When it comes to built in ovens, there are many different styles, colors, and fuel types available. What will limit you in your decision it the type of fuel that's available at your home.
There are only three types of fuels available though, natural gas, propane, and electric. Each one has advantages, and disadvantages. For example, propane is a rural fuel while natural gas is usually only available in the urban areas of the world.
Built in electric ovens are probaly the most versatile fuel type, because electricity is available everywhere except very rural areas.
Let's talk about the most often used built in ovens. They are the conventional oven, the convection oven, the combination oven, and the steam oven. I will explain each one below. Except for convection wall ovens I wrote a separate page for that one.
All fuel types are available with these ovens. Gas wall ovens are the most popular but electric is also a good choice. If you don't cook very often, or if you already have the electrical outlet in place.
These ovens are the least expensive of all the oven types. There aren't a whole lot of extras available with these ovens.
This type of built in oven can have temperature differences from top to bottom. This is less prevalent in electric ovens with dual elements, one on top and one on bottom. But there are still temperature differences in all conventional ovens. This is also the most popular gas range oven.
The pro's can out weight the con's if cost is the most important factor in your decision.
No matter what oven you decide on it's always a good idea to get a self cleaning type. As we all know the oven can get very dirty. For what little extra this feature costs, the benefit far outweighs the down sides.
These ovens are a good choice if you bake or roast only occasionally. Sizes range from 24 inches to 30 inches, but some are available in 36 inches but these are not common, and quite expensive.
Sizes range from the size of a microwave up to the same size as a built in oven. The wall oven sized unit is installed in the same way as any oven. These ovens are not cheap, they start at $1500 and go all the way up to $8000 for a top of the line Gaggenau 30" steam oven.
Steam built in ovens use water that is placed in a container that is drawn off by siphoning or simply dumped into the bottom of the oven. The siphoning type is more efficient at conserving the water to cook for longer periods of time. The oven that uses water placed in the bottom is not regulated as efficiently.
Having hard water may affect these ovens in the same way hard water affects a hot water heater. When the water is heated the calcium and other solids in the water tend to settle and bond to the heating elements in the units.
Some manufacturers, such as Viking, claim that their products are not affected by this. These ovens also stay much cleaner on the inside, and when cleaning is necessary it's not baked on. Most also have a steam cleaning option.
Cooking times are drastically lower than any other oven type.
These ovens aren't just for cooking meats. What can you cook in these ovens? Well pretty much anything. You can cook pasta, breads, vegetables, rice, fish, puddings, and some steam ovens can be used as defrosters.
There are some down sides to these ovens. Browning is not possible with most of these ovens and the extra step of browning must be done in a separate oven, or done beforehand. Food that comes out of these ovens is pale and whitish, like the food that comes out of a microwave.
Sharp has come up with a solution for this problem though. Their SuperSteam Oven uses superheated steam along with microwave convection heating to help brown and crisp the outsides of food. Not only is this oven capable of cooking with steam and convection but also has the capability of cooking with microwave technology. This is essentially a combination oven which I will go over now!
For example, poaching fish with the steam oven will cook the fish without drying it out. No need to use aluminum foil to create a pouch for cooking the fish. Vegetables also benefit from the steam oven option. Using steam is also healthier because it helps to retain more nutrients.
These units are more expensive when compared to a single cooking option. But the cooking times with steam are drastically reduced; saving you time and money. Having a combi oven will also eliminate the need to brown foods in a separate oven; if you have the steam oven only option.
Moving the microwave away from the countertop, or above the range, to a built in cabinet cleans up the look and gives more freedom in the design. I personally do like this option, but it's a personal choice that does have advantages.
What I really like about this combi oven is cooking the food with the microwave, and transferring it to the convection oven to brown the food if need be. The price is also somewhat lower than the other combination oven type; prices start at around $1500 and continue up to $7000.