Cooking appliances buying guide

A cooker is at the heart of every kitchen. Whether you're designing a new kitchen layout or simply replacing old appliances, a new cooker can help your cooking confidence and creativity! We can even install your new appliance and dispose of your old one - find out more about this service.

Choosing cooking appliances

Hotpoint Cannon CH60EKKS Electric Cooker
 
Britannia Dual Fuel Range Cooker
 
New World Gas Cooker
 
Panasonic Microwave

Fuel supply

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).

Style and space

Decide whether you're going for a slot-in cooker or range (which do not need housing), or separate appliances, i.e. a hob and single or double oven, built-in or built-under. Slot-in cookers are usually between 50 and 60cm in width.

Single ovens fit into a H60 x W60 x D60cm housing and 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, and most are intended to be fitted in a column kitchen unit at a comfortable height. Please measure up carefully before you order.

Sometimes people find that the option of a microwave or combination microwave oven fitted over a single oven provides greater cooking flexibility and will free up space on the worktop.

Installation, disposal and recycling

Electric

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.

Gas

All gas appliances must be installed by a Gas Safe Register registered engineer. Please note that connection hoses are not supplied with gas cookers.

Note: manufacturers recommend you leave a gap of at least 5cm around your freestanding cooker, to prevent any potential damage from heat.

Flame failure device

All manufacturers of gas cookers are legally obliged to fit their units with a device that ensures that if the flame fails, the gas will be turned off.

Installation and disposal 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 and dispose of your old one for recycling. These services will be offered to you at checkout or in our shops if they're available for your delivery - find out more. We're sorry that we can't offer these services if your appliance is being delivered direct from the supplier or if you live in a postcode where we have to deliver by courier.

Energy efficiency

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.

Gas ovens and cookers are excluded from this testing, as are grill compartments or ovens incorporating a microwave.

Types of oven

Electric ovens

In a conventional 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

These work differently, using a fan with a circular heating element around it in the rear wall of the oven. The temperature throughout is even and the oven heats up very quickly, reducing cooking times and thus saving energy. With top-end fan ovens you can also cook foods with strong flavours at the same time without fear of these flavour crossover; this is because the circulating air breaks up odours and fat particles, for example in Neff's Circotherm fan system.

However, fan ovens don’t start cooking immediately, so if a recipe calls for a cooking time of less than 25 minutes you should not reduce the cooking time (for cooking times over 25 minutes you should typically deduct 10% off the time).

Multifunction ovens

These give complete flexibility of cooking, using combinations of different heating elements and a fan to present heat to the food. Most multifunction ovens 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) and fan/grill roasting. The latter produces a finish similar to a spit roast or barbecue.

These ovens may also have other cooking modes such as bottom heat only (for crisping pies, pizza bases etc.) or top heat only (for browning). A rotisserie may also be a feature (the best for meat joints, allowing self-basting), and even a defrost setting which uses the fan and is ideal for meat or delicate foods such as a gateau.

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. The 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, which enable you to use the oven like a slow cooker for making perfect casseroles.

Double ovens

These offer great flexibility as well as extra capacity, as you can set each oven differently. Most 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 will lose some capacity, as more limited space under the worktop means the oven needs to be about 75% of the size of an oven built above worktop height.

Hotpoint Cannon CH60DPXF
 
Zanussi ZOB330X Single Electric Oven
 
Rangemaster Induction Hobl Range Cooker
 
Dualit 89200 Mini Oven

Types of cooker

Slot-in cookers

An economic option if you have a space available and don't want built-in units. They have height adjustable feet to ensure they are fitted with the hob at worktop level, wheels at the back so they can be moved forward for cleaning, and 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.

Note: manufacturers recommend you leave a gap of at least 5cm around your freestanding cooker, to prevent any potential damage from heat.

Range cookers

Designed to look like traditional cooking ranges found in rustic country kitchens, these have numerous features and although freestanding, can also be planned into fitted or semi-fitted kitchens. They 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. For example an extra-fast wok burner is excellent for cooking stir fries, or a cast iron griddle can be used for searing fish and meat. Choose a range cooker with a fan oven plus a conventional oven for maximum cooking flexibility and control.

Cooking features

Grills

Some grills have inner and outer elements, and you can just use the inner element for small amounts of food. Some have variable controls enabling you to set the cooking temperature, but 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.

Electronic controls

These 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.

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. However, it may be necessary to ‘service’ the liners (if, for example, the oven has become ‘smoky’) by putting the oven on its highest heat setting for approximately 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 carbonized and falls to the floor of the oven as ash. A catalytic converter in the oven roof neutralises the smoke created. The process takes two to three hours and needs to be carried out every few weeks.

Hobs

View our buying guide for hobs

Cooker hoods

View our buying guide for cooker hoods