Various dishes cooking on the cooktop of a gas range

Slide-in vs. freestanding ranges: what’s the difference?

The differences between the types of ranges lie in the installation and the location of controls. While slide-in ranges are designed to fit between cabinets, freestanding models allow you to configure your kitchen how you like through the choice of built-in or stand-alone placement.

Freestanding ranges are built with a backguard that houses the controls. On slide-in ranges, which do not feature a backguard, range controls are displayed prominently at the front of the appliance.

If you’re looking for the perfect appliance for fueling your busy kitchen, it’s important to know where the key differences between slide-in and freestanding ranges lie.

A stainless steel double oven freestanding range in a modern kitchen A stainless steel double oven freestanding range in a modern kitchen

What is a freestanding range?

A freestanding range is an incredibly versatile model that can be easily incorporated into most kitchen layouts. With a cooktop surface and one or two ovens below, these ranges can come in gas, electric or dual fuel options, with a control panel for both the cooktop and oven.

When you think of a typical range, this is the model you probably envision. Freestanding ranges feature finished sides that allow them to be installed between cabinets or on their own, making them a flexible choice for most kitchens. In addition to housing the controls, backguards on these ranges also help protect the wall behind the range from spills and splashes. However, the protruding backguard also means that freestanding ranges may not be the best fit for kitchen islands. Bring convenience and personalization to your kitchen layout with a Whirlpool® freestanding range.

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A black slide-in range in a rustic kitchen A black slide-in range in a rustic kitchen

What is a slide-in range?

A slide-in range is a model designed to slide between kitchen cabinets, appliances or other fixtures to provide a seamless, built-in look. Featuring an array of cooking controls prominently displayed at the front of the appliance, these models are a practical choice for spaces with kitchen islands or decorative backsplash walls. Slide-in ranges are also available in several fuel options, including electric, gas and dual fuel.

The main difference between freestanding and slide-in ranges is installation. While freestanding ranges can stand alone or be installed between cabinets, one of the benefits of slide-in ranges is that they are specifically designed to sit between cabinets for a seamless look. Because of this, slide-in ranges have unfinished sides that makes them ill-suited for standalone installation.

The configuration is also different – controls for slide-in ranges are usually located on the top or front of the appliance. Slide-in ranges also lack a backguard, which is why many homeowners install tile behind the range if they are placing it against a wall.

The sleek look of slide-in ranges has made them popular choices for kitchen remodels and installation in kitchen islands. Best of all, the range’s overhanging sides keep food and liquids from spilling into gaps between the cooktop and counter, making kitchen clean-up easy. Let your family enjoy mealtime even more with the sleek integration of a Whirlpool® slide-in range that will help you get dinner on the table when you need it most.

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Black Whirlpool® gas cooktop Black Whirlpool® gas cooktop

What is a drop-in range?

 A drop-in range is a cooking appliance that fits into customized cabinetry and is most commonly installed in kitchen islands. These ranges tend to sit above woodwork or cabinetry to give the appliance a built-in look. 

It provides a streamlined and seamless look for your kitchen, with the control panel often found on the front of the range rather than on a backguard. Drop-in ranges tend to be more expensive than other types of ranges due to their customization and installation costs.

What are the key differences between freestanding, slide-in and drop-in ranges?

There are several factors that differentiate slide-in ovens from freestanding and drop-in options, including installation, control configuration and features. Read on below to better understand these key differences to help make your choice a little easier.

Black Whirlpool® slide-in range

1. Installation

Freestanding ranges are highly flexible when it comes to installation. They can be installed nearly anywhere in your kitchen, and typically don’t require any customization or cabinetry. Slide-in and drop-in ovens are typically more expensive than freestanding options as they can have more costly installations that may require professional help and need to be installed within existing or custom cabinetry.

Person selecting a cook setting on a Whirlpool® range

2. Configuration of controls

Freestanding ranges typically have the oven controls, timers and settings on the backguard, while slide-in and drop-in ovens usually have them located on the front of the range. Because they don’t have a backguard, drop-in and slide-in ranges are ideal to install in kitchen islands or beneath decorative backsplash.

Person cleaning a spill on a black Whirlpool® range

3. Features

Specific range features vary depending on the make and model of your range. However, a feature that many slide-in and freestanding ranges share that a drop-in often lacks is a storage/warming drawer. This can be convenient for storing pots, pans, and food items that you plan to cook. Drop-in range designs often omit this drawer to help the appliance fit more seamlessly within custom cabinets or kitchen islands.

Red sauce and pasta cooking on a slide-in and freestanding range respectively Red sauce and pasta cooking on a slide-in and freestanding range respectively

Can a slide-in range replace a freestanding range?

While both freestanding and slide-in ranges offer similar options and performance, the two designs are not completely interchangeable. Once again, it comes down to installation.

Slide-in ranges are not installed directly against a wall, sitting a few inches away from it. Because of this, there is usually a few inches of countertop space that wraps around the back of the cooktop. If you swap out your slide-in range for a freestanding model, you will need to update your countertop configuration to accommodate it.

Likewise, you’ll need to prepare to fill in a two-inch gap (or larger) if you’re trading in a freestanding range for a slide-in model. You’ll also need to update the wall behind your range so it’s immune to steam, water and stains.

Before purchasing a freestanding or slide-in range, be sure to speak with a qualified appliance retailer and/or a remodeling expert to make sure your new range will fit properly in your kitchen.

To help you decide on the best range model for your kitchen, learn more about range sizes and dimensions.

Black Whirlpool® freestanding range, gas cooktop and slide-in range Black Whirlpool® freestanding range, gas cooktop and slide-in range

Freestanding vs. drop-in vs. slide-in range: which is best for my kitchen?

When trying to decide between a slide-in, drop-in or freestanding range, it’s important to consider kitchen layout, fuel source, aesthetics and your family’s needs.

Where will the new range go? Will it need gas or electric hook-ups? Do you want your range to blend in or stand out? Will the new range be able to accommodate your family’s favorite dishes? 

Before you make your purchase, be sure that your new range is the right fit in every way.

While slide-in ranges are often more expensive due to the custom nature of their installation, the best type of range for your home will depend on the layout and look you’re trying to achieve for your kitchen.

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Explore Whirlpool® ranges

Need a range that helps you prepare the food your family loves? Learn more about the types of stoves or ranges or discover the appliance that’s perfect for your kitchen by exploring the collection of kitchen ranges by Whirlpool brand. You can also explore our range buying guide to learn how to choose the right stove for your needs.

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