Buying guide: Ovens, cooktops and freestanding cookers (upright ranges)
- — 24 August, 2010 12:30
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1. All of the ovens have fan-forced cooking. Can I turn the fan off?
While most ovens on the market are fan forced there is generally a setting, or function to allow you to cook with the fan off. Ovens usually also include a range of settings for cooking different types of food — a good example is a function that is perfect for crisping the bases of pizzas and pies.
2. How many burners do I need?
This is really personal choice. Four burners are more than adequate for most people. When looking at a hob look also at how the burners are spaced — is there enough room to have a reasonably sized pot or pan on each burner at the same time.
3. I'm replacing a white enamel upright range or hob / wall oven. Do I need to buy stainless steel?
Stainless steel is a more modern look and may add to the value of your home. You may also find that there is a greater choice of stainless steel cookers, and that their price may be reasonably competitive. However, if you are not concerned with this then you don't need to buy stainless steel.
4. I have an elevated range that I want to replace — can I still get one?
Elevated ranges are a combined oven and hob with the oven on one side the hob on the other. They look just like an upright cooker cut in half and put side-by-side. They sit on top of a knee-high cupboard. These units were used in many kitchens built in the late 1970s and early 1980s, although the design itself is much older. These are currently still available from a very small number of manufacturers. However, while the ovens have been updated to fan forced, they will most likely only be available in white enamel and their design will generally not have changed much.
5. I am thinking of buying either a 900mm wide oven or a double oven. Which should I get?
Double ovens allow you to cook different types of foods at different temperatures at the same time. For example, if you want to cook a roast and a soufflé at the same time they are perfect. In a wall-mount situation the two ovens will usually sit on top of one another and both will most likely be 600mm wide. If you are buying a freestanding oven the width will most likely be 900mm that is split into one 600mm oven and one 300mm oven.
A single 900mm wide oven will allow you to cook a larger roast, as well as have potentially four or more standard sized roasting dishes in the oven at the same time. This is great if you are cooking for a lot of people, or like to cook larger cuts of meat.
6. I prefer to cook with gas but we don't have natural gas in our area. What can I do?
Most natural gas devices come with a conversion kit for LPG that can be installed by a qualified tradesperson. So, if you don't have natural gas investigate getting an LPG supply.
7. I like to barbecue — should I get a BBQ grill? How about a teppanyaki plate? Maybe I need a wok burner?
A BBQ grill or teppanyaki plate in your hob will generally come at the expense of two extra burners. Weigh up carefully whether extra burners or a BBQ grill are more important. If you have a BBQ outside the back door, you are probably better off with the extra burners. But again, this comes down to personal choice. If you cook a lot with a wok, it is definitely worth considering a wok burner.
8. Should I get a separate grill?
The current fashion is to have the grill inside the oven. This also has the advantage of allowing the tops of large items to be grilled — these items do not generally fit in a separate grill. A separate grill is good if want to grill at the same time as you have items in the oven cooking.
9. Do I need a self-cleaning oven?
Self cleaning ovens — either pyrolytic or with catalytic liners — can save you time and effort. However they do cost more and they don’t completely negate the need for cleaning: they will just reduce the workload. You must decide if the additional cost is justified.
10. What is the difference between a wall-oven and an underbench oven?
The simple answer is: very little. The wall oven sits inside a cupboard from about waist-height up; the underbench oven sits below the bench. Wall ovens can be single or double ovens and can include a separate grill. There is generally only enough space under the bench for the basic oven. Using an underbench oven can save you money as you do not need to buy the more expensive wall cabinet to place the oven in. Underbench ovens are also good if the kitchen is very small.