Tiny House Appliances: Ranges and Ovens
You’ve spent what feels like countless weeks framing, sheathing, insulating, roofing, and trimming your tiny house and you have finally reached the most fun stage in any construction project: decorating and installing appliances!! But which tiny house appliances should you choose? Which ones will serve the demands of your tiny house lifestyle the best? A couple of weeks ago we covered refrigerator options for tiny houses on wheels and foundations. In this article, we cover tiny house appliances: ranges and ovens.
Multiple options exist when it comes to cooking surfaces and which one you choose depends on what your heat source is (electric or propane), how many you regularly cook for, and how much space you can spare for a range or counter top unit. Here at hOMe, we have a propane standard 30” wide range for our family of four but truth be told, even with all of the cooking that we do, it’s larger than what we need, especially when it comes to the oven (which takes a lot of propane to heat).
When deciding which unit to purchase, it’s important for you to be honest and realistic about what your needs actually are. If possible, visit or rent a house on AirBnB, etc. that has a range the size that you are considering and see if that unit meets your needs. You may be surprised at how small of a range is necessary to prepare even a grand feast.
• Electric vs Propane Ranges/Ovens •
In terms of deciding whether to install electric vs. propane cooking tiny house appliances, there are a couple of factors to take into consideration. First of all, heating with electricity is extremely energy intensive so unless you have a reliable grid-tied power source, gas/propane is the best way to go. If you plan on moving your tiny house around at all, you will need to go with propane rather than natural gas. Gas can only be delivered via municipal lines which requires the residence to be permanently connected to a fixed foundation. With propane though, one can store fuel in a canister and fill/transport it themselves.
If you are part of the lucky club that can choose between gas and electric appliances, your decision comes down to preference. I know avid cooks that refuse to cook on anything other than gas and others who feel the opposite. Personally, we prefer cooking over gas because it’s quick and because we find the heat to be very even.
• Small/Portable Tiny House Ranges/Ovens •
If you don’t cook a ton and are looking for a super basic, lighweight, economical cooking option, then the Camp Chef may be just the thing. We own one and it works really well. There is a little oven, two propane burners and even a griddle that you can set up top for Sunday morning pancakes. They cost about $230 and are super lightweight. The main challenge with these units is that one must NOT cook with them inside. Any cooking you do with it needs to happen outside which honestly is not a bad way to go (unless you live in the arctic circle); who wants all that cooking grease inside their tiny house anyways?!
An induction countertop unit is low profile, weighs an insignificant amount, plugs into any standard wall outlet, and is super easy to clean, so a great option for those with grid-tied power. When done, just wipe it down and store it out of sight. One thing to know about inductions tops is that they only work with pots and pans that contain iron in them so if you have an aluminum set, you will need to go out and get new cookware.
• Medium Tiny House Ranges/Ovens •
For more permanent applications, various cooktop options exist in both electric and gas/propane. You can shop for RV units or in regular residential appliance stores. Either one works great and your choice will vary on pricing and function/aesthetics. Solid surface electric countertop units are a messy cook’s best friend bc they are so easy to clean. If you will be on a propane system, loads of options exist as well such as the one pictured at left.
To complement any countertop cooking surface, you may want a small portable oven for those nights you crave fresh baked cookies. Various options exist and one can even get a small convection oven such as the one pictured on the right. Again, these units are lightweight and portable, allowing you to store them out of sight if day to day use isn’t a necessity. The convection units are very efficient and cook very well. Sorry, but as far as I can tell, a gas/propane countertop oven certified for indoor cooking does not exist. If you know of one, please let me know in the comments below.
• Large Tiny House Ranges/Ovens •
One look I love is that of marine appliances. Call me nostalgic but they remind me of childhood days spent on family boats. I have seen some tiny house folks take marine ranges/ovens and install them in their homes and I think they are liking them. The cost for these units is super high though. A simple 3 burner range/oven will set you back about $1,400 if you buy it new. I don’t see any distinct advantage of using a marine unit vs. an RV one vs. a conventional house one so if budget is a concern, this likely won’t be an appealing option.
If you are wanting a slim profile for your oven/range an apartment sized unit is likely your best bet. They measure in at a modest 20”, weigh just 110 or so pounds, and easily provide enough cooking surface in a 2-4 person tiny house set up. The oven compartments in apartment sized ranges typically measure in at 2.6 CF which is large enough for day to day cooking and even a small turkey. Prices for new units start at around $320 and work their way up depending on finish and accessories. If Andrew and I remodel hOMe at any point, we will downsize our range into one of these 20″ units.
Most likely the largest size you should consider for a range unit in a tiny house on wheels is a standard 30″ one. That is what we have in hOMe. Frankly, we have never used the middle burners and have all of our cooking needs met on the perimeter four burners. We do have full sized pots and pans so when we are really cooking, it is nice to have such a large unit. For day to day, though, we would be totally fine on a 20″ range. One of the great disadvantages of a standard 30″ oven is that each time we need to bake, we have to heat the whole space, wasting a huge amount of propane. If we were to get another 30″ oven, we would get one with double doors so that we could bake in smaller compartments and not waste so much fuel. This is true for electric units as well. These larger units are very heavy (about 200#).
In conclusion, which tiny house kitchen appliances you choose will be in large part dictacted by whether you have access to grid tied electricity. If not, then your choices become easier. The most important thing you can do when deciding what size range/oven you want is to be honest about how much you cook and how much space you really need. We really were convinced that we needed a full sized unit because four of us cook in hOMe regularly, but I can say for sure that we would have been fine with a 20″ unit instead.
How about you? What range/oven/cooktop are you going to install in your tiny house?