Ovens

Whirlpool WFC310S0AW Review

Winded wallets may find a break with the Whirlpool WFC310S0AW.

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Introduction

For those unwilling to take another mortgage out to pay for a cooking appliance, it can be difficult to find the right budget options. Many people don't need a $1,700 stainless steel monolith, and can live happily with a utilitarian range that just gets the job done. We usually test more expensive, higher-end units than the , but this coil-burner electric had some surprises in store.

The results are a bit shocking: this humble stove beat models that cost three times as much. If you haven't got any aesthetic issues with electric coils, you may be interested. Caveat Bake-tor: there isn't a convection fan on this value range. Otherwise, leave your preconceptions of electric coil performance behind and read on.

Design & Usability

Despite what you may have seen on home renovation TV shows, traditional freestanding ovens with electric coils still exist.

The is a simple, self-cleaning electric range with coil burners. While it's not stainless (though a stainless model can be purchased for around $90 more) or fancy, people considering this oven will likely care more about its low price tag. And what it lacks in luxury, it makes up for in pedigree; this Whirlpool is built around a traditional setup that has functioned for years. Spartan or not, this appliance works, and it even includes a timer, a delay start, and a timed cook.

What it lacks in luxury, it makes up for in pedigree.

The rangetop's coil design is very simple, and its major strength is that all four burners perform exceptionally well. You'll find no frills here, so if you're looking for a griddle, a keep-warm burner, or whatever else, you'd better move on or live without. Below is a very basic oven with 4.8 cubic feet of space, divided by two racks—no convection here. There is no spill-guard either, to protect the lower oven element from accidents. Generations have lived without spill guards, though, so you should be fine—just be a little more careful.

Rangetop

The 's rangetop is surprisingly formidable.

Antiquated electric coil rangetops are rarely noticed these days, overshadowed as they are by ceramic flat tops on ranges above $600 or so. However, the 's testing results showed some spectacular performance—even compared to fancy models. We know that electric coils are hard to clean, ugly, and slow—hence the shift to ceramic—but it's hard to argue with the results of our tests, which showed hot searing (too hot in fact—use caution!), speedy boiling, and gentle simmering. The numbers are truly impressive.

Try to keep the coils free from food splatter: edibles baked onto the coils will put up a huge fight.

Unfortunately, things can get messy when cooking is over. While you don't need special cleaners to wash the burners, as you do with a ceramic rangetop, the electric coil presents its own set of issues. It's a pretty involved cleaning process, requiring the removal of coils, something many people won't do. Neglect allows gunk to build up underneath, which may stain the rangetop over time. Some people line the burner cavities with tin foil for protection, but make sure you clean, even so. Additionally, try to keep the coils free from food splatter: edibles baked onto the coils will put up a huge fight to stay on.

Oven Broiler & Convection

This oven has some issues, but overall, it lands roughly in the middle of what we've reviewed.

To start things off, 's wasted no time preheating, arriving at 350°F in just 8.5 minutes. The oven hit the approximate proper temperatures on most settings, with the exception of running a bit warm at 350°F. Though this appliance did a decent job of hitting the right degrees, its oven temperature consistency proved problematic, with some seriously unwelcome variance. However, it is important to note the context: we've seen similar performance from mid-end and upper-middle-end ranges that cost more.

The oven hit the approximate proper temperatures on most settings.

Unfortunately, there isn't a convection mode for this oven, since it's a budget model. Therefore, this appliance doesn't have another mode to fall back on if it isn't delivering satisfactory performance. Considering the benefits of a convection oven—shorter cooking times, lower temperatures, better heat transfer, more even cooking—its absence is a major drawback.

Conclusion

Coils and all, this is a great deal.

With an MSRP of $549—$445 on sale—the is one of the least expensive ovens we've reviewed. While it might look out of place in a high-end kitchen, it's a classic, utilitarian machine—not a designer appliance. In effect, it is a sort of people's oven.

This Whirlpool impressed us greatly, exhibiting some of the best results we've ever seen.

Looks aside, this Whirlpool impressed us greatly, exhibiting some of the best results we've ever seen: speedy boiling, McQueen-cool simmer temperatures, and McEnroe-hot searing temperatures across every element. On the flip side, the rangetop stays hot for a while after you turn it off and the temperature doesn't adjust as fast as on a gas range. Also, thanks to the coils, cleaning is a most unenjoyable experience, but at least you can't permanently mar your rangetop with a simple spill, as with ceramic models.

As for the rest, the oven performance wasn't particularly impressive, but it wasn't remarkably unimpressive either. True, it exhibited less-than-great temperature variance, but we see that regularly with ovens three times the price. Moreover, this model does manage to average the target temperatures, and the fantastic preheat time of just 8.5 minutes is a plus, too.

Looks and fancy features aside, this Whirlpool is a great choice.

There is also a sad lack of features, especially a convection fan, which would provide even cooking as well as greater cooking efficiency. Less important missing features, such as a griddle, will likely not matter as much for those shopping in this price range, though. After all, you're probably looking into this oven because you don't want to spend $1,000 on extra bells and whistles. To that end, with looks and fancy features aside, this Whirlpool is a great choice.

Science Introduction

You've heard our songs of praise for the outstanding rangetop performance, as well as our lamentations over the less-than lovable oven. Here are our reasons:

Oven Performance

Not perfect, but certainly acceptable—especially given the bargain price tag

After the 8.5-minute trip to 350°F, this oven ended up averaging 360°F in our tests—10°F too hot. But the major issue was the variance, an area in which the has some room for improvement. On the keep-warm setting, the temperature fluctuated between 225°F and 149°F, a larger range than we prefer. When we tested the oven at 350°F, performance was great for the first cycle (the oven cycles above and then below the target temperature to average it out). While the first temperature peak was only 18°F above 350°F, the second peak cracked 400°F—50 degrees hotter than intended.

This fluctuation is undesirable, but it's not unheard of or horrific: we've seen it happen on ovens that cost three times as much as this one. Lastly, at the maximum setting, we observed a more regular pattern of variance.

Rangetop Performance

Here are the incredible results from one of the cheapest ranges we've tested.

To begin with, the water boiling test produced some of the best results we've ever seen. The power burners in the front left and rear right positions boiled six cups of water in just 4.5 minutes. Usually, even if we see a heating element that can boil this quickly, there's just one of them; here, there are two! The other two elements both boiled six cups in under 8.5 minutes—incredible results compared to gas and ceramic, very impressive indeed.

Usually, even if we see a heating element that can boil this quickly, there's just one of them; here, there are two!

While we imagined that the incredible boiling speeds might mean shoddy performance on the lower temperature settings, we were surprised to find the best simmering results we've seen yet. All of the heating elements kept our pans under 82°F, and one even reached down into the 70s.

The searing abilities for this rangetop can easily become charring abilities, so watch out; three of the four burners broke 800°F and the fourth wasn't far behind, in the high 700s. This is actually hotter than we like to see stoveware get, so exercise caution. All in all, though, since hot cooking surfaces always pose a danger, this Whirlpool's overheating seems like a small sacrifice, especially given the incredible overall performance.

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