Whether you need a new cooker to replace your old one or you simply want an upgrade, finding the right one for you can be a challenging task. There are a number of points that you need to consider when buying a new cooker, such as your fuel supply, the type of cooker that you want, the features that you need, the size and the installation process – which is why we have created this guide. With our Buyer's Guide finding the perfect cooker for your kitchen is easy.
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To find the perfect cooker you must first find out what fuels are available in your house. There are four types of fuel that cookers can run on: gas (natural gas and LPG), electric, solid fuel and oil.
Gas cookers can give you instant and controllable heat but before you buy your cooker, check your gas connection. You need to have a live mains gas supply within 1.5 metres of the location of your cooker. There are two types of gas fuel available – Natural gas and LPG. Natural gas or mains gas is available in most areas although some rural areas do not have mains gas.
LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) is propane gas bottled in cylinders that is used for cooking. LPG is good if you want the advantages of a gas cooker but aren’t within reach of gas mains. LPG cylinders generally last between 3-6 months depending on your cooking style. LPG conversion kits are available should you want to convert – however some appliances are not designed for LPG use so you should always check with your manufacturer first.
You should also note that having gas central heating does not automatically mean that you have a gas supply for your cooker. Always check beforehand. All gas cookers should be installed by a gas safe registered engineer.
If you previously had an electric cooker then choosing a new one that also runs on electricity may be easier for you, although it isn’t essential. Electric Cookers are essential in areas with no gas mains. Electric cookers need to be within reach of a suitable power socket and should be installed by a qualified electrician. You should also check your electric supply when buying an electric cooker as different cookers, such as induction or ceramic may need a different electric supply.
Originally cookers ran on solid fuel like coal and wood, some cookers still run on coal, although the cooker needs to be fed regularly with fuel. Wood is more environmentally friendly and carbon neutral when it burns and is ideal for locations with an unreliable power supply. Although coal and wood can be high maintenance, if you have an unlimited supply of wood then it can be a cost free way to cook.
Oil works well because it can fuel a cooker, central heating and a hot water boiler. Often it is cheaper to invest in a big oil tank rather than fill up smaller tanks throughout the year, although running a cooker on oil can still be expensive because of the price increase in oil. The tank needs to be adjacent to the home to fuel the cooker and boiler. It is important to fill your oil tank up regularly so that you do not run out of oil.
Choosing your cooker
After you have checked your fuel supply it’s time to find the perfect cooker for you. The type of cooker that you need will depend on your cooking preferences, the size of your kitchen, and your budget.
An all gas cooker has just that, a gas oven and a gas hob. Gas cookers are a popular choice for many people as they are easy to use and are very controllable.
The ability to easily turn down gas hobs means that you have full control over your cooking and you can quickly change from boiling to simmering if need be.
A gas oven is zoned, hotter at the top and cooler at the base enabling you to cook different dishes at the same time.
If you enjoy baking then you may prefer a gas oven as gas naturally gives off moisture which will help you to produce moist cakes and breads.
Gas cookers are currently cheaper to run than any other cookers, but are not always the most energy efficient.
Gas hobs are the most popular type of hob as they are easy to control due to the visible flame. They are popular because they heat up instantly. Gas hobs are not expensive to buy, so if you’re after a standard hob that is simple to use and cheap to fuel then a gas hob could be the one for you.
You can also get gas on glass hobs which is a gas burner on top of glass. They are easier to clean – they are also slightly more expensive than a traditional gas hob and you may think they look more stylish.
Fan ovens have fast pre heating times. The fan distributes the heat evenly around the oven so that however many levels are cooked on, the temperature is the same, producing even results.
With a fan oven you can cook any number of dishes without the flavours mixing together, this is perfect if you want to cook a variety of dishes at one time.
