Walk into the appliance department armed with a recipe for success

Buying an oven or a range cooker can be almost as big a commitment as closing on a house. Because unlike a blender, if these appliances conk out, you can’t just run to the store for a replacement. We asked Bob Baird, merchandising vice president at Home Depot, for some savvy shopping suggestions.

BEFORE YOU GO

• Measure twice, buy once. Getting dimensions right is vital. Along with the product’s designated spot, note the clearance required so that cabinet doors won’t bump the new item, as well as the height and width of doorways and hallways that lead to the kitchen (especially important if there are tight turns).
• Start snapping. Use your tablet or smartphone to take pictures of the kitchen so you can refer to them while shopping. Even though you see the room every day, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to remember every nuance.
• Check the electric. Will your new purchase require outlet changes? This is especially important if you’re switching from an electric stove, which requires 220v, to a gas one, which needs 110v (or vice versa).

RANGE COOKERS

An all-in-one range cooker is a more popular (and affordable) option than installing a separate cooktop and oven.

What to ask yourself:

• Do I want a freestanding unit or a drop-in or slide-in range for a more custom feel? Slide-in and drop-in styles blend with the countertop for a seamless look and have the controls on the front of the unit (not the upper back), which may not work for a family with young children.
• Will the range be gas, electric, induction or a combination? The stovetop could mix gas and induction burners, or you could opt for a dual-fuel range with gas burners and an electric oven, often preferred by bakers.

COOKTOPS AND WALL OVENS

A separate cooktop and wall oven will give you more flexibility than an all-in-one: You’ll be able to choose separate brands and also have more layout options if you’re designing a kitchen from scratch. And a wall oven can be hung at waist or eye level so you don’t have to bend over. The downside? Purchasing and installing two appliances will drive up your budget.

What to ask yourself:

• Will the cooktop be gas, electric, induction or a combination?
• Will the wall oven be gas or electric? 
• Do you want a single or double wall oven? Busy cooks might like the ability to simultaneously cook two different dishes at different temperatures. Speaking of which…
• Will one wall oven do the trick? Most wall ovens have about one cubic foot less interior space than range cookers. If you’re set on a wall oven but are concerned about cooking capacity, you can opt for double (stacked) wall ovens.
• How deep are your countertops? The size of your cooktop will depend on this measurement, typically 30 or 36 inches.

Keep in mind: ovens (range and wall models)

• Some ovens have sliding racks mounted on ball bearings to make it easier to lift heavy dishes (we’re looking at you, 25-pound Thanksgiving turkey) up and out of the oven.
• Serious about cooking? Think about a second oven cavity or steam assistance (which can eliminate the need for basting).
• A convection oven has a fan to circulate air around food to help it cook faster and brown more evenly. It likely to cost a few hundred dollars more than a traditional model.

Keep in mind: cooktops

• Hate to clean? Ceramic or glass electric burners or a smooth induction cooktop will be the easiest to maintain. If you’re choosing gas, be sure the burners are sealed to keep crumbs out.
• If you love to putter in the kitchen, you might appreciate a griddle top.

RANGE HOODS

Range hoods provide ventilation, helping to eliminate odors as well as the grease and smoke that can make your kitchen look dingy over time.

What to ask yourself:

• Does the cooktop or range come with its own hood?
• How will the hood vent? It either pushes air outside (called a vented or ducted hood) or, if you don’t have the required ductwork and can’t renovate (in a rental apartment, for example), guides air to a charcoal filter before flowing back into the kitchen.
• How will you install it? Range hoods mount to cabinets, a wall or directly into the ceiling. If you can’t install a hood above the cooktop or range, you can opt for a downdraft, which sits behind the cooktop and pulls heat and odors in the reverse direction.

Keep in mind: range hoods

• Many people use the range hood to make a style statement. That might mean choosing a copper finish, a wood surround to give a farmhouse feel, or colorful trim that picks up other kitchen design elements.
• For maximum efficiency, your range hood should be about three inches wider (on each side) than your stove.
• When venting to the outside, mounting to an exterior wall is the simplest and most efficient choice because the air has a shorter distance to travel. If you’re mounting to an interior wall, air will need to be forced through longer ducts, so make sure the hood you are buying has plenty of power.