Hybrid cars are the perfect example of gas and electric working together in seamless harmony. If you're planning to remodel your kitchen, however, you might want to consider another kind of hybrid.
Dual-fuel ranges combine an electric oven with a natural gas or propane-powered range top in a single package. Once only available at the highest end of the home appliance market, they're becoming increasingly popular with home chefs who want the even heat of an electric oven without sacrificing the precision control of a gas burner.
Why would I want to use dual fuel?
Serious bakers prefer the precision of an electric oven because the best electric stoves stay within ten degrees of the selected temperature, which ensures even and thorough cooking, and keeps food from drying out or burning. But serious cooks appreciate the infinitely adjustable flame and versatility of a gas range top. Since serious bakers and serious cooks are often the same person, the market for a dual-fuel range is pretty obvious.
Is dual fuel worth it?
Only if you're willing to shell out some serious cash. Originally, only high-end manufacturers like Wolf and Viking sold dual-fuel ranges, mainly to homeowners, usually in huge sizes (36 inches or larger) with prices approaching $10,000.
Now, hundreds of manufacturers have joined in. Their dual-fuel models are still expensive, but not as jaw-droppingly so as in the past. We found a KitchenAid FGDS3065KF 30-inch range on sale for just over $2,500, with similar offerings from GE, Frigidaire and Bosch ringing up at just a few hundred dollars more.
That's only the first part of the cost, however. After you've shelled out a few grand for a new range, you'll likely be faced with some hefty bills from plumbers and/or electricians. Chances are, a kitchen equipped for a gas stove isn't wired for the 220 volt electrical outlet that an electric oven requires, and an all-electric kitchen isn't plumbed for gas. In some cases, installing the missing fuel may add an additional thousand dollars to the cost of your stove.
Are there cheaper options?
If that doesn't fit your renovation budget, make the most of your existing gas or electric range with a few simple tips.
If you're finding that pots and pans aren't heating evenly on an electric range, try getting new cookware. That 10-piece set you got for your wedding will probably warp a bit by your 10th anniversary, which means you'll get dead spots wherever the pan fails to contact the electric burner.
Bakers who loathe the imprecise temperature control of their gas ovens can use baking stones to keep the temperature consistent, and refrain from opening the oven door until that cake is finished.
In the end, it all comes down to how much you’re willing and able to spend versus how much you love precision temperature control. The most persnickety at-home chefs will demand a dual fuel range, but budget-conscious homeowners can get by with some more resourceful techniques for regulating heat.