Whatever kind of cook you are, you're likely to use your hob for every meal you prepare, from steaming the veg ready for a large family roast to heating some soup for a bit of quick comfort.
With such a variety of functions and types to choose from, it can be difficult to know which hob and features to choose to enhance your cooking experience, so have a look through our simple guide to help discover what suits your cooking style...
Conventional Gas Hobs
Gas hobs are the most traditional way to cook over an open flame. They are hugely popular, thanks in large part to their instant responsiveness and the high speed cooking they offer, although this isn't to say that you can't choose a gentle flame for simmering or slow warming. The flame is easily controlled and visible, so you will know exactly how powerful your chosen heat is, which is why many chefs refuse to cook on anything else!
Usually, a gas hob will have 4 rings, 1 small/economy burners, 2 medium sized rings for general cooking and one larger/rapid burner ideal for fast cooking, larger pans and boiling water quickly. If you choose a gas hob, one of the things to look for is chunky pan supports top give your pans more stability.
Electric Induction Hobs
Induction hobs are renowned for being the most energy efficient available. They use electromagnets in the cooking zones so they only heat up when you place the right sized, stainless steel, flat based pan on them. The magnetic characteristics used to create heat mean only the actual rings get warm, and the heat is transferred straight to the pan, so no energy is wasted. It also means they heat up, cook and cool down quickly for a more efficient cooking experience.
One of the other major draws for induction hobs is that they are very easy to wipe clean, and, because they don't get too hot, they won’t burn food that falls on them during cooking. But remember, you may have to replace your pans to ensure you have pans that are the right size for the burners and the right material to react with the magnetic hob!
Electric Ceramic Hob
There's a ceramic hob for all budgets, ranging from the affordable radiant heat hobs that are simply coiled metal elements under glass that heat up, to the more expensive halogen hobs that contain a bulb, a tungsten element and halogen gas under a glass cooking surface. There's also a middle ground with a semi halogen, radiant hob, so the choice is yours!
These glass ceramic hobs often come with timers, sensors and touch controls, depending on the model you choose, so you can tailor your cooking experience to suit your cooking style and requirements.
There are a whole host of other things to consider, which will depend greatly on your lifestyle and cooking habits, such as:
Child Locks – these allow you to set a temperature and lock it, which then stops little fingers fiddling with the controls and accidently putting the heat up or down!
Residual Heat Indicators – these can be essential for ceramic hobs that may stay warm for a while after they are turned off, as they will hopefully remind you not to touch the hot plates!
Timers – depending on the model you choose, you can get simple timers which sound after a certain amount of time to remind you to attend to your cooking, or you can get more advanced timers that will turn off the hob after a certain amount of time.
Wok Burners – these larger rings with hefty pan supports are ideal for supporting large woks and providing the intense heat needed to cook crunchy stir-fries!
Griddles – if you like the idea of healthy griddle cooking, make sure you choose a hob with compatible burners - many even come with removable griddles for your convenience.