Before you buy a range cooker, there are many different factors to consider, from what it looks like to how it will perform.
There are two styles to choose from – classic or contemporary. If you have a period home or a traditional kitchen scheme then a classic design will blend in beautifully. These tend to have arched viewing windows, bevelled doors, chrome or brass trim and a traditional colour palette of cream, black, red or green.
For a modern kitchen setting, look to the angular designs of the more contemporary cooker. These offer a wealth of colour choices in everything from sophisticated grey to a fresh white finish. The most popular choice is stainless steel, in both classic and contemporary styles, and this creates a professional look in any home.
Many people have a preference for the fuel they like to cook with. The most popular option for range cookers is dual fuel, which combines an electric fan oven with a gas hob. Look for wok burners and griddles for a more flexible cooking solution. If you prefer an all-electric model then you can choose between an electric oven and ceramic hob or, in some cases, an induction top.
This method of hob top cooking is increasingly popular due to its energy efficiency, rapid response and safety aspect, as it’s the pan that heats up when it comes into contact with the hob. Another option is LPG when gas simply isn’t available in your area and some manufacturers will adapt a cooker for you.
Check what size cooker you need to fit the space provided. If you’re planning a new kitchen, then you can go as big as you want with standard cookers up to 110cm in width. These 110cm designs have the advantage of a bigger hob, two full sized ovens, separate grill and warming drawer (on certain models).
If you need something smaller, there are 100cm and 90cm sizes on offer, which still provide a secondary oven and grill but if space is really tight, you can find mini ranges at just 60cm wide.
To get the best out of your range, make sure the oven capacities suit your needs. Check both oven sizes on a two oven model and, where possible, have a separate grill for added flexibility. If there’s a grill in one or both of the ovens you can also benefit from fan-assisted grilling.
A rotisserie is ideal for roasting chicken and pork while a meat probe will ensure it’s cooked to the correct temperature. The more ‘extras’ your cooker can offer, the easier and more flexible your cooking will become.
Things to look for:
- It’s always best to try before you buy – visit a showroom or retailer and check how sturdy the cooker is by opening and closing the doors. Ask if they have a demonstration model or customer events where you can see the cooker in action. Some showrooms book professional chefs to show off what the cooker can do.
- Check the energy rating. A-rated cookers are the most energy efficient, which will cut down electricity bills in the long run. If you’re looking at two-oven models, check the rating on both ovens.
- If you dread cleaning the oven interior, choose a model with Pyrolytic self-cleaning, catalytic or stay-clean liners or an easy-clean enamel coating.
- Triple glazed doors keep the cooker doors cool during use – essential for families with young children.
- Individual cast iron pan supports on a gas hob will make for easy cleaning.
- Telescopic shelves and trays make handling heavy dishes easier and safer too.
- Electronic programming will enable you to set the cooking time to suit you – so you can come home to a perfectly cooked casserole – while rapid heat removes the need for pre-heating.
- Every kitchen needs good extraction to remove steam and cooking odours. Most manufacturers offer a variety of cooker hoods to match.
- Make sure there’s some storage included too, either in the form of a storage drawer along the bottom or a secondary oven that can house baking trays when not in use.
Don’t forget that the added bonus of buying a range cooker is that you can take it with you if you move. It may seem like a big investment initially but if you consider that you will always have your range, wherever you are, it makes sense to buy the best your budget will allow.