Hobs: The Crowdstorm buyers' guide
Your hob is arguably the most important appliance in the kitchen – it is the place you create all those Ramsay-style culinary masterpieces, after all (or, if you’re lazy like us, the place you quickly shove some soup or pasta before settling down on the sofa!).
If you’re looking to invest in a new hob we’ve done the legwork for you, bring you the lowdown on everything you need to know about shopping for hobs; from features and specifications to size and controls. Once you’ve read our comprehensive guide you’ll be in the perfect position to check out all the latest deals and best offers from the UK’s best retailers – from Argos and Currys to John Lewis – then all you need to do is click and buy!
Size and space
While it's easy to get carried away with all the bells and whistles when making any purchase, the single most important part of your buying decision is making sure your hob will fit in the space you have for it!
- An average sized hob is usually 60cm wide with four burners.
- Larger hobs can be around 70cm wide with five burners, but can range in size, even going up to 80cm or 90cm for the culinary connoisseur.
- Certain hobs can fit into smaller spaces by overlapping a work surface
Most modern hobs come have one large, two medium and one simmer ring, with some also having a ring for woks, grills or specialist fish kettles.
Kitchen hob type
Certain types of hob work best with certain types of cookware making it imperative you get the best type of hob to match your existing pots and pans and avoid any damage to your hob unit or cookware.
Gas Hob: Gas hobs are the hob of choice of professional chefs and cooks; they’re easy to use and supply an instant, constant, adjustable stream of heat. Gas hobs also tend to be cheaper than electrics.
Some gas hobs have an automatic ignition when you turn the knob, whilst others have a separate ignition which needs to be held down when turning the knob to ignite the flame.
Safety features on modern gas hobs mean the gas supply is turned off if the flame blows out. Some also feature a glass lid that automatically cuts out the gas supply if closed.
Gas hobs tend to have more parts and be harder to clean. They also need a good supply of gas to work efficiently and are less energy efficient than other models.
Solid plate hob: These use solid electric plates to heat your pots and pans and have the added bonus of being the most purse-friendly – brilliant if you’re on a budget and looking for cost-effective cheap hobs. Electric plate hobs also tend to be cheaper to run than other hobs.
Electric hobs are easy to clean and give a traditional look – great if you like your hob to keep in line with the feel of your traditional kitchen. However they warm up slower than a gas hob and take longer to adjust to any temperature changes.
Induction hobs: Induction hobs are the golden standard of hobs, working by heating only the pan with a magnetic field; meaning the surrounding area is cold and safe to touch. They combine the responsiveness of gas with the convenience of a ceramic hob and, thanks to the small area being heated, they are extremely quick to heat up and energy efficient. Also, whilst they are the most expensive hob to buy they are cheap to run so could work out a better investment in the long run.
Induction hobs can be a little noisy when using more than one ring and, due to the electromagnetic field created, may not be suitable for those with pacemakers. You may also find that you need to buy specific pans with magnetic bases to use with an induction hob. Manufacturers also suggest that induction hobs are not installed above a working drawer to allow for ventilation for the electro magnets in the hob.
Ceramic hob: Ceramic hobs are a popular modern-day option, featuring halogen hobs, radiant or semi-halogen heating elements under smooth, heat-resistant glass.
Ceramic hobs have the advantage of having a smooth and easy to clean surface, and most have easy-to-use dials and controls. Some ceramic hobs also feature sensors and timers meaning you don’t have to manually turn the heat down or off.
Some argue that the heat distribution on ceramic hobs is less efficient than on gas hobs, though they do heat up relatively quickly and have residual lights to indicate when the hob is safe/cool enough to touch.
Domino hob: Domino hobs are appropriately named because of their oblong shape. By placing two types of unit adjacent to each other in a combination of your choice you get a flexible cooking solution that you can use together with, or instead of, a regular hob. A domino hob also allows you to add a wok burner, barbeque grill or deep fat fryer to your standard hob.
Cooker hobs features
Once you've decided on the basics, you need to think about those little extras that can such a difference. Here are some of the key hob features to look out for:
- Heat indicators: Heat indicators can range from a simple flame or a residual light to the more technologically advanced digital displays showing the temperature of the cooking zones being used.
- Touch control: Use simple touch controls to adjust power levels and timers, rather than knobs, dials and buttons.
- Timer: Hobs with timers allow you to be flexible and control cooking times.
- Safety features: Safety features vary from hob to hob so be sure to check specs before buying a hob. If you have kids, look out for a hob with features that ensures a child cannot turn it on - induction hobs are best for this as they only work when the correct pan is placed on the cooking zone. Flame failure features on gas hobs are useful for sensing when no heat is being generated, automatically turning off the gas flow.
- Wok burners: Wok burners are becoming increasingly popular on hobs for creating delicious stir-fry meals.
- Dual zones: These extendable cooking zones are a great feature on electric hobs as they allow you to heat a big pan with plenty of room!
So, what next?
So you’re clued up on hobs: what do you do next? Well that bit's simple. You can narrow down your choice with our handy filters, then browse all the latest offers and hobs deals with the best prices from a huge range of the UK’s best independent retailers. And you'll find all the big names right here - from Hotpoint through to Samsung and Siemens hobs.
Once you’ve found a deal that catches your eye, click the offer and you’ll be transferred over to the site of your selected independent retailer where you can simply click and buy! With the best range of cheap hobs and designer models at your fingertips, cooking over a wooden fire is, quite literally, a thing of the past!