Ovens Buying Guide

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Integrated or Freestanding Oven?

Built-In / Integrated

Built-in or integrated ovens are perfect for those short on space. The design is intended to fit into your existing kitchen layout by slotting neatly into a standard unit – helping to make the most efficient use of space.
Integrated ovens are a modern choice too, as they create a streamlined feel which is very pleasing to the eye. Design touches which are incorporated into the built-in oven often support this streamlined feel, such as retractable controls and ergonomic bevelled handles.
Built-in oven are highly versatile. Create the look most suitable for you by installing the worktop directly above your oven. Or, maybe you fancy moving your hob around a little; like in an island unit where you have more space to get creative. With an integrated oven, the choice is all yours.

Installed at a Height to Suit You

Handy for most households, integrated ovens can be installed at a height that suits you. Whether that’s a low to the ground, up high, or at waist height to avoid bending. Also think about small children and if you’d like to keep hot appliances out of their reach.
 

*Installation Tip*
Don’t forget to measure the inside space of your kitchen cupboard to check that it tallies up with the measurements of your chosen built-in oven. Otherwise, it won’t fit correctly.


Freestanding
Freestanding cookers provide everything you need to get cooking right away. The all-in-one unit comprises of an oven (sometimes a double oven) with a grill and hob; which means that you have all your cooking requirements in one efficient appliance.

Freestanding cookers can be installed anywhere you like. Adjacent side walls which project above the hob level should generally not be nearer to the cooker than 150mm – but this may vary from cooker to cooker and your appliance manual should always be consulted.
Freestanding cookers generally come in two standard widths; 50cm and 60cm. A 50cm cooker may also be referred to as a slimline model. 
 

*Installation Tip*
Always remember to leave enough space between your cooker and any walls/units either side to enable air circulation and for the cooker to be removed for servicing. And don’t forget to hire a professional electrician or Gas Safe® registered tradesman to install your electric or gas oven.


Gas, electric or dual-fuel?

It can be difficult deciding on the right fuel to suit you and your cooking preferences. There are a whole host of benefits when choosing between gas and electric. And if you still can’t decide, there’s always dual-fuel – a combination of the two - for the indecisive cooks amongst us.

Gas Cookers

Gas ovens create a natural heat which can be easily controlled with instant results. Convection causes warm air to circulate as it rises and for cool air to sink; this creates hotter and cooler spots in the cavity, so the temperature is not as even as that found in an electric oven.
However, some gas cookers are designed to allow the air to circulate in a way which provides an even temperature across all shelves – look out for this feature when choosing your gas oven.

A Handy Feature

Because gas ovens create a natural double zone, with a hotter area at the top and a cooler area at the bottom, it is possible to cook food at different temperatures – which is handy if you are cooking different food types, or if the family are eating at different times.

Gas ovens provide natural moisture in the heat they create, which is ideal for baking cakes or slow-roasting a juicy beef joint.

Pros:

  • Easy to control.
  • Moist air – good for baking and slow roasting.

Cons:

  • Hard to get an even temperature – although some models are built to accommodate this.
  • Takes longer than an electric oven to get hot.

Electric Ovens

An electric oven creates a dry heat which is excellent for crisping roast potatoes. It also provides an even cooking zone by heating every corner of the oven cavity at exactly the same rate – which means that your food is evenly cooked throughout.

Pros:

  • Dry heat is good for crisping roast potatoes and pizza bases.
  • No cool spots – means that all your food is evenly cooked throughout.

Cons:

  • Cost more to run than gas cookers.
  • One temperature zone provides little versatility.
 
Dual-Fuel Ovens

For those of us who want the best of both worlds, dual fuel ovens use both electric and gas so you can get the great benefits of moist gas cooking for your baked goods, and dry electric heat for those crispy roast potatoes.
Generally, you will find dual fuel in a freestanding cooker. Combinations can include an electric oven with a gas hob – which means a dry heat oven cavity combined with powerful and easy-to-control gas burners; or a gas oven with an electric hob – which equals a cavity of warm, moist air with an easy-clean ceramic surface.
Other combinations, which can also be found in a built-in cooker, include a gas oven and electric grill – great for crisping meat on the outside and sealing in the moisture.
 

*Installation Tip*
Always discuss your installation options with a qualified electrician and Gas Safe® registered tradesman.
Conventional, fan cooking or multifunctional?


Conventional cooking

Conventional heat is found in both gas and electric ovens, and uses direct energy to heat the food inside the cavity. Conventional ovens have either a timer or a thermostat and work by heating the inside area up to the selected temperature, which in turn cooks the food. Because the conventional oven will always strive to reach the selected temperature, every time the oven door is opened, the temperature inside the cavity is affected. When this happens, the oven takes more time and uses more energy in order to get back to that cooking temperature. Conventional cooking has just one heat source – either an electric element or a gas flame, and so is usually hotter the closer to the element.

