Find the right hob to suit you with our simple buying guide...
Electric, induction or gas?
When buying a new hob, there are three main types to choose from: Gas, Electric and Induction. We’ve outlined to features and benefits of each below.
Gas hobs have long been a firm favourite of serious cooks. Gas hobs provide instant heat which is easy to control – which allows better cooking results. When cooking on gas, your pans are fast to pre-heat, saving you time. Because a gas hob allows instant temperature adjustment, your dishes can more easily be cooked to perfection. So if your stir-fry isn’t frying quick enough, or your pans are boiling over – simply adjust the flame accordingly to see the temperature instantly respond.
Gas hobs are also the most the energy efficient fuel type, which means they cost you less to run.
On the flip-side, gas hobs can be fiddly things. Gas burners are generally packed with nooks and crannies which can be hard work when wiping up spills. Traditionally, gas hobs come with rotary controls too, which again provides extra surfaces for you to keep clean.
In terms of style, a traditional gas hob consists of 4 gas burners which usually features a simmer burner alongside a selection of semi-rapid and rapid burners – although the combination depends on the model type. The bevelled surface around each gas burner can hinder cleaning, as can the framework around the hob. Generally this type of hob includes removable pan supports which can be cleaned separately. Dependant on model type, these pan supports may be split into two, three piece or even four pieces. In this case, they would be suitable for cleaning in a dishwasher. There are a number of other styles available. We’ve outlined them below:
A domino hob is smaller than an average hob and is given its name because of its distinctive rectangular shape. Domino hobs have two burners, and are ideal for smaller homes, apartments or as an addition to your current hob system. They work well in kitchens with limited space.
- Single burner / wok burner
A single gas burner is generally suited to heating larger pans, like a wok or griddle pan. A single gas hob is extremely powerful, and generally features either a triple-crown or a four-crown burner which reaches extremely high temperatures. These versatile wok-burners are excellent for cooking vegetables and making stir-fries.
Larger gas hobs which contain 5 or more gas burners are excellent for busy chefs. Packed with space and versatility, multi-burner gas hobs feature a combination of simmer, semi rapid and rapid burners as well as a triple-crown or four-crown burner which is suitable for wok frying.
A gas on glass hob combines all the power and flexibility of gas with the easy-clean surface of a ceramic hob. Gas on glass hobs come in a variety of burner numbers so you are sure to find one to suit your home and the space you have available. Gas on glass hobs generally include individual pan supports too, which are not only easy to clean – they create statement look too.
Electric hobs are a popular choice thanks to their easy installation and minimal maintenance. Some modern electric hobs are great for saving energy too and are designed with special zones which adapt to your cookware. These flexible duel zones expand to suit larger pots or griddle pans, and shrink down again to save energy when heating smaller pans. Electric hobs are available with solid plate or ceramic surfaces, both of which come with their own benefits. We’ve outlined them below.
The cheapest hob on the market, solid plate electric hobs provide good value and simplistic controls. They are well suited to people who want a low price product in return for ease-of-use and good results. Solid plate hobs are generally not as energy efficient as other fuel types, as they feature metal cooking zones which take a few minutes to reach full temperature. However, most modern solid plate hobs now include red spot indicators too, which accelerate heating time for less energy consumption. Solid plate hobs do have a slow reaction time though, which could take longer to switch between simmer and full boil when you’re cooking.
PROS: Cheap and simple to use. Red spot indicators increase heating time.
CONS: Slow reaction time. Traditional models are slow to heat up. Difficult to clean.
Ceramic hobs are a stylish and popular choice. The smooth surface is easy to wipe clean and can also serve as an additional work surface when the appliance is not in use - although it is advisable to keep the control panel lock in place during this time to prevent the hob being switched on. Ceramic hobs are also more energy efficient than a traditional solid plate hob, although they do tend to be more expensive to initially purchase. The electric cooking zones are quick to heat up, but have a slow reaction time when switching between temperatures. Ceramic hobs generally come with touch sensitive controls, which can be difficult to use with oil or grease on your fingers from cooking.
PROS: Easy to clean. Fast to heat up. More energy efficient than other electric hobs.
CONS: Slow reaction time when adjusting temperature. Touch controls can be difficult to use with greasy fingers from cooking.
Induction hobs are a relatively new and popular choice on the market. They are highly energy efficient and combine the same temperature control of a gas hob with the stylish good looks and easy-clean surface of a ceramic hob. Induction technology uses a powerful magnetic field to heat only the pan and not the hob itself. The magnetic field is powered through an electrical coil which is positioned directly beneath the ceramic surface of the hob.
In order to use an induction hob successfully, your pots and pans must be magnetic. Which means that your pans should be made from steel or iron, and all pans which are made from aluminium, copper, ceramic or glass won’t work. If in doubt try this simple test. Does your fridge magnet stick to the bottom of your pan? If so, you’re good to go!
— Try this trick! —
Does your magnet stick?
