If you have a kitchen that can accommodate them, wall ovens are a nice alternative to the standard all-in-one range. They can install into most cabinetry setups and come in a variety of sizes. When mounted at the proper height, these appliances make it much easier and safer for you to insert and remove food items; especially when compared to a range.
There are many types of wall ovens available, from single, doubles and combinations, to specialty ovens like speed ovens and steam ovens. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering your purchase.
First and foremost, you should consider the size of wall oven that your space can accommodate. Single and double wall ovens come in an industry standard width of 30 inches, but 27 inch and 24 inch models are available in some brands for replacement and for smaller kitchens. Their interior capacities run the gamut from 1.5 to 5+ cubic feet, depending on the brand and oven type.
Unlike oven width, oven height does tend to vary by brand and model, whether you’re considering a single, double or combination oven. Some brands do offer a “fit guarantee” to help compensate for this, or may come with adjustment and spacer kits in case the fit isn’t perfect. This doesn’t necessarily mean the appliance will fit your space without cabinetry modifications, but in many cases they will reimburse any needed modifications in the replacement (up to a set dollar amount). These are typically offered in the form of mail-in rebates.
Wall ovens are predominantly electric, however there are still a few select brands that offer gas versions. Typically gas wall ovens are relegated to more premium custom brands, such as Blue Star or American Range, so you will widen your options significantly by sticking with an electric model.
- Electric – Traditionally bakers prefer electric ovens because they maintain temperature more consistently than gas, and the heat distribution is more even. They require a 240-volt electrical connection. These give you more flexibility in style and most all manufactures carry them.
- Gas – These require a natural gas or liquid propane connection, as well as an 120-volt electrical connection. They are more energy efficient when compared to electric, and gas is a more “humid” type of heat, thus keeping roasted foods more moist in the cooking process.
Convection – Yes or No?
Convection, as it relates to an oven, is the process of circulating air around the interior of an oven. This helps minimize the hot and cold spots common to thermal ovens and results in more even temperatures. Most brands use an internal fan or set of fans to do this, and there are many advantages in using convection for both roasting and baking. One thing to keep in mind is that convection is just an option – convection ovens can be used without enabling the convection modes, so they do still retain the ability to cook just like a thermal oven.
Convection does require recipe adjustment if that recipe is for a standard thermal oven. This typically means either a reduction of the cooking time by approximately 25%, or a reduction of the cooking temperature by 25 degrees. Every oven is different and this is not an exact science, so experimentation with your recipes may be required. But the benefit of being able to bake three racks of cookies that come out evenly done, or roasting a perfectly browned turkey, is definitely worth the adjustment.
There are two types of convection used in modern ovens:
- Standard Convection – With standard convection, the convection process is achieved through either a fan, or through the shape of the oven cavity naturally directing proper airflow.
- True (or European) Convection – With true convection, you will still have a fan directing the air, but there is also another oven heating element hidden behind the fan itself. These fans will draw air in and across these heating elements, and then redistribute it throughout the cavity, giving a much more even temperature than standard convection. Most modern ovens offer true convection.
More and more brands are beginning to offer Wi-Fi connectivity. There is yet to be an industry standard in place, so features and apps will vary by brand. The advantages of Wi-Fi do provide great benefits for today’s busy homeowners.
Some of the advantages of Wi-Fi connectivity include the ability to link the oven timer to your phone, view internal temperature with the use of meat probes, and start a pre-heat through products such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Some brands even offer repair diagnosis via Wi-Fi, potentially saving the trouble of setting up a service call.
Additional Features to Consider
- Self-Cleaning – An often requested feature, self-clean cycles will raise your ovens temperature to 800+ degrees and turn any food mess into soot and ash. This feature is offered in most brands, and is much easier than scrubbing by hand. But keep in mind that self-clean is a regular source of service calls and can potentially shorten the life of your oven, because high heat and electronics do not mix well.
- Delay-Bake Option – This feature allows you to select when you want the oven to start and stop cooking. This works best if you want something to be cooked when you arrive home from work.
- Temperature Probes – These tools are one of the complements to aid your cooking in today’s ovens, and we highly recommend brands that offer them. When connected to the oven and inserted into your food of choice, your oven will track your food’s temperature and notify you once it reaches the proper internal temperature. Some ovens can be set to turn off once this temperature is achieved.
- Recipe Programs – Some premium brand appliances offer built-in recipes, even going so far as to recommend temperature, pan type and size. Typically used in conjunction with temperature probes, these programs can help you discover new foods you had no idea you could make!
In addition to single wall ovens and double wall ovens, there are now more options than ever before, allowing for more distinct cooking styles.
- Combination Ovens – Combination ovens are very similar to a double oven, but the difference is that the top appliance is a microwave, convection microwave oven, or speed oven. Models with a convection microwave or speed oven are a great way to combine appliances, since both oven options can double as either a microwave or convection oven.
- Speed Ovens – Speed ovens utilize several heating styles at once, such as microwaves, convection, halogen lamps and broilers, to drastically cut down on cooking times. Options such as GE’s Advantium oven even have pre-programmed directions. Ever cook a lasagna in less than 20 minutes? With a speed oven, you can! Typically offered in either 240-volt or 120-volt variants, but we recommend the 240 for fastest speeds and usability.
- Steam Ovens – Steam ovens, sometimes referred to as “combi” ovens, utilize both steam and convection to heat foods evenly and keep them moist. Because these are typically smaller ovens, they also pre-heat faster than a full size oven. Steam ovens are also much better at retaining the nutrients in food, and keep vegetables looking fresh and vibrant. They’re not just for vegetables though; steam ovens are great for breads, roasts, rice and fish too! And for one of the more unknown benefits, try reheating leftovers in a steam oven – they’ll be refreshed like new and you’ll never go back to the microwave!