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buying guide

We have produced the buying guide below to help you through the sometimes confusing process of choosing your range cooker. Click on the relevant sections to see your various options explained.

Of course, should you need any further advice you can just give us a call on 01244 402975 - we'd be only too happy to help you find the right cooker for your needs and budget.

Range Cookers - click on the panels below
Range cooker formats

Choosing the right fuel configuration is clearly important, but by far the most popular choice is Dual Fuel. Your criteria may be different, though - for example a high-current electrical supply may not be available or you may prefer the clean lines and simplicity of a ceramic or induction hob...

Dual Fuel Ranges

A dual fuel range uses both gas and electricity, and you will need a mains or LPG gas supply in place, together with an electrical supply sufficient for your chosen model. Dual fuel is by far the most popular choice of range cooker because it offers the best of both worlds, combining the ease and responsiveness of a gas hob with the speed and efficiency of electric ovens.

LPG Conversion
Although your range will usually arrive configured for mains gas, almost all dual fuel ranges will convert for use with LPG (bottled) gas, and a set of LPG gas jets will either be supplied with the product, or this will be available for a small charge from the manufacturer.


Gas Ranges
Many people prefer using an all gas range cooker, as they have grown used to the moister results of a gas oven. Alternatively, a high-current electric circuit may not be available, and a gas cooker is an ideal solution. You will still need an electricity supply to run the timer, ignition and lights, but this will usually be via a 13Amp plug rather than a dedicated cooker circuit.

All-gas cookers need to be purpose-built for the type of gas used, and are usually NOT convertible. It is highly dangerous to use the wrong gas type, so ensure you seek professional advice from a Corgi-registered engineer.

Most UK households will have Natural Gas piped into their property. More remote properties will often be using Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) in the form of Butane or Propane, via large tanks or smaller bottles. In the Channel Isles, although the gas supply may be piped into the house in the normal way, the gas used is LPG mixed with air.

LPG Ranges
As the demand for all-LPG ranges is very low, many manufacturers have dropped them from their product range in recent years. Only a few models are now available, and Rangemaster is the only major brand still offering them. Click HERE to see the full range available.

All-gas cookers need to be purpose-built for the type of gas used, and are usually NOT convertible. It is highly dangerous to use the wrong gas type, so ensure you seek professional advice from a Corgi-registered engineer.


All Electric Ranges
Some people do not have access to a gas supply, or simply prefer the benefits of an all-electric range. A ceramic hotplate is very easy to wipe clean, and the advent of induction cooking means that power and responsiveness can be every bit as good as gas, if not better.

All-electric ranges will obviously draw more electricity than their counterparts, and you will therefore need a sufficient electrical supply in place. In most cases this will mean a 10mm heat-resistant cable into a 45Amp fused circuit via an easily accessible double-pole switch, but the rating could be as high as 60Amp. Please consult a qualified electrician if in any doubt. The rating for your chosen range will be shown on our product specification table, although we recommend checking this with the manufacturer prior to ordering.
Oven fuel types - gas

Gas ovens
Gas ovens use natural convection to distribute heat throughout the oven cavity. This results in a higher temperature in the top section and a cooler lower section.

Although not as quick to warm up as fanned or multifunction electric ovens, many people prefer gas ovens because they have become accustomed to using them, or perhaps prefer cooking in the slightly moister air they generate, which is excellent for baking.

Very suited to traditional roast meals, the different temperature zones allow you to cook the meat, for example, on the middle shelf, the potatoes on the top and the pudding towards the bottom.

Oven fuel types - electric general

Electric ovens
An electric oven can often provide you with a good deal of cooking flexibility. In addition to conventional (zoned heat) electric ovens, most ranges will feature a fanned or multi-function oven, or perhaps a mixture of all three types.

