A slick appearance, some cool features and a $1,599 price tag promised big things for the performance of the 30-inch freestanding electric Frigidaire Professional FPEF3077QF. Testing the Frigidaire's basic capabilities killed the high hopes I had for this electric freestanding range. Boil times fell behind those of comparable electric ovens, and a bridge feature that connects the left-front and -rear burners is problematic in its evenness. Design elements that are meant to make the Frigidaire FPEF3077QF more attractive and aesthetically pleasing, such as barely visible knob numbers and polite indicator chimes, create more problems than solutions.
Fairly consistent baking and roasting paired with a large oven chamber were the only aspects of the Frigidaire FPEF3077QF's performance that met my expectations. Unfortunately, the oven's promising capabilties aren't enough to make this range the pick of a litter of cheaper, comparable options.
Pretty details interfere with usability
At first glance, the Frigidaire Professional FPEF3077QF is simple and aesthetically adaptable to many kitchen designs. The exterior is stainless steel, and a black ceramic glass cooktop completes the unit.
Five burners are arranged efficiently on the black, ceramic glass cooktop. The burners include two seven-inch burners on the left side that connect with a bridge feature (more on that later), a center-rear warming zone, a 6-inch burner in the back right and a dual-surface burner in the front right. The dual-surface burner adapts to both 9- or 12-inch cookware, a big plus if you often cook with a large pot.
Below the cooktop, the Frigidaire FPEF3077's oven boasts 6.1 cubic feet of space, a hidden bake element and a convection fan in the back wall of the oven, typical features for an oven in this price range.
Some of the Frigidaire's design elements make sense from a visual standpoint but interfere with the range's usability. One of the biggest hiccups is the range's reliance on knobs instead of the control panel. The effect creates a streamlined appearance for the display panel, but also relies too heavily on the eight knobs to control all of the range's important parts: the four burners, the bridge feature, the warmer zone, oven mode and oven temperature. With four cast-metal, stainless-steel knobs on each side of the control panel, the back panel of the Frigidaire FPEF3077QF is nothing if not symmetrical. But all these dials can be unwieldy in the throes of cooking on multiple burners and using the oven at the same time.
Speaking of the knobs, the setting numbers are located on the knobs rather than on the surface surrounding the knob (take a look ator the for examples). This design choice declutters the back of the range, but the white type on the knobs is difficult to see under the glare of an overhead oven light.
Bonus features fall short
The Frigidaire FPEF3077QF comes with some additions that should make cooking with this range easier. However, some of these features were limited at best, and frustrating at worst.
Let's start with the bridge element on the Frigidaire's cooktop. This feature connects the two burners on the left side of the range by heating up the no man's land between the burners. This feature hasn't become standard, but the bridge has popped up on other higher-end ranges such as theand the . The bridge is ideal for accommodating large, long cookware like a griddle. However, there are a few caveats when you enable the bridge.
First, we can't forget that we're working with ceramic glass cooktop, so a traditional cast-iron griddle is a big no-no for this delicate surface. Instead, you have to use an item like an aluminum nonstick griddle that is safe for a smooth electric cooktop. We bought this T-Fal 18-by-11-inch nonstick griddle to use with the Frigidaire's FPEF3077QF's bridge feature. Even with the proper cookware, the bridge mode seemed to apply more heat to the front burner than the bridge and back burner. A little digging revealed that the left rear burner is connected to the bridge section in the middle, so these two areas will always have the same temperature. However, the front burner operates independently. When I cooked pancakes on the nonstick griddle with the front and rear sections on the same setting (6), the front burner stayed on while the back burner and bridge cycled on and off. This made the front section of my griddle hotter than the middle and back. The result was a set of three uneven pancakes, even though they cooked for the same amount of time.
Frigidaire says that the bridge feature adds an additional 800 watts of power to the back burner, which is why the back burner cycles on and off more often. The manufacturer also says that the variable temperatures allow for as much flexibility in griddle cooking as you would expect from a gas cooktop, and other manufacturers have the same design. Frigidaire is right. The bridge feature onshowed the same problem: a front burner that cooked food hotter than the bridge and back burner. I also made some pancakes on the bridge feature. The variable temperatures were also present, but the temperature variance wasn't nearly as severe as with the Frigidaire FPEF3077QF.
I appreciate versatility in the right situations. This feature would be fine if I wanted to cook pancakes on one end of a griddle and sausage on another end at a different temperature. But when it comes to straight pancake cooking, I want consistency from my electric oven's bridge feature. If I'm cooking across two burners and a bridge that aren't the same temperature, I might as well use the oven's largest burner and one of the smaller ones to cook separate items.