Gas range - recommendations & using it with no electricity?

rosieoOctober 5, 2012

I've never had a gas stove so I'm totally unfamiliar with them. We're installing gas in our new kitchen so I will need to buy a gas range. We have frequent power outages(in the mountains) and I'm wondering how you start them with no electricity?

I'm guessing the oven won't work at all because there's no way to work the thermostat, but what about the burners? Could you use them to heat up soup?

I need a 30" range. What should I look for? Good or bad brands? I'm totally in the dark as far as what options I need. I need something that is not fancy but will hold up to heavy use. I live on a farm and process all our own foods. Lots of canning, bread baking, etc.

Thanks for any input!

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First off, I highly recommend a generator. It is so worth the investment. We too live in an area with frequent power outages, and after putting up with it for 15 yrs, we finally broke down and got a generator last fall after living through hurricane Irene (no power for over 3 weeks) and a freak snowstorm in October. Especially living on a farm - if your well is run by an electric pump (most are), you'll be without water too, unless you have an artesian overflow like we do (still a pain to collect water and bring it up to the house).

To answer your question, yes, you can use the stove without electricity. (That's how we always survived when the power would go out!) Most gas stoves have an electric starter mechanism, but even without that, you just turn on the burner and light a match to it. Magic!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 1:30PM
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Since you live in the mountains I am assuming you will not be getting a natural gas stove, you will be getting a propane(LP) stove. This is important for a couple of reasons. 1) when you are buying it you will need to find out if it comes with a conversion kit or if you need to buy one or if you need to buy the model of the stove that works on LP 2) when ever you are looking at a stove it will give the burner power in BTU's based on natural gas different stoves lose different % of power when they convert to LP. These are very difficult to find on manufacturer's websites, sometimes you have to send an email or call their customer service. However they are always on the stove itself usually in the bottom drawer.
As jenswrens said you will be able to use the stove top, just use a match. Usually you can't use the oven, one exception I know of is the Bertazonni which has an overide for the electric start and a mechanical as opposed to electronic thermostat.
It sounds like our needs are similar. I cook all our food from scratch, bake my own bread, can tons, etc... I choose a Bosch, getting delivered the 19th of this month so I can't tell you yet if it is perfect.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 3:54PM
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And of course if you light it with a match, you will need to remember that if it blows out, it will not relight automatically since it has nothing to produce another spark. When you have power this makes no difference but if you are used to using a very low flame, or if you have a simmer burner that relies on the flame cycling off and on, then you'll need to remember this.

In some ranges the broiler burner stays on continuously(unlike the oven), so if you can access where the broiler burner gas comes out you can light it with a match. I'd use a long match and be prepared for a little flare up unless you're very nimble at the lighting stage. I do mine that way occasionally during power outages. Of course if you're really in a pickle and have a good externally readabale oven thermometer you can operate the oven in a power outage by just turning it on and off as the temp changes warrant. Takes constant watching, though. And of course any convection fan doesn't work during power outages.

One last point: ranges, like all appliances, are getting more and more electronic-ified. It is always possible that soon even gas ranges could progress to the stage where they can't be lit by a match. You should always ask about this before buying.



    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 4:09PM
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I live in a very rural area, and have learned to make sure that there is someone that can service any appliance I buy. I have learned this the hard way.
The burners on my gas(lp, converted) range light with a match. Wonderful in an outage.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 4:22PM
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I believe that it is still possible to buy a new gas range that has pilot lights, but only if it doesn't have a power cord at all--no clock, no timer, no electronic controls. Pilot lights are inefficient, since they burn all the time, but they are not affected by power outages. Vintage gas ranges (like an O'Keefe & Merritt or Wedgewood-Holly from the 1950s) would have pilot lights (even if it did have apower cord). I had a Wedgewood-Holly for years (ca 1960), and the oven thermostat worked fine without electricity.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 5:31PM
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Of course if you're really in a pickle and have a good externally readabale oven thermometer you can operate the oven in a power outage by just turning it on and off as the temp changes warrant.

That won't work with the gas ovens I am familiar with. The gas valve is controlled by a solenoid, which is wired in line with the silicon carbide ignitor. The idea is that you can only get gas to flow if the ignitor is hot. (There are some subtleties concerning the resistance vs. temperature behavior of silicon carbide, but I don't think we need go into them here.)

Bottom line -- the valve that admits the gas is electric. This was true on my 25-yr-old cheapie White Westinghouse, my brand-new Blue$tar, and many others in between that I am familiar with.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 10:48PM
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I wanted a gas range that didn't use power, or at least didn't need it. I found three brands - Unique, Brown, and Premier. That's it. I never came across any others that you could use the oven without power. Some you can use the burners, some you can't.
I went with Premier which has pretty mixed reviews but it seemed the best of that small bunch. It's being delivered on Tuesday.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 11:32PM
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You can use the Bertazzoni oven with no power. I spoke to the rep when I was looking at one, and he has one at his camp in the allagash for that very reason.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 8:29AM
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