What to look out for when buying ranges, hobs, hoods, and ovens!
While ensuring they look good matters, kitchens are ultimately practical spaces that are only as useful as their equipment – and it’s the reason why you should always exercise extra care when choosing and purchasing your cooking appliances.
However, if you’re aren’t sure about what exactly to look out for, keep reading this savvy shopper’s guide because it summarises key factors and features that you need to know about before buying major cooking appliances, including cooker ranges/hobs, hoods and ovens!
1. Cooker Ranges and Hobs
If we had to pick a device as the most important kitchen appliance, it’s definitely the cooker range/hob because it’s used in almost every modern home to prepare warm, tasty food. That said, if we were to be accurate, there are actually two separate appliances in mention here.
Although the terms ‘ranges’ and ‘hobs’ are often used interchangeably in a day-to-day context, there are actual, clear differences between the two. Hobs (a.k.a cooktops) are induction or open flame surfaces that your food is heated on. On the other hand, ranges (a.k.a cookers) are 2-in-1 fixtures comprising of a hob as well as an oven.
So, with these definitions out of the way, here’s what you should take note of when buying hobs and ranges:
Heating mechanism (open-flame or induction)
Open-flame hobs don’t require much explanation: they are traditional gas burners that have been around since the early 1800s and are still used in most homes today. In comparison, induction hobs are the new kids on the block, and they work by using electromagnetism to heat up pans/pots.
As for which to pick, it’s really much a matter of personal needs and preferences, so here’s a table that summarises the key advantages of both open-flame and induction hobs:
Controls (knobs or touchpads)
Just like how there are two types of hobs, cooktop controls can be differentiated by ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ options.
Open-flame hobs often come with control knobs that can be operated with a single twist. Also, due to their familiar design, they are intuitive to use whether you’re adjusting the heat or turning the flames on/off.
Meanwhile, just like their heating mechanism, the controls of induction hobs tend to be more high-tech as they come with touchpads, LED displays as well as safety features, such as built-in timers and child locks. Moreover, their sleek design is also what makes induction hobs such great fits for minimalist kitchens.
Size (number of burners)
Size is another important factor for consideration when you’re buying a kitchen hob, because it determines your kitchen top’s layout and whether you’ll have sufficient space left for food preparation and storage/display purposes.
Typically, four-burner hobs are 60 cm wide, whereas five/six-burner models are 90 cm or wider; meanwhile, two-burner hobs are anywhere from 30 – 78cm wide depending on how the heating zones are orientated (vertically or laterally).
For most households, a four-burner gas hob is an adequate choice, although five or six-burner models can be considered if you really need the extra heating zones to prepare meals for a large family. If you’re living alone or with a partner, a two-burner cooktop will suffice, especially if you only cook occasionally.
Configuration (hood style)
Have plans to do some heavy cooking in your new home, but still want it to smell fresh? Then investing in a good hood is something that you’ll definitely want to do. And to start off, you’ll want to know about the four main hood styles because they work differently in homes, even though they serve the same purpose of filtering air and grease.
Undermount hoods are generally installed at the bottom of a cabinet (hence the name), so make sure that there’s sufficient clearance and depth so that they’ll fit nicely into top-hung built-ins.
However, if you’re willing to sacrifice some suction power in exchange for a cleaner visual profile for your kitchen, you may wish to consider getting telescopic hoods instead. Like undermount hoods, telescopic models are commonly positioned within cabinet structures, but also unlike them, these low-key options can be tucked away discreetly in a kitchen unit.
As for wall-mount hoods, they are installed between cabinets or on a flat wall to provide effective ventilation. While most models have horizontal housings so that they can be directly positioned over a hob, there are also variants that have vertical or angled bodies that provide more head space.
In terms of performance and appearance, island hoods are the closest to wall-mount hoods, but unlike them, these hoods can be hung freely over a kitchen island. In other words, they can be installed in almost any part of your home without needing a mounting surface.
Finally, there are also downdraft hoods, which are often integrated into the surfaces of induction hobs. These options are almost perfectly flushed with the gradient of a countertop, so they’re definitely worth considering if you aren’t too keen about having overhead fixtures indoors.
Configuration (free-standing or built-in)
For the most part, ovens work the same whether they are built-in or freestanding, but you’ll want to take note of this feature because it can influence how your kitchen looks, feels and functions. Plus, each configuration has its own advantages and limitations too.
Built-in ovens are great for smaller kitchens as installing them into an empty wall maximises what would have been a dead corner on top of freeing up precious countertop space. Plus, a flush mount makes for a sleek, clean detail that’s always pleasant to look at.
In contrast, freestanding ovens, usually in the form of cooker ranges, are bulkier appliances looks-wise (but not by much) and they provide a more traditional option for larger kitchens. And although, they can’t be flush mounted like built-in ovens, this perceived downside brings with it the advantage of easier maintenance.
Heating mechanism (convection and steam)
For the uninitiated (read: those with little baking experience), the inner workings of ovens are probably a mystery, but to think that all of them work the same way would be a mistake – although all ovens perform the same function of heating food up, how they do it and the results that they produce are different.
Convection ovens work by circulating heat around the entire cavity (i.e. the main compartment) with the help of an internal fan, and this allows them to cook faster than traditional gas ovens yet produce nice, even browning on foods.
But when it comes to sealing the moisture in your food, steam ovens get the job done better and they enable you to preserve the full nutritional value, texture and flavour of your food – it’s also why they’re most commonly used in restaurants as well as bakeries.
Then there are combination-steam ovens, which allow you to enjoy the advantages of both convection and steam ovens in a single appliance.
How this works for Bertazzoni combi-steam ovens is that you get to choose between full steam cooking (Total Steam) or combining steam with convection cooking (Steam Assist) to achieve the perfect humidity within your oven.
Last but not least…
To reiterate, functionality does matter a lot in a practical kitchen, but that’s not to say that looks don’t matter at all because your kitchen is part of your home, and home is where you’re going to be spending most of your time in!
It’s also the reason why Bertazzoni – a heritage Italian cooking appliance brand dating back to 1882 – focuses on producing quality appliances that are both highly functional and aesthetically pleasing.