Features aside, excellent burners and a strong convection setting were the standouts.
At first glance, there is nothing eye-catching about the Whirlpool WFE530C0ES (MSRP $849) freestanding electric range. It’s not particularly stylish, and it’s not particularly exciting to look at. However, what it lacks in looks it makes up for with some eye-poppingly excellent performance and features that wouldn’t be out of place in a range double the price.
Inside the above-average-sized 5.3-cubic-foot capacity cavity you’ll find both traditional pyrolytic and steam clean functions, as well as convection. That alone would be a surprise in a range that frequently dips below $700 on sale—but this is actually one of the better convection functions we've tested. (The standard bake setting wasn’t too bad either.)
Sitting up top, the four electric burners proved both fast and powerful, with fast boiling speeds and steady low temperatures. A fifth warming area will keep food ready to eat even if you can't pry your kids away from the computer.
By comparison, other ranges at this price point lack even a self-clean function. Most offer some stainless steel trim, and little else.
Nobody will mistake the WFE530C0ES as a pro-style range, though its stainless trim and minimalist design are a nice touch. More importantly, this plucky Whirlpool proves that a great range doesn't have to be expensive, and that low-cost ranges aren't just for remodeling on the cheap.
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We test oven performance by baking a batch of the same cookies and a pair of cakes using the exact same recipe, for every test. We then use a photospectrometer to measure variations of doneness across an item, and from top to bottom. This gives us a clear idea of temperatures variations and circulation within the oven cavity and how it impacts food preparation.
The tops of the cookies baked in the WFE530C0ES using the standard bake setting were extremely uniform. However, the bottoms were overdone, so be sure to use a light pan or adjust your cooking times accordingly. The cakes emerged with overdone sections and a wide variation of doneness.
As is often the case, the convection setting resulted in cookies with burnt edges and a wide degree of variation. Conversely, the cakes baked using the convection setting emerged almost perfectly uniform.
The Whirlpool WFE530C0ES took a fairly long time to preheat the oven cavity. The standard setting took 12 minutes 350°F, while the convection mode took 11 minutes.
Head to the coolest bar in town, and you might be surprised to see stylish young folks dressed like suburban dads ready to mow the lawn: Crew-neck sweatshirts, high-waisted light denim jeans, and '90s-era Reeboks.
It's a throwback look called "normcore," and we think it inspired the design of the Whirlpool WFE530C0ES. With spaced-out controls and a lack of adornment, this range is unabashedly plain. Assuming you spring the extra cash for it, the front of the unit and the control panel is covered by stainless trim, while the sides and back are a uniform black or white, depending on the model.
Like most inexpensive electric ranges, the oven and rangetop controls can all be found on the backsplash. We aren’t particularly keen on this approach as it forces users to reach over potentially hot surfaces in order to adjust burner temperatures, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a front-control electric range at this price.
Though it doesn't feel cheap, there's no heft in the handles or smoothness in the door. Still, we like that Whirlpool designed this range to stick out no more than two inches from a standard 25” countertop—which takes a lot of the headaches out of installation.
The 5.3-cubic-foot cavity also has two cleaning modes that cover most situations. Add a little water and the SteamClean option gets rid of minor stains and spills in 20 minutes, while the pyrolytic self-clean cycle burns off heavy stains in two and four hours. The bake element is hidden, too, for spill protection.
How low can it go?
The Whirlpool WFE530C0ES’s rangetop is that rare beast that excels in all areas, from boiling to simmering. The rangetop features four burners and one smaller warming zone. The burners are adjusted with dials, while the warming zone is controlled with a simple on/off switch.
Both front two burners are 3000W FlexHeat elements—which means users can adjust the size of the heated area depending on the size of a pot. The front right burner should be your go-to for most of your boiling needs, as it only took about four minutes to boil six cups of water. Having one fast boiler is a necessity, but having two is an absolute treat and in this area the WFE530C0ES delivers. The front left burner was nearly identical to the front right, so you can get some lobster going while you prepare your pasta.
Our only concern was how hot the front right burner got. In our tests, it brought the bottom of a pan up to 819°F, which is well past the flashpoint of cooking oils and too hot for some nonstick surfaces. Keep that in mind if you're sauteing or stir-frying. Fortunately, the remaining burners were a little more sedate, with temperatures ranging between 698-653°F.
High heats are important, but lows matter just as much. Those keen to gently simmer a sauce or melt butter or chocolate will be happy to know that the left rear burner reached a positively balmy 81°F while the right rear was close behind with 83°F. Take note that those temperatures may be cooler than the inside of your kitchen on a hot day: If you cook on the lowest setting, you'll risk serving lukewarm soup.
Electric burners are capable of fast boiling speeds and high temperatures, but lack the responsiveness and "turn down" (ability to cool off) of gas and induction versions. Not surprisingly, the Whirlpool WFE530C0ES's burners offered a wide range of temperatures.
We measured a worryingly scorching maximum temperature of 819°F from the front right burner and a maximum temperature of 698°F from the front right. Minimum temperatures were excellent. We measured a low of 81°F from the left rear burner, 83°F from the left right burner, 113°F from the front right, and 109°F from the front left.
The Whirlpool WFE530C0ES offers two burners that boil quickly. The front right burner boiled six cups of water in only 4 minutes. The front left burner took a similarly spectacular 5 minutes to boil the same amount of water. The rear right simmer burner took 11 minutes to boil six cups, while the rear left simmer burner took 14 minutes. We did not test the keep warm area, since it isn't meant to cook food.
A convection mode thats quite competent
What you bake in the WFE530C0ES will emerge evenly cooked—so long as you know which mode to use. The standard bake setting was kind to our cookies, but left our test cakes displaying wild variations in doneness.
With convection turned on, we got perfectly uniform cakes—but the cookies weren't as even. This is a common occurrence in the case of convection settings, and one that rarely matters to budget buyers. Very few ovens in this price range even offer convection, so we consider these results to be even more impressive.
The WFE530C0ES's one weak spot was speed. Our tests informed us that the broiler took a sluggish seven minutes to reach the target temperature of 605°F, while the oven itself took a while to preheat to 350°F as well. The standard setting clocked in at 12 minutes, while the convection setting only shaved off an additional minute. The best ranges can preheat in 8-10 minutes.
Whirlpool covers the WFE530C0ES for failure due to defects in materials or workmanship during one year from the date of purchase. In case of such event Whirlpool will cover the cost of replacement or repairs. If a part is repaired or replaced, that part is then covered for the remainder of the warranty period or for 90 days—whichever is longer.
The best electric range for the money
Even if Whirlpool eliminated all discounts and insisted on selling the WFE530C0ES for its MSRP of $849, we would still consider this electric range a great deal.
For less than $1,000, you'd get a competent range that is capable of holding its own against any product available. Sure, it may not be the most luxurious freestanding out there, but what it lacks in style it make up for in excellent baking evenness, a stellar rangetop, and features totally unexpected at this price point.
But the Whirlpool WFE530C0ES doesn't sell for its MSRP. In fact, we found that you can snap one up for under $700 if you wait for the right sale. At that price, spending any more on a lesser range would just be a waste of money.
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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.Shoot us an email