If the kitchen is the heart of the home then the range is the heart of the kitchen. There’s an emotion when buying a range cooker that’s not present when choosing its built-in equivalent and it’s often a must-have before the bespoke cabinetry has even been considered. While 50 years ago they might have been the preserve of large, country-style kitchens, the versatility and affordability of range-style models means you don’t have to own a huge traditional kitchen if you want to buy a range cooker. They’ve also moved on from being associated just with traditional kitchens and are now as popular in modern designs. So, what do you need to think about before you buy your range? We’ve got a few tips below to ensure you find the one that’s right for you and your kitchen design.
CLASSIC CAST IRON
Ranges come in two main types. Traditional ranges, such as Aga, Esse and Rayburn, are made of cast-iron and cook through radiant heat stored in the material from which the cooker is made. Using a variety of fuels, including gas, LPG, wood burning or solid fuel and electric, there’s something to suit every home. Cast-iron ranges can be more costly to run than their conventional counterparts as most are designed to be on and ready to cook at all times. Actual costs will depend on the fuel type though – one that runs on oil could cost almost twice as much as one run on gas for instance. So it’s worth investigating before you buy. The latest generation of cast-iron cookers, such as the Aga Dual Control have a low energy mode or, in the case of the Total Control range, can be completely turned off, coming back up to heat in just 30 minutes, while Everhot’s electric heat storage range runs on a 13amp plug making it simple to install and switch on and off.
Of course, before investing in a range it’s worth taking time to consider not just what kind of cook you are – or would like to be – but also whether you would like your range to heat your whole house, too. While an Aga will add warmth to your kitchen, it can’t run central heating or provide you with hot water. If you prefer one that does, then companies such as Rayburn and Esse have models that can heat enough radiators to keep a family home toasty warm.
Modern range-style cookers from the likes of Rangemaster, Mercury, Smeg, Britannia and Wolf, are ideal for those who want the size and style but not the associated running costs and installation issues of their cast-iron cousins. Working the same way as built-in ovens, conventional ranges come in a whole host of sizes and fuel types and include up-to-date modern features that were once the preserve of built-in cookers. Fan and multi-function ovens now come as standard and some ranges with combi ovens even include a steam function. While many include easy-clean catalytic liners a few also provide pyrolitic cleaning, a real boon that means you’re not ever going to have to get on your hands and knees to clean the oven.
The streamlined good looks and hi-tech functionality of contemporary ranges are inspired by professional kitchens and make them an attractive proposition for those who want the capacity and flexibility of a range without the country cottage vibe. Dual fuel options are the most common, with gas hobs of varying sizes and electric ovens. However, with an eye on the growing induction market, many manufacturers have developed all-electric ranges featuring induction hob tops, which are easy to clean and packed with features including timer and boost functions.
SIZE IT UP
Capacity as well as looks is the other great benefit of range ovens and the extra room inside more than makes up for the 30cm more space most models take up. Standard 90cm models usually offer at least two ovens, one around 40 litres and the other 60-70 litres in size, and separate grills making them an ideal option for families or those who enjoy entertaining. Larger 100cm or 120cm ranges provide even more bang for your buck, with some providing a main oven size of more than 90 litres, big enough to keep any batch baker happy. Three-oven designs from companies such as Le Cornue and Aga will provide you will every cooking option you could need. Models that have a single cavity are often supersized, providing more than 100 litres of cooking space in some cases. Range cookers that offer one huge oven cavity, instead of multiple smaller ones, are increasing in popularity. They are ideal for cooking large meals as they have special technology to prevent any flavour transfer, so a variety of dishes can happily cook side-by-side.
However, while that’s useful for big families, if you suddenly find yourself alone for the evening and want a meal for one, it’s a bit of an energy consumer. An alternative is a model that has an internal energy-saving panel that slots in when required, splitting the single oven into two smaller litre cavities.
Compact spaces do pose more of a challenge when it comes to fitting in a range, but with 90cm models, you’ve really only got to find an extra 30cm to accommodate one and, as many come with built-in storage they can still be a clever option for a small room. However, many manufacturers now also offer compact models, such as Aga’s City60, which provides traditional styling in the standard footprint of a slot-in cooker. Featuring a main oven and traditional Aga top, it’s perfect for a city apartment, or for those downsizing once the kids have flown the nest. Even brands such as Wolf, known more for its super-sized American styling are making forays into the compact market. Its smallest range cooker is just 76cm wide yet offers a generous 111 litre oven.
Our expert designers are ready to help you start planning your kitchen. Book a complimentary design consultation or have a look at the wide variety of cooking appliances in our showroom displays. Find your nearest Harvey Jones kitchen showroom here, or call 0800 389 6938 to speak with a designer.