Looking for patriotic inspiration? Here are a few fast and inexpensive Fourth of July desserts and side dishes.
Finding the best cheap stoves proved quite a challenge due to the paucity of range reviews for current models. As with most major and minor appliances, manufacturers discontinue models and introduce new ones all the time, although many replacements differ from their predecessors by little more than a tweak here or there.
This relatively short product cycle complicates the hunt for the best cheap stoves. We found that cheap stoves with lots of consumer feedback have disappeared from vendors' inventory and widely available newer stoves aren't yet the subject of many range reviews. We also noted that big-box retailers exhibit a fair amount of brand loyalty, such that Lowe's sells Whirlpool but Home Depot doesn't, and Sears is the exclusive on-the-ground purveyor of Kenmore ranges (although you may find a unit here and there online); local, independent retailers may be equally brand-centric. As a result, range reviews posted online are both limited in number and tend to cluster under the umbrella of just one or two sites.
Because range reviews for easy-to-find models are in short supply, our conclusions are based on a smaller number of user comments than we would otherwise prefer. Even so, the small sample of reviews suggests that consumers are relatively satisfied with their purchases: They like the value pricing and the overall performance. A few users even assert that their budget stoves compare favorably to upscale models. Chief among consumers' expectations are stoves with consistent and easy-to-control heat. Range reviews also reveal that thrifty consumers favor ovens and electric burners that heat up quickly (gas burners reach the desired temperature almost immediately), oven temperatures that are true, and stoves that are intuitive and a breeze to clean. The stoves on our list hit all these notes, at least most of the time.
Based on the range reviews we read, the smooth-top electric GE JBS55DM (starting at $495, Amazon) is a star performer. Consumers' comments at Best Buy cite even cooking and baking temperatures, the two high-powered 2,000-watt heating elements, and food that simmers without burning as supporting evidence. A few range reviews posted on other sites, however, gripe about slow heating with the smooth ceramic glass cooktop and oven temperatures that run colder than the setting. Our second choice electric range pick, the Hotpoint RB757DP (starting at $404, Amazon), earns kudos for what range reviews at Home Depot describe as responsive controls, coil heating elements that actually keep food at a simmer, and perfectly baked desserts and casseroles. A consumer products testing site also notes that a large pot of water set atop one of the 8-inch burners quickly comes to a near boil. Another electric model we researched, the Kenmore 90112 (starting at $391), falls short of the other two. Range reviews at Sears consider its performance average, with some saying it heats evenly and quickly and oven temperatures are accurate, while others report that preheating takes forever and heat from the coils is uneven; the broiler, however, apparently produces a mean steak.
We identified two stand-out gas ranges, as well. The Frigidaire FGF348KS (starting at $539) wins over users with what they describe as precise controls, accurate oven settings, and heat a-plenty; one user claims a pot of water reached a boil in 90 seconds (no details on the size of the pot), although another gripes in a range review at Lowe's that the flames aren't up to the demands of Asian wokery. Enthusiasm for the Kenmore 70402 (starting at $360) is a tad cooler, largely due to design issues that are discussed below. Range reviews at Sears say the oven and burners do what they should within the time specified in recipes, and for the price, it's hard to complain. The Amana AGR3311WD (starting at $385), another no-frills model we researched but didn't add to our list, disappoints some consumers. Several range reviews, including one at AJ Madison, grouse that the heat can't be turned down to a simmer although other users seem to like the powerful burners.
Kenmore 90112 Review
Hotpoint RB757DP Review
Kenmore 70402 Review
GE JBS55DM Review
Frigidaire FGF348KS Review
GE 30'' Free-Standing Gas Range JGB500SEPSS
LG Freestanding Electric Range LRE30453ST
GE 30 in. Free-Standing Gas Range JGB281DER
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