How to buy the best hob
By Jane Darling
From traditional gas to more modern induction – find the best hob for your kitchen with our expert buying guide
A great hob will be quick to heat up when you're in a hurry but also be able to simmer very gently. The best hobs will spread heat evenly to help you prepare a perfect pancake.
While gas hobs are still very popular, they aren't easy to keep clean. Flat induction hobs make removing cooking splashes and spills much easier.
Head to our round-up of the best hobs to find out which model you should buy.
Video: how to buy the best hob
Watch our video to help you choose the type of hob that's right for you and your kitchen.
Types of hob
With hobs, it's more than just deciding between electric or gas. Here's a brief overview of the three main types of hob. Visit our individual buying guides on ceramic, induction and gas hobs for more in-depth information.
Ceramic hobs are electric with a smooth, easy-to-clean surface.
They’re easy to use and they heat up quickly, but heat distribution around the bottom of pans isn’t as good as when cooking on gas.
Read our ceramic hob buying guide.
Induction hobs create a magnetic field between the induction element in the hob and the pan. This means that only the pan heats up, rather than the cooking surface.
Induction hobs are quicker than other types of hob and cheaper to run because they use only the precise amount of energy you need.
You will need to check that your pots and pans work on an induction hob, or invest in a new set.
Read our induction hob buying guide.
Gas hobs are easy to control and give instant heat. They are not as quick as induction hobs at heating up big panfuls, but they're usually better at distributing heat evenly across the base of a pan. They tend to be good at simmering too.
Gas-on-glass hobs have gas burners mounted on top of ceramic glass, so as well as looking more stylish than other gas hobs they're also easier to clean.
Read our gas hob buying guide.
How much should you spend?
You can pick up a basic gas hob for less than £100 if you go for an own-brand model. Gas-on-glass hobs are a little pricier, starting at around £200. You can pay up to £1,000 for a high-end, five-zone gas hob from an upmarket brand.
We've found Best Buy induction hobs for less than £250
Induction hobs have plummeted in price over the past few years, and the cheapest cost less than £250. At the other end of the scale, a top-of-the-range model could set you back more than £3,000.
Electric ceramic hobs are often less than £200. As with gas and induction hobs, larger, pricier models are available.
Best hob features to look for
From special burners for woks through to child-safety features, here are some things to think about depending on how you want to use your hob.
Wok burners: some hobs feature a large high-powered gas wok burner that provides intense, rapid heat. These are designed for stir-fry cooking. Some induction hobs also have a dedicated wok zone, with a curved indentation in the hob's surface.
Dual zones: on electric hobs, this allows you to use an inner zone within the main ring, which saves energy when cooking with smaller pans.
Pans for induction hobs: induction hobs require pans that contain iron. Some, but not all, stainless steel pans will work. If a magnet sticks to your pots and pans, they'll work on an induction hob.
Child-safety lock: most electric ceramic and induction hobs have safety locks to stop the controls from being operated by inquisitive children.
Power boost: this heats up a cooking zone more quickly. It's a rapid intense heat that's good for stir-frying or searing meat.
Hob timers: many induction hobs have a timer for programming zones to switch off automatically when you want them to stop cooking.
What size of hob do I need?
Hobs come in various shapes and sizes. Most have four cooking zones, but there are plenty to choose from with five. They tend to be about 51cm or 52cm front-to-back, which means that they'll fit on to standard-sized kitchen counters.
If you already know the kind of hob you're looking for, go straight to our hob reviews.
Most ceramic, gas and induction hobs are about 60cm wide. Hobs that are slightly wider should still fit a standard 60cm gap as they’re designed to overlap the worktop. The size of hobs depends on the size of the burners or hob rings, which will vary from hob to hob.
Larger hobs have five cooking zones, and gas hobs often have a central wok burner. This is a high-powered burner used for stir-frying or rapid boiling. Five-zone hobs are up to about 75cm wide. Having five zones doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be able to fit five pots and pans comfortably on the hob, but the extra hob zone does give you more space than a four-zone hob.
One, two and three-zone hobs
You don't have to be limited by traditional-sized hobs. Single-zone, two-zone and three-zone hobs are all available and can be built into a counter top.
Will my new hob need to be professionally installed?
Once you've purchased your hob, you'll need to get it installed by a professional.
For gas hobs, you’ll need a Gas Safe-registered engineer.
To get an electric or induction hob fitted, you'll need an electrician.
The shop you buy your hob from may offer its own installation services, so check what it offers when you make your purchase.
If it charges a fee that you think is too high, or you simply prefer to hire your own professional, visit Which? Trusted Traders to find local fitters endorsed by Which?.
For more information about installation, head to our advice guide on installing cookers and hobs.
Induction hobs compared
While many of us are still wedded to our gas or traditional electric hobs, there's no doubt that induction hobs are rising in popularity.
Below we've outlined key specs and features of three different induction hobs at different price points.
Alternatively, head straight to the best hobs to see all the models we recommend.
Bosch PUE611BF1B induction hob, £292
Number of zones: 4
Features: 17 power settings, pause setting, can be plugged in with 13A fuse
Despite its modest price, this Bosch induction hob has all the features you’d expect from a modern induction hob, including a boost function, timer, auto switch-off and a child-lock. Unlike higher-end induction hobs, this one doesn't have a flexi zone that enables you to turn two cooking zones into one large one.
Find out if this hob competes well with pricier models by reading the full Bosch PUE611BF1B review.
AEG IKE84441FB induction hob, £544
Number of zones: 4
Features: Hob-to-hood function, bridge zone, slider touch controls
If you like to have lots of pots on the go at the same time, this extra-wide AEG induction hob could fit the bill. If you get a compatible cooker hood, its extractor fan will adjust automatically according to what’s cooking on the hob. But will this hob cook your food well enough to justify the price?
Find out how this hob fared in our boiling, simmering and frying tests by reading the full AEG IKE84441FB review.
Neff T48FD23X0 induction hob, £769
Number of zones: 5
Features: Flexi zone, extra-large heating zone in centre, keep-warm setting
With plenty of space for five pans, plus the option for combining two zones for larger pots, this Neff induction hob could be a great choice for the keen cook. Each zone can be timed to turn off automatically, which is ideal if there’s a lot to keep your eye on.
Read the full Neff T48FD23X0 review to see if this hob excelled in our tests.