How to buy the best freestanding cookerby Jane Darling
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Watch our video above to get the lowdown on how to choose a new cooker.
In the video our cooker expert explains the pros and cons of standard cookers, range cookers and hobs, the different cooker hob types and all about catalytic self cleaning.
You can also browse the latest Best Buy cookers in our cooker reviews section.
How much does a good freestanding cooker cost?
All-gas cookers are the cheapest, and you can get a decent one of these from around £350. Electric cookers with a ceramic hob will cost a little more, as will dual-fuel cookers that have an electric oven and gas hob.
If you're keen to have an induction hob on your freestanding cooker, you'll pay upwards of £400 for a good one - with many more coming in at the £500-£600 mark.
What type of freestanding cooker do I need?
There is a dazzling array of freestanding cookers to choose from, including gas, electric and dual-fuel cookers and some with fast-heating induction hobs.
All freestanding cookers are roughly the same height and depth and they come in three standard widths - 50cm, 55cm and 60cm - so check what space you have available in your kitchen.
Most freestanding cookers come with a four-ring gas or electric hob, an oven and a separate grill. The cheapest have just one oven including a combined grill, which means you won't be able to use both at the same time. If you go for a cooker with two ovens, then a grill will be inside at least one of them.
Freestanding cookers with eye-level grills are few and far between these days, but are still available if you are keen to have one.
50cm, 55cm, 60cmThe standard widths of freestanding cookers
Gas or electric? What cooker fuel should I go for?
Unless you have a strong preference for gas or electric, it makes sense to stick with the fuel type you already have the wiring or plumbing for in your kitchen. Gas is cheaper to cook with, but cooking is not one of the bigger contributors to most people's energy bills.
These are the different types of freestanding cooker available:
Electric freestanding cookers: most electric freestanding cookers have the advantage of oven fans, which help to spread the heat around the oven cavity. If your cooker has an oven fan, it’s going to heat up more quickly - and you can reduce the cooking temperature and cooking times.
Electric induction freestanding cookers: electric freestanding cookers with an induction hob heat quickly and efficiently - and when you cook with induction, the hob zones themselves don’t get hot. But you’ll need iron-based pans, such as stainless steel, if you’re cooking on an induction hob. If a fridge magnet sticks to a pan, then it will work on an induction hob.
Gas freestanding cookers: gas freestanding cookers are the cheapest to cook with and the hobs on gas cookers are easy to control and provide instant heat when you need it.
Dual-fuel freestanding cookers: freestanding cookers with a gas hob and an electric oven provide the best of both worlds for some people, with an easy-to-control and quick-to-heat gas hob, and an electric oven that heats evenly. Gas and dual-fuel cookers will need to be installed by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Read more about the difference between gas cookers and electric cookers.
How big an oven do I need?
When you’re in the shop, take a look inside the cooker to see how much space there is. The volume measurements provided by manufacturers include the space beneath the lowest shelf right up to the ceiling of the oven. The space below the lowest shelf is not realistically usable.
Volume measurements in Which? cooker reviews refer only to the space you can actually use. In our tests, we use a plastic turkey and a tray of roast potatoes inside the oven to see what you can actually fit in.
Find out which cookers give you the most space and the best performance in our freestanding cooker reviews.
What's the cost?
Gas is cheaper to cook with than electricity – the cheapest gas cooker we’ve tested costs around £13 to run for a year. The most expensive is dual fuel and will cost close to £50 You can check all running costs under the 'Full specification' tab in our freestanding cooker reviews.
Ovens with pyrolytic or catalytic cleaning are becoming more popular
Freestanding cooker features: What to look out for
Automatic ignition: most gas burners ignite automatically when the burner knob is pushed. These are more convenient to use than a separate ignition.
Catalytic self-cleaning: catalytic self-cleaning linings absorb oven spills and splashes, break them down and burn them off during cooking.
Fan oven: most electric cookers come with a fan to distribute the heat evenly around the oven. On cookers with two electric ovens, one usually has a fan and the other is conventionally heated by upper and lower heating elements.
Flame supervision devices (FSD): an FSD will shut off the supply of gas should a burner fail to ignite or get blown out.
Multi-function oven: many freestanding cookers come with multifunction ovens, which allow you to cook with a variety of heat sources independently or in combination, such as the grill and fan together.
Programmable ovens: these turn the cooker on, time your cooking and will turn the cooker off when the food is done.
Pyrolytic self-cleaning: cookers with a pyrolytic self-cleaning program heat to around 400°C and incinerate oven waste. All you need to do afterwards is sweep away the ash. If a cooker comes with pyrolytic self-cleaning, this will be shown on the dial or the control panel. Bear in mind that you'll usually need to clean the shelves and oven door yourself.
Thermostat indicator: on electric cookers, there is usually a light that turns off when the oven senses it has reached the desired temperature.
View all our Best Buy freestanding cookers.