Of the many types of cookers available on the market, choosing one that suits the needs of your kitchen is a decision that involves several considerations such as the type of fuel needed, ease of use, the type of cooking— baking or frying—and the layout of your kitchen. A cooker is the functional centrepiece of the kitchen and is available in a variety of configurations listed in this cooker buying guide.
How a Cooker Works
All cookers share a common construction and basic operating principles. A typical gas cooker receives its supply of gas from a piped source that is controlled by a supply valve. In turn, this valve is controlled by a knob that is located on the cooker frame or next to the hob. A controlled ignition mixture is then ignited by a spark from the electrodes, and the burner is lit.
In an electric or induction cooker, heat is transferred to the cookware through a ceramic plate, and is then heated by an electric coil. Ovens are heated by carefully placed gas burners or induction coils that heat up the enclosed oven cavity.
Types of Cookers – Pros and Cons
Freestanding Tabletop Cookers
As the name suggests freestanding tabletop cookers are relatively small and simply constructed. They can be moved around the kitchen, limited only by the reach of the gas supply or electric wiring. Tabletops usually consist of a single oven with or without individual burners for conventional cooking.
Pros: Table-tops are compact, light, mobile and adaptable to almost any kitchen style. They are ideal for small kitchens where counter space is limited. When equipped with smaller burners, they tend to be far more energy-efficient than their larger counterparts.
Cons: These cookers are not suitable for large meals such as a roast or a sizeable casserole. Their freestanding construction and low weight make them dependent on an accessible fuel or power source and prone to slippage or damage on the counter surface.
Freestanding Oven Cookers
Freestanding oven cookers are very similar to cooking ranges except that an oven cooker consists of a multi-burner hob and a single oven. Measuring about 23 inches in width, these cookers are a convenient integration of a grill, oven and burners into a single unit.
Pros: A kitchen can be designed for a freestanding cooker of specific dimensions and integrate multiple cooking functions into a single standing unit that offers some degree of mobility.
Cons: As is the case with table-top cookers, freestanding oven cookers are dependent on their proximity to a fuel or power source. In pre-fabricated kitchens, finding a space between counters that fits such a cooker can be a challenge.
With their large hob space and multiple hobs, ovens, grills, and a warming drawer, range cookers are among the largest of the types of cookers available. Designed for a large kitchen and for the multitasking chef, these 40-inch cookers are capable of integrating multiple fuel types and are available as gas-only, hybrid or electric ranges.
Pros: Large and stable, range cookers are visual and functional stars of the kitchen. Versatility and imposing size are the cornerstones of these cookers. They are usually packed with storage space and have multiple cooking surfaces and options controlled through a single integrated panel.
Cons: Ranges are large and expensive to install and maintain. Hybrid range cookers tend to require frequent cleaning and maintenance of their electrical and gas components. More times than not, their complexity make frequent cooker repairs necessary.
Whichever type of cooker you choose, remember that you need to take good care of it in order to enjoy it longer. And should there is a problem, do seek a licensed technician.