A kitchen stove, cooking stove, cookstove or cooker is a kitchen appliance designed for the purpose of cooking food. Kitchen stoves rely on the application of direct heat for the cooking process and may also contain an oven, used for baking.
In the industrialized world, as stoves replaced open fires and braziers as a source of more efficient and reliable heating, models were developed that could also be used for cooking, these came to be known as kitchen stoves. When homes began to be heated with central heating systems, there was less need for an appliance that served as both heat source and cooker and stand-alone cookers replaced them. Cooker and stove are often used interchangeably.
The fuel-burning stove is the most basic design of kitchen stove. In the developing world, such stoves are still the most common cooking appliances and new, more fuel efficient and environmentally sound biomass cook stoves are being developed for use there. Modern kitchen stoves may use alternative methods for heating food. Natural Gas and electric stoves are the most common today in western countries. Both are equally mature and safe, and the choice between the two is largely a matter of personal preference and preexisting utility outlets: if a house has no gas supply, adding one just to be able to run a gas stove is an expensive endeavour. In particular, professional chefs often prefer gas cooktops, for they allow them to control the heat more finely and more quickly. On the other hand, some chefs often prefer electric ovens because they tend to heat food more evenly. According to EnergyGuide labels on appliances sold in the U.S. and EnerGuide labels in Canada, natural-gas-fueled appliances are more cost-efficient for the duration of their life. Today’s major brands offer both gas and electric stoves, and many also offer dual-fuel stoves combining gas cooktops and electric ovens.
Modern kitchen stoves have both burners on the top (also known in American English as the cooktop or range and, in British English, the hob) and, as noted, an oven. A cooktop just has burners on the top and is usually installed into a countertop. A drop-in range has both burners on the top and an oven and hangs from a cutout in the countertop (that is, it cannot be installed free-standing on its own)