Pre-heating
A major advantage of electric ovens is fast warm-up times compared to gas ovens. Fanned ovens are particularly good in this respect, and In addition to added convenience, will also save energy. To get the best results from a conventional gas or electric oven, you will need to allow 10 to 15 minutes before placing your dishes in (compared to 3 to 4 minutes for a fanned oven). Placing-in food only when the oven is to temperature is especially important when cooking chilled or frozen foods.

Oven fuel types - electric (conventional)

Conventional electric ovens
  Many range cookers will include a conventional oven in addition to a fanned oven, and
this traditional method of heating an oven uses a single heating element in the base and
allows natural convection to distribute heat throughout the oven cavity. This results in a
higher temperature in the top section and a cooler lower section.

Very suited to traditional roast meals, the different temperature zones allow you to cook
the meat, for example, on the middle shelf, the potatoes on the top and the pudding towards the bottom.


Slow Cook Ovens
A slow cook oven is used to cook stews and other liquid-based dishes at relatively low temperatures, with correspondingly long cooking times. Many recipes simply call for the ingredients to be put in the dish with little preparation so, for example, you could throw together a casserole before leaving for work and it will be ready when you come home. Slow-cooked stews and hotpots tend to taste better, as the meats are beautifully tender and the juices more succulent. Rice puddings come out great, too!

Dedicated Slow Cook Ovens
Many Stoves and Belling products (also the Rangemaster Excel) now feature a dedicated slow cook oven, usually the small cavity on the lower right, heated by a low-powered electrical element. This can obviously free-up your main ovens for preparation of the rest of the meal, and when not used for cooking can also prove useful for plate-warming.

Integrated Slow Cook Functions
Many gas ovens will feature a slow-cook setting on one of the main ovens, which is controlled by a simple on/off switch or a setting on the control knob.

Oven fuel types - electric (fanned)

Fanned electric ovens
Most double-oven range cookers will include at least one fan oven, which is a great asset to cooking in general, and great for batch baking, as the heat is very evenly spread throughout the oven cavity. Because they are very efficient, fanned ovens will also reach temperature much quicker than a conventional oven, saving you both time and energy costs. In addition, you will be able to set a cooler temperature than your recipe shows.

Fanned ovens also offer additional functions, as described below.

Functions:
  Fan Oven
A very efficient and economic way of heating your oven cavity, the heating element is
actually part of the fan assembly, and the resulting effect is a very uniform heat throughout
the oven, which is ideal for batch baking of cakes or canapés, and cooking in general.

  Defrost
Using the fan without any heat and with the door closed allows you to defrost foods
such as bread, cream cakes or gateaux. If you leave the door open, this can also be used
for cooling dishes prior to refrigeration.

  Fan Assisted Grilling
Used with the door closed, on this setting the fan circulates the heat from the grill element
around the food itself, eliminating the need to turn or baste chops, sausages, mixed grills
and so on. It will also significantly reduce the spitting fat often associated with traditional grilling.

Oven fuel types - electric (multifunction)

Multifunction ovens
Many brands are now featuring Multifunction ovens on their range cookers, which is good news if you enjoy cooking, as you will certainly come to appreciate the flexibility this offers. Selecting the most appropriate heat for the meal you are preparing will make a real difference to the way it turns out, and you will wonder how you coped with your old cooker!

Although availability of functions may vary slightly from brand to brand, the guide below will show you how to use them to best advantage.

  Conventional Cooking
Using natural convection, the oven cavity will be hotter at the top and cooler at the bottom, which
is ideal for traditional roasting. The meat can be placed in the middle of the oven, roast potatoes
towards the top, and puddings towards the base

  Top Heat Only
Again useful towards the end of cooking, when you need to finish off a dish but do not want the
ferocity of the grill you can use the top oven element for delicate browning. Great for dishes like
lasagne, cottage pie or cauliflower cheese.

  Bottom Heat Only
Towards the end of cooking using fanned or conventional modes you can use this function at
higher temperatures to finish off the bases of foods like pizzas, pies and quiches. At lower
temperatures it can also be useful for slow-cooking casseroles or plate-warming.