— then get cooking!
If you can stick a standard fridge magnet to the underside
of your cookware, then it is suitable for use with an induction hob.
What control type is best for my hob?
Control type varies from model to model. We’ve outlined the features and benefits of the most common hob controls below.
Traditional and easy to manoeuvre, rotary controls are a firm favourite amongst serious chefs. The feel of rotary dial controls is sturdy and reassuring; and allows you to adjust the temperature of your cooking zones in a completely natural way. Rotary controls are generally associated with gas hobs but can also be found on ceramic hobs and induction models. Look out for rotary controls which are placed in a front position too. This is a great feature as it means you don’t need to lean over hot pans when adjusting the temperature.
PROS: Easy to use. Good control over heat levels.
CONS: Difficult to keep clean.
Sleek and practical, touch controls are designed to be completely flush with the hob surface, and are therefore extremely easy to clean. A touch control panel creates a simple, wipe-down finish which is in-line with the rest of the ceramic or glass hob. They are generally found on electric hobs – both ceramic and induction, but are also available on some specialised gas hobs. Touch controls can be difficult to use, especially if you have grease or oil on your hands from cooking.
PROS: Easy to clean. Fashionable.
CONS: Can be difficult to use, particularly if you have oil on your hands from cooking.
What features should I look out for?
Little things to look out for which will make your life a whole lot easier in the kitchen.
When you’re cooking on gas, one regular gripe is how difficult it’s going to be to clean up afterwards. Individual pan supports make keeping your hob clean a whole lot easier. By eliminating the full-width support grid and using separate burner spires instead, you immediately lose a lot of surface area – which means less cleaning. The design is extremely modern too and looks great in your kitchen. Two birds. One stone.
An integrated ignition is a clever device that makes cooking on gas a lot simpler. Gone are the days of fiddly ignition; holding down the spark whilst turning the dials – and trying to keep your pans steady in the process. Integrated ignition is simple and automatic, and works by igniting the flame the moment you turn the control dial, so that everything can be done with just one hand.
Good for those who prefer the power and control of gas but long for the easy-clean properties of a ceramic surface. The gas on glass hob is basically a gas hob mounted on top of a ceramic glass surface, which is easy to clean and looks stylish and modern too.
Simple but effective, this handy feature is one generally associated with gas hobs because ceramic and induction hobs have a flat surface as standard. A hob which is flag marked as having a flat surface means that the intricate bevels and divots of a traditional gas hob have been scrapped – so it’s easy to keep clean. Watch out for this feature when buying your new gas hob.
A staggered formation on any type of hob is good for those who use several pans together at any one time. This subtle feature is not always shouted about and may not be listed in the product description, but you can usually spot this if the gas burners or ceramic zones are placed in a diamond shape rather than the traditional square formation. This staggered shape creates more free space between zones, whilst still slotting into a standard cut-out. In turn, this allows more flexibility when manoeuvring several pans around the hob.
- Dual Zone / Expanding Zone / Bridge Function
A selection of ceramic and induction hobs are available with a dual-zone or bridge function. This nifty, adaptive feature allows the heating element to expand when using larger pans, griddles and kettle dishes - or shrink down again to heat a smaller area when you are using a more compact pan.
- Triple Crown / Four Flame Burner
Many larger gas hobs include a powerful triple-crown or four-flame gas burner – which is great for larger pans and woks. A triple-crown burner is much bigger than your regular gas burners, and makes a real eye-catching feature in your kitchen. Triple-crown or four flame burners are ideal for making stir-fry dishes.
When a hob is listed as being a modular product, it is generally part of a wider collection of hobs in various styles, which can be fitted according to a variety of personal tastes. Modular hobs may consist of a two-zone domino hob, separate triple-crown burner and Teppan Yaki plate – or a combination of all three.
What safety features are available?
Safety is paramount when cooking hot food and handling bulky pans, and there are a range of safety features to consider when buying your new hob.
- Flame Failure Safety Device / FFSD
A flame failure safety device is found on most gas hobs. This handy safety device is designed to stop flammable gas from being routed to the burner if the flame is extinguished. Often, a thermocouple is used alongside the FFSD to sense when the pilot light is burning.
- Hot Hob / Residual Heat Indicators
Good for electric or induction hobs where there is no visible flame, hot hob indicators or residual heat indicators let you know when the hob surface is safe to touch – and more importantly, when it isn’t. The LED display remains visible for as long as the hob surface stays warm, even after you have finished preparing your meal. Residual heat indicators are very important – especially if you have small children who may touch the surface while it is still warm.
Good for households with small children, the control panel lock keeps little hands away from trouble. Once you have finished preparing dinner, simply set the control panel lock which will prevent anyone from tampering with the buttons and switching the hob on again by mistake.
- Induction / Pan Detection
Pan detection technology uses magnets to heat the pan and not the hob itself. This ensures that the area around the pan remains safe to touch. Found on induction hobs only.