Courtesy of SubZero

Electric ranges may have standard coils, solid-element burners, or a smooth ceramic top, plus radiant-heat or combination convection/radiant ovens.

Gas ranges have either radiant-heat or convection ovens; lower ovens may be self-cleaning or continuous-cleaning. Some offer interchangeable cooktop modules.

Dual-fuel ranges combine the responsiveness of a gas cooktop with the even heating of one or two electric ovens -- producing, in theory, the best of both worlds.

Heirloom ranges are refurbished oldsters that lend an ambiance of comfortable permanence to both country and period design schemes. They're usually freestanding gas models with few modern amenities; some have integral griddles and/or warming trays. New ranges with an "old" look are also available, for a price.

Commercial gas units have been much in demand in recent years, partly due to their increased BTU output and partly because of their look of serious culinary business. Their performance is excellent, but they create many problems for home use: they're not as well-insulated as residential units; they may be too heavy for your floor; they're tough to clean; and they're potentially dangerous for children.

Residential/commercial units, a recent response to the commercial craze, were designed specifically for the home. These have the commercial look and the high BTU output but are better insulated; they also offer additional niceties such as pilotless ignition and self- or continuous-cleaning ovens.

For more on the ins-and-outs of a kitchen, purchase Ideas for Great Kitchens.

More Basics for Your Kitchen
Stuff You'll Love: Large Appliances
Basics: Kitchen Cabinets
Basics: Your Guide to Refrigerators

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