  Base Heat with Fan*
Used to cook open pies (such as mince pies, apple tarts etc.) the base element ensures that the
base is cooked, while the fan allows the air to circulate around the filling - without being too intensive.

*Stoves and Belling ranges

  Fan Assisted
Suitable for food with a high moisture content, such as roasted meats, baked fish, bread and frozen
potato products. It also eliminates the need for baking pastry blind.

  True Fan
This gives the oven a very uniform heat, so is ideal for batch baking of cakes or canapés.
A very efficient and economic way of heating your oven cavity, it can also be used for a
quick pre-heat boost.

  Quickstart* or Rapid Response**
It is always important to preheat an oven to the correct temperature, and this useful feature
can make this easy by providing a very fast preheat system, sometimes allowing you to put
food in straight away.

* Britannia **Rangemaster

  Defrost
Using the fan without any heat and with the door closed allows you to defrost foods such as
bread, cream cakes or gateaux. If you leave the door open, this can also be used for cooling
dishes prior to refrigeration.

  Traditional Grilling
Although you can use this for grilling meats, it is most suited to toast and other bread-based
snacks like crumpets, teacakes and welsh rarebit.

  Fan Assisted Grilling
Used with the door closed, on this setting the fan circulates the heat from the grill element
around the food itself, eliminating the need to turn or baste chops, sausages, mixed grills
and so on. It will also significantly reduce the spitting fat often associated with traditional grilling.

  Oven Light Only
Although not what we would call a "real" function, the light-only mode is often included
when specifying the number of functions available, and is most economically used by
switching on and off when you need to check the progress of your food. It can also prove
useful when you come to clean your oven!
Oven features

Internal oven features

  Telescopic Shelves
A useful feature available as standard with brands like Stoves, and as an optional accessory on others (e.g. Britannia), telescopic shelves operate on steel runners like a drawer. The smooth action of the slide-out shelf makes accessing your food easier and safer than with conventional shelves. There’s no need to reach into a hot oven, simply pull out the shelf and the food comes to you without the risk of tipping or spillage.

Although the telescopic runners are placed at specific useful heights, the shelf can be removed for easy cleaning or for alternative conventional positioning.


  Rangemaster Handyrack
Available on Rangemaster range cookers and under a different name on Leisure ranges, the useful Handyrack is a great feature. The Handyrack is a removable shelf attached to your main oven door, which swings out when the door is opened, making basting and accessibility very easy. This means you no longer have to move your roasting tray in and out of your hot oven.

Adjustable positions
When the Handyrack is used in its highest position, other dishes can be cooked on the bottom shelf position of the oven or standing on the base of the oven. When the Handyrack is used in its lowest position, other dishes can be cooked on the second shelf position of the oven or standing on the base of the oven.

Safety Advice
The maximum weight that can be held by the Handyrack is 5.5kg (12lb). It should only be used with the supplied meat tray, which is designed to fit the Handyrack. Any other vessel could be unstable.


  Plate Racks
When you may have spent hours making dinner it seems a pity to spoil things by placing the food onto cold plates. Warm plates will retain the food’s temperature during an extended dinner, and your guests will certainly appreciate it.

Plate racks are supplied as standard on most 90cm Rangemaster and Stoves ranges which feature a tall oven, and allow you to stack plates sideways to warm them through.


  Rotisseries
A superbly succulent way to cook pork, chicken, duck and other game birds. As the rotisserie uses the grill element, spitting of fat it virtually eliminated, which helps maintain a clean oven cavity. The rotation cooks the meat evenly in its own juices and allows easy access for continuous basting if desired.

The motor drive mechanism is concealed within the oven wall and turns the food on the spit.
Oven linings

Standard Enamel
Although some products feature self-cleaning linings, these will add to the cost of a product, and the familiar wipe-clean enamel is still a standard feature on many range cookers.

