28th Feb 2008
A new cooker can be a considerable investment, so it’s important to make the right choice. There are a many types of cookers on the market, from basic gas or electric cookers with a single oven right up to large duel fuel range cookers with multiple burners and extra features such as built in grill plates and wok burners. With such a huge range to choose from, you’re sure to find a cooker to suit your circumstances as well as your budget.
Choosing a Cooker
Some of the points you’ll need to consider before you buy a cooker would include your budget, what kind of fuel type you have available, the amount of space in your kitchen and whether you would prefer a freestanding or built in cooker. You’ll probably need to take into account the size of your family or how often you entertain. If flexibility is important to you, you might want to consider a range cooker which can offer a combination of conventional and fan-assisted cooking.
Types of Cookers
Built in or Freestanding
Freestanding cookers stand in between a gap in your kitchen units and are generally available in three different widths: 50cm, 55cm and 60cm. This not only gives you some flexibility if you’re a little short of space in your kitchen, but also makes the cooker easy to install and remove for cleaning or repairs.
As you would probably expect, built in cookers are ‘built-in’ to your kitchen units. You need to purchase a separate hob, which is installed in the counter top and a separate oven, which is fitted under the work top.
Alternatively, you can also choose a built in oven (either a single or double oven) which can be fitted into a wall unit.
In an electric cooker, all the elements (hob, oven and grill) are powered solely by electricity. You can choose between ovens which offer conventional cooking or fan-assisted ovens which have the advantage of providing more even cooking and browning. Electrical cookers should be connected to your electrical supply by a qualified electrician.
In a gas cooker the hob, oven and grill are all powered by connection to your household gas supply. Gas cooking has the advantage over electricity of providing instant and easily controllable heat. This is especially good for cooking on the hob. Gas ovens can sometimes be a little uneven in comparison to electric fan-assisted ovens. However, the hot air in a gas fuelled oven cavity is moister than in an electric cooker so food doesn’t dry out as much. To ensure your safety, gas cookers should be installed by a registered CORGI engineer.
Duel Fuel Cookers
Duel fuel cookers have become increasingly popular in recent years. In a duel fuel cooker, the hob is gas fuelled while the oven is electric. This means that you essentially get the best of both worlds – instant heat and excellent temperature control for cooking on the hob and more even cooking in the electric oven, especially if you choose a fan-assisted model.
Range cookers are freestanding and are available in dual fuel models (electric ovens with gas hob – the most popular choice for this type of cooker) as well as all-gas or all electric. Size varies from 600mm up to 1200mm models. Features include at least five burners, two or more ovens, integrated griddles and wok burners. Range cookers generally feature separate ovens which offer a combination of conventional and fan assisted cooking.
Aga cookers are in many ways unlike standard domestic cookers. They are manufactured in cast iron coated with vitreous enamel and can be fuelled by gas, electricity, oil or solid fuel. Most Aga appliances can also provide domestic hot water. The main difference in the way an Aga works is that a steady supply of heat is generated and filtered through the appliance, rather than being switched on and off according to need as with a regular cooker. This means that the Aga is always ready for use. It is thermostatically controlled and the walls and oven cavities are well insulated. The temperatures in the ovens and hotplates are always consistent and it’s also the reason Aga cookers don’t have the usual hotplate and oven controls found on standard domestic cookers.
Aga cookers are available with many features, including two or four oven models where each oven has a specific function, such as roasting or baking. If you choose a four oven model, there is a separate oven for each of these methods of cooking. There is also a warming oven which not only keeps food warm can also be used for warming plates. Aga cookers come with two standard hob plates, one designed for simmering and one for boiling. The four oven design also features a separate warming plate.
You can also choose (if you have the room) what’s known as a ‘Module’ or ‘Companion’, which features two electric ovens as well as a gas or electric ceramic hob. Assembly and installation are both performed by an Aga engineer when your cooker is delivered.