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.
Watch our video to help you decide which type of range cooker is right for you.
In addition to the buying tips in our video, thinking about the following points will help you to narrow down your options:
Number of ovens Consider the number, shape and size of ovens that will best suit your cooking style and kitchen space. It’s common to see range cookers with one main oven paired with a tall, thin one – handy for several trays at a time – or two main ovens. You’ll also come across models with one giant oven cavity or three smaller ones.
Number of shelves Check how many shelves each oven can accommodate. With some, only one cooking level is practical. But if you go for a cooker which has a tall, narrow secondary oven, then at least four levels could be on the cards – handy for a family stack of pizzas!
Hobs Depending on the width of your range – 90cm, 100cm or 110cm – you’ll get between five and eight cooking zones. Many gas models have a dedicated wok burner which provides a more fierce heat for stir-fries and searing meat. Induction and ceramic ranges tend to have an extra-large zone to accommodate larger dishes.
Grill Range cookers generally have a separate grill compartment, which is a plus if you want to brown something off at the same time as having two ovens on the go. The grill can often be on the small side though, so when making your choice, check that its dimensions won’t hold you back.
Control panel Range cookers tend to have chunky control dials lined up above the ovens. Make sure that you can read the settings clearly as sometimes this can be awkward without bending, or twisting your head. Cheaper models may not have a timer, so if you want to keep track of your bakes, make sure this feature is listed.
Warming drawer Lots of range cookers have a warming drawer, which is good for taking the chill off plates or serving dishes, and proving dough. It can also be useful for storing baking trays and roasting dishes which otherwise might clutter your kitchen.
Range cooker types explained
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.
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.
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).
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. In fact, the usable capacity of a range cooker can be substantially less than the stated volume.
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.
If you don't have the space for a full range cooker, you can see how mini ranges compare with other options in ourfreestanding cooker reviews.
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.
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.