Kitchen Design - 18.09.18
Buying an oven: everything you need to know
Ovens have come a long way in the last several years, let alone in the last several decades. Advances in technology have lead to the development of sleek, efficient and multifunctional ovens that can cook a variety of dishes and even clean themselves. It’s an appliance that you will be using most days and, given that the average oven will last over a decade, it’s vital that you buy the best oven for you. This article will explore the various oven options available to you and provide some industry insight so you can find your perfect appliance.
Electric vs gas ovens
Whilst the choice between buying an electric or gas cooker demands genuine consideration, when it comes to ovens, there’s only really one choice. Electric ovens are without doubt the most popular choice. Even though they tend to be pricier than gas ovens, their heat distribution is unbeatable.
Electric ovens achieve accurate and consistent temperatures that result in fast and reliable cooking. The majority of modern electric ovens are static, meaning they have electric elements lining the top, bottom or sides of the oven. Most modern electric ovens include a fan that circulates the heat evenly throughout the oven’s cavity, known as fan-operated electric ovens.
The gas ovens on the market today are very limited and, although generally cheaper to buy and run than electric ovens, fail to compete in almost every other aspect.
Ovens are divided into three types – built-in, built-under and freestanding. As the names suggest, built-in ovens are situated within a column cabinet that is typically at eye-level whilst built-under ovens are fitted below the kitchen worktop. Built-in ovens make it easier to move items in and out as there is no need to bend down. Conversely, built-under ovens create a seamless look, perfect for traditional style kitchens, especially when paired with a hob above the oven.
Freestanding ovens – more commonly known as freestanding cookers – are self-supporting units that are not built into the kitchen cabinetry. These all-in-one cookers include a single or double oven, while most models also have a hob on top. Although not as seamless as built-in or built-under ovens, fitting costs are a lot less and their independent character makes for a great conversation piece.
If you really want to make a statement, the most iconic freestanding cooker is the range cooker. A generous combination of oven, grill and hob, range cookers perfectly merge everyday functionality with timeless style. It’s hard to go wrong with an original Rangemaster cooker, a culinary classic that’s benefited from over 200 years of technological refinement.
The size or capacity of an oven is measured in litres and ranges from around 50 to over 130 litres with the average oven capacity being around 70 litres. Oven sizes are typically divided into four types – double built-in, double-built in under, single, compact and freestanding. Most ovens are roughly 60cm wide but their height depends on their type. Freestanding cookers are the tallest at around 90cm while compact ovens are only around 45cm tall.
If you are interested in anything other than a freestanding range, remember to note down the measurements of your oven-housing unit and always check the measurements of the oven you are interested in. You don’t want to fall in love with the perfect oven only to find that it is a couple of centimetres too big when you come to install it!
The size of the oven you choose will depend on the available space in your kitchen as well as how you intend to use it. Bear in mind that the displayed capacity of an oven is based on its total internal volume but the actual usable space will be less, especially when shelves are factored in. In fact, the consumer watchdog Which? conducted a study that found that the usable capacity of many ovens can be as much as 27 litres less than the stated capacity.
- Smart Ovens – the advance of internet-connected technology has finally reached the kitchen. Now it’s not just the TV or kettle that you can control with your phone as designers such as Siemens have taken the lead with their Home Connect ovens. Pre-heat your oven while you sit on the train home or even tell it how to cook with voice command technology.
- Delayed Start Timer – programmable timers have been a mainstay of ovens for decades. Now, many modern ovens have delayed start features that allow you to schedule cooking time in advance. Meals can therefore be planned to the second.
- Slide & Hide Doors – as seen on the Great British Bake Off, these doors open and slide underneath the oven itself. This makes it less cumbersome when transporting things in and out of the oven as well as safer when moving around the kitchen.
- Wireless Food Probe – stored within the oven door, the probe measures the core temperature of food to provide precise roasting results.
- Steam – many multifunction ovens now come with a built-in water tank that allows you to steam cook food. This method retains moisture while the food cooks and is especially effective when cooking bread, vegetables, fish and, most importantly, the Sunday roast.
For years, cleaning the oven has been a notoriously messy and difficult job. Recent advancements in oven technology have lead to the development of self-cleaning ovens which, although pricier than basic ovens, provide a solution to one of the most avoided household chores. Three of the most common cleaning systems are:
- Enamel liners – the interior of the oven is covered in a smooth coating that prevents grease and other grime from sticking to oven walls. This makes it easier to wipe the oven clean.
- Catalytic liners – similar to enamel liners, this is a special surface that lines the oven’s interior but this type of liner actually absorbs fat and spills. The grime is then gradually broke down when the temperature of the oven exceeds 200°C.
- Pyrolytic cleaning – this is the priciest but also the most effective cleaning method. Pyrolytic ovens super-heat to around 500°C, incinerating any grease or food waste within the oven. All that’s left after the pyrolytic process is a fine ash that is easily wiped away.
For further advice on buying the perfect oven for your kitchen and a chat with our professional designers, get in touch with the award-winning team at Burnhill Kitchens! We are happy to offer you our expertise in functional kitchen design.