Some electric ovens have a glass door which is beneficial to you because it means that you simply have to peer in to check whether your food is ready rather than open the door to check the progress of your food. Not only is this easier for you but it could also save you time and money. Every time you open the oven door the temperature inside the oven drops and has to reheat again, this can slow down your cooking time, although fan ovens reach temperature again very quickly.
Types of electric hob:
Induction – This type of toughened glass hob is starting to become more popular because of the efficiency, safety and ease of cleaning. An induction hob heats the pan and in turn, its contents; it does this by creating a magnetic field between the pan and the element underneath the glass top. Induction is so efficient that the area around the pan remains cool during cooking so any spills do not burn on, making cleaning so easy. Most pans now have a magnetic element which means that you won’t need to splash out on new pans, but it’s best to double check just to be safe. Remember that a qualified electrician needs to install your induction hob.
Induction hobs can either be controlled by a touch control system or via control knobs.
Ceramic – Ceramic hobs have a glass surface with coiled electric heating elements below. Some ceramic hobs also include one or more halogen zones which heat up quickly; the glass lights up when the hob is hot.
If you are looking for a cooker that can give you the best of both worlds then a dual fuel cooker may be exactly what you are after.
Dual fuel cookers combine the instant heat and easy control from a traditional gas hob but they also feature the even heat from an electric oven.
If you have a gas hob you don’t have to worry if you don’t have a mains gas connection, just check with your retailer that your cooker comes with an LPG conversion kit, it must be installed by a gas safe engineer.
If you have a large family or you enjoy holding dinner parties and cooking for a number of people, or just love cooking then a range cooker will be the perfect cooker for you. Range cookers come in a variety of widths and can roast, bake, boil, griddle, grill, stir-fry and slow cook - everything that you need, all in one appliance.
They also have more hobs, zones and oven cavities than a standard cooker which is why they’re so useful to those who do a lot of cooking.
Range cookers are available as dual fuel, all electric or all gas. Mains gas and LPG cookers will need to be installed by a Gas Safe Engineer. You will need to check with your retailer about the type of electrical connection that will be needed for your cooker, even an all gas cooker needs to be connected to electricity. Remember to measure the size of the space you have for your new cooker before buying.
Having two ovens is great because it allows you to have both ovens on at different temperatures. Some models have a multifunction oven, a fan oven and a grill.
Two ovens will be useful to you if your family like to eat different meals at different times; Cooking your Sunday lunch could not be easier, meat and potatoes in one oven, delicious dessert in the other.
If you are looking to create a kitchen that is stylish and sophisticated then you may want to look into buying a built in oven. These ovens are fitted into units or cabinets in your kitchen they can even be placed at eye level. If you are looking for a cooker that keeps out of the way and looks neat and tidy then an integrated oven is the right appliance for you. They may also have a glass panel in the door so that you can keep an eye on your food without having to open the door and lose heat.
Additionally, built in ovens can produce a sleek look for your kitchen.
A fan oven has an element at the back of the oven behind the fan which stops flavours from mixing.
With fan ovens the temperature throughout is even so the oven heats up quickly, which can help to reduce the cooking time and could save you energy and in turn, money.
Multifunction ovens are the most adaptable and flexible ovens as they combine a number of different features and settings into one oven.
These ovens have fan and conventional ovens combined with grilling, base heat and browning elements all of which can be used individually. So you can use the base heat to crisp the base of your pizza; fan grill some whole fish; brown a pasta bake; cook your roasts using the fan assisted function or bake using the conventional function. You will find that the functions offered in multifunction ovens vary with the manufacturer.
The type of grill will vary with the cooker you choose and can be electric or gas, there are three main types of grill to choose from: fixed, variable and twin grills.
Fixed - This type of grill allows you to move the food on the grill higher or lower to control the cooking; the cooking element is normally situated at the top of the oven.
Variable – This grill allows you to control the cooking temperature depending on what you are cooking, so that you can start off with a high heat and then reduce it until the food is cooked.
