Cookers – A Guide to Buying a Freestanding or Range Cooker
Cookers are multi-functional kitchen appliances that provide you with a host of ways in which to cook food and there are two types available: Freestanding and Range. They can incorporate various types of ovens, grills and hobs and are an economical alternative to buying each appliance separately.
Cookers can be a great option if space is at a premium and, here at Appliance World, we stock cookers from 50cm to a monster 150cm wide, which means there’s something for every kitchen. Freestanding cookers tend to be around 50-60cm in width, whilst range cookers are likely to be between 80-150cm.
Freestanding cookers are available in three varieties: Electric, Gas and Dual Fuel. Of course, it’s important to check what kind of fuel your home has access to before going any further but if you can access both electric and gas, it might be worth taking a look at a dual fuel cooker. These cookers can take advantage of the flexibility of different combinations of gas hobs with either single or double ovens. This versatility can be particularly useful to those in rural areas as it can serve as a back-up should the electricity supply be interrupted.
You have several choices for your cooker’s oven, which are explained in more detail in our Oven Buying Guide. However, you’ve got the option of electric or gas ovens in either single or double arrangement. If you opt for a double oven, the compartments can be set to different temperatures and used simultaneously, which provides greater flexibility for those who’ve got larger families to cater for or simply enjoy having guests! The second oven is usually called the ‘auxiliary’ oven and in most cases is slightly smaller than the main oven, but it can also serve as the grill as well – which provides heat from above instead of below.
In the past, freestanding cookers may not have been able to employ certain features that you might find in specialist ovens or hobs but this is no longer an issue. For example, some cookers now come equipped to self-clean, which means that they literally do the dirty work for you! Through a system called Pyrolytics, the grease and grime in your oven is superheated, reducing it to a manageable pile of ash, which is then simply swept away.
Additionally, you can choose between plenty of different hob types and if you’d like to learn more about hobs in particular, then please check out our Hobs Buying Guide. You can choose between the following types:
|Gas||Preferred by many due to the visible and easily controllable flame.|
|Electric||Electric hobs will usually employ electric coils or solid hot plates. Any kind of cookware can be used with electric coil hobs but it’s better to use flat-bottomed pans for solid hot plates to ensure that the heat is spread equally.|
|Electric Ceramic||Ceramic glass above a heating element. Lights up when it’s hot and powers down when it’s cool enough to touch. Easy to clean, discrete and stylish.|
|Electric Induction||The hob itself is made from Ceramic Glass but the heat comes from a magnetic induction coil that heats the cookware, not the cooking surface. Must use cookware that can be magnetisable.|
As versatile as freestanding cookers are, it’s worth considering range cookers for the increased capacity and functionality they can provide. Range cookers are no longer built with just traditional kitchens in mind and there are lots of contemporary and reasonably priced designs available, ensuring you’ll find one to complement your kitchen.
Much like freestanding cookers, range cookers are available with many different combinations of features and it’s important to decide which ones you’d actually use regularly. As we mentioned before, Range Cookers are slightly wider than standard freestanding cookers (80-150cm, as opposed to the standard 50-60cm) and utilise this extra space accordingly. You'll usually find a number of cavities that incorporate grills or standard ovens with the same variety of functions as you'd find in a built-in oven. The hob can also take advantage of this extra width by incorporating either 6 heating zones instead of the standard 4, or by providing extra versatility with more exotic cooking methods such as wok burners, deep fat fryers or other features you would normally find only on domino hobs.
Aside from being able to cater for more people, the added space also allows you to be more versatile, cooking seperate dishes or even meals at the same time in the different sections of the range.
Other handy options include customised plinths for the range to sit on, which sit flush with other kitchen cabinets and can hide stands or feet; or specialised cooking apparatus such as wok support rings and cast-iron griddles.
Manufacturers take great steps to ensure that their cookers are as sleek and stylish as possible and whether it’s a striking metal finish you’re after (generally titanium, aluminium or steel) or a discreet, matte black look; there are styles to suit any kitchen.
Finally, if you want to do your bit for the environment or just save money, then it’s important to choose a cooker with a good energy efficiency rating. The scale is from A+++ (most energy efficient) to G (least efficient). Any kitchen appliances bought in the EU will feature this rating and whilst a cooker with a rating of A+++ might not be hotter than one with a G rating, it would consume less energy to achieve the same result – looking after the planet (and your wallet!)