Electric range cookers – at home in any kitchen

Stylish, versatile and easy to install, modern energy-efficient range cookers are enjoying a new lease of life in both town and country, as ESSE’s Mark Blewitt explains

It’s an established rite of passage on the downshifter’s ‘road less travelled.’

Scour Zoopla for a ‘doer-upper’ property in the countryside, escape the city, buy a 4×4, move into a rustic retreat, fix the roof, bathrooms and kitchen, replace the ancient range cooker inherited with aforementioned rural wreck.

But times are changing. In the near future that 4×4 is likely to be a hybrid and instead of burning heating oil or wood, the range cooker will almost certainly be electric.

While there’s something unmistakably satisfying about cooking over heat radiating from a traditional firebox, thanks to intelligently engineered heating elements and clever use of conductive metals, today’s electric range cookers deliver an almost identical cooking experience to solid fuel models – while consuming significantly less energy.

The secret to achieving these efficiencies lies in the principle of heat storage – bringing a large mass up to temperature and maintaining it with ‘little and often’ injections of energy.

A modern range cooker weighs upwards of 300 kg, meaning that once it gets hot, it tends to stay hot – requiring only the occasional input of power to maintain its temperature.

Most modern models utilise a form of standby mode, which maintains the elements at the optimum temperature to reach working temperature quickly.

The most efficient models will reach 200 ̊C from standby in around 15 minutes – superior to a standard gas or electric oven.

Programmable timers mean ovens can be warming up while the cook is busy prepping the meal. The top oven reaches 240 ̊C in just 15 minutes from slumber setting, while the hotplate reaches 200 ̊C in just 12 minutes from standby mode.

Unlike conventional appliances, those deep ovens and small doors are designed to retain the heat regardless of how many times the door is opened.

There’s more to a modern electric range cooker than the ovens: the generous hobs also provide the versatility and specialist cooking functions that few conventional cookers can offer.

While old school range cookers usually sported circular ‘hot’ and ‘medium’ hotplates, today’s models incorporate state-of-the-art induction hobs, ‘plancha- style’ griddles, or a combination of complementary hotplates.

As well as accommodating up to three pans each, these large hotplates provide the facility to cook direct on a cook-plate that will char-grill vegetables for extra flavour or steam and sizzle meat and fish with bistro-style flair.

Electric range cookers are increasingly finding favour beyond their natural habitat in the countryside. Electric range cookers don’t require installation along external walls to accommodate the flue, so the options for more adventurous kitchen design open up accordingly.

A full-size range cooker with a companion unit can easily be installed as part of an open-plan ‘island design’ – providing a practical and visually stunning focal point for a contemporary studio kitchen. And an electric range cooker can even be incorporated within a more compact kitchen-diner space in an
urban flat.

Compact electric range cookers can be incorporated within a fitted kitchen or installed as a standalone appliance – slotting seamlessly into the space reserved for a standard cooker – and with no flue needed, this streamlined cooker can be positioned wherever there’s a 13 amp power supply.

While installation is relatively simple, it’s important to be able to call on the support of a nationwide network of professionals who can advise on the process and provide service and back-up.

Premium models are designed and built to last a lifetime, using quality materials which – if cared for properly – are capable of many decades of reliable service. With this in mind, look for an established manufacturer with a proven reputation for quality who actively seeks to establish a long-term relationship with their customers.

While the new generation of efficient, electric range cookers offer all the convenience and user-friendly characteristic associated with conventional cookers, nothing can match the timeless elegance of the quintessentially British range cooker.

These distinctive cookers are much more than a functional appliance. Very quickly, they establish themselves as the focal point of any kitchen – a warm spot to which friends and family naturally gravitate.

In addition to providing a welcome source of warmth and sustenance throughout the year, range cookers provide a host of unexpected benefits. From taking the chill off a nice bottle of red on the hob to airing the washing and even resuscitating damp lambs on a cold winter’s night, a range cooker takes care of it all.

In fact, installing your first range cooker is almost like welcoming a new arrival into the home – pretty soon it becomes a much-loved member of the family.

Mark Blewitt is sales director at ESSE Engineering