Dual circuit – This grill gives you the option of using the full width of the grill or just half of the grill. The half grill option allows you to cook a small meal or snack without wasting energy by heating up the full grill.
If you tend to grill and cook at the same time then you may want a single oven with a separate grill compartment or a double oven as this will allow you to grill, cook or bake at the same time. Fan grilling is usually done in the oven with the door closed and is ideal for cooking items like large pork chops or salmon steaks.
Most cookers come with a timer and a digital clock so that you can time how long your delicious food should be cooked for. There are two types of timers:
Minute minder – You set the cooking time needed and then once the set time is up an alarm will go off to remind you that your food is cooked – simple!
Programmable oven – This timer allows you to set the start and end time for your cooking so if you’re at work but your food needs two hours to cook, your auto timer will start the cooking process so that it’s ready for you when you get in.
Timers are a great feature for a cooker if you are busy and need reminding to check the oven. Thanks to timers, cooking is made simpler.
It is a legal requirement that all hobs are manufactured with an FSD installed. However, it’s still important that you double check with your retailer as you should not be able to buy a hob without an FSD, even if it’s just for the home.
An FSD cuts of the gas supply if the flame goes out to prevent a gas leak.
The air in your kitchen needs to be filtered because of the moisture and odours caused by cooking - this is done by extracting and recirculating hoods.
Cooker hoods are available in different sizes and styles so you can choose one that fits your cooker and suits your kitchen.
Extraction hoods are often the preferred choice as they remove the grease and contaminated odours through a filter and vent it outside. However, you are only able to have an extraction hood if you have an outside wall.
Recirculation hoods work in the same way as extraction hoods except the air is neutralised through filters which can be cleaned or replaced and then the clean air is passed back into the kitchen. Recirculation hoods can be installed anywhere.
Before you decide on your cooker hood you should check that it fits your cooker – the bottom of the hood should be 75cm above the hob and a good cooker hood should change the air in your kitchen 12 times in an hour.
These are the most common and affordable, they are also ideal for small kitchens.
This hood has an extended section.
This type of hood can be integrated into the wall or ceiling and does not take up much room.
This type of hood is normally hidden behind a cupboard door so that it blends into the style of your kitchen, usually part of a fitted kitchen.
Extend down from the ceiling but they still need a lot of space.
If you have a free standing cooker in the middle of your kitchen then you’ll need an island hood as they hang from the ceiling.
The type of cooker that you can buy will depend on the size and style of your kitchen. If you have a small kitchen in a flat then a large cooker may not be the best option, however if you’ve got a large kitchen and you’re a keen cook, a large centrepiece cooker may be the right one for you. It all depends on how much space you have. Before you start to look for your new cooker you should measure the space of where it will live, remember to leave enough space between the cooker and counter top and also enough space for the cooker door to open.
While you want a cooker that will cook the best food, it is also important to try and be as energy efficient as possible to help save our planet. Cookers are graded A-G with A being the most efficient. Only ovens with C rating are available, anything over that is illegal so be sure to check, and look for A graded cookers if you can. Being energy efficient will not only help our planet but it will also help you save money on your fuel bills.
To ensure that your new cooker lasts as long as possible and looks brand new for a long time, it’s essential to keep it well maintained. Some cookers come equipped with self-cleaning ovens such as catalytic liners which clean the oven when it is at a high temperature and pyrolytic cleaning which clean the whole inside of the oven at 500 degrees – turning any dirt to ash that you can sweep away. Make an effort to clean your hob and oven regularly so that grime does not build up.
Use cleaning products sparingly as they contain chemicals that can be corrosive and always wipe any residue away with a damp cloth. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Always ensure that you get qualified professionals to install your cooking appliances. Gas cookers should be installed by a gas safe registered engineer and electric cookers should be installed by a qualified electrician.
Some manufacturers offer to take your old cooker away when you buy a new one so make use of this service to help the environment. Never dispose of your appliances in the street.