- Cookers Buying Guide
Cookers Buying Guide
Cookers Buying Guide
The Right Fuel
A good starting point when deciding on which cooker is best for you is the fuel choice you desire. There are three varieties here; the gas cooker, the electric cooker, or the duel fuel cooker, which uses both fuels supplies. An important point to consider here is if you do not already have gas connected you may want to seek advice from an engineer as if you are in an area that uses liquefied propane gas (LPG) then some cookers may not be convertible into LPG.
If a supply is easily available though gas cookers are generally cheaper to runner than electric cookers and also offer a more moist cooking method giving off water vapour so if used right food is never dried out along with offering better temperature control. Electric cookers on the other hand are more flexible in the location they are place as they do not need a gas supply; they also tend to provided speeder cooking results. Electric cookers will also often more features than a gas cooker. Dual fuel cookers can be beneficial as they combine the speed and convenience of an electric oven with the benefit of a gas hob for instant heat and increased temperature control.
The next important feature is the size of the cooker you want. Cookers will most like either be free standing or built in as part of a kitchen design. A built in cooker will be fitted to the kitchen but for a freestanding cooker you will have to make sure the space in your kitchen is sufficient. Standard freestanding cookers will be from 50-60cm in width with large range style cookers ranging from 80-150cm in width. Some cookers will be built as a slot in design on wheels so it pays to take careful note how large the space you have available is compared to the size of the cooker. Range style cookers are freestanding and can have both gas and electric burners, and specialist burners or hot plates; they are larger than standard cookers providing increased cooking capacity and duel features.
Design: Standard Cooker
An important feature you will want to consider when choosing a cooker is the type of hobs you prefer. Standard freestanding cookers will have 4 hobs where as range style cookers are likely to have 5,6 of 7 hobs which can be a mix of gas and electric.
Number of Hobs:
On electric cookers there are two main types of hob; the hotplate and the ceramic hob. Hotplates can be broken down into three main types; Radiant rings, sealed plated and halogen. Radiant rings is coiled metal, often the cheapest due to the fact they take the longest amount of time to heat up and cool down and are often hard to clean. Sealed plate hobs are thin iron discs covering heating elements and sometimes have thermostats to prevent overheating. They are also quite slow to heat up and cool down but are easier to clean and are very durable. Halogen hobs are much the same as radiant the main difference being it has a faster response time offering better heat control. Ceramic hobs have halogen, radiant or semi-halogen heating elements under a heat resistant glass. Halogen is a bulb with a tungsten element and halogen gas. Semi-halogen is a halogen bulb surrounded by a radiant element.
Gas hobs are fairly standard in design with most offering two high heat rapid burners and two lower heat simmer burners. The advantage of gas is that it allows more precise heat control compared to electric but they can have more parts and so be harder to clean compared to electric cookers. Range style cookers may also offer a wok burner or ultra rapid burner.
Trading Standards are responsible for monitoring that the energy efficiency grading manufactures provide on their products are accurate. The grading works from A-G, with A being the most energy efficient and cheapest to run and G being the most inefficient and most expensive to run. Gas ovens and cookers are excluded from this testing, as are grill compartments or ovens incorporating a microwave.
Generally cleaning the oven in a cooker is broken down into three types; ovens with easy clean interiors, ovens with catalytic liners self-cleaning and ovens with Pyrolysis self-cleaning.
Stay-clean liners are detachable metal liners in the sides and possible the back of the, which can be removed for cleaning. These materials are design to be easy to clean but it is a manual processes.
Catalytic liners are on the sides, roof and back of the oven and are treated with a special material that absorbs grease splashes. When the oven is run at around 200 C or higher, the splashes are burnt off.
The most effect and least manual sell cleaning though is pyrolysis, this is available in the more expensive electric cookers. It works by the oven heating up to around 500ºC so that all spills are carbonized and reduced to ash that can be wiped away when it has cooled down, this process takes around 2-3 hours and needs to be carried out every couple of weeks.
Ovens type are normaly broken down into two types;coventional and fan assisted. In a conventional oven the thermostat controls the heat in the middle of the oven; the oven will be a slightly hotter in the middle. This zoned heat difference is used to cook food that requires varying temperatures.
Fan ovens work differently by using a fan in the to circulate heating element around the oven. This creates a temperature throughout that is even also meaning the oven heats up very quickly, reducing cooking times and saving energy. The circulating air also helps split up odours and so you are able to cook foods of varying potencies
You can get variations or multifunctional ovens which use combinations of different heating, most multifunction ovens combine a fan and conventional oven together with a closed door grill to retain moisture and fan grill for roasting. You may also get features such as bottom or top heating only, or defrost heating. These settings allow for difference in food delicacies.
A flame at the bottom of the oven heats gas ovens, 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. Cycloheat gas ovens concentrate the heat to the middle of the oven but the top will be hotter and bottom cooler so dishes that require varying temperatures can be cooker simultaneously. This feature is also useful when you require something to be slowly cooked at a consistent heat over a long period, such as a casserole.
Double ovens are extremely flexible considering you can set each oven differently, as well as offering more capacity. Often the main oven will be fan assisted with the smaller second oven being conventional. Or you may have a second oven that primary function is to act as a grill.
The traditional gas grill like the oven is usually hotter in the centre than at the edges, which means you have to move food. You can get vitro-grills that have the gas flames behind some ceramic glass. This means both the middle and sides remain the same temperature. Electric grill are slow to heat up compared with gas grills. It is also possible to get a thermostatic control, this lets you set the grill to cook at a certain temperature rather than a more random heat setting that some models offer.