All the range

A quality range cooker can provide the deciding factor for a purchase on luxury development, but making the investment can be daunting. Mark Blewitt of ESSE offers guidance to make the task a little easier.

The first stage in choosing the ultimate high-end kitchen accessory – a range cooker – is to find out what is the most popular as well as reliable fuel type in your development’s locality. Rural areas may not have easy access to mains gas, while older houses might benefit from an existing oil tank. Whichever fuel type is decided upon, it is important to research the most energy-efficient cooker models. Don’t be afraid to ask the supplier about fuel consumption and efficiency ratings.

If gas is the fuel of choice, consider a flueless model. Some cookers are capable of cleaning the gases burnt by its atmospheric burner, removing the need for a flue to vent them outside. This means installation and servicing costs will be lower, there is no flue from which to lose heat, and there is greater freedom of movement when choosing its place in the kitchen.

Versatility

It is important to consider whether the range cooker is also intended to provide central heating and hot water, to ensure the most suitable model is chosen.

Make sure to enquire about oven temperatures and how adaptable a given model is for different types of dishes. There’s no reason a homeowner shouldn’t have a grill, and different ovens should be versatile enough to cook crispy roast potatoes as well as slow-cooked stews.

Look for small details that will make life easier, such as hinge stops to prevent the doors banging against the body of the cooker, or easy-close doors that allow homeowners to nudge them shut with their knee if they’re carrying a hot dish.

For bigger kitchens, a range cooker can be extended with a companion model, providing additional fuelling options and cooking capacity. Companion modules might be teamed up with the main cooker with an extended towel rail, or used as a stand-alone appliance in another part of the kitchen.

Style

A stylish range cooker needn’t be ‘just another appliance’. Choosing the right shade can really make a feature of it. But, don’t make any rash decisions – a quality range cooker can last a lifetime. Only a handful of companies still have the traditional skill to apply hard-wearing vitreous enamel in house. They are well worth considering however, with models available in a wide range of colours. The traditional enamel used on range cookers is usually glass enamel, which is what gives them their distinctive shine.

Saving energy

Think carefully when specifying electric appliances. Induction hobs, for example, help to save money and energy. Models are available which heat up in minutes, so they don’t need to be left on all the time.

One of the latest innovations available in ESSE electric models is its patented ‘power share’ system. This means energy is ‘pulsed’ around the cooker to where it is needed most, making sure that heat-up times are minimal and effectively making 3 kW act more like 5 kW, so residents can benefit from complete fuel economy. ‘Wrap-around’ elements ensure even oven temperatures so homeowners don’t need to turn dishes and they can even cook in trays placed directly on the base of the ovens.

It is possible to reduce a project’s carbon footprint by choosing a wood-burning range cooker which is carbon neutral (meaning it only gives out as much CO2 as is taken in by a growing tree). With a personal wood supply, some wood-burning models can virtually take a property off the grid, providing not only meals, but also piping hot water and all heating for a house.

If the property doesn’t have a working chimney, a flueless gas or electric model might be the answer. Flueless gas products offer a versatile and energy-efficient option.

Size matters

When planning a new kitchen, there are a number of sizes to choose from depending on the project’s requirements.

Some manufacturers offer 500 mm wide models which can be used as stand-alone models, or as ‘companions’. Larger three-door models can be around 905 mm wide x 900 mm high, while four-door models are around 990 mm wide x 900 mm high.

There is then the option to pair one of the ‘standard’ cookers with a companion model, for a much more imposing cooker with a width of up to 1,490 mm. Many specifiers choose to team an electric main cooker with a smaller wood- burning model, allowing end-users to enjoy two very different styles of cooking which may (or may not) be used all year round.

Dispelling the myths

A common misconception about range cookers is that you have to change the way you cook. Well-made, modern range cookers should be every bit as versatile and controllable as any other cooker, with the extra benefits of style and size. Some people still assume that range cookers take forever to warm up, and that’s why they are left on all the time. In fact, modern models can heat up in just minutes.

Historically, people have believed that range cookers are expensive to run, but leading models can include a whole host of features to ensure absolute efficiency and minimal running costs. Truly efficient range cookers can in fact be run for as little as £1 a day with normal use, making them a very cost-effective option.

Mark Blewitt is sales director at ESSE