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Stoves- What you need to know

Size: With stoves, the size of the appliance will come down to the size of the cut-out the shopper has in their countertop. With all countertops, but especially granite, it's wise to find an appliance that fits the available opening. Standard widths are 30 and 36 inches, but models can vary by as much as an inch.

Gas or Electric: What you have most often determines what you buy. Shoppers who have a gas line hook-up in their kitchen likely will purchase a gas-powered stove. Those without a gas line are not likely to shell out the extra cash to run one for a new appliance unless they are undergoing a major kitchen remodel.

Burner Styles: The least expensive stoves will feature four (or two in slim models) basic gas or electric coil burners. For approximately $150, buyers can step up to the easier-to-clean glass-top electric or sealed-burner gas. Starting around the $600 mark, gas stoves will feature seamless grates that combine to form a level work surface, making it possible to slide pots from one burner to another. On the high end of the spectrum are state-of-the-art induction burners, which heat up fast, use less energy and are easy to clean thanks to a smooth ceramic top. The downside is that these appliances start around $1,000.

Burner Quantity and Power: As you step up in price, you step up in power and flexibility. A little extra cash will buy shoppers more powerful and more precise burner options. Expect to shell out $100 to $200 for a high-powered gas or electric burner. Stepping up to a mid-range model will often provide a fifth burner, either an ultra-low warm-and-hold burner or a "bridge" burner that sits between two main burners, creating a larger heating surface.

Controls: While gas-powered stoves will always feature physical knobs, electric models can offer a little more variety. Up to the $1,000 mark, electric stoves will feature knobs. Above that point, sleek digital controls begin to appear. Electronic touch-activated controls allow for one-touch operation, not to mention easier cleaning since there are no knobs to remove. All models, both gas and electric, position the controls in various places, either up front, in the middle, or off to one side. Which one works best for you is a matter of personal preference.

Venting: If the stove is being installed where there is no overhead exhaust, it will be necessary to purchase a model with its own downdraft system. These units will always be electric, not gas, and will be in the $1,500 range. While not as powerful as most overhead systems, the downdraft vents do help eliminate grease, odors and smoke.


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