Cooking appliances buying guide

Your cooker is at the heart of your kitchen, so you'll want to find the appliance that suits your lifestyle and cooking ambitions.
Our guide will help you make the right choice of cooker, oven, hob or hood to help you be a creative, confident cook

Cookers & ovens

What's the difference?

We define a cooker as being made up of at least one oven cooking zone plus a gas
or electric hob on top, and as freestanding. An oven is a built-in cooking zone,
and so of course doesn't have a hob

Choose your type

Fuel type, style and space

Your local fuel supplies may well decide the type of cooker you want, but the first thing to consider is whether you want all electric, all gas or dual fuel (gas hob and electric oven).

Your kitchen configuration and space will decide whether you want a slot-in freestanding cooker with hob, or a separate oven and hob.

Slot-in cookers

A slot-in cooker doesn't need housing, and will usually be between 50 to 60cm in width.

  • Economical option if you have a space available and don't want built-in units
  • They have height adjustable feet so you can fit with the hob at worktop level
  • Wheels at the back allow them to be moved forward for cleaning
  • You can also line up so that the oven door fascias are flush with the kitchen base unit doors
  • Some gas models have glass lids which act as splashbacks when the hob is in use, or as extensions to the work surface when in place
  • A safety cut out turns off the gas if the lid is accidentally shut with the hob still on
  • Manufacturers recommend you leave a gap of at least 5cm around your freestanding cooker, to prevent any potential damage from heat
Cookers

Range cookers

  • Designed to look like traditional cooking ranges found in rustic country kitchens
  • Although freestanding, can also be planned into fitted or semi-fitted kitchens
  • Come in widths of 50 to 150cm, with most models having twin ovens arranged side by side
  • The hob can have both gas and electric burners, and specialist burners or hot plates, such as an extra-fast wok burner or a cast iron griddle 
  • Choose a range cooker with a fan oven plus a conventional oven for maximum cooking flexibility
View all cookers

Choose your type

Single or double?

  • Single ovens fit into a H60 x W60 x D60cm housing, though some manufacturers produce W90cm ovens too
  • Can be built in a column kitchen unit or under the work surface
  • Full-sized double ovens need a larger space H90 x W60 x D60cm
  • Most are intended to be fitted in a column kitchen unit at a comfortable height
  • Think about the option of a microwave or combination microwave fitted over a single oven if you need to free up space on the worktop
  • Double ovens offer great flexibility as well as extra capacity, as you can set each oven differently. 
  • Most doubles are built-in with a full-sized multifunction or fan oven below a smaller economy conventional oven with the grill element.
  • A built-under double oven will still give you flexibility but you’ll lose some capacity as the oven will be about 75% of the size of one built above worktop height

 

Electric & fan

In a conventional electric oven the thermostat controls the heat in the middle

  • The oven will be a little hotter than the set temperature at the top, and slightly cooler at the bottom
  • This zoned heat difference can be useful when cooking different kinds of dishes at once
  • These ovens also take time to reach cooking temperature, so need to be pre-heated

Fan ovens work by using a fan with a circular heating element around it in the rear wall of the oven:

  • Temperature throughout is even and the oven heats up quickly, reducing cooking times and so saving energy
  • With top-end fan ovens you can also cook foods with strong flavours at the same time without fear of flavour crossover; circulating air breaks up odours and fat particles, for example in Neff's Circotherm fan system
  • Fan ovens don’t start cooking immediately, so if a recipe calls for a cooking time of less than 25 minutes stick to that time
  • For cooking times over 25 minutes,  deduct about 10% off the cooking time allowed for a conventional electric oven
Ovens

Gas ovens

Most gas ovens are heated by a flame at the rear of the base, with the gas being ignited by an electric spark.  

  • Hot air circulates as it rises, but the top of the oven will always be hotter
  • Some ovens are shaped to help the air to circulate so that the temperature across the shelves is even
  • Gas gives off moisture in cooking so it's especially good for cake baking
  • Some even incorporate an economy setting, so you can use the oven like a slow cooker for casseroles

 

Multifunction & steam ovens

These give complete flexibility of cooking, using combinations of different heating elements and a fan to present heat to the food.

  • Most combine a fan and conventional oven together with grill
  • Grilling is done with the door closed, retaining moisture in the oven and in the food
  • A fan/grill roasting feature offers a finish similar to a spit roast or barbecue
  • Bottom heat only function crisps pies, pizza bases
  • Top heat only function for browning
  • Rotisserie allows self-basting for joints of meat
  • Defrost setting uses the fan and is ideal for meat or delicate foods such as a gateau
  • Steam is great for cooking foods such as vegetables and fish and provides more versatile all-round cooking - especially good for chicken, bread, cakes and rice 
  • You’ll still be able to use a steam oven in a conventional way without steam

 

Ovens

Oven & Cooker features

Grills

  • Some have inner and outer elements,so you can just use the inner element for small food portions
  • Some have variable controls enabling you to set the cooking temperature
  • With fixed grills you raise or lower the grill pan to control the cooking
  • High speed grills heat up faster and therefore speed up cooking and save energy
  • In most modern ovens the grill is used with the door closed

 

