The way the last couple weeks have been I really should do a humor post to cheer us all up, so I will put that on the docket asap. But for today, we will return to appliance-land, so you can live happily-ever-after with what you choose.
Ranges- The standard range, gas or electric is 29 1/2" wide and counter depth at 25 1/2". If you choose gas, be sure to tell the salesperson if it is for LP (liquid propane) use. They all come ready for natural gas, but not all are convertible. You will need a LP conversion kit which is a set of orifices that may come with it or you might have to buy.
Nowadays, the convection ranges aren't much more than a regular one, so if you bake a lot, this might be something to consider. Convection is a fan or fans that circulate the heat more evenly than just the element above and below. It can save you energy by lowering the temp for the same cooking time, or using the same temp and a shorter cooking time. It depends on what you are baking. Read the book folks, as they all seem to program a tad differently--- but it's not that complicated.
The coil cook tops are only on the cheapest of ranges as ceramic has taken over. I would rather clean a ceramic top if something boils over then the coil, ring, pan and below the burner. Yes, if you slide rough things across them, they will scratch. Ceramic ones often have multiple rings per element so you can use the size best for your pan. (I had a guy ask me today "What if you want to use more than one ring....?)" Yes, you can use these ranges for canning.
Gas is still popular with high-brow cooks, but really the electric elements have been fine tuned to compete. Only thing is that the burner on electric doesn't immediately cool, unless you have an induction cook top (which operates with magnets. It is warm, but touchable right away.)
Microwaves- Over-the-range microwaves (OTRs) all are 29 1/2" W just like the ranges they are above. They all have exhaust fans and lights. You can vent out or recirculate the exhaust. They are a pain to install because they slide in brackets above and behind, (note-common sense would tell you to move the range out to make it easier, but a guy had to buy another range because he dropped the micro and shattered the range cook top while trying to install....) Anything over 1100 Watts is just bragging rights. Does it matter if something cooks quicker when we are talking a couple minutes? Some are available with convection if that's something you need.
If you have an older home with a traditional range hood, it is likely you will have to modify the cabinets in order to have the 17" space from the cook top to the bottom of the micro. Often it's not worth the expense unless you are gutting your kitchen anyway.
Built-Ins- These are designed to blend in with the cabinetry. If you want to replace something, you must have the cut-out out dimensions and not just the finished size because they are all a bit different and if your cabinet is even modifiable, it will be expensive. I try very hard to find one that will switch out, but it might not always be the one you really want. I really wish manufacturers had to standardize built-ins. With cook tops you have to make sure that your cabinet below can handle the depth without impeding a drawer, etc.
Next stop: Dishwashers, washers and dryers....
Until next time,