Tiny House Appliances: Ranges and Ovens

Tiny House Appliances: Ranges and Ovens

Andrew cooking for the fam at hOMe

Andrew cooking for the fam at hOMe

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 •

The Camp Chef is small and economical but must NOT be used indoors

The Camp Chef is small and economical but must NOT be used indoors

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?!

This commercial double induction counter top unit runs about $230

This commercial double induction counter top unit runs about $230

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 •

This 30" counter top unit costs about $380 and has 4 burners. You can opt for smaller units as well.

This 30″ counter top unit costs about $380 and has 4 burners. You can opt for smaller units as well.

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.

This convection oven isn't cheap ($480) but it's actually quite large

This convection oven isn’t cheap ($480) but it’s actually quite large

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 •

This marine unit is designed to rock at two pivot points as a boat bobs about

This marine unit is designed to rock at two pivot points as a boat bobs about

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.

tiny house appliances range ovens avanti

Avanti 20″ 4 burner gas range

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.

tiny house appliances oven ranges Morrison hOMe

This is the 30″ range we have in hOMe. We have never used the middle burners

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?

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22 Responses to Tiny House Appliances: Ranges and Ovens

  1. Samantha July 28, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

    One thing you can do with this range (I own one, too, in a full-sized kitchen) is store unused pans inside the oven when not using it, plus the lower drawer–offsetting the space it takes up in the kitchen.

    I got this for $700 at Best Buy.

  2. Annette July 28, 2016 at 6:40 pm #

    I use the stove, oven and microwave quite a bit in my small house right now. I’m contemplating using a microwave/convection oven (2 in 1) with a small separate stove when I get to build my THOW. Hopefully this will free up some space that would have been used for just the microwave. I plan on having the stove be propane. This way I will be able to cook whether I have electricity or not.

    • Gabriella July 30, 2016 at 11:58 am #

      Annette I’ve heard really good things about microwave/convection ovens. Nice that that option exists!

  3. Jerry McIntire July 28, 2016 at 8:48 pm #

    The consideration that has us thinking seriously about electric is the combustion gases from gas. Unless you have a good ventilation system, gas makes for bad indoor air quality.
    This exploration led us to induction burners and convection ovens, because they are so much more efficient than typical electric ranges and ovens.

    • Gabriella July 30, 2016 at 11:56 am #

      Hi Jerry! My mom feels the same way as you and changed all of her gas appliances to electric units.

    • Randy December 14, 2016 at 10:04 am #

      I totally agree. In addition to better air quality, an electric counter-top oven cooks much more evenly that LP. And, a counter top range is the same. When using gas, not only do you have to deal with worsened air quality, but a portion of the energy consumed by that flame goes around the pot and is lost. With electric, near 100% of the energy used goes into the pan. For that reason alone, especially in Georgia summers, I find an electric burner much more sane! A gas stove is ungodly hot in the summertime. The same principle regarding keeping the energy in the use applies to a water heater. A good bit of gas water heat goes right up the flue and is wasted. In some water heaters it can be as much as 35% loss. With an electric water heater, 100% of the energy used to heat the water goes straight into the water. I mean, there’s no where else for it to go, right! I think the drawback with electric appliances is you always have to have a municipal connection. Of course a generator would solve that but I’m not sure I would personally adjust to having to run a generator to cook! 🙂 In my own home, I am all electric with gas heat (logs). It’s been the best matrix of utilities I’ve ever used and with the extreme availability of electricity, it’s one I plan to keep using from now on.

  4. Linda Brewer July 29, 2016 at 4:06 am #

    I have lived in large houses, medium sized, and small apartments. My apartment is not much bigger than a tiny house, at just over 500 square feet. The kitchen is 7 foot wide and 8 feet long. I bought a Sears confection microwave. You have to remember that they cook in less time. I have a washer dryer in my pantry, at the of my kitchen. I have a roller cart, that my microwave sets on, that I can pull out when I need it. It keeps the heat down during the summer, when you don’t need the heat. This would be ideal to use in these spaces.

    • Gabriella July 30, 2016 at 11:55 am #

      Thanks Linda! I’ve really good things about them.

