It's a competition that transcends the ages - not David and Goliath - we're talking range versus stove. Your RIS Consumer Confidant found himself pondering the pros and cons of this most basic but critical home appliance recently, and turned to Janet Hall at remodelista.com for some guidance.

Her enlightening Remodeling 101 series defines the difference between range or a cooktop-wall oven combination.

Hall says options in size, configurations, and cooking functions of ranges, cooktops, and ovens are vast, allowing for better adaptability to cooking needs and the kitchen's physical constraints. But it also makes the selection process complicated.

The consensus among experts, Hall says, is that a range is the best option for a small kitchen with limited wall and cabinet space.

Ranges come in standard widths (generally 24, 30, 36, and 48 inches) and fit into a cabinet opening, while she says cooktops take up counter space but leave base cabinet storage space available.

Hall says a single wall oven's space needs are similar to a standard range and offer great flexibility of placement. It's the double wall oven that's the space hog - double ovens effectively remove 30 to 33 inches of usable counter top real estate.

The two cost factors are the appliance and the installation, Hall says. Generally, ranges are the way to go to keep costs down - there more options at the lower end of the budget spectrum, and they're easy to install.

Hall says top-of the line ranges are not more affordable than cooktop-oven combos, and if replacing existing units, it's less costly from an installation standpoint to stick with what you have.

Another cost consideration is replacement. Hall says if one cooking component of a range breaks, you have to replace both - with a separate cooktop and oven setup, just replace them individually when/if they break.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.