Cleaning
The key to avoiding turning the cleaning of your enamelled oven into a big and rather unpleasant job is to ensure that you adopt a "clean as you go" habit, and perhaps keep a baking tray on the floor of the cavity to catch any spillages.

If excessive splashing does occur in the oven, wait for the oven to cool down and then wipe the affected enameled area with a damp cloth wrung out in warm water and a mild detergent.
Any obstinate marks can be removed using a paste or cream cleaner or a well moistened soap impregnated steel wool pad rubbed gently so as not to damage the surface.


Easy-clean and Pristine® Enamels
Pristine® Enamel is an award-winning finish developed by and exclusive to the Stoves brand, but similar enamels can be found on other brands. Rather than opt for a self-cleaning lining, Stoves have chosen to adopt this less costly but very effective solution, with an exceptionally hard and smooth surface which is very difficult for stains to cling to.

Following exhaustive tests* involving a variety of ovens, Stoves were able to ascertain that Pristine enamel is three times easier to clean than standard enamel. Because the structure of the enamel is more compact, the absorption of food residue is greatly reduced, making it possible to just wipe it clean. In addition, Pristine’s unique formulation also offers inherent antibacterial qualities.

*The Vitreous Enamel Association has endorsed these tests and findings.

Cleaning
If excessive splashing does occur in the oven, wipe the affected enameled area with a damp cloth wrung out in warm water and a mild detergent. Any obstinate marks can be removed using a paste or cream cleaner or a well moistened soap impregnated steel wool pad rubbed gently so as not to damage the surface.



  Standard Enamel
 

  Pristine Enamel


Catalytic Oven Liners
Variously referred to as Self-clean, Stay-clean, or Cook & Clean, these liners are included on many ranges, or may be available as an optional extra. They can often be recognised by their rough-textured grey surface. The liners normally fit to the sides and rear of the oven, but are sometimes available for the roof of the cavity too. Usually both oven cavities will be lined, but sometimes they will be found only in the main oven.

How They Work
Catalytic liners are coated with fat-hungry micro-porous enamel and help absorb and eliminate the splashes that occur during cooking. This does not stop all marks on the lining, but helps to reduce the amount of manual cleaning needed. The panels work better above 200°C so if you do most of your cooking below this temperature, at the end of cooking (especially after roasting) leave the oven on its maximum setting for a further 15 minutes to allow the stay-clean process to do its work.

Cleaning Liners
If a lot of liquid or fat has splashed the oven interior, wait until the oven has cooled down, then clean the splashes with a damp sponge. Then heat the oven for 2 hours on maximum. Repeat the cycle if certain difficult marks have not been eliminated. Periodically, it is advisable to remove the panels from the oven and wash them with lukewarm soapy water and dry them with a soft lint free cloth. The panels should then be dried and replaced and the oven heated at 200°C for about one hour. This will ensure the liners are working effectively.

• Don’t use steel wool (Brillo) or any other materials that will scratch the surface.
• Don’t use oven-cleaning pads.
• Never use abrasives, alkaline or acid detergents to clean the oven.


Pyrolytic Oven Linings
The holy grail of oven cleaning, pyrolytic ovens use heat to thoroughly clean the interior of the oven, leaving it looking like new. When the oven needs cleaning, the oven can be set to a very high temperate (the door is locked for safety), and all food residues are reduced to ash, which you simply brush from the oven floor once cool. This is an impressively effective process, but is a rare feature found mostly on top-end built-in ovens. On range cookers, pyrolytic ovens can currently be found on Rosières, Smeg, Rangemaster FX and Falcon 900S models, but hopefully more will appear as demand rises.

Hoods - click on the panels below
General guide

If you have not had one before you will wonder how you coped without an extraction hood, and will be delighted with how it transforms your daily cooking experience...