  5. Shawn Rosvold August 20, 2016 at 5:52 am #

    Hi! I just discovered your site, and I am really looking forward to learning more.

    I recently purchased a small gas countertop cooker from Aliexpress for $180 USD. We have not installed it yet, so I can’t comment on performance. Just looking at it, though, it seems to be extremely well made.

    http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Foreign-trade-export-built-in-Gas-Cooktops-with-flame-failure-safety-device-sealed-burners-easy-to/1719570036.html

  6. Jane leichter October 16, 2016 at 2:45 am #

    Glad to find your article. We have a very tight small arched cabin. It is 20×24. If we don’t run the bathroom fan for a couple of hours each day, we find it gets very damp inside just from the moisture of two people and a large dog. We were warned against an unvented propane furnace for that reason, and then I stupidly went for a propane range. I have a good downdraft vent fan to go with it, but am concerned about toxins and moisture build up. Any comments before I just give up

    • Pat Dunham October 17, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

      My tiny house is 9 ft. X 21 ft. by 8 ft. tall ceiling, nearly half the size of your space. We do no have a vent or exhaust fan and use a microwave and electric stove top and have no problem at all with moisture. The only challenge I have is cooking odors from strong foods like onions and peppers and fish. I am looking for space to fit in an exhaust fan, but not for moisture.

  7. Pat Dunham October 17, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

    I also forgot to mention, there are two adults and a 35 pound dog and no problem with moisture.

    • Gabriella October 17, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

      Jane, what is your climate like? Where do you live? We don’t have any issues with our propane range either in our 207sft tiny house even with 4 people and two dogs. We are in southern Oregon.

  8. Queeny in Calif. November 2, 2016 at 9:27 am #

    Thank you. All of your experience is helpful.☺ Queeny inCalifonia.

  9. creeky January 5, 2017 at 8:29 pm #

    Something I’ve learned living off grid: There’s a huge difference between an unvented propane furnace* and a propane stove. A propane furnace runs at 30k btu for hours. The big burner on a propane stove is maybe 11k. You run it for what. 5 minutes on full. 20 minutes on simmer? Or more likely, you simmer on the 5k btu burner turned down to minimum.

    I have a propane stove for the winter. Cooking and heat! I use an induction cooktop (more sun!) in the summer. I use a microwave year round.
    In the winter I heat a lot of food and cook on the wood stove. But it’s slow. So if I’m in a hurry. Like for coffee in the a.m. It’s the propane cooker all the way.

    I cope with cooking smells by opening a window. In the summer the window is open March through October. I’ve been meaning to put in a fresh air heat exchanger. There are some good simple diy models. And one of the big boxes has a well priced small exchanger that breathes. Instead of two passing layers of air it breathes out. and then breathes in. quite efficient. and no freezing up in my very cold climate.

    One thing. If you are on solar, get lithium batteries. High draw appliances like microwaves and induction cooktops are hard on lead acid. You’ll be generating nearly as much heat in your batteries as electrons to your appliance.

    * I love my vented propane furnace. Nice to have that base source of heat for when you’re away. And it’s quite thrifty if you’re heating during the day with the woodstove. *unvented propane heaters are illegal in my area.

    • Gabriella January 11, 2017 at 2:42 pm #

      Thanks so much for visiting our blog and commenting Creeky! You have a great website. As neophytes in the off-grid living realm, we appreciate hearing from others that have been going at it for many years. 🙂

  10. Janis April 10, 2017 at 5:14 pm #

    You didn’t mention the option of an RV range/oven. They are very similar to the marine range, but way cheaper! They come in two widths, 17″ and 21″ and cost around $400-500 new, but used units are readily available for $100-200.

    • Gabriella April 14, 2017 at 4:40 pm #

      Thanks Janis! 🙂

    • Bree June 5, 2017 at 5:08 pm #

      What website is that on? For the new and used?

  11. Patricia June 25, 2018 at 7:23 pm #

    Nuwave pro does all cooking baking with no heat build up and is very efficient. Kept on counter top. Can even do biscuits.

    • Patricia June 25, 2018 at 7:24 pm #

      Walmarts. $99

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