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Our hard-wired, 18 year old, electric drop-in Kenmore range/oven has seen better days. It was builder-installed when we bought the house new back in the late-80’s and it’s been a good little oven and range…up until the past few months.
Something had to be done!
Here’s why we went with a natural gas range…
The Story Behind Our Decision To Go With A Natural Gas Range
Our old electric range had coils and the largest coil quit working. If you have a family to cook for and you have this type of stove, I dare you to pull if off without the use of your largest coil. We’ve had a hard time cooking on 3 small coils.
I replaced the large coil and it worked OK for a little while but not like it used to, then it quit working altogether. That’s when we decided it was time to upgrade.
I am not an electrician nor do I have much experience dealing with it in a household setting or otherwise. I’ve changed out a few fixtures but I’ve always preferred to hire an electrician for more complicated jobs, mainly for the sake of my family’s safety but also with self-preservation in mind and convenience. My point is that I could’ve called Sears appliance repair to come out and fix it but we are in the (slow) process of renovating our kitchen and upgrading our appliances is one thing on the list of to do’s.
It Was Time To Research And Shop For Ranges
We’ve had good luck with our old Kenmore and they have a great reputation so we stuck with Kenmore this time around. I would not have objected to GE Profile or Monogram series, Viking, Wolf by Sub-Zero, Whirlpool, Bosch, Hotpoint by GE or Jenn-Air. They all will do the job. It just depends on the features and style you wish to cook with.
Sandy wanted one of the smooth top ranges, also known as electric induction (expensive but better than radiant) or radiant cook tops, but I’ve always wanted a gas range to cook on. The smooth tops work great but I like to cook over fire. Besides, when is the last time you saw Emeril LaGasse, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay or Mario Batali cook on a smooth top…not to mention any restaurant you may find yourself dining in. They seem to know something about cooking. It’s just not practical in a commercial setting. I’m not claiming to be a chef (ha!) but I spent my high school and college days working as a cook in a few different establishments. I’ll name them in chronological order just for the FUN of it:
- Marino’s Italian Restaurant-Aiken, SC
I gained a TON of experience here, specializing in steaks and pasta, from a true Italian that was the owner/operator/chef. Mr. Marino (may God rest his soul) was tough but he knew what he was doing and he had many, many repeat patrons. Huge, professional gas ovens and stoves were used here. This used to be one of THE best restaurants in Aiken, SC when it was in operation.
- Hardee’s-Aiken, SC
Worst boss I ever had. Didn’t learn a thing except how to turn off a timer and pull the fries. I avoid eating at Hardee’s to this day! Natural gas is used for the fryer and hamburger conveyor.
- Blimpie’s-Atlanta, GA
The best sub shop I knew of in Atlanta at that time. Baldino’s is tops on my list now by a LONG shot. They didn’t use any natural gas stoves here, just a rotating slicer (watch it or you will lose a fingertip on one of those devices!).
- Jarusek’s Crab Shack-Atlanta, GA
This was a Maryland family-owned restaurant serving up genuine Maryland-style blue crabs by the bucket load and served picnic style with newspapers serving as the tablecloths. They also served other fine seafood delicacies found off of our coast. A small truck would come straight from the coast a couple hundred miles away with a fresh load every day. This was THE most fun restaurant to work in because the fringe benefits included the Atlanta Braves game on the kitchen TV every night they played, all the she-crab soup I could eat at no charge (I would’ve starved to death without it) but my favorite item on the menu was the grilled soft-shell crab. The morale was very high here plus I learned the secret to Maryland-style blue crab. I shucked thousands of clams and oysters and I had Popeye forearms to prove it. Natural gas was in use throughout the kitchen here.
- Sambo’s-Doraville, GA
I worked the graveyard shift at this ‘Denny’s copycat’ across the street from an adult theater, strip club and liquor store. I only mention that because it made for some strange client in the wee hours. Natural gas stoves and ovens were in use here.
- Ken’s Pizza – Doraville, GA
This is where I met Sandy. She was working her way through Georgia State University at the time. She was waitressing and I was the PIZZA KING! I had a great time experimenting with different types of toppings during down-times. I never get tired of eating pizza to this day. Natural gas ovens were the norm here. No conveyors were in use here so a certain level of skill was required to handle 3 or 4 ovens with 6-8 pizzas in each oven …without burning the toppings and crusts.
- Long John Silver’s-Doraville, GA
This is where I got my fill of great battered fish and spent a great deal of time at the deep fryers. Hated the grease face after the shift but we still find ourselves eating lunch at LJS every once in awhile. Sandy and I worked here together, also. This was the last eatery I ever worked at and swore I’d never enter another fast food kitchen for the rest of my life. Natural gas fryers were used here.
Anyway, in my earlier years I cooked with natural gas in various restaurants for a good 5 years and liked it. I also notice that the new homes that we look at with high end (or even just nice) kitchens ALL have natural gas cooktops and ovens. That’s why I wanted to go with a natural gas range and, luckily, Sandy relented and agreed to my desire to have one.
We shopped Home Depot, Lowe’s and Sears just for comparisons’ sake, as well as scoping out all of the ads in the local newspapers. Home Depot had an “excuse-me” line-up of ranges on the sales floor while Lowe’s had a pretty nice selection. Both had decent pricing but we headed to Sears brand central to get the selection we were looking for and see what was on sale. We saw more at Sears than the other 2 stores combined and then some. We scoped out a nice Kenmore stainless steel w/black range (their picture is mixed up with the specs/info) that had plenty of BTU’s to handle our day-to-day cooking needs.
Now we wait for the day of delivery to come.
- Consumer Reports Range Reviews The BEST review of ranges and most practical. You’ll have to subscribe to get the results or GO TO THE LIBRARY AND READ IT FOR FREE (I do it all of the time before I buy)! Hotpoint and GE rate high.
- Consumer Search Range Reviews highlighting the best review sites out there This will point you in the direction of all the review sites you’ll need to make a decision.
- GardenWeb Appliance Forum Great place to get some answers from folks like yourself that have been there – done that.
- Here’s what happened when I hired the electrician to convert the plug from 220v to 110v and all of the little problems that occurred when the range was delivered.
I started as a home-stalker… visiting brand new homes under construction in the neighborhoods near my house. That inspired me to write about home building and home renovation projects — chronicling homes during different phases of construction from a consumer's point-of-view. Basically, the tips you'll find in my articles are a collection of checklists for what I think should (and should not) go into building or remodeling a quality home.