Controls & timers

Electronic controls

  • Provide greater accuracy and maintain a constant temperature, ideal for baking delicate foods
  • On some ovens, temperatures have been pre-selected for each function to save time
  • A meat probe is available on some ovens and acts as a temperature gauge - you stick it into a meat joint to make sure that it’s cooked through

Timers

  • Most ovens will have a digital clock and a timer, the simplest of which is the minute minder which you simply set for the cooking time needed, and then an alarm signals at the end
  • An auto timer allows you to set the oven to start and finish cooking at preset times 
  • A double oven timer has to be the same time setting for both ovens, although usually only the main oven is programmable
  • You can also buy gas ovens where you can preset cooking times

Self-cleaning

  • Most of our ovens are finished in smooth, hardwearing enamel which is resistant to chipping and the burning on of grease and food particles, making it easy to clean
  • Some ovens are supplied with catalytic stay-clean liners which make the oven self-cleaning at higher temperatures
  • Catalytic liners should never be cleaned manually, but you may need to ‘service’ the liners (if, for example, the oven has become ‘smoky’) by putting the oven on its highest heat setting for about an hour
  • Top range ovens use a high temperature pyrolytic cleaning system which cleans every part of the oven's interior
  • During the cleaning cycle the oven temperature rises to 500ºC and any soiling in the oven is carbonised and falls to the floor of the oven as ash
  • A catalytic converter in the oven roof neutralises the smoke created
  • The process takes 2-3 hours - do it every few weeks if you use your oven regularly 

 

Warming drawers

  • Available to pair with built-in ovens
  • As the name suggests, will keep food or crockery warm but can also defrost
  • Especially useful if you entertain a lot and struggle with oven space

 

Doors

  • Soft-close doors are a feature on some ovens; useful when your hands are full 
  • Some NEFF ovens have a Slide & hide door that gives you easier and safer access to the oven cavity; just pull out the door and then slide it inside when you add or remove dishes
  • A few ovens are available with side opening, which can be useful in particularly tight kitchen spaces
  • Some ovens offer child locks for added safety

Hobs

Hobs

Choosing your hob

Size & configuration

Hobs are usually 60cm wide and traditionally they have 4 burners

  • There are also 5-burner 70cm models which can still fit into a 60cm gap, by overlapping the work surface
  • We also sell a range of 80cm and 90cm hobs 
  • The most popular configuration of burners (or zones on a ceramic hob) is one large, two medium and a simmer
  • Some hobs now have specialist burners for fish kettles or for woks
  • The dimensions we give for the aperture to house the hob will be smaller than the hob itself, as the hob overlaps and stands proud of the work surface

Domino hobs

Domino hobs get their name from their distinctive oblong shape. They’re 30cm wide and feature one or two burners which can stand alone

  • By installing several different types of unit adjacent to each other, you can create a flexible and versatile cooking hub
  • You can always add a single domino next to your standard hob, such fitting a wok burner domino next to your regular-sized electric induction hob
  • A boiling ring is great for locations where you might not want to install a full-size cooker, such as a bed-sit or studio flat, or if you need extra hob capacity over and above what your cooker provides

Choose your type

Induction hobs

An induction hob is a popular variant of a ceramic hob. Cooking by induction is very effective with instant, precise and even heat. 

  • Induction hobs use clever technology that heats the saucepan rather than the actual hob plate to make cooking fast and responsive
  • Though more expensive to buy, an induction hob is quicker and more controllable than gas and cheaper to run than other electric hobs
  • You'll need special saucepans with ferrous iron content to make them magnetic
  • Suitable pans include: enamelled steel, iron, stainless steel (depending on the alloy) and some aluminium pans with a ferromagnetic base
  • You won't be able to use glass or copper bases
  • If you have a heart pacemaker, do seek advice from your doctor before using an induction hob

Ceramic hobs

These have a touch glass surface with heating elements beneath; these elements come in various forms, and the faster they work, the more expensive the hob

  • Heat is conducted through the glass into the pan only
  • Easy to clean and some are operated by finger touch controls
  • Some have sensors which will turn down or cut off the heat automatically, or timers so that you don't need to return to the hob to switch off the heat
  • All hobs have residual heat lights so you can see when it's cool enough to touch.

Gas hobs

Gas is still popular because the heat is visible, fast and easy to control.

  • Most have mains rather than battery ignition
  • Some have automatic ignition so the burner ignites as you turn the knob
  • With others you need to press and hold an ignition button as you turn the knob
  • Some automatic ignition hobs have the benefit of reignition if the burner is blown out,
  • Others have flame failure cut-out which turns the gas valve off if the flame is blown out.

 

Electric sealed plates

Plates give a traditional look, are relatively inexpensive and provide excellent heat distribution across the base of the saucepan.

  • Because they conduct all the heat into the pans they’re cost-effective to run
  • Some have red spots which provide more power than equivalent size standard plates
  • Sealed plates can accommodate any type of flat base saucepan, and are especially suited to cast iron cookware

Cooker hoods

Cooker hoods

Why buy a cooker hood?

