Because of their unique installation requirements, built-in ovens are most frequently reserved for new construction, major kitchen remodels, or appliance replacements. Because there is very little difference in energy consumption among ovens, these appliances are not required to bear EnergyGuide labels, nor are they included in the Energy Star program.
Cost range: $700 to $4,000 and up
Likely additional costs: Delivery, installation, haul away, gas line hookup or electrical outlet installation if none exists
Average life span: 12 to 16 years
Size: Wall ovens are sold in widths of 24, 27, 30, and even 36 inches to match standard cabinet sizes. Height will vary greatly depending on whether the oven is a single or double configuration, ranging from 28 to 50 inches. Because of their design, wall ovens almost always have slightly less interior capacity than a range oven. Homeowners will save money on installation by replacing an existing appliance with a model bearing the same dimensions.
Configuration: The marketplace is pretty evenly divided into single- and double-oven configurations. The advantages of having two ovens that can cook independently of each other are obvious, but homeowners must decide if those benefits outweigh the loss of additional cabinet space.
Gas or electric: The choice between gas and electric is much less of an issue for wall ovens than ranges because almost 90% of today’s wall models are electric. The gas units that are on the market tend to be in the slimmer 24-inch variety and typically are reserved for replacement situations, notes Kaminski.
Ease of cleaning: Self-cleaning ovens are just about standard these days, appearing in models starting as low as $750. To further enhance ease of use, homeowners might consider upgrading to models with covered elements. Starting around $800, these appliances have a smooth oven floor that is far easier to clean than those with exposed heating elements. Better still are units boasting removable oven doors, making cleaning even easier.
Convection: Many home and professional cooks swear by this technology, which employs an internal fan to circulate hot air throughout the oven, improving heat distribution and trimming cook times. Fortunately, says Kaminski, the feature has become almost standard on all but the most basic built-ins. Look to spend an additional $250 to get the feature.
Cooking functions: Today’s built-ins are loaded with various cooking functions designed to appeal to an array of cooking preferences and abilities.
- The delay bake with cook-and-hold feature allows homeowners to program a specific start time followed by a gentle heat so dinner is ready after work.
- Variable broiling adds a second, lower temperature setting for a less intense top-down heating.
- Bakers might appreciate an oven with a bread-proofing function, which maintains super-low temps that allow dough to rise evenly.
- People who observe the Sabbath can purchase an oven with Sabbath mode, a setting that overrides the safety mechanism that automatically shuts off ovens after a certain time. The feature allows foods to stay warm without turning on the appliance in observance of the Sabbath.
Although variable broil can be found in machines starting at $900, most of the other options are reserved for units priced north of $1,200.
Temperature probes: Temperature probes are thermometers that monitor the internal temps of cooking items, such as turkeys and roasts, allowing the chef to verify doneness without ever opening the oven door. Some can be set to automatically shut off the heat at precisely the right moment, forever eliminating overcooked meat. Unfortunately, the technology doesn’t appear on many models under $1,400.
Ease of use: More significant than a seldom-used cook function, an oven’s racks, interior lighting, and window can greatly affect a homeowner’s cooking experience. High-end models boast bright halogen lights, large clear-viewing windows, and ball bearing-assisted racks that glide out with nary a tug. Luxury doesn’t come cheap, however, with these useful features showing up only in oven’s priced above $1,800.
Warming drawers: A narrow subset of the built-in market, warming drawers install flush to the cabinetry and resemble a normal drawer. With temps lower than an oven’s lowest setting, warming drawers excel at keeping prepared foods hot and fresh. Moisture control maintains appropriate humidity levels for everything from juicy poultry to crisp fried foods.
In addition to keeping food warm, these handy appliances can be used to proof bread dough and remove the chill from tableware. Warming drawers are sold in widths of 24, 27, and 30 inches to match standard cabinet sizes. Look to spend between $800 and $1000, plus installation.
Expected maintenance/repairs: Oven bulbs will need to be changed periodically. Almost all built-in ovens feature electronic control panels that, while reasonably reliable, are very costly to repair. One-year warranties are the industry-wide standard.
Where and when to shop: It’s best to shop where salespeople truly understand the product, such as an independently operated retail appliance store. Shoppers at big box stores may find themselves dealing with an employee from another department. Also, independent shops may have more latitude to offer free delivery, installation, and haul away.