Pros:

  • Conventional cooking is straightforward. The time it takes to cook a cottage pie according to your favourite cook book, is the time it will genuinely take in the conventional oven. Unlike a fan assisted oven which speeds up cooking times, so that adjustments have to be made.

Cons:

  • Every time the oven door is opened, the temperature inside the cavity is affected.
 
Fan Cooking

Fan assisted ovens are perfect for people in a rush. They speed up cooking times by around 10 minutes an hour, which means that your delicious dishes will be finished in no time at all.
Many electric ovens now come with a heat distributing fan, and if you want the best of both worlds, you can opt for a multifunction oven, which has both a fan and a conventional mechanism. But we’ll come to that in a second.

Pros:

  • You can cook different types of foods at the same time. The fan circulates hot air around the oven cavity which, means that it stops tastes and smells from mixing together. Ideal if you want to cook a garlic bread and a sweet pastry at the same time.


Cons:

  • Fan ovens speed up your cooking time. Great on the surface, but it does mean that you will have to make adjustments to recipes and cooking guidelines to get the right results. Which could be confusing and lead to mistakes.
 
Multifunction Cooking

Multifunction ovens are designed with both fan cooking and conventional methods. It is a versatile oven which, dependant on the model, combines top and bottom heat elements with a fan to circulate heat evenly around the food. It may also combine other functions, such as a defrost feature and specialist cooking methods. 
A multifunction oven combines a variety of heat sources – and usually a grill, to give you maximum flexibility on your finished results – no matter what you are cooking. So when you go multifunction, you open up a whole world of cooking possibilities.

Pros:

  • A multitude of cooking elements in one unit. So if you want the perfect crispy pizza base, but also fancy the moist and juicy texture of a slow-cooked beef joint, you can achieve all these effects with one cooker.

Cons:

  • Multifunction ovens tend to be more expensive than a standard conventional cooker and fanned oven.

What features should I look out for?

There are a whole host of helpful features available on the modern oven, which will make your life much easier in the kitchen. Look out for the following features when buying your new oven.
  • A side opening door. Some oven models come with a side-opening door. These will be available in a left and right-hand option too, so that it fits perfectly into your kitchen configuration. A side opening door is a great benefit in the kitchen. It means that you can get right up close to the oven cavity, which is handy when carrying hot dishes. It also eliminates the need to lean over when manoeuvring large casserole dishes.
  • Wide opening door. Additional to the side-opening door, a wide-opening oven door opens further than a standard door. This means that it is unobtrusive and doesn’t get in the way when you are taking hot dishes in and out of the oven.
  • Telescopic trays. A sturdy, easy-glide shelf which will take heavier items. Telescopic trays are designed to pull out quite a long way. Means you don’t have to reach right into the oven to pull dishes out you can just pull the edge of the shelf.
  • Rotisserie. An easy way to get a spit-roast effect in your home oven. A rotisserie is good for cooking joints of meat and crisping the skin, because it turns the meat evenly throughout cooking to ensure that there are no cold spots.
  • Defrost setting. An oven with a defrost setting allows you to defrost your food in a gentle and hygienic way. This setting circulates air at room temperature, which is quicker and less messy than leaving your frozen food out to thaw on the side.
  • Turbo grilling. A fast and efficient cooking method which is excellent for crisping and browning foods. Turbo grilling is also designed to speed up cooking times.
  • Programmable timer. A programmable timer is good for busy cooks. It allows you programme a start and finish time to suit you, and it will cook your dish at a pre-selected time and for a pre-selected length of time. Which means that you can just pop everything in the oven before you leave for work and return home to a cooked meal.
  • Built-in oven shelves. This type of oven shelf is good if you have catalytic liners as they wont scratch the liner surface.
  • Fan cooking. A cooking mechanism which uses a fan to circulate heat so that the tastes and smells of other foods don’t transfer.
  • Variable grill. This height adjustable grill allows flexibility when grilling meats or melting cheese on toast. So if your food is cooking too quickly or too slowly, you can adjust the height setting to suit.
  • Minute minder. This handy device counts down the available time left until your dish has finished cooking. There is usually an audible alert incorporated so that you know when your dinner is ready.
  •  Double glazed / triple glazed window. If your oven has a double glazed oven door which contains heat reflective glass, it will be designed to reflect heat back into the oven and away from the exterior door surface. This is great if you have little ones running around, or even if you want to check on your dishes partway through cooking – because the oven door will remain cool and safe to touch. A triple glazed window is even more successful at doing this.
  • Child safety lock. Dependant on the model, a child safety lock may be a physical lock to prevent access to the oven, or a control panel lock which prevents little hands from tampering with touch-screen controls.
  • Air-cooled doors. Even more impressive than a multiple-glazed oven door, air-cooled doors have a fan which circulates cool air around the outside of the appliance – so that the whole exterior remains cool to touch during use.
  • Push button controls: Mechanical controls which must be pressed to operate. A practical option.
  • LED / touch controls: A touch sensitive control panel which must be touched to operate. This can be hindered if you have oil or grease on your hands when cooking. A stylish option.
  • Pyrolytic. A self-cleaning facility. This works by heating inside the cavity to an extremely high temperature, which burns away all dirt and grime residue leaving just a fine ash. The ash simply wipes away with a cloth.
  • Stay-clean liners / catalytic liners. Almost, but not quite as good as the Pyrolytic self cleaning function. Stay-clean liners collect grease and other foodstuffs on their surface, and are easy to wipe down afterwards. You have to remember to keep on top of this though, because the surface becomes very difficult to clean once a build-up of dirt has accumulated.
  • LPG convertible. This means that the oven is suitable for installation in a house which doesn’t have a mains gas supply and which uses Liquid Petroleum Gas.

