Whether you want to rustle up a roast with all the trimmings or you only wish to boil an egg, having a cooker in your kitchen is essential.
From double ovens to ceramic hobs to catalytic liners, there’s a lot to think about – so be sure to pick the right one from the wealth of options on offer to create a beautiful kitchen environment.
If you’re buying a freestanding cooker, then this guide will show you the things to consider. It takes you through all the main questions to think about when picking one, as well as explaining the technology terms you’ll come across.
Read our built-in cookers buying guide if you’re looking to purchase one of those, as while there are many similarities to freestanding, they do have specific features and options to consider.
What are the basics of cookers?
Knowing what size appliance you want or have room for is the first thing to consider. They generally come in 50cm, 55cm and 60cm widths. You then need to decide whether you want an electric oven with electric hob, a gas oven and gas hob or a dual fuel mixture of an electric oven and gas hob.
There are also plenty of different colour options around these days instead of the generic black, white and stainless steel including bold ones such as Jalapeno, Papaya and Champagne. These are designed to make a statement and turn the cooker into a focal point of the kitchen.
How do I choose the type of oven?
It’s important to realise how much cooking you’ll be doing and with what sort of foods, both now and in the future. A cooker is a big investment so you’ll want something to last as your family grows or your lifestyle changes.
Options include a simple single oven, a single oven with a separate grill or a double oven incorporating a grill giving lots of flexibility. For example, you could be roasting a joint in one and making dessert in the other.
Internal oven sizes are generally 40-59cm (standard), 60cm+ (large) and 70cm+ (extra large). If you have a separate grill, rather than one within the oven cavity, that may cut down the oven size.
Should I buy an oven with a fan?
Fan ovens circulate the hot air around the cavity to speed up the cooking time. This provides an even temperature throughout the oven and they let you cook at temperatures roughly 10-20 degrees lower than a conventional oven..
Fan-assisted ovens don’t maintain the same even temperature; they can create hot spots at certain parts of the cavity but will speed up cooking in comparison to a conventional oven
A conventional oven is the other option you have. Heat is generated from both the top and bottom of the oven, which centres the heat in the top of the oven, great for food that needs a crisp, dark finish.
What is a multi-function oven?
Unlike built-in, only a few freestanding cookers are multi-functional, which means they have more than five different programs. That could include both fan and conventional heating as above but also functions for specific tasks such as baking bread, cooking pizza and defrosting. All these are chosen through a few simple button presses.
How will you clean your oven?
There are two different types of liners – Enamel and Catalytic.
The first is the basic standard, which you wipe yourself with elbow grease and chemicals.
But Catalytic liners instead absorb grease from cooking which then burns away when the oven is operating at high temperatures of 210 degrees. Often these liners are found on the sides, back and top of the oven, leaving you only the base and door to clean manually.
What are the different types of hob?
Induction is the best form of hob right now but there are very few available on freestanding cookers, it’s more a feature of built-in.
With induction hobs you have all the benefits of a gas hob but it’s electric. The surface is very quick to heat and food doesn’t burn onto them so any remnants can be easily wiped away.
Induction is also incredibly energy efficient as it works by creating a magnetic field between the pan and the hob. The magnetic inductors underneath the ceramic surface heat up the area only below the pan, therefore little energy is lost. You can test the bottoms of your pans to see if they will work with induction by checking if a magnet sticks to them. If it does, it will work.
Ceramic hobs do represent the majority of electric offerings and are quick to heat up and easy to clean when compared to a solid plate hob. On these, heat is evenly distributed across the base of the pan.
Alternatively there are solid plate hobs which cost less to buy, but they can be more costly to run because they are not as energy efficient. On gas hobs they give instant heat and for added style, it’s good to look out for cast iron pan supports and wok burners.
Freestanding cookers are unlikely to have griddles or hotplates. You would find these instead on Range Cookers.
How energy efficient will my cooker be?
Only ovens are graded for energy efficiency, hobs are not. Double ovens would have two ratings for example AA – a grade for each oven while a single oven would just have just one rating, for example A.
What else should I consider?
Shelving is key. Some of the larger ovens have more than one shelf included and lots of different levels to move them up and down on. Other smaller cavities stick with only one shelf inside and less options of where they can be placed.
Telescopic shelving is becoming more popular. These extend out of the oven to make it much easier to pick up hot dishes and so are much safer.
An oven with a basic timer will simply beep when food is ready. This is called a minute minder. Fully programmable timers can be set in the morning to turn on at a certain time so your food is cooked as you arrive home from work.
If you have children, consider their safety. If you have touch controls on the hob, ensure they have child-proof locks.
Most freestanding cookers have adjustable feet in case the floor isn’t even and a few have storage space underneath to keep pans in, but this may reduce your oven size.
Old-style cookers with a grill at the top do still exist but are getting less popular and are few in number.
Finally, a light is an essential feature, allowing you to keep an eye on the food as it cooks. Most cookers have them, but not all, so check the one you’re interested in does and that you can see through the door glass.
How do I pick the right hood or splashback?
A vented or ducted hood needs to be fitted to an outside wall so the air can escape.
Recirculation hoods soak up the grease and odours from the air and these are then contained in a replaceable charcoal filter. This type of hood can be fitted anywhere, as it doesn’t need a vent.
Some hoods can be quite noisy when operating, so check out the decibel level to find one that’s an acceptable level to you. The design of a hood is totally down to you. There are lots of functional as well as extremely stylish hoods out there. Size-wise, ensure it is at least the width of your cooker but some people choose ones much larger.
- FSD – This stands for Flame Supervision Device. If the gas goes out, it cuts the oven off and is a legal requirement
- Economy Burner – A smaller burner on the hob for a lower temperature or more compact pans
- Range Cooker – A larger freestanding cooker often with two ovens side by side and five or six burners on the hob along with the likes of griddles or hotplates