Range Options for Small Spaces
A well-equipped kitchen can go a long way toward making a tiny space into a home. At the center of the kitchen is the range, an appliance you'll use every day to prepare meals for yourself or your family.
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Small Household Ranges for Tiny Homes
For a stationary small space with a reliable supply of electricity, a smaller traditional household range would certainly be the most capable option. Household range options are available with a dizzying variety of features, finishes, and price points. You'll most likely be able to find all the features you want in a 24" wide model, and may even find a model you like as thin as 20" in size.
Gas ranges provide instant high heat, and are a favorite of chefs and home cooks. For a small space with a 120 volt power supply and access to propane or natural gas, a household gas range could be a good choice. Be certain that the range you choose is designed for your gas type. For instance, this 24" Smeg gas range comes from the factory designed for natural gas, but includes a kit to convert to propane. Like most household ranges, the Smeg model requires a 120 volt power supply to operate the electronic ignition. So, even though it uses very little electricity, it might not be a good choice for an off-grid space that uses primarily DC power.
For small spaces tied to the electrical grid, especially those with 240 volt service available, a small electric range might be a good option. Ranges with electric coil burners are cheapest, but tend to cook unevenly. Glass top electric ranges have a sleeker look and more even cooking. Induction cooktops are a popular choice on high-end ranges, but can be difficult to locate in thinner 20" and 24" sizes. If you have your heart set on an induction range in a small space, you might consider installing an induction cooktop separately from an electric wall oven.
RV and Marine Style Ranges
RV and marine ranges are built for very small off-grid applications, so they can be a great choice for a tiny space designed with off-grid capability. They're small, lightweight, operate on propane, and require either no external power, or a small 12 volt power supply to operate an igniter.
The quality of appliances designed for the RV market tends to be mediocre at best, and ranges are no exception. Ranges by Wedgewood, its cousin Atwood, Furrion, and Suburban feature light weight design and piezo ignition systems. They are budget-friendly and work well for off-grid applications, but they tend toward a chintzy look and feel.
The Dometic CU-434 range is a stand-out among RV ranges in its premium design. It includes a tempered glass lid, a smooth operating door, an oven light, and sealed burners that are positioned to be easy to clean.
Marine appliances tend to be higher quality than those designed for the RV market, though the prices reflect the higher build quality. The Eno Gascogne, Dickinson Marine's Mediterranean, or the Force 10 three burner range are all good choices for most tiny kitchens if you have the budget for it. For even smaller kitchens, a Force 10 two burner range, Dickinson Marine Carribean, or Eno Open Sea are all well-built capable ranges that fit in shallower spaces.
For the vintage enthusiast, or just a tiny home builder on a budget, salvaged ranges can be found on eBay for relatively low cost, and are fairly straightforward to refurbish. Popular vintage brands to look for are Coleman Holiday, Magic Chef, Princess, and Modernaire.
Small RV ovens need a little help to cook food evenly, so be sure to check out our tips for baking in an RV oven.
Portable Stove Solutions
Portable stoves are a good solution for very small spaces like vans or teardrop trailers, or just homes that need flexible counter space more than they need serious kitchen space.
Portable butane/propane gas burners are very popular in Asian homes. The high heat and open flame design of this model does a better job for wok cooking than most household ranges. Its portable design works just as well on the kitchen counter as on a picnic table outside, and it can seamlessly change from butane to propane fuel as needs arise.
Another popular portable stove option is a portable induction cooktop. While it's a relatively high-draw appliance, folks in off-grid RVs with serious solar systems or generators routinely use induction cooktops for their primary cooking, so it may be a practical option for your off-grid tiny space. Since induction cooktops use a magnetic field to generate heat, you'll want to make sure a magnet will stick to the bottom of your pans, or else they won't work with an induction cooktop.
The most budget-friendly portable stove option is a simple electric coil hot plate. With a similar power draw to a portable induction cook top, you'll need significant power reserves or a generator to use it off-grid, but if you don't often cook more than one pot meals, it may be all that you need.
Alternative Cooking Methods
There are countless cooking gadgets on the market aside from traditional stove tops and ranges. Most of them aren't worth the space they take up in a tiny home, but some have their advantages.
The Instant Pot is one of the most popular cooking gadgets in the tiny living community. Part slow-cooker, part pressure cooker, the Instant Pot is known for fast, easy, set-it-and-forget-it one-pot meals. The stainless insert is easy to clean, and it's super-efficient, so it uses minimal power draw compared to other electric cooking appliances. The raving positive reviews and social media attention for the Instant Pot are at a level usually reserved for people involved in pyramid schemes, so they must be doing something right.
My favorite cooking gadget that I make room for in my tiny space is my Anova Precision Cooker. Various household devices for in-home application of sous-vide, a technique previously reserved to high-end restaurants, came to market a couple of years ago. Vacuum sealed food is immersed in a water bath set to precisely the desired "done" temperature and left there for hours.
The results of properly applied sous vide cooking bring to mind words like "succulent," "divine," and "cheating." Cooking barbeque sous vide would get you run out of Texas on a rail, if only your guests could stop licking their fingers long enough to question your methods. I usually use my Weston vacuum sealer to bag foods for sous vide, but it's possible to use Ziploc bags or reusable silicone bags instead. While you can use any large enough pot, if you're regularly using sous vide, you'll probably want a restaurant style container with a lid meant for use with the Anova. I use the container to store other things under the sink when it's not in use. You can also get an insulated jacket for the container, but I just set mine on a hot pad and wrap it in a bath towel.
A good range hood is almost as important as the range itself. Small spaces fill quickly with heat, steam, smoke, odors, and combustion gases from burning propane. If you have a range, good ventilation is essential for safe and comfortable use in your space.
Ductless range hoods are useless. Yes, they usually include some sort of filter for odors, but they don't remove combustion gases like carbon monoxide, they don't remove steam or heat, and they don't do a very good job with smoke or odors either. Make sure the range hood you purchase is ducted or convertible, so you can vent it to the outside.
If you have a compact RV oven and a 12V power supply, a ducted RV range hood might be the best match. While most of the RV range hoods available in North America are relatively cheap looking, Camec in Australia makes a very nice 12 volt RV range hood. Other nice options from down under include Electrolux and Sphere. If you're in the market, check eBay or contact the company directly to see if they can export it for you.
For household models, there are relatively few options in 20" wide, but 24" range hoods are available in several styles.
For smaller spaces that have less defined kitchen areas, an overhead vent like the Maxxair Deluxe, along with a cracked window or door, should be enough to exhaust cooking fumes from the space.
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