Rival merits of different hobs
Kitchens tend to be the heart of any modern home, and hobs often form a natural centrepiece in these family-friendly spaces. The kitchen is where meals are cooked and recipe books are studied, reflecting the historic role heat sources have played in bringing people together.
Today’s consumers have an enviable choice of kitchen appliances, especially in terms of hobs. Each option has its own merits, champions – and critics, as evidenced by New York State implementing a ban on gas hobs in new homes as of last year. We’re some way from that level of restriction here in Scotland, so these are the various hob options open to us…
Despite New York’s fossil-fuel ban, these have been a staple in homes with a gas supply since the late 19th century. They offer key advantages including instant control and visible evidence of their current setting, while being impervious to power cuts is a huge advantage. Gas hobs do have some drawbacks – gas can be quite pungent, and the hob plates which suspend pots and pans above naked flames are heavy to lift and awkward to clean.
Electric hobs also trace their origins back to Victorian Britain. They have a sleek design that blends into darker worktops in a very pleasing manner. They’re child’s play to clean but their heated coils lack the immediacy of gas, making it hard to adjust cooking temperatures; they can take a few minutes to warm up and could stay hot for a while after use. Electric hobs often have glass tops, which scratch easily and may begin to look prematurely tired.
The use of electromagnetic energy means induction hobs blend the responsiveness of gas with the streamlined appearance of electric. While gas hobs require a splashback behind them, induction units can be positioned on central island units (as can electric systems). Induction units occasionally emit a minor mechanical whine as the specialist pans you’ll need to buy warm up, but the hob itself remains cold to the touch, so they’re extremely safe to use.
Another space-age design with touch-sensitive controls and a wipe-clean surface, ceramic hobs share a great deal in common with induction units. They have similar four or five-ring designs, while their ceramic glass countertop contains elements which heat the pans above them. Ceramic hobs have never really caught on in the UK – they’re less responsive than gas, less efficient than induction units and less affordable to buy than electric alternatives.
Studio flats and small homes may only have a two-ring hob, but most domestic homes now incorporate a four-ring unit. Larger kitchens might sport a five-ring gas or induction hob, often with a dedicated wok plate in the centre for heating larger pans. Touch-sensitive controls look great, but can occasionally be activated by liquid spillages, so rotary dials are preferable. Traditionalists may also prefer the dependability of gas, rather than induction and ceramic units which might turn off if a pan is lifted to drain or stir it, and which can be locked to prevent children or pets accidentally activating them.
Finally, while traditional Agas look great in a period kitchen, they often emit too much heat into well-insulated new homes. Modern Agas tend to have induction hobs rather than the traditional hot plates of yore, rendering them something of a hybrid between old and new cooking methods.
Back to Latest Posts