With Ovens, Do You Get What You Pay For?
Does your oven perform as well as its price tag suggests?
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Whether it's an electric toothbrush or an electric range, consumers often trust that a higher price yields better performance, with nothing but vague, anecdotal evidence to go by. But do you really get what you pay for?
Using the data in our testing database, we analyzed the price-to-performance ratio of every oven in our testing database to see if there was any correlation between how much a range costs, and how potent of a performer it can be. We found that most of the time, there's no relationship between the two.
Using the power of statistics, we found that our top-scoring ranges cost an average of $1,432—nearly 25 percent cheaper than the average cost of our bottom-scoring ranges ($1,854). That seems like enough of a difference to suggest that cheaper ranges are actually much better, but our sample size is relatively small (n=25) and the correlation is weak (0.30). So predicting the performance of mid-range ovens is like rolling the dice.
Even trying to predicting individual traits like boiling performance or temperature consistency based on price points yields the same scattered array of data. And while raw specifications are slightly indicative of performance, it never surprises us when burners with fewer BTUs/hr trump their more powerful brothers. A proper test is the only way to tell for sure.
Can I Predict Anything From Price?
Our data applies to ranges that cost between $900 and $2,200, since we have the most complete data on this region. We trimmed the outliers (both cheaper and more expensive) before calculating the average costs of the top- and bottom-performing segments.
If we include the outliers, there appears to be a slight correlation between price and performance: a couple of very expensive ranges ($3,500 and up) scored very well, and the two very cheap (sub-$500) ranges performed poorly. But as the $4,100 range with a mediocre score demonstrates (it's the red square on the right side of the graph), price is no guarantee of performance at any level.
Though we only have a limited set of data at this point (n=25), we have noticed a trend regarding our performance predictions based on price, and it shows a normal distribution. As the certainty graph illustrates, we are unable to reliably predict the performance of a mid-level range. But at very low and very high price points, we become more certain that models will fit expected performance patterns.
Why Aren't Price and Performance Correlated?
Since buyers aren't robot-people from a microeconomics textbook, performance is just one of many factors in the oven-buying process. Manufacturers understand that design and brand name influence buyers as much as (if not more than) performance. And it's not unreasonable for some cooks to value design and performance equally, but it does make it tricky to know whether your oven will be able to simmer gently or broil mightily. But hey, if you have any questions about specific performance metrics, you know where to find us.