Oven choices were once limited to fuel type, exterior color and whether to splurge for self-cleaning. Today, there are more oven options than you can poke a fork at. It’s likely you have lived with the basic freestanding range, a stove-oven combination with coil heaters, simple control dials and a trendy enamel finish. Modern kitchens often separate a wall oven from the cooktop, which expands the cooking area in your kitchen and can add considerably to the resale value of your home. For those who want to go in-depth on oven options or just need a wall oven, Pronto’s Wall Oven Buying Guide will help you get the most wall oven for your budget.
Serious home chefs and French dessert lovers will want the precision and speed that a gas oven offers. Today’s electric wall ovens heat faster and convection electric ovens provide thorough, even cooking.
Measure the kitchen and the kitchen door, and then choose a wall oven that offers the most cavity space in your price range. Make sure the oven fits your biggest pans or the holiday turkey, and remember that cavity measurements do not include protruding elements or rack guides.
Electronic oven controls are more accurate and more costly than analog or knob controls, but an electronic wall oven makes cooking easier. Well-designed wall ovens keep steam vents well away from the control panel, but if the oven you love doesn’t, make sure the vents direct steam away from sensitive controls.
The best wall ovens feature five rack positions for optimal food placement. Racks should be thick and support 20 pounds of weight. Look for self-cleaning elements positioned at the oven’s bottom and thick, six-pass broiler elements. If you choose a clear-view door, look for triple glazing to keep the exterior surface cool.
Even if you’re not a fan of cooking, a superior oven with electronic features can be a good investment toward the resale value of your home.
Mechanical switches on a wall oven, typically knobs. Analog oven controls are less expensive but more durable. They can also be less precise, since everything is set manually.
A translucent wall oven window that allows you to watch the food without opening the oven door.
A wall oven that has a cavity coated with nonstick material that allows spills and splatters to oxidize over time. These ovens usually benefit from once- or twice-yearly scrubbings or cleaning cycles.
A wall oven with a fan installed in the back of the cavity that forces heat to circulate around the food, creating more even cooking and eliminating the need to rotate and shift pans.
Electronic push buttons that operate a wall oven through an on-board microprocessor. Although digital controls add to oven cost, they offer accurate and precise settings and can make thermal cooking as easy as operating a microwave.
A bend in a broiler heating element. A six-pass broiler is the industry standard. Additional passes allow for faster and more even broiling.
Oven glass using three separate window panels, which prevents the heat inside a wall oven from transferring to the outer glass surface.
A wall oven that uses extremely high temperatures to vaporize spills and splatters. The best self-cleaning ovens use the bottom heating element, which is where most messes gather.
The advantage of separating your oven from your cooktop is creating several cooking workstations in your kitchen instead of just one. Another trend in modern kitchen design is the modular approach. A double wall oven stacks two ovens to save space and deliver twice the roasting, baking and broiling capacity, which many people find useful during special occasions.
Find out which way a wall oven door opens. Choosing a wall oven where the door can open to the left or right lets you get closer to the oven opening and remove pans without having to work around an open door.
Even if you seldom use your oven, remember that kitchens contribute a great deal to the resale value of your home. An investment in a new wall oven with an attractive finish and professional-level cooking options usually pays off in the long run.
Serious cooks prefer gas wall ovens for their instant response to heating up and cooling down, precise controllability and the ability to gauge the heat level based on the flame. Since fewer manufacturers make gas wall ovens, choosing gas means you’ll have fewer brand options when shopping.
If you have no choice but an electric wall oven, don’t worry. Many owners praise the evenness of electric wall ovens and their lower initial cost, along with these ovens’ ability to heat faster and maintain steady temperatures at low heat. Today’s electric wall ovens take much less time to heat, and many are multifunctional: you can simultaneously use the top, bottom, grill, rear elements and ventilation systems to optimize various cooking techniques.
Electric convection wall ovens feature a fan installed in the back of the oven cavity that circulates heat around the food. These ovens are gaining popularity with home chefs for their even, professional results. Look for a convection wall oven with a domed fan that will create fewer hot spots than a flange fan. The best convection wall ovens include a third heating element set beneath the fan or around it. A convection oven with a bottom-mounted heating element is better for pizza and baking, while an element mounted around the fan works best for roasting meats.
Another option to consider is a thermal/microwave combination wall oven. These electric ovens give you a choice of quick microwave cooking or longer thermal cooking, eliminating the need for a separate microwave oven in your kitchen.
Capacity refers to the interior cavity of an oven. Before you start shopping, measure the largest pan you use in your oven and give some thought to that holiday turkey. You need a wall oven large enough to fit the things you cook.
Measure the space available in your kitchen as well as the kitchen’s entry doors to make sure you choose something that will fit without impromptu home demolitions.
The exterior size of a wall oven tells you little about its capacity. Wall ovens have varying degrees of insulation and side-wall thickness. Most manufacturers measure the raw cavity space of a wall oven, which doesn’t account for heating elements, fans, or rack supports. Getting the right oven capacity is a matter of first determining the largest wall oven that will fit through the door, then comparing oven capacities for different models.
Oven controls are either analog (you manually control the switch) or digital (push buttons). Wall ovens with analog control panels are less expensive than electronic control panels, but oven temperature can vary by as much as 25 degrees Farenheit because you set the temperature by look. On some wall ovens, the temperature indicators may not be aligned with the actual switch that controls temperature. A quick check with an oven thermometer is a good way to test the accuracy of a wall oven with analog controls.
Electronic and digital control panels add to the price of a wall oven but are worth the investment for their accuracy. Most electronic wall ovens vary the temperature 5 degrees or less from their settings. When combined with digital timers and temperature monitors, these wall ovens make roasting as worry-free as using a microwave.
All ovens have vents that release steam from the oven cavity during cooking. Wall oven vents should be placed well away from the control panel to protect electronics from excess moisture. If the oven vent is located near the panel, make sure it has a deflector that redirects the steam away from the controls.
Begin by comparing oven racks. Look for wall ovens that offer five position levels for the most even vertical placement for your dishes. Oven racks should be thick and hold up to 20 pounds.
You’ll also want to know how thick the broiler element and bottom elements are. Thicker oven elements last longer and are more energy efficient. Heating elements are measured in “passes,” or the number of coils in the element. A six-pass broiler element is a minimum requirement. Choose a higher number of passes for quicker heating and broiling.
Higher-end wall ovens offer continuous cleaning or a self-cleaning feature. Continuous-cleaning wall ovens have cavities coated with nonstick surfaces that will oxidize minor spills over time, but still require a self-cleaning cycle or scrubbing once a year. Self-cleaning wall ovens use intense heat to vaporize messes. Look for a self-cleaning wall oven that heats from the bottom element, where most spills collect.
Clear-view doors that let you watch the wall oven work are a popular feature. Look for triple glazing that keeps the outer glass cool, especially if pets or children are about.
Finally, consider the finish of your wall oven. Try to avoid trendy metal finishes that are difficult to clean and can dull over time. The best advice is to choose an oven finish that blends with your kitchen and offers a contemporary look that will be appreciated for years to come.