ELECTRIC HOB FEATURES
There are many special features and options available when choosing an electric hob. This guide will help you understand which ones are essential to consider.
While gas hobs have burners, the cooking elements on electric hobs are called cooking zones or rings. You can find a range of sizes to accommodate different types of pans. There are usually four on a standard electric hob, while domino hobs have just one or two, and some top-of-the-range models have up to six. Induction hobs may also feature flexible zones which let you merge multiple zones into a larger one, such as Samsung’s Flex Zone Plus.
Most electric hobs have four cooking zones in two or three different sizes and power levels. A combination of high and low zones will help you manage multiple tasks with ease.
To tell how powerful a ceramic or induction hob is, take a look at the technical specification. They tend to range from 1.2 kWh for smaller or economy zones to around 2.4 kWh for a larger zone or rapid heat. Some induction zones can reach 3 kWh, or even higher. And, remember: boost functions will increase it further.
This kind of power isn’t required by most families, but it may be worth the investment for passionate cooks. It’s also worth noting that the figures on the product specification will be the maximum outputs for each zone. They will have adjustable temperatures which you can lower to save energy on lighter tasks.
Usually there are four cooking zones in 2 or 3 sizes and power levels.
Dual elements offer extra flexibility. They combine two 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 it to save energy.
A fish zone is a type of dual zone. It extends on one side to provide a longer, oval shaped heated space, so larger fish pans can be heated evenly.
Hobs can now adapt to accommodate cuisines from across the globe. More expensive models – particularly those with five or six cooking zones – may have a wok burner. Many of these use the instant power of gas to provide quick, high heat for stir frying. They tend to be combined with induction cooking zones, for the best of both worlds in a mixed fuel hob.
Some hobs can be combined with a matching teppanyaki griddle. This is a flat metal surface where you can cook meat, fish, and vegetables in the speedy, versatile Japanese cooking style. They’re often a standalone installation designed to sit next to a hob or domino hob, but you can also find plates which you can place on an induction surface.
Barbecue griddles are similar to their teppanyaki counterparts. They have a cast iron grid which produces the distinctive chargrilled effect without the smoke. You can also find built-in hobs that simulate barbecue cooking. Some even come with removable lava stone trays for easy cleaning.
Or, if you want to make the perfect onion rings and fried chicken, try a deep fat fryer. They can be integrated into your kitchen’s design with a discreet cover, and help you make a variety of dishes.
Busy lifestyles sometimes make it impossible to cook at a leisurely pace. A boost function is there when you need to feed the family quickly. They can increase the power of a cooking zone by as much as 50%, so you can boil a large pan of rice or pasta in no time at all.
Manufacturers incorporate a variety of safety features to make using your electric hob stress and injury-free.
A heat indicator provides a handy visual reminder that the hob is still hot. It warns you not to touch or place anything on it, and also lets you know when it’s cool again. It might take the form of an eye-catching red LED light. Solid plate designs 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 small amount of residual transfer. A heat indicator is a helpful feature to look out for on any electric hob, and can also help you save energy if you make use of the remaining heat.
Plus, features like Samsung’s Virtual Flame Technology let you clearly see if the zone is on or off, with LEDs taking the appearance of a gas flame.
A boost function is there when you need to feed the family quickly.
CHILD AND CONTROL LOCKS
Models with touch controls can often be locked and unlocked by using a sequence of buttons or holding one down, making it nearly impossible for little ones to activate the heat or change your settings. This helps you avoid accidents and wasting energy.
Overheating protection will preserve your appliance’s service life if there’s a problem. This feature can sense when the temperature is too high or if liquid spills onto the cooking surface, before automatically switching off the zone or whole hob, protecting it from damage.
This can adjust the power if a pan is about to boil over, to minimise accidents and mess in the kitchen.
An induction hob can sense when a compatible pan is placed on the surface. If it’s removed, the zone will automatically switch off.
Models with touch controls can often be locked and unlocked which helps avoid accidents.
If you leave the hob unattended for a long period of time, an auto standby or safety shutoff feature will switch it off.
You may find a one-touch control to turn all your cooking zones down to the lowest setting, and return power when you need it. Examples are this are Miele’s Stop & Go and Samsung’s Pause functions. This keeps both the kids and your food safe if you need to leave the kitchen.
Electric hobs generally offer more advanced cooking features than gas models, which help you produce impressive cooking results.
The auto standby or safety shutoff feature will switch off the hob if it is not used for a while.
INTELLIGENT HEAT CONTROLS
Technology like AEG’s PowerSlide lets you slide your pan between different preset heats, so you don’t have to adjust temperatures as you cook.
PerfectControl by Bosch uses sensor technology to give you more power when you’re cooking, by measuring the temperature at your pans rather than the hob zones, then adjusting it accordingly. PerfectFry will make sure that you get your steak cooked just as you like it. And, pop the PerfectCook sensor on your pan to control your cooking by temperature and not power. It will prevent overboiling and provide you with amazing results.
TIMERS AND MINUTE MINDERS
Different types of timer help you maintain control in the kitchen. Some will switch the hob off when the 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 them. Many modern designs allow you to use them independently of the hob functions, and set separate ones for each zone so you can multitask to perfection.
Some induction hobs can adapt to your individual needs, by letting you change settings such as your sensor response speed.
QUICK START AND RESTART
A quick start, like AEG’s Automax or Miele’s Auto Heat-Up function, will start the cooking process at its most powerful. After a certain period of time, this will reduce to the pre-set level. This means that there’s no need to worry about overcooking or burning your food, or forgetting to turn the hob down.
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 on again.
Brands such as De Dietrich help you save energy with features like ICS – just place your pan on the hob, and it suggests which zone best suits it.
On some induction hobs, you can find technology that prevents you from adjusting settings when moving pots between cooking zones. They simply transfer to the new zone at the touch of a button.
Some brands go 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, maintaining a steady boil, or keeping food warm. They offer precise results, and are usually found on the best induction hobs.
Electric hobs generally offer more advanced cooking features than gas models.
If you want to make use of all the cooking features on offer, you’ll need to choose a hob which you can easily control.
Traditional dials are simple and accessible. They’re commonly found on cheaper electric hobs, and are sometimes removable for cleaning.
The control panel will be placed either at the front or side of the cooking zones.
Touch controls can’t be beaten if you want an uninterrupted, sleek look to your hob. They sit flush on the surface, making operation and cleaning effortless. They aren’t available on cheaper electric hobs, and are virtually unheard of on solid plate models.
Slider controls are a type of touch control, providing complete freedom over temperature.
Some state-of-the-art dials are attached by magnets and may also act as touch controls, like NEFF’s TwistPad. These are removable, and can be stored away from the hob as a form of child lock.
Plus, an LCD display is handy when it comes to monitoring timers, temperatures, and modes.
The control panel will be placed at either the front or side of the cooking zones. This means that you don’t have to lean over pans and hot steam to tweak your settings.
A key 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 that of 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 without fuss. They’re usually black and are available in frameless designs, where the edges lay flat against your worktops for an extra, high-quality touch.
Solid plate hobs have sealed metal cooking zones, which are raised above the hob’s main surface. The surface may have an enamel finish, often in white or cream.
Electric hobs don’t need pan supports, so the cooking surface is much neater and easier to clean.
Typically only available for solid plate models, stainless steel gives a traditional hob a more modern twist, while making for easy cleaning.