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Home & garden.

Installing ovens, cookers and hobs

Use our step-by-step guide to avoid the common pitfalls of installing a gas or electric cooker, oven or hob and minimise the risk of an unsafely installed appliance.
Jane Darling

According to a recent survey, 14% of Which? members who'd had a cooking appliance installed in the past five years incurred unexpected installation costs, and 6% had significant installation problems.

The problems they experienced included:

  • Needing an extra cable put into their consumer unit (where electrical cables within your home terminate). 
  • Needing a new socket installed.
  • Receiving a cooking appliance with a plug when they were expecting it to be hardwired.

Prior knowledge and planning will help you avoid unexpected issues. Read on for advice on what to consider when planning to install a new hob, oven or cooker. 

If you're in need of a built-in oven, see our best built-in oven recommendations to help you find one.

Step one: plan your purchase

Electrician installing a hob
Most of the electric ovens and hobs Which? tests these days are intended to be hardwired, so don't come with a plug. This means they'll require installation by an electrician - unfortunately, you can't simply add a plug to the cable of a cooker or hob that's meant to be hardwired.

Likewise, you shouldn't cut a plug off an appliance that comes with a plug and try to hardwire it. 

Before you purchase any new cooking appliance, check whether or not it comes with a plug. This information is available on most retailer or manufacturer websites, although you'll generally need to delve into the detail to find it. You will also find this information in each Which? review.

If you're upgrading to a more powerful appliance, or switching from gas to electricity, your current domestic electrical setup may need updating.

For example, if your new oven or hob draws more current than your old one, then you may need a bigger cable. Installing one of these can be expensive and sometimes messy work, involving lifting up carpet and floorboards. It's worth doing your research before you buy.

Typically in the UK, households have a supply of 230V. If the appliance you purchase has a power of 3,000W (3kW) or less, then it can be plugged in with a 13A fuse.

If your appliance’s power exceeds 3,000W then hardwiring will probably be needed.

A gas appliance still needs electricity in order to supply the ignition, and any extras such as a clock, timer or light. The current it draws is much lower, so these are usually plugged in with a 13A fuse.

Step two: check your consumer unit

Household circuit board
This is an important step if you're buying an electric oven, cooker or hob. All your electric cables terminate at the consumer unit. Here, there are circuit breakers which will cause the electricity supply to cut out or ‘trip’ if the circuit is overloaded.

These circuit breakers should all have numbers on them, showing the amperage rating. For example 6A for lights, and 32A for sockets is common. Often they are labelled so you can see which each one relates to.

In the UK, electricity cables come in standard sizes: typically 1-1.5mm2 for lights, 2.5-4mm2 for sockets, and 6-10mm2 for cookers and showers. The larger the cable, the more electricity it can deliver. 

If you see a circuit breaker with 40A printed on it, and a sticky label with the word ‘oven/cooker/hob,’ then it’s a good indication that you already have the capacity you need for a more powerful cooking appliance.

Step three: look into installation services

Electrician fixing a cooker hood
Changing the fuel your cooking appliances run on can be costly. 

Cooking with gas is cheaper than electricity. But if your kitchen is only set up for electric appliances, it's likely to cost several hundred pounds to reroute a gas line. While gas hobs can be effective, and have traditionally been a favourite of chefs, we find induction hobs generally out-perform them. Also, electric ovens spread heat more evenly than gas.

Switching from a gas oven, hob or cooker to electric may also require expensive work. You’ll need to have an electric line installed and the gas line capped. If you are considering switching fuels, get quotes from two or three companies.

If you're replacing like with like, John Lewis offers oven installation services costing between £75 and £110. Currys offers a similar service for between £75 and £90. Most shops will also take away your old oven for £15 or £20.

The ECA (Electrical Contractors' Association) advises that electricians should be Part P registered in order to undertake certain electrical work in homes. This can include new circuits and new consumer units. If in doubt, consult a suitably skilled and registered electrical contractor.

Meanwhile if you're installing a gas hob or cooker, you will need to use a Gas Safe registered engineer. Many plumbers, who frequently deal with boilers, will be Gas Safe registered, but check the Gas Safe Register to be certain.  

If you don't already know a trustworthy electrician or plumber, use Which? Trusted Traders to track down a local tradesperson endorsed by Which?. You can also use our Trusted Traders search tool below.

Using cooking appliances that are already installed

As well as being built into kitchen units, ovens are heavy and a hassle to move. This means people often decide to leave them behind when they move.

If you’re lucky, the oven will be clean. However, before you pop in your first meal, you'll also want to be sure it’s safe to use. 

For gas ovens, ask the vendors for a gas safety certificate. If they haven't got one, or it's been more than a year since the last check, get a Gas Safe-registered engineer to carry out a safety check. You want to be absolutely sure it’s not emitting carbon monoxide. This is best done before you move in, if possible.

If an electric oven has been left behind, you should get an electrician to give it the once-over and a safety certificate before you use it.

The previous owners may have left a manual behind, but if not, it's likely you'll find it online as a free download.

Go to Trusted Traders to track down a local tradesperson endorsed by Which?