A hob is a very important appliance – explore all your options before buying your next one. You want one that will look right in your kitchen, heat up your food efficiently, and give you the flexibility to easily control heat intensity.
There are loads of different types and designs out there – make sure you get one that offers all the features you need (child lock, booster zones, timers etc.) for a competitive price. Opt for appliance brands that are known for their quality and longevity, and always shop around before committing to a purchase.
As the latest technology becomes more affordable, it’s now possible to get an amazing professional cooking experience for less. Consider whether you might be better off paying slightly more your appliance now in order to get a better model that will last you longer. As with any appliance – protect your hob and increase its lifetime with regular cleaning and maintenance.
Where to install your hob
Traditionally hobs would sit on top of the oven as a full cooker or range set, but with integrated and built-in ovens, it’s now possible to have your ovens and hobs separate. This makes for much more exciting and innovative kitchen designs and means you can mix and match brands and styles.
For example, the oven could be installed in the wall, and the hob set in a central island. Always choose the safest and most practical lay out – it’s a good idea to have your oven eye-level, and the hob down by your elbows for easy cooking.
Make sure that you get your appliances installed by a qualified and registered engineer, and that you always follow the installation guidelines. Some built-in models have quite a large clearance zone – you’ll need to measure your tops to make sure yours are big enough to take your new hob.
What size are standard hobs?
These appliances generally hover around the 60 cm width mark, but they can go up to 90 cm too. Four burners or cooking zones is the norm, but some models have up to eight zones or burners. In order to save space, many ceramic and induction models offer flexible dual rings to accommodate more zone sizes in a smaller space.
Different types explained
There are many different options out there – some suited better for certain types of cooking methods and kitchens.
Gas options and burners give you a visual way of controlling heat and they are great for fast cooking. Gas ovens have fallen out of favour recently, but gas options are still very popular in the UK and are preferred by many professional chefs. Make sure that you always get a proper gas engineer to fit your gas top or oven, and that you opt for a gas option with the appropriate gas safety flame features. Automatic ignition is definitely easier and preferred, but you still see a lot of separate ignition and gas controls.
Ceramic are probably the most popular hobs out there right now, thanks to their excellent value for money, glossy black exterior, and easy to keep clean surface. The ceramic glass is heated from underneath – ceramic models often glow red when they are hot. They are controlled by touch, either using sliders, numbers, or plus and minus indicators. Some ceramic options offer dual rings and fast heat zones for more flexible cooking.
Induction hobs are the hobs of the future, but they are also more expensive than other types; and you’ll have to upgrade your pots and pans (and forego those classic copper ones you love). Induction models can change temperature in an instant, they heat up super fast, and give you ultimate temperature control. They are faster than gas and more energy-efficient than ceramic. They use a special magnetic heating technology that only heats up the surface of the pan – wasting no energy at all. (This is why you need to buy the right kinds of pans to use on your induction hob).
Electric solid plate/coil
Old-fashioned electric hobs are getting more rare as ceramic and induction models take over. Heated up by electric coils or electric hot plates, these aren’t very energy-efficient, and they are also harder to clean. Nevertheless, they are still common in some kitchens (especially communal kitchens).
Built-in hobs are great because they fit in with your kitchen seamlessly, sitting on worktops and providing a contemporary look and feel. You can install a built-in option anywhere, but check the safety and clearance requirements first as you will need to install the appliance away from the wall and other hazards.
Cleaning your hobs
- Keep your appliance clean after every meal to ensure their longevity and try to avoid dropping food onto them that will then burn and stick.
- Some tops and hotplates are protected with a glass top or a cast lid – always a good idea to keep things super safe and avoid any scratches.
- Ceramic tops need specialist cleaning products (available everywhere) and are often seen as the most easy to keep clean of all the options.
Cooking on your hobs
Cooking on your top is a great way to make nourishing and tasty meals fast. Especially Asian food like stir-fries are properly made on a hot hob (gas is great for woks). Cooking food fast on the hob fast ensures that vegetables hold on to their minerals and nutrients, and cooking meat on the hob seals in all those delicious meat juices and flavours.
Getting a good deal
Some appliance retailers offer combo deals when you buy an oven and a hob at the same time, but it’s also possible to find good deals on tops alone. Generally it’s a good idea to read a few reviews and shop around – favour brands that are known for their good quality and avoid anything that has too many negative reviews.
It’s probably better to invest a little bit more money in order to get a better quality appliance that will last longer and be more energy efficient. Remember – your hob is one of your hardest working appliances.