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A cooking range is a stove with room for cooking several different things at one time. Technically, only the top section of what most people call a stove can be defined as a cooking range. This flat section of the stove usually contains a number of flat heating elements or cooking surfaces, either gas or electric. Ranges may be combined with ovens or configured separately. Some manufacturers consider the cook top and oven to be two separate units, but others will refer to the entire combination of cooking stove top and oven as a range.
The heating elements on a stove use electric or natural gas heating elements. Electric heating elements, sometimes referred to as coil-type burners, are made of a heat resistant alloy comprised of nickel, chromium, and steel wire, coated with a high temperature magnesium oxide (MGO) powder and a stainless steel sheath. Some electric cook tops consist of a smooth layer of tempered glass that covers the electric heating elements. Gas-powered ranges use separate, sealed gas-fired burners under iron grates to hold pots and pans.
Some high-end and professional stoves and commercial cooking ranges also offer other options for the cooking range surface, like a griddle, charbroiler, or a French top. A griddle is a flat, iron plate that is heated and used for cooking or frying foods like pancakes, bacon, and eggs. The charbroiler is a grilling surface with raised edges and a heating element below. It produces the dark, straight lines seen on grilled foods. The French top is a heavy, flat, steel plate on the range top, typically measuring about 24 inches (about 61 cm) square, with a gas burner underneath.
Ranges are available in just about any configuration from single electric coil-type or gas burners all the way up to a commercial cooking range with eight or more burners combined with a griddle, charbroiler, French top, or ovens. The range may be attached to a stove and sold as a single unit, combining oven and range. Some are built into a countertop. A portable range is a stand-alone stovetop unit which can be powered by gas or electricity.