Standard range hoods are designed to be wall-mounted above your range cooker, and the recommended mounting height will vary according to the manufacturer's guidance given in the product manual. For further information see our Installation Guide.

Hoods are comprised of a main canopy and a chimney section, which is extendable to suit your situation. Within the hood a powerful motor (sometimes two) sucks air through filters before (ideally) expelling it to the outside. Where this is not possible, many hoods can be set to recirculate filtered air back into the room, although this is far less efficient. See the Extract or Recirculate page for further information.






Design
Styles can vary, from traditional chimney hoods (as above) to the more contemporary or industrial designs shown below.





Island Hoods
If you need to position your hood over a cooker which is not against a wall, an Island Hood will meet your needs nicely. Click HERE for further information.

Build-in ("Canopy") Hoods
For installation into chimney breasts or overhead cupboards. Click HERE to see more.

Rails
On some of the more traditional models, a decorative rail is featured, which can be used to suspend cooking utensils during cooking (but NOT tea towels!).



Controls
These can be in the form of push-buttons, sliders or touch-sensitive electronics buttons with a digital display, and can be mounted either on the front edge of the hood or on the underside. Some high-spec hoods even feature a remote control.

Lights
Hoods generally incorporate halogen lights, which are a real benefit when cooking on the hob.

Automatic Sensor (ASC) Systems
A very useful feature, some manufacturers (e.g. Britannia) offer a useful feature which automatically switch the hood on if any odour, smoke or gas is detected.

Boosters
Need an extra burst of power? A boost feature will increase the extraction rate for a limited time before returning to normal. Useful if you want to clear the room of smoke or steam.

Delayed Stop
When you have finished cooking and want to join guests or just go to bed, you can leave your hood working for 15 minutes or so before turning itself off.

Extract or recirculate?

Where possible it is always preferable to extract air out of the kitchen rather than re-circulate, as the additional charcoal filters required for re-circulation will reduce the performance of the hood by at least 30%. Rigid ducting is better than flexible hosing, which can produce unhelpful air currents.

Extracting (requires additional ducting kit)
1. Steam, heat and odours are passed through washable aluminium grease filters.
2. Air is drawn through the motor and into the ducting tube.
3. Air is ejected through a vent on the outside wall.
4. Baffle valves on motor and vent prevent air blowing in from outside.





Advantages
• More efficient air-flow (no secondary filtration stage).
• No charcoal filters to monitor or renew.

Disadvantages
• Requires an outside wall.
• More complex installation (requires hole in wall).
• NOT allowed by regulations when you have a solid fuel stove in the same room (danger of drawing smoke fumes back into room).

Ducting Kits
These are not supplied with the hood, but are available directly from the manufacturer via the number shown in our Spares & Service section, or via local DIY stores or online stores such as Screwfix.co.uk. The diameter of ducting required will be shown on the product specification table.


Recirculating (requires additional charcoal filters)
1. Steam, heat and odours are passed through washable aluminium grease filters.
2. Air passes through secondary charcoal filters to remove odours.
3. Air passes through motor, then is vented back into room via chimney louvres.





Advantages
• Ideal where no outside wall available.
• Easier to install.

Disadvantages
• Steam and heat are not removed during filtration.
• At least 30% less efficient air movement.
• Requires periodical replacement of charcoal filters.
• Not available on all hood models.

Charcoal Filters
These are generally not supplied with the hood (the product specification table will specify), but are available directly from the relevant manufacturer via the number shown in our Spares & Service section.

Integrated hoods

Designed to fit into enclosed spaces, Integrated Hoods can be ideal if you are positioning your range into a disused chimney breast, or wish to integrate a hood into a run of cupboard units. Finished on the underside only, they slot into a specially-made aperture within your available cavity space and vent out or re-circulate air in the normal way.

Installation Advice
The aperture sizes required will be shown on the product spec table for the model concerned, and you should ensure that you have sufficient space within the chimney cavity to accommodate the main body of the hood.

