The focal point of any kitchen makeover or redesign is the cooker. The choice of cooker can make or break a kitchen design, whether it be a warm and cosy cottage style, or a sleek and clean contemporary aesthetic, so it is worth considering your choice well. Unfortunately there is a seemingly infinite selection of range cookers available on the market, so how to choose?
Knowing Your Budget
As with all things, the cost of a range cooker varies dramatically. One could buy a perfectly serviceable from a reputable and well established brand such as Belling or Leisure for well under a thousand pounds – alternatively, at the other end of the spectrum, a mammoth semi-commercial cooking machine from Lacanche could set you back up to £12000. Deciding on your budget as the initial step will narrow the field down and make your choice somewhat easier!
So what do you get for your money? At the entry-level end of the market, you’ll find models from manufacturers such as New World and Indesit – familiar brands offering no-frill cookers at value for money prices. These models, although offering ample cooking power for the home cook, lack the refinements and build quality of more expensive cookers.
Take a step up in budget and you encounter manufacturers like Rangemaster and Stoves. Typically costing between £1500 and £2000 these cookers are built, often in the UK, to high standards using quality materials. An increase in cooking features is evident as you’d expect with the increase in price, and features such as multifunction ovens and telescopic shelves become standard at this price point.
Increase your budget again and manufacturers such as Britannia, Falcon and Lacanche start to become an option. These cookers bridge the gap between domestic and commercial cooking and offer features ordinarily reserved for the professional kitchen such as chef top griddles and rotisseries. Build quality steps up too, and you’ll notice heavier gauge steel, solid metal control knobs and more rugged pan supports.
Your Style of Range Cooker?
Broadly speaking, in terms of aesthetic, range cookers fall into the traditional or contemporary category. Traditional cookers exude warmth and cosiness – think bevelled doors, arched baker’s windows and lustrous enamel – and are more at home in the farmhouse style kitchen. Examples of cookers that typify this style are the excellent Rangemaster Classic models, and the robust Redfyre collection. These offer the perfect combination of modern cooking power and features with a comfortable, warm aesthetic reminiscent of an Aga.
The opposite end of the stylistic spectrum is the domain of the contemporary cooker. Clean, almost architectural lines work with stainless steel, sleek gloss finishes and reflective glass to provide a utilitarian look, perfectly at home in the most contemporary loft apartment. The Rangemaster Professional Plus and the Rangecookers Ethos models are excellent examples of this style and offer the ideal balance of image and cooking performance.
So … you know what you want to spend, you know what style of cooker you’re looking for … now onto fuel type.
Choosing Your Range Cooker Fuel Type.
One of the most important factors in cooker choice is the type of fuel. Range cookers are available in dual fuel, all gas and all electric fuel types, and choosing between the three depends on cooking style in addition to availability of sufficient gas or electric mains supply.
Dual fuel is the most popular choice of fuel type, combining as it does the power and responsive nature of a gas hob and the efficiency of an electric oven. This versatile ‘best of both worlds’ combination serves the average home cook superbly.
All gas cookers, as the name suggests, offer a gas hob and gas oven combination more popular with the traditionally skilled cook. The natural temperature gradient of a gas oven is the perfect environment to cook roast dinners for example, as hotter or cooler environments in the oven can be use to full advantage for meat or vegetables. The moist heat of a gas oven ensures that meat doesn’t dry out either.
All electric cookers pair electric ovens with a ceramic hob, or in the case of high end models, an induction hob. Electric cookers are particularly useful for properties without a mains gas supply and modern electric cookers are as responsive and powerful as their gas counterparts but offer more efficient cooking, especially in the case of induction models.
Anything else to Consider?
There are a large number of websites displaying range cookers online – some more successfully than others – but nothing can beat getting hands on with different models from each manufacturer in a showroom. You’ll get a idea of each brand and a feel for the quality of the products that they produce purely from opening and closing the doors and turning the control knobs.