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Home & garden.

24 September 2021

How to buy the best range cooker

Our expert guide can help you find the best range cooker and turn your kitchen into a chef's dream
JD
Jane Darling
Range cooker 1

A range cooker can be the focal point of a kitchen, so you'll want to choose one that will enhance your kitchen's appeal.

But pick a model that values style over substance at your peril as you could end up lumbered with inaccurate ovens, a tiny grill or a hob that's a horror to clean.

Range cookers come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours and can be all-electric, all-gas or – the most popular option – dual-fuel. You can even find traditional-looking ranges that feature an ultra-modern induction hob.

Looking for advice on which model to buy? See all of our Best Buy range cookers.

Video: how to buy the best range cooker

Watch our video to help you decide which type of range cooker is right for you.

Buying the best range cooker for you

Our interactive tool will guide you through the key features you'll need to think about when choosing a range cooker. 

Types of range cooker

Range cooker

You've got four main options to choose from, although this may be influenced by the fuel supply you have available to your home, as switching will mean extra expense.

  • Gas range cookers These models have gas ovens and hobs, and they're the cheapest to run in terms of energy costs. The hobs on gas cookers are easy to control and provide instant heat when you need it. 
  • Dual-fuel cookers These are the most popular type of range cooker. They have a gas hob and electric ovens, which generally heat more evenly than gas ovens. Gas and dual-fuel range cookers will need to be installed by a Gas Safe-registered engineer.
  • Electric range cookers These have an electric hob and electric ovens. At least one of the ovens will usually have a fan, which helps to spread the heat around the oven. If your oven has a fan, it’s going to heat up and cook more quickly, so cooking temperatures and times will be shorter.
  • Electric induction range cookers These have induction hobs rather than conventional electric ceramic hobs, which means they will heat more quickly and efficiently. But you’ll need iron-based pans, such as stainless steel. Test your current pans with a fridge magnet – if it sticks, then they will work on an induction hob.

Make sure you check our range cooker reviews to find out which models you should buy.

How much do I need to pay for a good range cooker?

You'll usually need to part with at least £1,000 for a good range cooker. We occasionally find decent ranges cheaper than this, but you'll need to choose wisely as not all range cookers available for around this price do a good job. 

Cheaper range cookers may lack some of the trademark cooking accessories, such as griddles, hotplates and roasting trays, that you might normally expect to find.

More expensive range cookers may have a multifunction oven, which gives extra cooking options. Electric models will usually have quicker-to-heat induction hobs and accessories such as griddles, wok rings and roasting trays attached to the inside of the doors.

Price doesn’t guarantee quality, so check our range cooker reviews to find the best for your budget.

How much will a range cooker cost to run?

The cheapest option is to stick with the fuel type that your current cooker runs on. Although gas is cheaper to cook with, if your current cooker runs on electricity, it will take a long time to recoup the outlay of swapping over to a gas connection.

Running a gas range cooker can cost as little as £14 a year, while dual-fuel or electric is typically closer to £50.

Are range cookers energy efficient?

As electricity costs more than gas, you'll pay less on your energy bills if you opt for an all-gas range cooker. However, you'll also have the lowest choice of models if you go for this option.

Dual-fuel is the most popular kind of range cooker – these have electric ovens and a gas hob – and you'll have plenty of choices here. The lower running costs on the gas hob will mean they add a little less to your annual energy bill than all-electric cookers.

All-electric ranges may have an electric ceramic or induction hob. Induction hobs are very energy efficient.

The contribution of cooking to household energy bills is relatively small, but opting for electricity gives the possibility of sourcing this energy from renewable resources.

Best range cooker features to look for

Range cooker

Some range cookers come packed with features, such as a wok burner, griddle and pyrolytic cleaning, while others are more basic. Go to our range cooker jargon buster to find out more. 

Here are some of the main range cooker features:

  • Catalytic liners These linings absorb oven spills and splashes, breaking them down and burning them off during high-temperature cooking.
  • Fan oven Most electric or dual-fuel range cookers come with a fan to distribute the heat evenly around the oven.
  • Griddle These are large cast-iron slabs on part of the hob that are excellent for searing meat or veg and can be used for making pancakes or frying eggs.
  • Multi-function oven These allow you to cook with a variety of heat sources independently or in combination, such as the grill and fan together.
  • Pyrolytic self-cleaning A program that heats the oven to around 500°C and incinerates any burnt-on food spills. All you need to do is sweep away the ash afterwards.
  • Roasting tray Some have roasting tray holders fitted to the door, so that when you open the door it swings out with it. This avoids having to reach into the oven.
  • Telescopic runners These support the oven shelves and help them to glide out smoothly. This is especially useful when dealing with hot, heavy dishes. 
  • Wok burner Found on gas hobs, this is a fierce burner that's great for a stir-fry, searing meat or simply heating up a big pan of water quickly.

Now you know what features you need, head to our best buy range cookers.

Range cooker size

Cook using a range cooker

Most range cookers are 90cm, 100cm or 110cm wide, and come with between five and eight hob rings or burners, two ovens, a grill and a warming or storage drawer. What size you go for depends on what you can fit in your kitchen and how much cooking space you need. 

  • Larger range cookers tend to have four separate compartments, comprising two ovens, a large grill compartment, and a heated warming drawer or storage drawer for pots and pans. They generally have six to eight burners.
  • Small range cookers generally have two ovens, a grill and a five or six-burner hob. Models that are 90cm wide usually have one standard oven and one tall thin oven on the side. You can find some range cookers with just one large oven, but this provides less of a true range-cooking experience.
  • Mini range cookers are styled to look like range cookers, but in terms of size they are the same width as a standard freestanding cooker (60cm). 

If you don't have the space for a full range cooker, you can see how mini ranges compare with other options in our freestanding cooker reviews.

Range cooker oven space

Range cooker
While you'll usually get more space in a range cooker than other cooker types, the amount varies a lot between models. 

Manufacturers' stated capacities don't tell the whole story either – often they quote the total internal volume, which includes areas such as the space beneath the lowest shelf, rather than the actual usable space you can cook with.

When we test range cookers, we measure how much space there is to cook with, and we use a variety of different food templates to see what you can actually fit in, including a family-sized plastic turkey and a tray of roast potatoes.

Some cookers may have an awkwardly configured space, which means that you'll need to cook with two ovens at once when one might have done, therefore wasting energy. Or you might find you're getting less cooking space than you bargained for.

It's worth thinking about how often you'll need to cook for a large gathering, or have several things on the go at once, as this can help you to figure out what size and shape of range cooker you'll need.

Range cooker or Aga?

Aga cookers work differently to conventional range cookers, using radiant heat from a steel core to provide heat to the ovens and hob. Traditional Agas stay on all the time, although more modern options include the option of switching to heat on demand when needed. 

We don't lab test traditional Aga cookers, but you can see advice and tips on what to look out for in our full Aga buying guide.