Buying a range cooker is a major kitchen investment, but most people find that they get more value out of their range cookers than they ever did out of their normal size freestanding cookers. Within a relatively compact kitchen space, ranges offer loads of versatile cooking space. Because they can have up to seven hob burners and four or five ovens/grills, they are perfect for large families or keen home cooks.
Cooking on a range is a great experience, and people tend to get very attached to their appliance. These stoves carry a sense of nostalgia and harp back to the days of cooking in large farmhouse kitchens. Often stoves got passed down through the family – ranges try to keep that family tradition alive; even today, loads are designed and manufactured in Britain by family-run businesses.
Nowadays, range cookers can be ultra-modern as well as funky and retro. Other than traditional British gas models, you can get them with induction cooktops using the latest multifunction oven technology. Traditionally range colours came in shades of black, cream and red, but now you can get them in pretty much all the shades (including pink).
These appliances offer a fantastic set of useful features like storage cupboards, slow cooking ovens and warming plates that normal cookers simply cannot provide.
As freestanding range cookers are larger than cookers or ovens, they are best suited to larger kitchens, though there are mini range cookers on the market now for people who prefer compact packages. Generally normal size range cookers retail around the £1,000 – 2,000 mark, but retro luxury cookers can be considerably more. Budget models start at about £500, but you will immediately notice a difference in the quality of the finish and the materials. Kitchen appliances like these don’t tend to come cheap.
What is a range cooker? What different kinds are there?
Range cookers are large kitchen stoves, echoing earlier kitchen times when cooking was done on large, heavy stoves. Range cookers are larger than a normal freestanding cooker and often have a retro or heritage design. They can have a number of burners and oven cavities; range cookers range from mini 60 cm ones to large 110 cm ones.
Gas versions are seen as classically British – they have gas burners (hobs) as well as gas ovens. Gas ovens can be temperamental and some people don’t like them because of their temperature fluctuations. Others find that cooking with gas ovens keeps food more moist and tasty. Generally gas hobs are seen as easy to use and safe; they are especially needed for they type of fast cooking favoured in Asian cuisine. (Incidentally, gas models often have a wok burner).
Electric options combine heritage range design with the latest multifunction oven technology. Electric options often have a ceramic cooktop and one or two electric ovens – one being multifunction, the other conventional or fan-assisted.
Dual fuel offers the classic combination of modern electric ovens topped with heritage gas burners. They are very popular, cost-effective, and tend to be the favoured range design on the market right now.
Induction ceramic cooktops use the latest induction technology in order to heat up pans directly, minimising heat wastage. Induction hobs look very smart and are becoming increasingly popular and many range-cookers are now coming out with induction hobs instead of the traditional gas ones.
Some freestanding cookers are styled as ‘mini-ranges’, imitating the classic range design on a smaller scale.
What are range cooker benefits?
The main benefits of using a range cooker are increased oven and cooking capacity, and a more flexible and versatile approach to cooking. Rather than having one or two cavities and four hobs, a range cooker offers a much more diverse and exciting cooking environment. With a range cooker, you could have two to three different kinds of ovens and grills, and seven burners to work with. Range cookers often look smarter and have more perceived (and real) value than other cookers on the market.
Range cooker features to look out for
Range cookers come with more features than basic cookers. When you go out and buy your range cooker, here is what you need to look out for:
- Advanced cooking functions: rotisserie, slow cooking, browning etc.
- Warming plate or warming zone
- Wok burner and griddle pan
- Roasting trays and racks
- Adjustable height or rolling feet
- Stay cool doors – especially important for families
- Fun colours – range cookers often come in cool shades like cranberry or champagne
- Light up dials – to help you see the dials at night
- Pyrolytic self-cleaning functions – a cleaning solution that burns dirt to ash
- Vapour clean system – pioneered by Smeg
- For gas cookers: automatic ignition and flame safety devices
Range cookers come (mainly) in these three standard heights and freestanding cookers will be marketed with their size clearly stated: 90cm, 100cm, or 110 cm. Mini-ranges can be smaller.
Range cooker cleaning and installation
Range cookers can be complicated to fit because of the their size and the way that they use fuels. Make sure yours is fitted by a proper installation engineer. Keep your range cooker healthy and prolong its life by regularly cleaning the hobs and ovens. Range cookers tend to last longer than ovens and regular cookers; they tend to be treasured appliances that people are proud to show off.