Electric Hob Features
With an electric hob, there are plenty of special features and options available. This guide will help you understand which details would make an important addition to your kitchen.
While gas hobs have burners, the cooking elements on electric hobs are usually called cooking zones or rings. There are usually four of these on an electric hob, but domino hobs are space-saving with just one or two, and some top-of-the-range designs have up to six. Find out more in our guide to hob sizes. These may cover a range of sizes, to accommodate the different types of pan.
Most electric hobs have four cooking zones, in two or three different power levels. A combination of high and low power zones will help you juggle multiple cooking tasks with ease.
To tell how powerful a ceramic or induction hob is, take a look at the kWh details listed in the product’s technical details. They tend to range from 1.2 kWh for an economy zone to around 2.4 kWh for rapid heat. Some top of-
the-range induction zones can be as high as 3 kWh – sometimes even more.
This kind of power isn’t required by most families, but may be worth the investment for the most passionate cooks. These figures are the maximum outputs for each zone. They’ll have adjustable temperatures which you can drop lower to save energy on lighter cooking tasks.
You won’t find individual kWh numbers for a solid plate hob, but the larger rings will be the most powerful.
Most electric hobs have four cooking zones, in two or three different power levels.
A dual element offers that little bit of extra flexibility with an electric hob. They have two heated sections in one zone – a smaller inner part and larger outer part. If you’re only using a small saucepan, you’ll be able to switch off the section which sits outside your pan, saving electricity.
A fish zone is a type of dual zone. The second section (which can be switched on or off) extends the zone outwards on one side, for a longer heated space. This means that long fish pans can be heated evenly.
Hobs have recently adapted to accommodate our favourite cuisines from across the globe. More expensive models (particularly those with 5 or 6 cooking zones) may have a wok burner.
This will be gas powered to provide the instant, high heat required for stir frying. They tend to be combined with induction cooking zones, for the best of both worlds.
Some hobs can be combined with a matching teppanyaki griddle. These are simply a flat iron surface where you can cook meat, fish and vegetables. It’s a speedy and healthy Japanese cooking style which is surprisingly versatile. Often they’re a standalone installation, designed to sit next to a hob or domino hob, but sometimes they’re an additional plate you can buy to place on top of an induction surface.
Barbecue griddles are similar to teppanyaki ones in that they can be installed next to a traditional hob. They have a cast iron griddle which produces the distinctive chargrilled effect without the smoke.
Busy lifestyles sometimes make it impossible to cook at a leisurely pace. A power boost function is there when you just need to feed the family, fast. They’ll increase the power of a cooking zone by as much as 50%, so you can boil a big pan of rice in no time at all.
More expensive models (particularly those with 5 or 6 cooking zones) may have a wok burner.
Manufacturers incorporate all sorts of safety features to make using your electric hob stress-free.
A heat indicator provides a handy visual reminder that the surface is still hot. They’ll remind you not to touch the zone or place anything on it, and also let you know once it’s cool again.
This indicator is often an eye-catching red LED light. Sealed plates sometimes have heat sensitive centres which turn red when they’re hot.
While induction hobs work by heating the pan rather than the cooking surface, they’re still prone to a little residual heat transfer. A heat indicator is a handy feature to look out for on any electric hob.
Prevent wandering fingers from causing mischief with a child lock on a hob. Models with touch controls can often be locked using a certain sequence of buttons, making it nearly impossible for little ones to activate the heat or tweak your settings.
Overheating protection will protect the appliance if there’s a problem. This feature can sense when the temperature is too high, and sometimes also if liquid spills onto the cooking surface.
It’ll then automatically switch off the element or whole hob, protecting it from damage.
Pan Presence Sensor
An induction hob can sense when a compatible pan is placed on the surface. This is how it heats your food, but it’s a handy safety feature too. If a pan is removed, the zone will automatically switch off.
If you leave the heat unattended for a long period, a model with auto standby will switch the hob off.
Electric hobs generally offer more high-tech cooking features than gas hobs. These intelligent details help you produce impressive cooking results.
Magnetic Field Technology
Magnetic fields are used in induction hobs. They use circular coils to produce a magnetic field, which directly heats the bottom of ferrous metal pans. This new technology is fast and efficient.
Multiple Heat Settings
Tweak the power level until it’s perfect with a choice of heat settings.
Timers and Minute Minders
Different types of timer help you maintain control in the kitchen. Some will switch the hob off when your allocated time has run out, while a minute minder will sound an alarm to alert you. Count up timers start at zero and increase until you stop or reset it.
Quick Start and Restart
A quick start, sometimes called boil start, will start the cooking process at its most powerful. After a set time, this will reduce to a simmer. This means there’s no need to worry about turning your back and overcooking your food.
If overheat protection is triggered by a pan which has boiled over, restart will automatically restore your settings once the spillage is clean and you’ve turned the heat back on.
Some brands have gone one step further when it comes to taking the hard work out of cooking. You may find special modes tailored to different tasks such as steaming vegetables, melting chocolate, poaching eggs or maintaining a steady boil. They offer precise results, and are usually found on the best induction hobs.
Electric hobs generally offer more high-tech cooking features than gas hobs.
If you want to make use of all of the cooking features on offer, you’ll need to choose a hob you can easily control. An LCD display is also handy when it comes to displaying the timer, temperature settings and modes.
A traditional dial is easy to use. They’re commonly found on cheaper electric hobs, and are sometimes removable for cleaning. Some state-of-the-art rotary controls are attached by magnets. These are also removable, and can be kept away from the hob as a type of child lock.
The control panel will be placed either at the front or side of the cooking zones.
For an uninterrupted sleek surface, touch controls can’t be beaten. They sit flush in the glass surface, making operation and cleaning effortless. Slider controls are a form of touch control, providing complete freedom over the temperature.
Touch controls are not available on cheaper electric hobs, and virtually unheard of on sealed plate ones.
The control panel will be placed either at the front or side of the cooking zones. This means there’s no leaning over pans with hot steam to
tweak your settings.
A main advantage of electric hobs is their appearance. They don’t need pan supports, so the cooking surface is much neater and easier to clean than a gas model.
Ceramic and induction hobs use a special type of heat-proof ceramic glass. The result is a stylish, smooth surface which wipes clean easily. They’re usually black and are available in frameless designs, which means the edges lie flat against your worktops for an extra touch of quality.
Electric plate hobs have sealed metal cooking zones, which are raised above the hob’s main surface. The surface will have an enamel finish, often in white or cream.
Also only available for electric plate models, stainless steel gives the traditional hob a more modern twist. Some are flush fitted, which is when the edges lie flat along your work surface.
Electric hobs don’t need pan supports, so the cooking surface is much neater and easier to clean than a gas model.