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What to look for in your new hob

19/04/2016

For lots of us, the kitchen is the hub of the home… or should that be hob? We can spend hours at our kitchen hob, rustling up a quick snack for the family, or a mouth-watering dish our guests have uploaded to Instagram before it’s digested. The growing popularity of cookery programmes like Saturday Kitchen, Masterchef and the Great British Bake Off have made cooking a pleasure and an art-form for millions. Not to mention the endless Nigellas, Jamies, Delias and Blumenthals lighting a fire under budding chefs – and their pans. A good hob is the first ingredient for any cook. So, here are our Top Ten Tips for choosing yours:

  1. Location

Traditionally, the hob has gone above the oven. But today, we’ve the luxury of shaking things up. As modern hobs come in all shapes and sizes, they can go anywhere.

  1. The kitchen triangle

The kitchen work triangle is a concept used to shape the most efficient layout for your kitchen. Essentially, there are three key kitchen areas it all boils down to, if you’ll excuse the pun. These are the hob, sink and fridge – and the imaginary lines between them make up what kitchen designers like us call the work triangle. Think about yours.

  1. Energy

You may have electricity and gas but the further they need to be run, the higher the cost of installation. If you want a gas hob, make sure you have a gas supply close by, and if you’re planning to sit it on a central island, channelling that supply will be more expensive. That’s assuming you even have a gas connection. All things to consider.

  1. Juxtaposition

Modern appliances are well insulated, but does putting a very hot thing next to a very cold thing make sense? Great kitchen design is about sensibly weighing it all up.

  1. Budget

Hobs can range from £60 to thousands. It means there’s an option to suit all budgets, and plenty of choice.

  1. Functionality

Easy cleaning, child safety features, large fish kettle zone, range of heat outputs, rapid burners for woks, barbecues, teppankayi functions, griddles and dual fuel capabilities are just some of the bells and whistles your new hob can offer.

  1. Size

Hobs have traditionally been around 60cm wide and had four burners. Now the world’s your (perfectly cooked) oyster, with 70cm widths with extra burners that can still fit into a 60cm hole by overlapping the work surface. For larger areas there are even 80cm and 90cm hobs.

  1. Layout

The most popular hob configuration is one big heat source, two medium and a small. Or of course you can plump for two hobs! As a domino hob is rectangular, you can put it alongside a traditional hob to add other heat sources, such as a fish kettle or wok burner. It’s a great, flexible solution.

  1. Space

If you don’t have a lot of space then a small, single heat source hob is an option – and these can always be added to existing larger hobs if you’re entertaining.

  1. Heating method

Last, but definitely not least, is choose the right type of hob for your kitchen design. Arguably, this is the most important point – and certainly a complex business if this is all new to you. So, let us unpack it a little with our guide to the main types of hob:

Ceramic hobs (electric)

These have tough ceramic glass covering the heat sources. The areas where the unit gets hot are marked out on the flat surface, and there are fail-safe systems that prevent them getting too hot. Whilst the look is more streamlined, heat distribution isn’t as good as a direct heat (like gas) because it’s conducted through the glass into the pan. There are a variety of heat sources in ceramic hobs, including radiant sources, faster elements and halogen, which is as close to gas as electricity can get. The flat surfaces, operated by finger touch controls, are also extremely easy to clean – making this a hit with house-proud cooks.

With such a benign-seeming hob, there is a danger that people might not realise it’s on. That’s why our hobs have safety features built in, such as sensors and timers to reduce or cut off the heat. There are also warning lights that tell you when the heat sources are off, but still may be too hot to touch.

Induction hobs

Induction hobs are relatively new and extremely popular. It’s easy to see why, as they’re simple to use, fast, responsive, energy efficient and easy to clean. Heating the pan directly, they achieve instant, even and precise heat by creating a magnetic field between the induction element in the hob and the pan (the energy is transferred from a copper coil under the glass surface). This means only iron-based pans will work. However, energy is only used when the pan is on the surface, so when it’s removed, the hob stops, making it eco-efficient. You can even touch the hob almost straight away and, unless your hand is made of ferrous metal, it won’t get burned!

Induction hobs offer two choices of pan placement too. Either feint marks on the surface to show where your pans should go, or a zone-less option that cleverly detects where the pan is – bringing great flexibility for larger pans. The only downsides are cost, needing new pans and the potential risks of the electromagnetic field for those with a pacemaker.

Electric plate hobs

Electric plate hobs are much less popular than they used to be because they’re very energy-inefficient despite being cheap to buy. The heavy metal plates heat up and change temperature slowly which makes it difficult to control the cooking process. For example, if your pan boils over, it takes a long time for the plate to cool down. That said, they heat effectively and some have red-dot hot areas, powerboost and dual elements where you can select various rings to regulate power. Of course, unlike induction hobs, they can heat any type of pan too. Electric plate hobs aren’t as easy to clean but they do have automatic safeguards and timers that switch the hob off if left for a long period, and warning lights when plates are hot.

Gas hobs

Gas hobs have long been popular in home and professional kitchens alike as they’re easy to judge by eye and quick to respond. Here are the main types:

  • Conventional gas hobs follow the one large, two medium and one small standard configuration and are available up to 90cm wide. They all have some form of automatic electronic lighting system, some re-ignite or cut off the gas if a burner goes out or a liquid spills, and they’re particularly good for woks as they distribute heat directly and accurately. However, they can be trickier to clean, although the main structure does come away and some burner rings are coated for easier cleaning. They need specialist fitting too, being a gas appliance.
  • Gas-on-glass hobs were initially developed to help make cleaning easier than conventional gas hobs. The gas burners are set on top of ceramic glass which makes cleaning similar to ceramic and induction, once the burner fittings are removed. Of course, the burners are still on view but they do give your kitchen a more professional finish and combine the control and effectiveness of gas with easier cleaning.
  • Five-ring gas hobs offer excellent flexibility. If you don’t want to get an extra gas domino unit to sit alongside your four-burner hob, a slightly bigger five-ring gas hob provides a built-in central burner which is ideal for larger woks and pans that benefit from a lively, powerful flame.

Our experts can talk to you about your kitchen design ideas, and advise you on which hob can light up your kitchen. So pay us a visit and get ready to be inspired by your new hob, and remember that cooking can be fun!