Built-in double ovens, self-cleaning, freestanding? Home cooks are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing an electric oven. With so many different options, we will help you find the perfect one for you.
With so many models on the market, choosing a new oven can be a daunting experience. You find yourself asking questions like: What’s the difference between the two types of electric ovens, conventional and fan-forced? Why does one oven model cost so much more than the next? And what’s better, a built-in or a freestanding oven?
Well the first part’s easy: a conventional electric oven doesn’t distribute heat as evenly as a fan-forced one, it’s usually slightly hotter at the top than the bottom. In a fan-forced (also known as fan-assisted) oven, the fan moves the heat around the inside of the oven, which makes for faster cooking times and much more even baking. The other answers have more to do with budget and preferences though, so this short guide to the many types of ovens and their functionality should help you pick one that’s right for you, and prepare for its integration into your kitchen.
TYPES OF OVENS
The most popular choice of oven these days is a built-in oven. This is one that has been fitted into a cabinet designed specifically for it.
There are various types of built-in ovens: single ovens installed either under the bench or at eve level, double ovens installed as eye-level units, double ovens placed under-bench, and compact ovens. All built-in ovens will require you to have a separate cooktop installed in your bench though. Read on for a closer look at each option.
Single ovens have all the functions of an oven built into one unit, including the grill. They’re generally big enough for most families’ roasting and baking needs, but some models will have thinner walls and subsequently a larger space inside the oven. It’s worth checking out models from different manufacturers to be sure you get the right size.
The most common width for a single oven is 600mm, but there are 700mm, 800mm and even 900mm options on the market now. A single oven can either be built into a cabinet under your benchtop, or into a tall cabinet at eye level.
Double ovens offer the convenience of having a separate small oven, which usually houses the grill, in addition to the main oven. They offer more cooking options as both ovens operate independently of each other.
There are two types of double ovens. One is a wall oven which will generally be 900mm high. It’s made for building into a tall kitchen cabinet at eye level, as pictured here.
The other option is built into a specially-designed cabinet under the kitchen bench. These kinds of double ovens are generally only 720mm high. The disadvantage of a built-under style of double oven is that the space inside both ovens will most likely be smaller than you would like, due to the shorter overall height of the appliance.
A compact oven is essentially a small oven. It will have the regular functions of an oven and a grill, but is only 450mm high. Some cooking enthusiasts will choose to have one single oven and one compact oven, as opposed to a double oven. This gives them more space and functionality, but does come at a greater cost.
Compact ovens can be built into a tall cabinet above an eye-level oven or under the bench next to your single oven. They are the same height as built-in microwaves, steam ovens and coffee machines.
The popularity of steam ovens has risen dramatically over the past few years. They can be used to steam fish and vegetables and are said to lock in more nutrients in food than boiling.
There are standalone steam ovens, which only have steaming functions, or there are combination steam ovens, which carry a higher price tag. Combination steam ovens combine regular electric oven functions with steam, allowing you to use the functions together or separately.
Built-in steam ovens are 450mm high, the same as compact ovens.
Eye level or under-bench?
If you are undecided about whether to build your new oven in at eye level or under the bench, consider how much you use your oven and the amount of bending down you will have to do if your oven is under the benchtop, especially if you use heavy roasting dishes.
The advantage of building your oven in at eye level is twofold. Firstly, it means that you don’t need to bend down to lift heavy dishes out of the oven. Secondly, it’s much easier for you to see the oven’s controls and to look through the oven door, to check how your chicken is roasting or if your muffins are rising.
Take some time to discuss the height at which your appliances are built in, since you don’t want them to be too low or two high while cooking.
As the name suggests, a freestanding oven is one that sits independently on the floor and is not built into any cabinets. A freestanding or upright oven will have an oven and cooktop combined into one unit. It is a very popular choice in traditional or country-style kitchens.
As for size, they can range from a 500mm wide, four-burner single oven option right through to a 1200mm-wide double oven option, with up to eight burners. The size you opt for really depends on the space you have available and the amount of cooking and baking you do.
Call in the pros
If you are shopping for a new oven to replace your existing one, you will need to carefully measure the space available for your new oven to avoid any unnecessary cabinet alterations and additional costs. But regardless of what oven you select, it should be installed by a qualified and licensed professional.
If you don’t know somebody who can so this for you, search Houzz for a professional in your state, or ask the supplier of your new oven. They will have a list of approved installers to recommend to you.
TIP: If you have some favourite roasting trays or dishes that you like to use regularly, take the measurements of them along with you when you go shopping for your oven, in order to get the size that suits you best.
Side by side
If you choose a single and a compact oven and want to have them installed side by side, there will be a difference in height of 1500mm.
To overcome this disparity, you might consider investing in a warming drawer so that visually both units seems equal in size. A warming drawer can be used for warming plates, keeping food warm and even melting chocolate (and will be especially useful if you are a keen entertainer).
As pictured here, the overall height of a warming drawer with a compact oven positioned above is the same height as a 600mm-high single oven.
This is where the choice can start to get a bit more difficult. Depending on how much cooking and baking you do, there will be a huge variety of ovens available with functions that range from regular fan-assisted baking to dough proving and pizza cooking.
Some ovens can now also calculate the cooking time for your Sunday roast, depending on the weight of the meat. And if you’re going out, you can even set a timer so your lunch is ready just as you arrive home.
Consider what functions you will use to avoid overspending on a model that has more functions.
I don’t know about you but cleaning out the oven is one of my pet hates. Its always on the ‘to-do’ list but keeps getting pushed to the bottom.
If you are like me, then check out pyrolytic ovens when you go shopping. A pyrolytic oven is a self-cleaning oven. Yes, you read correctly, a self-cleaning oven!
A super-high temperature setting – which locks the oven closed for safety – burns grime and food residue into ash, which you can easily clean from the bottom of the oven when the process has finished. No elbow grease or harsh chemicals required.
However, the super-high temperature is heavy on electricity, and you will also pay more for a model with this function.