With their good looks, solid build quality and high specs, range cookers are impressive-looking appliances. They're often said to be the heart of the home, exude cosiness and bring the family together. If you're a budding cook or a keen chef, let loose the gastronome in you and discover their benefits.
What's the difference?
Range cookers are bigger than standard cookers and come with extra features such as hob burners and larger main ovens. They're great for families if you're forever cooking - and even better if you're hosting a dinner party. Many have a smaller extra oven, which is useful for baking puddings or warming plates. Best of all, you can pick from a variety of colours and find one to match your kitchen and style.
Choosing the right one
Before you buy one, here are a few things you'll need to think about.
How much should I spend?
Range cookers vary in price, depending on brand, size and features.
Belling's Classic cookers are a good entry level range. They feature a separate tall oven, variable full width grill and fully programmable timing options. John Lewis range cookers are also excellent value for money, with large cooking capacity perfect for the casual home chef. If you want to spend a bit more for some additional features then look at Rangemaster . With their Professional + models you'll find multifunction ovens, timer functions and telescopic shelves for larger capacity cooking.
Spanning the gap between home and commercial cooking, with features such as chef top griddles and rotisseries, you'll find Bertazzoni and Britannia collections. The heavy metal control knobs and cast iron pan supports offer longevity too. And if you're a serious masterchef then consider the commercial-grade, hand built workhorses from Lacanche or Wolf.
Looks and style
Range cookers typically fall into two categories: contemporary or traditional. Contemporary range cookers feature architectural lines, high gloss enamel and full glass oven doors for a real showy look. Bright pops of colour also make an appearance. This Bertazzoni is available in a dazzling yellow, red or blue for the ultimate statement piece.
In stark contrast, traditional range cookers feature thick, lustrous enamel, heavy oven doors and arched bakers windows, typical of a country farmhouse kitchen scene. This Smeg range cooker epitomises this traditional style.
If you're replacing an existing cooker, size will be a key factor. Standard sizes are 90cm, 100cm, and 110cm. Note that width measurements refer to the space that the cooker is designed to fit into, rather than the actual cooker itself. This Bertazzoni Dual Fuel Range Cooker is ideal for compact spaces.
You can choose between dual fuel, gas or electric. Dual fuel is by far the most popular because it offers the best of both worlds, combining the ease and responsiveness of a gas hob with the speed and efficiency of an electric oven. You'll need a mains or LPG gas supply in place, together with an electrical supply sufficient for your chosen model.
Gas range cookers are an ideal solution if a high-current electric circuit is not available. It's usually the choice of skilled cooks who are able to juggle gradient heat zones. All-gas cookers need to be purpose-built for the type of gas used, so you should seek professional advice from a Corgi-registered engineer.
Electric range cookers provide speed and efficiency for cooking. A ceramic hotplate is very easy to wipe clean, and induction cooking provides power and responsiveness.
Here are some features you may like to think about. Note: they're not available on all models.
- Oven size an important consideration is the overall capacity of your chosen range cooker. You can go for a single, double or triple oven, so think about what you'd use them for. Look out for specific oven functions: typical ones include fanned, conventional, top and bottom heat; multifunction ovens offer great versatility and are found on an increasing number of mid to higher end range cookers.
- Telescopic shelves incredibly useful, these shelves have a smooth slide-out action for easy access to your food.
- Plate racks ideal for entertaining, you can stack plates to warm them through before serving food.
- Rotisserie an excellent way to cook poultry or game. The rotation cooks the meat evenly in its own juices providing succulent results.
- Chef top griddle anything you usually prepare in a wok or frying pan can be done on the griddle.