How to Pick a Range by Its BTU Rating

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Ranges, whether gas or electric, have ratings for the amount of heat that the burners provide on the highest settings. Manufacturers use BTUs to rate gas ranges and kilowatts (kW) to describe electric ranges. The acronym, BTU, stands for British thermal units. People who cook a large amount of food at a time need more BTUs or kWs to increase the temperature in the oven or on the burners to cook food effectively, especially when deep frying.

  • Consider the types of cooking you want to do on the stove top and in the oven. If you frequently fry food, you may want to choose a range with higher BTUs than if you usually steam or simmer your food. Maintaining high temperatures when deep frying is an important consideration, since the oil needs to regain its heat quickly so the food absorbs less oil. Some ranges use both gas and electricity for efficient cooking, taking advantage of the immediate heat of gas burners and the steady heat of electrical coils.

  • Check the circuit breaker for your kitchen range if you have an electric stove. The amps that your circuit breaker can safely carry may determine the total BTUs or kWs that the new range can support. Putting in too powerful a range results in a blown circuit breaker and poses a fire hazard if the circuit breaker fails. An electrician can install a larger circuit breaker if the breakers are insufficient.

  • Determine the kind of cookware you use. If you typically cook with cast iron pans, a range that has burners with higher BTUs heat thick and heavy-bottomed pans more quickly. Conversely, thinner stainless steel and nonstick cookware do not need the high temperatures to heat quickly and maintain the heat after adding the food.

  • Convert the BTU ratings to kWs by dividing the BTUs by 3,414.43, the number of BTUs in a kW. If you want to change kWs to BTUs, multiply the kWs by 3,414.43. The conversion is useful if you are not sure whether you want a gas or electric range and want to compare the heat output of a particular gas stove versus an electric stove.

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  • Photo Credit two gas stoves image by Christopher Walker from Fotolia.com
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