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Choosing a Built-in Cooker: All You Need To Know

Also… If you’re looking to buy a freestanding cooker, then check out our buying guide

A stylish built-in oven is the centrepiece of your fitted kitchen and responsible for providing you and your family with a hot meal every evening.

Coming in a choice of colours, styles and finishes to suit all kitchens, this article will take you through what to consider when buying one, ensuring you can cook up the perfect dish.

What size options are available with built-in ovens?

There are three options of built-in oven available. Either a built-in single oven which sits under a worktop or in a column unit; a built-in double oven which sits in a column unit; or a built-under double oven that sits in the same space as a single oven. These are a great alternative to built-in single ovens as they give you two ovens, with the top oven having a combined grill.

Hotpoint’s OpenSpace built-in single oven is a single oven but with an insulating divider to turn it into a double oven. These then have separate temperature controls, giving the ultimate in flexibility and space. Samsung also have dual cooker, which is a similar principle.

What fuel choices are there?

The majority of built-in ovens are electric but gas options are available including gas ovens with a separate electric grill.

What oven types are available?

Want to cook lots of different types of food? Then a multifunction oven could be just the thing for you.

Multifunction ovens start with five cooking functions to choose from going all the way up to double figures as you work your way up the ranges. These functions include fan cooking which maintains an even temperature and speeds up cooking time. They will also have functions for specific tasks such as baking bread, cooking pizza, rotisserie and defrosting. All these are chosen through a few simple button presses.

You can also buy a specific fan oven. They’re ideal for batch baking and you don’t have to worry about mixing flavours. Cooking times can be reduced by up to 10 minutes an hour with a fan oven.

Fan-assisted ovens have all the functionality of fan ovens but may not maintain an even temperature throughout and may mix flavours between foods.

Conventional ovens are a cheaper option. The centre of the oven is the hottest and is great for food that needs a crisp, dark finish.

Finally, there are gas ovens which maintain a moist cooking atmosphere so foods like meat will not dry out.

Love cooking, hate cleaning?

If you never want to clean your oven then choose a Pyrolytic one. They’re the ultimate in convenience and clean your entire oven at a click of a button by heating it up to an ultra-high temperature and destroying the grease and food residue. It leaves you to get on with doing what you enjoy instead of cleaning.

There are also Catalytic liners. Catalytic liners absorb grease from cooking which 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 by hand.

Enamel liners are the most basic option, which you clean yourself with elbow grease and chemicals.

Is there anything else to know?

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 are therefore 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.

Also, a light is an essential feature, allowing you to keep an eye on the food as it cooks. Most ovens have them, but not all, so check the one you’re interested in does and that you can see through the door glass.

How energy efficient will my oven 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 – and then a single oven would just have just one rating, for example A. An A-rated appliance is more energy efficient than a B-rated oven.

What choices are there with built-in hobs?

The most common widths are 60cm with four burners and 70cm with five burners but some 70cm models can fit in the same space as a 60cm.

With electric hobs, induction now provides all the benefits of a gas hob but it’s electric. The surface is very quick to heat and food doesn’t burn onto it 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 only heat up under the base of the pan. Therefore little energy is lost. You can test if your pans work by sticking a magnet to the bottom. if it sticks, they’ll work with induction.

Built-in 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. With these, heat is evenly distributed across the base of the pan.

Alternatively there are built-in 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 will give instant heat and for added style look out for cast iron pan supports and wok burners.

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, placing them in a replaceable charcoal filter. This type of hood can be fitted anywhere, as they don’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 hob but some people choose ones much larger.

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