There are a lot of ways to cook meals – and almost as many different appliances for getting the job done! No kitchen is complete without great kitchen appliances, but it’s not always easy to know what you need in your space. What’s the difference between a stove and a range? What’s with all of these different types of ovens? Fear not: this is your complete guide to the kitchen appliances you’ll need to cook any meal.

You’re familiar with ovens, of course – you open them up, stick the food in, and turn them on. Easy, right? But, of course, there are all sorts of different kinds of ovens. Look at the most recent modernist collection from Dacor, boasting digital touchscreens and even app connectivity to manage your temperatures and times from your phone. Let’s cover a few of the most common versions:

Conventional oven: As the name suggests, this is the type of oven you’re most likely familiar with. Also called a “thermal” or “radiant” oven, this type of oven features two heating elements. One is on the bottom of the oven (for baking) and one is on the top (for broiling).

Convection oven: A convection oven circulates hot, dry air inside of it. That gets the heat all over with minimal moisture, leading to fast cooking times.

Multifunction oven: A little bit of both! A multifunction oven may use fans to combine the effects of a conventional oven and a convection oven. Or might simply be a big appliance with two ovens in it – one of each! Some ovens even combine convection ovens with microwave ovens (we haven’t covered microwaves here, but you’re sure familiar with those).

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Cooktops are heating elements that are designed for pots, pans, and other things that sit on top of them. They tend to be built right into your counter (but not onto an oven – as we’ll see in a moment, that would make them something else). There are three basic types of cooktops:

Gas cooktops: These use gas to keep flames lit under the burners.

Electric cooktops: These pass electricity through resistant metals to create heat without flame.

Induction cooktops: Induction cooktops heat pots and pans with the use of an electromagnetic field rather than radiant heat. They can heat things up very fast, which is convenient – but may take some getting used to.

Ranges and stoves

So what’s the difference between a range and stove? Funnily enough, there isn’t one. You can use the words “stove” and “range” interchangeably. But what are you actually describing?

While a range and a stove are the same thing as each other, they are not the same thing as a cooktop. A range or a stove is an all-in-one appliance that includes the features of both a cooktop and an oven. If you’re boiling water on top and baking a turkey inside, you’re working with a range.

Ranges and stoves can, of course, include any of the types of oven and cooktop heating methods listed above. Choosing the right options for you will depend on your needs and your budget. For fast cooking, the induction and convection heating methods are best. For the ultimate luxury, it’s nice to have multiple ways to cook in your oven.

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Ultimately, of course, your decision will depend on your budget and on your needs. Now that you know the difference between the major types of cooking appliances, the only thing left to do is to choose yours!