Whether you’re looking to replace your old cooker with a new one, or you’ve decided it’s time to upgrade to a range cooker for the first time, the choices out there can be daunting. After all, for most people, it’s a big investment. So you want to make sure you’re making the right decision.
In this cooker buying guide, we’ll go through all the points you need to consider before deciding which cooker is best for you.
Larger than a standard oven, range cookers are freestanding units which normally have two or even three ovens and a selection of hob burners, sometimes up to seven. Some also feature a separate grill and, in the more substantial models, heated warming drawers and storage compartments for kitchen items like baking trays and roasting tins.
Although many people’s image of a range cooker will be that of the traditional cast iron version, contemporary designs are also available to coordinate with the aesthetic of a modern kitchen.
What are the benefits of a range cooker?
So, why buy a range cooker? If you’re still deciding between a range and a built-in oven and hob, there are some clear advantages which could very well make the choice much easier.
Just because range cookers are highly practical, you don’t have to compromise when it comes to style. With many options available when it comes to looks, you can certainly be sure of finding a range cooker which complements the style of your kitchen, whether that’s a traditional country cottage look or minimal and contemporary.
And, while stainless steel may look great in a lot of kitchens, there will also be a wide range of stunning colours from which to choose when deciding which cooker is best - from black and slate to china blue and cherry red.
With more ovens than conventional cookers, you can have different dishes on the go at the same time; ideal for family cooking or entertaining guests. This also means that dishes can be cooked at different temperatures simultaneously. There’s also the extensive hob space, with some of the larger range cookers having space for seven saucepans.
Although buying a range cooker represents a significant financial investment, it’s often an investment for life.
The exceptional build quality and robust design characteristic of most range cookers means that they won’t have to be replaced as often as the average fan cooker or built-in hob. In fact, you may never have to replace your range cooker at all.
And, contrary to what some people believe, you are able to take a range with you when you move house.
Today’s range cookers can be run using various types of fuel, meaning you can choose one that best suits your cooking style.
You have the option of three types of fuel:
- Electric (with ceramic or induction hobs)
- Dual fuel
- Gas, which can be natural or liquified petroleum gas (LPG)
This last option is the best choice if your home is in a rural area with no access to mains gas. Most dual fuel range cookers come with an electric oven and a gas hob.
The best gas range cookers come with a number of other great benefits. With ranges starting at around 90cm wide they are suitable for the smallest of kitchens. As range cooker ovens are between 20% and 30% larger than conventional ovens, they allow you to cook with an even, steady heat, while retaining moisture.
Then there are the extra features which can make all the difference, such as high-powered grills and wok burners and the additional storage space for those kitchen items you want to keep out of sight.
When thinking about which cooker is best, the choice of fuel is obviously a major consideration. Luckily, there are a number of fuel options to choose from.
When considering these options, you may also want to think about energy efficiency. Not only to save some money on your fuel bills, but to do your bit for the planet. It’s worth noting that, while cookers are graded from A to G for energy efficiency, with A being the highest, it is illegal to sell cookers with a rating of D and below.
With the best gas range cookers there are two types of fuel available, natural gas and LPG. Apart from some rural areas, natural or mains gas is available in most areas. With an LPG cooker, cylinders of propane gas are used for cooking. These usually last between three and six months.
Electric range cookers are an obvious choice if you live in an area with no gas mains. You should also check your electric supply when buying an electric range as different cookers, such as induction or ceramic, may need a different electric supply. All electric range cookers should be installed by a qualified electrician.
The majority of dual fuel range cookers have gas hobs and electric ovens, although some do come with electric induction hobs and gas ovens. The great advantage of dual fuel is that it provides a greater level of control while cooking - it’s easy to set the gas hob at the right temperature and electric ovens give you a steady and consistent heat.
Originally, cookers ran on solid fuel like coal and wood. One downside of using solid fuel is that the cooker needs to be fed regularly. Wood is more environmentally friendly and carbon neutral when it burns and is ideal for locations with an unreliable power supply.
