Mar 30, 2001 (Updated Sep 3, 2002)

The Bottom Line When buying a range there are a few things you might not think of

1. The first thing to decide is whether you want gas, electric, or a combination. The ovens that are gas top with electric ovens are going to cost you more. Remember if you really want to switch from gas to electric it can be done. Who knows you might fall in love with a smooth top like I did.

2. Check Consumer Reports magazine. Not only will you find out which ones rate the best, but you'll find out details like whether the oven door gets too hot during self cleaning. When you have children with exploring hands that could be a concern.

3. Does color matter? Some may come in basic white while others offer different shades of white. Some brands charge extra if you choose a color besides white.

4. It's a good idea to measure the area you are putting the stove in. Also be sure to measure the height, especially if you have an overhead microwave.

5. After you're done admiring the stove for how pretty it is picture yourself cleaning it. Pick up the grates, look closely at the burners, even take them apart as you would if you were really cleaning it. Is it hard to take apart, are the parts dishwasher safe, how easy is it to put it back together,are you able to quickly wipe down the stove without getting stuck on any particular piece? TIP:To know if grates are dishwasher safe check them to see if shiny enamel is on bottom as well as the top. If it's all the way around they can be used in the dishwasher.

If you are choosing a smooth top electric ask about the ring within a ring feature which means you can change one burner to accommodate a small pot as well as a big one. Another extra feature some models have is the ultra simmer which you would use for lets say, melting chocolate.

7. Be aware of what kind of time frame you have. Some may take some time to order while others could be ready to take immediately.

8. Most importantly KNOW THEIR RETURN POLICY! You don't want to spend a lot of money on a major appliance only to end up hating it. Just to let you know from my own personal experience my husband and I bought a stove from Sears, we used it for about 7 weeks. We decided we were really unhappy with it and they took the stove back. We picked a different one and they picked up the old one and brought the new one at no extra charge to me.

9. Some stoves come with a storage drawer, others have a warming draw, the rest don't have anything. I have a small kitchen so having the storage draw is a key feature for me.

10. Don't assume sales people are always knowledgeable even though they should be. When we purchased our first stove which was gas, one of the features we liked about it was two burners had higher BTU's, which means they have more power therefore faster cooking. Well I never noticed water boiling any faster than when I used the other burners. It turns out they don't work when used with propane gas which is what we had. We paid extra for the higher BTU's feature for nothing.

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