Why Do I Need A Hob?
If you have an oven in your home as opposed to a cooker or range cooker, then you will be aware that they are built-in so don’t have a hob on the top. Therefore, you will need to purchase a separate hob in order to have the full cooking experience.
Hobs are also a great idea if you have a kitchen island and want a relatively large cooking top space, as opposed to a range or smaller cooker.
Types Of Hob
Gas hobs are really the only alternative to the electric models, the variations of which are underneath.
Everybody is familiar with gas cooking. You use a flame, ignited with a gas supply, to cook over. There is the choice between manual ignition, where you hold the pilot ignition button in and turn the dial, or automatic ignition which will light the hob when the dial is turned.
Also look at whether it will reignite automatically if the flame goes out, or if it has flame failure safety device that cuts the gas supply off. Check for extras too, such as wok burners and grill pans.
- Rapid heating – the flame is almost instantaneous
- Good level of heat control, which is great when simmering and low boiling
- Energy efficient as you can ensure no heat escapes around the pan
- Can easily see when the hob is lit thanks to visible flame
Available in sizes from four hobs up to eight
- One of the hardest to clean as you have to remove pan supports/check flame plates and nozzle
- Some people feel uncomfortable with gas and flames in their home
- Some can be quite bulky in appearance
Solid Plate Hob
Also known as sealed electric hobs. They are the best-known form of electric hob, easiest to use and often the cheapest too.
- Price – they will be the lowest priced option out there
- Easy to use, as they just have knobs which turn to set the temperature
- Simple to clean as they just need a wipe and occasional scrub around the plate
- Take the longest to heat and cool down
- Not the prettiest design
A ceramic hob is a flat surface, with heating elements beneath. They are often quicker to heat up and cool down than solid plate models, and have the benefit of looking much nicer.
- Often can see the residual heat in the form of a red colour so they’re safe
- Most are touch control so there’s no dials to clean around
- Can have the benefit of other top technology such as timers, bridging zones and control panel locks
- Most heat is transferred to the pan rather than heating the glass surface
- Heat distribution and power isn’t as good as with gas
- Some don’t offer great control with heat levels, especially at the lower end
Induction hobs are the newest kid on the block. They’re a variant of ceramic hobs so look very similar in size, but offer much more technology and safety.
Bear in mind that as they use electro-magnetic technology to heat the pan as opposed to the surface of the hob, you will have to use specialised pans with a magnetic base, such as cast iron pans and some stainless steel sets.
- Will only work if an appropriate pan is on the zone so its safe
- The size of the hob can be altered depending on pan being used
- Most have touch controls for simple control and easy cleaning
- Many have technology such as pausing, panel lock and flexi-zones
- Generally the most expensive option
- May have to purchase new pans for use
Air Vent Hobs
Air Vent Hobs are usually all induction hobs, but they all have a handy extra feature.
Rather than needing a separate cooker hood above your cooking area, or a downdraft extractor installed behind the hob, an air extraction hob does both jobs. So when you’re cooking, there is a fan in the centre of the unit which can get rid of smoke, smells and steam as soon as it appears, before it emerges into your kitchen.
- Same as above with the induction hobs
- PLUS it can get rid of smells and smoke as it appears
- No need for an extra cooker hood
- Same as induction cons
- PLUS they require a lot of installation – not a simple solution
- Still very new so little choice
These are kind of a hob, but you will probably actually need a dedicated hob at the same time, so a teppanyaki essentially complements a cooking setup.
They are like grill pans which are built-in to your kitchen surface, so you can fry steaks, fish, vegetables and even rice or egg without the need for a pan. Taking inspiration from Japanese cooking, they are usually hotter than ordinary hobs, and a lot more spacious.
The word Teppan is the metal plate on which it is cooked, and yaki means grilled, broiled, or pan-fried. You may see some smaller, non-built in cooking plates referred to as teppanyakis, but they often lack the power and space.
- Great for frying
- Rids the need for pans
- Gives you plenty of space to work with
- Pretty pricey, especially as they can’t replace your main hob
- Not a lot available
- Isn’t going to be suitable for every kitchen setup as you need space
Things To Look Out For
Not every household requires the same attributes and extras, but there are a few things you should think about before you buy which could make your dinnertime a lot more stress-free and cooking a lot more seamless.
Number of Zones
With the exception of solid plate hobs, most of the above are available in various sizes.
The most common is 60cm wide with four zones, but there are also plenty of 70cm wide five zone hobs. Most can fit into a 60cm standard space and will overlap on the kitchen bench, which is ideal if you need more space without changing things too much.
There are also 80cm and 90cm hobs available, but if you don’t have an existing space for these, it could require a lot of work to fit them into your kitchen.
The general layout of the hobs is one large, two medium and one simmer zone.
The most common option is dials and knobs, so you can either set the power at increments or freely by turning them. Some flat designs, such as ceramic or induction, will have touch controls or sliders instead. Think of what you prefer, what you’re used to and if you’re willing to learn a new style.
Some hobs have special additions to make your cooking more flexible:
- Wok burners – Often found on gas hobs. Larger in size to accommodate woks, and often more powerful for higher heats
- Griddle Plate – Fish kettle or grill pan areas, so they can sit over two zones simultaneously for a more even heat and then removed when not needed. Mostly found with gas hobs, and some may even come with the grill pan. If not, they’re available to buy separately so just check that the layout for your hob is appropriate