If you decide to get a separate oven or pair of ovens for your kitchen, it is important to know all of your options. There are a number of features to consider; the most important of these are fuel (gas or electric); conventional or convection; width; single or double; racks; and special options.
Electric vs. Gas
- The debate about the benefits of gas ovens vs. electric ovens continues.
- Conventional wisdom says that electric ovens are superior to gas ovens for even heating, but improved gas oven technology has all but eliminated this difference.
- In order to have a gas oven, you will need a gas hookup.
- Electric ovens will need their own circuits.
- Electric ovens tend to be more versatile than gas ovens and often come in multi-function models.
- The cheapest electric oven is less expensive than the cheapest gas oven, but both can climb steeply in price for the most advanced and specialised models.
- There are more electric models than gas models available.
Conventional and Fan Ovens
- Conventional ovens rely on one or two heating elements to warm the chamber.
- Fan ovens have a fan that circulates warm air, reducing cooking time and temperature and keeping the oven at a more even temperature throughout.
- Fan ovens are considered the "professional" level, but you will still get good results with a less expensive conventional oven, as long as you are familiar with the way it works.
- The fan takes up space within the oven. If two ovens are externally identical, the fan oven will have a smaller internal capacity compared to the conventional oven.
- There are also fan-assisted ovens, which may be just as good as true fan ovens.
Singles and Doubles
- Oven widths can vary from 50 cm to 120 cm.
- Greater width means greater capacity -- generally, it is best to buy the biggest oven you have space and money for, because you never know when you will want to cook something larger than usual. (A Christmas turkey, for example.)
- If you are remodelling your kitchen or building a house, you will probably have more options available than if you are just replacing an old oven.
- Remember that fan ovens have less internal capacity than a conventional oven of a similar width.
- A greater number of racks, plus multiple positions for said racks, will give you greater flexibility while cooking.
- Look for sturdy racks that will not sag when you put a heavy baking pan with a roast on them.
- Make sure the racks have safety stops that prevent them from being pulled out too far.
- Ovens that can hold three racks at a time may be especially good if you do a lot of baking, particularly biscuits.
- Self-cleaning: practically a standard, almost all modern ovens will have this feature.
- Timers: digital or analog are both available.
- Multi-loop baking element: distributes heat more evenly for better baking.
- Multiple settings: bake, broil, grill, roast, etc.
- Don't get suckered into buying an oven that does more than you need it to do.
- Think about your cooking; will you ever use all of those settings?
- However, high/low broil settings are extremely useful.
- Oven light: food cooks better when you don't open the door to check on it, so you need a light to see it!
- Similarly, a large, easy to see through window is a necessity if you're serious about your baked goods.
- Look for black mesh -- white mesh is difficult to see through.
- Child safety lock: standard on any self-cleaning oven.