In the end, function won over form.
A major factor that played into the decision making was the cookie sheet. The size of the said sheet is 42 cm x 36 cm. Basically, I wanted to be able to fit large items into the oven but still be within the alloted width of 60 cm.
At first, I was gunning for built-in everything. But there were a few things to consider. One, was that a gas built-in oven was more expensive than the electrical version and it would require two gas tanks - one for the oven and the other for the stove. Two, was the fact that blackouts usually occur during a heavy downpour and it gets much worse during typhoon season (there are times we will not have electricity for days on end). In this country, half the year is rainy season and typhoons happen all year round.
As to the brand, Ariston is quite cheap and has built-in ovens that can amply fit the pan along with Elba. But a bit of research on the internet was all it took to find a lot of complaints about Ariston and not enough feedback about Elba which is more expensive than La Germania. Also, Elba's freestanding ranges don't have "feet" so you can't clean underneath the range.
So we decided on La Germania. Since the brand and the size were set, it greatly narrowed the playing field thus making it easier for me to make up my mind. (Making decisions is not easy for me as I usually want everything.)
La Germania looks good but the pan won't fit properly inside. One end of the sheet acts as the "handle" but the door won't close if the pan is positioned correctly. You would need to arrange the sheet so that the handle is at the side for it to fit (refer to the AirBake Cookie Sheet picture on the left). Unfortunately, this would then deem the handle useless.
I make cookies quite often so it was a pain to bake with smaller cookie sheets as it takes longer to finish everything. Thus, as much I wanted built-in, aesthetics had to take a backseat to practicality.
Now this left me with the freestanding range. It solved the blackout and oven depth problem at the same time. Only catch was that it was not as pretty. There were "sleeker" options but they also cost more. Here are the differences:
1. T651 22X - Php 36,450 - enamel trivet without safety device
2. M64C 71X - Php 44,849 - enamel trivet with safety device and heat surround-fan assisted oven
3. N64C 71X - Php 54,849 - cast iron trivet with safety device and heat surround-fan assisted oven
The first one is the most basic of the three. The other two have a safety device which automatically turns off the gas if the sensors detect that the flames are already out. Basically, if T651 22X's burners are on but for some reason did not light up, it might be leaking gas indefinitely especially if you are not aware that it's on.
M64C 71X also has a sturdier looking trivet (thicker enamel than T651 22X) while the last option has a cast iron trivet. As far as I could tell, cast iron was the only difference between options 2 and 3.
I'm definitely not shelling out cash for a cast iron trivet as there are other priorities. But was I willing to pay Php 8000 more for a heat surround-fan assisted oven?
I wrestled with this question for weeks and even as we were about to pay for the range, my mind was still divided. But in the end, I decided on the first option as Php 8000 can go a long way with the many things we still have to buy.
N-3601SS which is the upgraded version of the N-4601SS and costs Php 900 more. That was the difference between a zinc-coated galvanized iron filter and one made of stainless steel thoughout. My thinking was that having saved a lot of money on the range itself, the extra cost for the range-hood was quite minimal in the greater scheme of things.