Frigidaire FFEF3043LS Electric Range Review
For under $500, this stainless Frigidaire is a great way to up your home's resale value.
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From the Lab
We put the Frigidaire FFEF3403LS electric range through our standard battery of scientific tests, measuring the scope of its temperatures range, as well as its preheat speed, how well it actually baked food, and more. While the FFEF3403LS’s rangetop was top notch, the oven left something to be desired.
It's said that sometimes less is more. That’s certainly an adage to keep in mind when considering the Frigidaire FFEF3043LS (MSRP $749).
First, it would be hard to find a less expensive smoothtop electric range with a stainless exterior. We found it on sale for $475, which makes it one of the simplest kitchen upgrades possible. If you're selling your house—or the star of a reality show about flipping real estate—take note.
For that price, you won't get the world's best performance, but you shouldn't have any problems getting dinner on the table. When we cooked on the FFEF3043LS, we discovered a killer rangetop, perfect for boiling and simmering alike. We did not, however, find any extra features or settings like convection or even a self-clean option. We were also disappointed by an oven that struggled with even heating.
If you're looking for a slightly more substantial range that still won't break the bank, Kenmore's 94173 is very similar to this range, but adds self cleaning and sells for $499. You could spend a little extra and get the $719 Whirlpool WFE525C0BS, or the $989 GE JB750SFSS.
Design & Usability
The FFEF3043LS pairs transitional design with a simple approach to features and special settings. The stainless steel range has a smallish 4.8-cu.-ft. oven with a large window, storage drawer, and electric rangetop. Aesthetically, this is nothing outrageous, but it looks better than any other range you can get for under $500.
The rangetop has a shiny black surface and slightly raised edges, which will help prevent spills from spreading to your counter. The four burners—including a dual-ring burner on the front right—glow red when they're hot.
Putting dial controls on the stainless backsplash is a common choice for many electric rangetops, but that doesn't change the fact that you'll be reaching across steaming hot cookware if you need to adjust temperature settings mid-recipe.
Digital oven controls are also located on the backsplash, and are very basic. You can either bake, broil hi/lo, adjust baking temperature, or set the clock or timer. That's it. The FFEF3043LS has no convection setting or Sabbath Mode, and—importantly—no self clean setting. You’ll have to remove burnt-on spills from the cavity the old-fashioned way: a non-abrasive scouring sponge and some elbow grease.
Oven & Broiler Performance
Our real world baking tests are the most vital way to measure how the oven actually handles cooking food. In the case of the FFEF3403LS, tests showed that temperature was inconsistent throughout the oven cavity.
When we baked two cakes side-by-side, they were each mottled with darker and lighter spots across their surfaces, plus the bottoms came out darker than the tops. To make matters worse, the cakes differed from one another when it came to the degree of unevenness in browning, indicating that the oven not only seemed to be hotter on the bottom, but also varied in temperature throughout.
While cookies baked in the oven faced similar issues with patchy tops and darker bottoms, we didn’t see much variation in degree of browning among the 12 cookies in our test batch. The good news is that this seems to indicate temperature issues may be more consistent when your food has a shorter bake time, but the fact that the cakes were less uniform than the cookies makes it harder to guess how to compensate for issues of unevenness.
Our recommendation? Parchment paper or shorter bake times may reduce the risk of burned bottoms on your food. As far as combatting light and dark spots across the surface of your food, well... the patchy browning seems to be par for the course with this range, and you probably won’t be able to escape it. If only there was a convection setting!
On the bright side, the oven took just under 8 minutes to preheat to 350°F—a quick result—and the broiler followed suit by reaching its target temperature in just 5 minutes 53 seconds.
We have no complaints about the FFEF3403LS’s rangetop. High temperatures or low, this Frigidaire’s burners excelled. Maximum temperatures ranged from 593°F (front right burner, inner ring) to 701°F (left rear burner), which makes every burner hot enough to sear steak. That’s to be expected for an electric rangetop.
More impressive was its ability to hit low temperatures, with both of the left hand burners able to dip below 100°F. The left front burner made it all the way down to a balmy 85°F, while the left rear burner hit 99°F. Slightly disappointing was the fact that the burner with the highest measured minimum temperature was the right rear burner, which was unable to dip below 131°F, despite our use of its special simmer setting. Still, it’s not a bad score—just not as good as the other burners. Regardless, all burners should be able to handle low-heat tasks like melting chocolate or simmering stew.
Our boiling test also yielded excellent results. The left front burner and right front outer ring each boiled 6 cups of water in just over 4 minutes. That’s quite speedy, plus burners with consistent boiling time makes it easier for cooks to use both. The rear burners are also evenly matched, with each taking just under 11 minutes to boil 6 cups of water. This is admittedly more than twice the length of the front, but they’re not problematic.
With no additional features to speak of, Frigidaire's stellar rangetop—as good as some of the top models out there—is sure to be the biggest draw for consumers.
Electric rangetops typically have no issue reaching high temperatures, so it was unsurprising that the FFEF3043LS got as hot as 701°F. Each burner, including both rings on the front right, should be able to sear meat with ease. That said, we were especially pleased to see the rangetop also reach low temps, great for melting butter or simmering. All burners dipped below 150°F, but the front left was particularly adept, cooling to a lukewarm 85°F.
Boiling times were quick enough to put smiles on our faces. Both the front left and the outer ring of the front right boiled six cups of water in just over 4 minutes. The two rear burners each took just under 11 minutes—not terrible, but obviously much slower than the front.
What’s exciting about this rangetop isn’t just the convenient speed of the front burners, but also how well the boiling times on the front and back of the rangetop lined up with one another. This means you can more easily sync up cook times among different burners.
Oven & Broiler
Fast, but uneven
In contrast to the all-around amazing rangetop, the oven simply wasn't as great. We appreciated the speed of its preheat (just 8 minutes to reach 350°F!) and that of its broiler (just under 6 minutes to reach 602°F!), but our real world bake tests yielded sub-par results.
Cakes baked in the oven emerged with uneven browning across their surfaces, as well as overall darker bottoms and lighter tops. What's more, these trends varied from one cake to the next, indicating hot and cool spots in the oven. Cookies also wound up with patchy browning and dark bottoms, but the problems were at least consistent across the baking sheet. That's a sign of poor air circulation.
A uniformly bad result like that provides clues that let you improve your end product. Our recommendation? Experiment with shortening your bake time, or try lining your pans with parchment paper. With no convection setting to improve air flow, that’s about the best you can do.
Before You Buy
It's all about the looks
Want your real estate ad to boldly trumpet a kitchen with stainless appliances? Get the Frigidaire FFEF3043LS.
At any price, it's not a bad range. But for $475, it's an unbelievably good deal. Yes, you're forgoing basic settings like self clean, and extras like Sabbath Mode and convection. We also weren't thrilled with the lackluster oven's poor air circulation and spotty heating. But the FFEF3043LS has a great rangetop, plus an oven that’s super quick to preheat.
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