Although wood-fired ranges can be high maintenance, if you’ve 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.
If you’re thinking ‘which range cooker should I buy’, the type that you need will most probably depend on your cooking preferences, the size of your kitchen and your budget.
An all-gas cooker has both a gas oven and a gas hob. As they are easy to use and control, they are a popular choice for many people.
- Gas ovens - these are hotter at the top and cooler at the base, enabling you to cook different dishes at the same time. You may prefer a gas oven if you enjoy baking, as they’ll help you to produce moist cakes and breads.
- Gas hobs - these are a popular choice because they heat up instantly and, with a visible flame, are easy to control.
Electric cookers and fan ovens have fast preheating and cooking times and, as the heat is evenly distributed by the fan, the temperature is the same at both top and bottom. And with a fan oven, you can cook any number of dishes without the flavours mixing together.
- Induction - efficient, safe and easy to clean, induction hobs heat the pan and, in turn, its contents. Induction is so efficient that the area around the pan remains cool during cooking.
- 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.
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.
Once you’ve decided which fuel and which range cooker is best, think about what features you’d like incorporated to make your life easier. Here are a few which can be found on most modern range cookers.
There are three main types of grill to choose from.
- Fixed grills - cooking is controlled by moving the food on the grill to a higher or lower level, away from the heating element or away from it.
- Variable grills - allows you to vary the cooking temperature, so, for instance, you can start off with a high heat and then reduce it until the food is cooked.
- Dual circuit grills - 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.
Most cookers come with a timer and a digital clock. They’re a great feature if you’re busy and need reminding to check the oven. There are two types of timers:
- Minute minder - set the time required and, once it’s elapsed, an alarm will go off to remind you that your food is cooked.
- 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.
Injection steam cavities, such as found on our new NEXUS Steam range cooker, allow you to cook more healthily, as a food’s nutrients, vitamins and flavour are retained.
Steam is a great way to cook a wide variety of foods, from meat, fish, eggs and vegetables to cheesecakes and puddings. With precise temperature control, steam cooking can also be used to defrost and sous vide.
If you’re a big fan of slow cookers, a range with a slow cook oven could be the decider when it comes to choosing which cooker is best. As well as enabling you to cook using a slower, longer programme (typically between 80˚C and 140˚C), they can also be used to warm food, plates and cups.
Rather than making a trip to the airing cupboard, you can prove bread in the bead proving drawer of your range cooker. These are storage drawers which also contain a very low wattage electric element, which allows warmed air to pass into the drawer at just the right temperature.
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.
So, now you’ve decided which range cooker is best, it’s time to consider those added extras.
The air in your kitchen needs to be filtered because of the moisture and odours caused by cooking. This is where cooker hoods come in.
With a choice of different sizes and styles to match the layout and decor of your kitchen, cooker hoods are available in two types, extraction and recirculation.
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, with the clean air is passed back into the kitchen. Recirculation hoods can be installed anywhere.
A kitchen splashback is the material placed on the wall above a stovetop to protect the wall from splashes of grease, oil or liquids such as sauce. Basically, anything which could cause a mess when cooking food.
Equally, splashbacks are also decorative as well as functional, complementing the overall look of a kitchen. visual aesthetics of a kitchen.
Splashbacks are available in a range of materials, including glass, acrylic, natural stone and ceramic tiles. There are also stainless steel splashbacks, which are extremely durable, hygienic and very easy to clean. We also do black splashbacks.
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 cleaned and maintained.
Some cookers come equipped with self-cleaning features and 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.
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.
So, as you can see, there’s a lot to consider when deciding which cooker is best. While you may be limited somewhat by your choice of fuel, there are many other options to think about.
Not least how well the range cooker you’re considering matches your style of cooking, and the overall style of your kitchen.
We hope this cooker buying guide has been of help, but whichever range cooker you eventually decide on, always ensure that it’s installed by a qualified and registered professional.