Hobs Buying Guide
Drop-in hobs are becoming more popular due to the flexibility of kitchen arrangements they make possible. They are especially popular in new construction or kitchen renovation projects. Although separate hobs and wall ovens are more expensive than a single cooker, the independent units allow for an almost unlimited configuration of kitchen appliances. Getting a separate hob also allows you to get a vertical double wall oven, which can come in handy if you entertain often. Having an oven mounted higher up can also help people with bad backs cook more easily, so a separate hob is a necessity.
There are three kinds of hobs: gas ,electric and induction .
- Fine control of temperature and flame levels, which is much easier to see than on a smooth top electric hob.
- Can be shut off immediately with little heat retention, reducing the risk of burning yourself or others.
- Can be used even during power outages (with a match -- use caution).
- Not as efficient as electric or induction.
- Need a gas line hookup and electricity.
- Look For:
- Functionally, most gas hobs are very similar; the differences are in the features.
- Easy-cleaning features, such as removable grill and sealed burners.
- Heavy, porcelain grates. Or as an alternative, continuous grates that span the whole hob (they can be harder to clean though).
- Ceramic surfaces.
- Multiple burner sizes for different sizes of pots and pans. Most four-burner models will have one large, two medium, and one small/simmer.
- Easy-to-use knobs.
- "X-Lo" Feature: Burner will automatically turn on and off at set intervals to keep your sauce warm but not boiling. Also called a simmer burner on some models.
- Sealed burners and removable burner pans.
- Electric ignition -- easier and more reliable than a pilot light.
- More efficient than gas hobs.
- Doesn't need a separate gas line since it just plugs in.
- Flat-top electric ranges are very easy to clean, fast to heat up, aesthetically pleasing, and offer more versatility with expanding elements (for a small sauce pan or a large frying pan on one burner space).
- Coil electrics are cheaper than smooth-top hobs, but it is relatively easy to replace the coil elements if they break.
- Older-style coil ranges take a while to cool so you can burn yourself easily.
- Control is not as fine as a gas range, especially with coil models.
- Gas is considered more precise and is preferred by professional cooks.
- Look For:
- Functionally, most electric hobs within a given category (coil or flat) are functionally very similar; the differences are in the features.
- Easy cleaning surfaces.
- Safety switches that prevent toddlers from turning on the burners.
- Porcelain drip pans are easy to clean and retain their lustre.
- Easy-to-use controls.
- Surface never gets warm, but pots and pans heat up quickly. (See picture for a demo!)
- Reduces risk of fire, burnt-on spills and accidentally injuring children.
- Easy to clean, smooth surface.
- Heats pans faster than other kinds of hobs.
- Extremely energy efficient -- almost all the heat generated is in the pan itself, keeping your kitchen cooler and your energy bills lower.
- Very new technology; not fully tested.
- Need pans and pots made of a magnetizable material -- copper and aluminium will not work.
- Expensive (at least £500 for a four-burner hob), although prices may come down in the near future.