Sealed heating systems, double glazing and insulation all stop the circulation of fresh air,
so a cooker hood helps get rid of moisture and odours caused by cooking. Most of the
cooker hoods we sell can either extract air or filter it.

Generally, the more you pay,
the quieter and more energy-efficient the cooker hood will be. 

Choose your type

Extraction

Extraction should be your preferred option if space and capacity for ducting allows, as steam and odours are removed from the kitchen to the outside of your house

  • Removes airborne contamination – smoke, odours, etc - to the outside
  • No need to replace charcoal filters on a regular basis, so long term running costs are less
  • No charcoal filter in front of the motor means airflow rate is higher
  • Some kitchens don’t allow for extraction due to a lack of space or capacity to install ducting - for example if your kitchen doesn’t have an external wall
  • Higher initial costs for ducting and installation
  • Ducting kits aren’t supplied with cooker hoods but can generally be obtained directly from the supplier or from good DIY stores

Filtration

Air is taken through two filters, a grease filter and a charcoal filter. The charcoal filter removes smoke and odour from the air before the hood releases the ‘scrubbed’, de-greased air back into the kitchen. All cooker hoods come with a grease filter, but not usually a charcoal one.

  • You can use a hood with filtration pretty much anywhere – ideal if you can’t reach an outside wall with ducting
  • Cheaper initial costs as ducting is not required
  • The grease filter can either be replaced, if it’s paper, or washed - usually in the dishwasher - if it’s a permanent metal filter
  • Recirculates some heat and moisture back into the kitchen
  • You need to buy a new charcoal filter once a year (buy these through manufacturers’ websites or dedicated spares shops)
  • There’s decreased airflow rate because the charcoal charcoal filter is in front of motor
  • You may also need a recirculation kit to ensure that odour-free air is returned into the kitchen

Ducting

If the hood offers a choice of using 150mm or 120mm (with an adaptor collar) diameter ducting, try to opt for the wider ducting if your builder approves as this will offer a slightly improved airflow rate.. 

Rigid ducting will also offer better airflow than flexible ducting because the ridges on the latter slightly inhibit the flow of the exhaust air.

To work out the extraction rate you’ll need for your kitchen:

  • Calculate the volume of the room in question in cubic metres by multiplying length x width x height
  • Multiply that cubic capacity figure again by 12 if you want the recommended 12 changes of air per hour
  • That final figure is the minimum extraction rate you need from your cooker hood

Style

Whichever style you choose, you'll need to position the hood at a minimum of 65cm above a gas hob, or 50cm above an electric hob, but do check manufacturer’s recommendations.

Cooker hoods will always contain lamps to illuminate your hob and work surface. The main styles are shown below:

Chimney style (sometimes wall-mounted, sometimes designed to be suspended above kitchen islands)

Visor style (free-mounted hood you can use if you have no unit above your hob)

Suspended hoods, which are very sleek, look like light fittings and tend to be at the upper end of the price range

Energy efficiency

Ovens

How it's measured

Energy efficiency gradings for electric ovens are the responsibility of the appliance manufacturers and their work is monitored by Trading Standards. Standard tests are carried out by heating a brick, and efficiency gradings of A-G applied, with A being the most efficient.

Installation & disposal

A few notes about installation, and the service we can provide if you need it

Installing electrical appliances

Electric ovens and cookers are best connected to a separate 30 or 45 amp supply.

  • Single ovens can be run from a 13 amp supply but is best avoided to ensure the ring main circuit is not overloaded
  • They can be connected to the fitted cooker circuit using a large sized 13 amp fuse
  • We recommend that all cookers are installed by a registered engineer
  • Please note that connection cables are not supplied with electric cookers.

Installing gas appliances

All gas appliances must be installed by a Gas Safe Register-registered engineer. 

  • Connection hoses don’t come with gas cookers.
  • All manufacturers of gas cookers are legally obliged to fit their units with a flame failure device that ensures that if the flame fails, the gas will be turned off

Our installation service

As long as your new appliance is being delivered by our green van fleet, our specially-trained crew can fit your new appliance for you. We’ll also give you a basic demo and remove all packaging.

This service will be offered to you at checkout or in our shops if available for your delivery, but there’s some things we need you to be sure of: 

  • Electric and/or gas supply must be within 1m of the installation location 
  • If you’re moving from electric to gas, be sure  that the gas supply has been prepared
  • Make sure you have the correct amp power supply for your new appliance
  • Check the cooker isolation switch is accessible
  • Ensure product dimensions fit in the chosen location.
  • For integrated or semi-integrated installations, your kitchen units must be able to house the new appliance as we can’t offer carpentry for modification
  • Check your new hob will fit in the space allocated as we can only make minor alterations to extend holes in wooden worktops
  • Remove any flammable materials from behind the heat source, for example wall paper or formica
  • We're sorry that we can't offer this service if your appliance is being delivered direct from the supplier, or if you live in a postcode where we have to deliver by courier

Disposal service

  • For £15, we can take away and dispose of your old appliance responsibly for you
  • If you’re not using our installation service for a new appliance at the same time, please disconnect your old appliance before we arrive
  • Disposal of range cookers isn’t offered by all suppliers, and can only be offered if your new cooker is also a range type
Ovens