If you are having a housing constructed, it will be beneficial to incorporate a catchment area to the underside of the housing - a recess to hold and contain fumes, vapour etc - before the motor extracts these away. If the underside of the hood housing is totally flat, you can run the added risk of fumes spilling around the front and/or sides of the housing. The minimum mounting height should be stipulated in the manual for your range cooker.

For more specific information, please contact the relevant manufacturer's technical department via the numbers in our Spares & Service section.

Power
Despite their compact size, the integrated hoods we feature on this site can pack quite a punch in terms of extraction power, as they will often be drawing air from a large area. For example, the Britannia Latour 95 has two motors and a maximum rate of 2000m3/h, which will be ideal for larger ranges (120 or 150cm wide). In most cases, though, their popular Intimo model is more than adequate at 750m3/h, and excellent value, too.

Controls
As you can see on the images below, all the controls are mounted on the underside of the hood. The lights and filters are accessed in the normal way.



Island hoods

Designed for situations where a cooker is positioned away from a wall, Island Hoods offer a practical way of removing odours, steam, heat and grease from your kitchen. They can also be an impressive visual feature.



Design Variants
Island hoods tend to be contemporary in design, and finishes other than stainless steel can be hard to find. The Caple brand offers a good selection of styles and sizes at reasonable prices, and Falmec's range of styles is also impressive.

Installation Advice
There are several things to consider before installing and Island Hood:

Ceiling Condition - Your ceiling will need to be sound, and strong enough to take the weight of the hood.

Ducting - The ceiling joists will need to be running in the right direction to allow you to run ducting to an outside wall. If you are not able to duct to an outside wall you may be able to recirculate - check the hood specification to see if this is possible.

Prices
Production costs do tend to be higher as, unlike open-backed wall-mounted hoods, Island Hoods are finished on all four sides. Considered more of a prestige product, they also tend to be have high-performance motors.

Ducting kits & filters

Ducting
Although typically NOT supplied with the hoods, simple ducting kits are widely available from DIY stores or, often at greater cost, directly from the manufacturer's spares department (see our Spares & Service section). The most commonly available are comprised of a length of flexible hosing (depending on your needs), and a vent for your outside wall, usually incorporating a one-way flap system. Two clips are also included to secure the hose to the vent and the motor housing.

Efficient Performance
Although flexible ducting kits are adequate for most situations, they are not the best solution, and rigid ducting will have less potential for interference and noise. Do not use the diameter reducers included with some hoods, as this also can drastically effect performance. Keep in mind that the longer the run of ducting and the more bends involved, the more effort will be required to move the air, and your hood needs to have enough power to cope.

More complex scenarios may require higher quality solutions using the rigid ducting systems (either round or flat) such as those available from Britannia, illustrated on their diagrams below. For other brands you can also obtain kits from sources such as Screwfix.co.uk.



Ducting through rear wall - the ideal scenario.
 

Ducting to a side wall within the ceiling cavity - your rafters will need to be running in the right direction to achieve this. Alternatively...
     


.. conceal ducting within a run of wall units.
 

A typical Island Hood installation.


Charcoal or Carbon Filters
Most hoods can be configured to re-circulate filtered air back into the room rather than extract to the outside. Although the inclusion of this secondary filter will make air-flow around 30% less efficient and increase noise levels slightly, this is sometimes the only option available if you cannot vent to an outside wall.



The job of the Carbon Filter is to remove odours from the recirculating air. Depending on the frequency of use and nature of cooking you will need to replace them periodically to maximise the efficiency of your hood. Some of the more expensive models include filter sensors, but if you do not have these, then you should probably aim to replace filters every four to six months if you are using your hood most days.

Carbon filters may or may not be supplied with your hood, depending on the manufacturer (see the product spec table for confirmation), but can easily be obtained from their customer service department. See our Spares & Servicing page for contact details.