent ranges have a self-cleaning mode, but the self-cleaning method itself can vary—and might even affect the longevity of your range. We’ll cover the specifics below, but the short version is that a steam-cleaning option combined with an easy-wipe coating is the safe way to go, though this method still requires some manual labor. High-heat (or pyrolytic) cleaning takes the least amount of human effort, but runs the risk of damaging the electronics in your range. None of the self-cleaning methods is perfect, so we didn’t consider any of them to be deal-makers or dealbreakers when we made our picks.
You can also reasonably expect convection cooking in mainstream ranges these days, and we think it’s a feature worth having. Convection helps keep temperatures consistent throughout the oven, which is especially helpful for bakers because it eliminates hot spots, so everything cooks evenly. Convection cooking comes in two styles: single-fan and true (aka European), but most home cooks won’t notice a difference, so we don’t have a preference for either style. All of our finalists offer some kind of convection cooking in their oven.
In terms of capacity, we think an oven should have at least 5 cubic feet of space, which is enough room to roast a large turkey, and that the best cooktops have a fifth, low-heat burner that makes it easier to simmer or warm food without accidentally scorching it. These features are standard in ranges that cost more than $600, and we considered only models with those specs.
Though all ranges essentially perform the same basic job—cooking food—certain baseline specs will make that job a little easier. The stovetop should have the chops to boil water quickly, via a power burner with at least 17,000 British thermal units (gas) or 3,000 watts (electric), and a simmer element (or “warm zone”) that dips down to 5,000 Btu or less (gas) or 100 watts (electric).
We were unable to test any range’s performance to gauge the real-world value of extra cooktop power. But we did consider performance data from review sites, including Reviewed.com, Consumer Reports, and CNET. Based on their findings and what we learned from experts, we don’t think performance discrepancies will make a huge difference for most cooks. That said, an extra 1,000 Btu or 300 watts will help your water boil faster, so we slightly favored models with stronger-on-paper power burners.
The Samsung NE59J7630SS is the best freestanding radiant electric range for most people because it has all of the important cooking and cleaning features, with relatively few bells and whistles that might cause reliability problems down the line. Its cooktop is more versatile than those of other ranges at this price range, and includes a stronger power burner, a warm zone as sensitive as any other range’s, and a unique three-element burner. The oven cavity is larger than most and has a true-convection cooking mode. This range is also one of the few models that offers two self-cleaning modes. This Samsung’s build is sturdy, its design looks sharp, and its control scheme is more intuitive than that of its closest competitors.
When it comes to cooking, you won’t find a more versatile machine than the NE59J7630SS in this price range. It has five heating elements, or “burners,” like most of its competitors. But it’s the only range we know of with a 3,000-watt “triple burner” with three different-sized radiant subelements in one. The idea is that the burner can handle a variety of cookware sizes, or you can dial it to the proper temperature more accurately—for example, you can cook a big pot of chili or a small pot of rice on the same electric burner. This feature sounds a little gimmicky, but it doesn’t cost anything extra, and could make a difference for some people. This range also has a 3,300-watt dual power burner, whereas most power burners in this price range tend to max out at either 3,000 or 3,200 watts. That extra wattage should help boil water a bit faster. In addition to the triple burner and dual power burner, the NE59J7630SS includes two 1,200-watt burners and one 100-watt warming element, which are typical of other similar ranges.