Single or Double Oven?

That really depends on how many mouths you are feeding. But it is also impacted by the available space in your kitchen too, whether you have room for an extra appliance in your kitchen, or if it would be better to have a built-in oven which is integrated neatly into a kitchen unit. You also need to consider what dishes you normally cook; do you need a couple of cavities for cooking various foods for different lengths of time, or do you have a small household where everybody tends to eat at the same time?

There are a few options available to you, we have outlined the most popular below.

Single Oven

A single oven might be small on size but it can also be big on features. The average height of an integrated single oven is around 60cm, which can be installed under the work counter in an existing kitchen unit. Single electric ovens and single gas ovens come in a variety of cavity sizes though – some ranging upwards of 60 and 70 litre capacities.

No matter what your family size or preferences, there is sure to be a single oven to suit you. If you’re set on going integrated and you’re confident that a single under-counter oven is the maximum size your kitchen is able to accommodate, take a moment to think what features you require to suit you and your family. Some single ovens come with a simple, fan assisted or conventional cavity and a grill; which is ideal if you have a small household and your family generally eat at the same time. If you just want somewhere to cook your evening meal after the working day, a place to melt cheese on toast or grill the Saturday morning brekkie, then a simple single oven with minimal features is for you.

If however, you are limited on space but need plenty of variety in your cooking functions, you might be better suited to a single multifunction oven to give you the best of both worlds – a small but mighty cooking machine!
It might be that you have room in your kitchen for an extra appliance, in which case the choice between single or double oven really comes down to price. This is because all freestanding cookers – whether single or double – are generally around about the same height and will take up the same amount of space in your kitchen. The main difference that you might find then is the price. A freestanding cooker comes with a hob too, so consider this when choosing your perfect oven.
 
Double Oven

Having a double oven means that you can cook several dishes at once – which is great if you have several hungry mouths to feed at different times of the day. Or perhaps you are cooking a full Sunday dinner and need extra room to cook side dishes at various times. The average height of an integrated double oven is around 70cm, with installation options to suit a tall kitchen unit or an under-counter housing in your existing kitchen layout.

Double ovens generally contain two cavities and a grill. Higher end models also come with multiple cooking functions, and a freestanding unit will also have a hob surface. A double oven can either contain two conventional cavities, two fan-assisted cavities or a combination of the two. A double oven with one conventional cavity and one fan cavity offers you a wide variety of cooking methods, which each offer different finishes to your food.

If you prefer the idea of an integrated double oven; something which looks streamlined and modern and fits flush alongside your kitchen units, there are a number of options available to you. From a design perspective, many brands have contemporary models available which will look extremely fashionable when integrated into your kitchen. Retractable controls are very versatile and practical, because they simply pop out when you need them pop back in when you don’t – creating a streamlined finish which doesn’t interrupt the view of your kitchen.

How does a self-cleaning oven work?

Pretty much the best thing since sliced bread – a self-cleaning oven is an oven with a Pyrolytic feature. This nifty feature works by heating inside the oven cavity to an extreme temperature, which then burns away all the stuck-on dirt and grime which you would normally stick. This then falls to the bottom of the cavity as a very fine ash. All you need to do is wipe it away with a clean cloth.

Oh, and if you’re worried about little hands opening up the oven door when the Pyrolytic feature is in progress, don’t be. Pyrolytic ovens come with an automatic safety lock which ensures that when the oven is cleaning, the door is firmly clamped shut.

Just look out for Pyrolytic feature when reading our product descriptions. 
 
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