7 Questions to Ask Yourself When Getting a Built-in Oven
A built-in oven is great for many reasons. Not only does it mean you won’t have an extra appliance cluttering your countertop, they also lend a fabulously professional slant to your kitchen if you incorporate one. Most built-in ovens come in large capacities, which is useful if you have a big family and you cook or bake often. If you are thinking of shopping around for one, here are some questions to ask yourself first:
1. Will I be using it often?
Design: Space Atelier
One of the first things to ask yourself is whether your built-in oven will be put to good use. Most homeowners don’t use them regularly enough, which can lead to power trips when the oven is turned on after being unused for some time. This arises because of the high humidity in Singapore, which leads to a propensity for moisture building up in an unused oven that then affects the circuits and heating elements of the appliance.
2. What size and capacity should I go for?
This very much depends on your family size and what sort of food you usually make. If you mostly bake, roast or grill a few things at a go, you might want to invest in a larger capacity oven so that you can cut down on the time needed to prepare your meals.
Design: Inizio Atelier
Built-in ovens sold in Singapore mainly come in standard sizes of about 600mm in width, with capacities ranging from about 55 litres to 85 litres. But you shouldn’t just rely on numbers when shopping for a built-in oven since there isn’t a standard to how manufacturers measure the capacities of their appliances. It’s good to head down and check for yourself how big the internal cavity of the oven really is. Depending on how many things you are cooking in your oven at a time, consider also the number of shelving and tiers available in the oven.
Large families will appreciate the extra large capacity ovens, which are usually 900mm in length with capacities of around 90 to 100 litres. Look out for brands like Elba and Fisher & Paykel. For smaller households or small kitchens, check out compact versions from brands like Bosch and Electrolux, which have built-in ovens that are about 450mm tall with less than 50-litre capacities.
3. Where am I placing my built-in oven?
Will you be placing the built-in oven under the counter or at eye level? This is an important question to ask yourself as it will affect how you plan out your kitchen layout before the start of your renovation.
Design: Design 4 Space
Most under-counter ovens are placed directly under the hob as it provides the easiest access if you need to finish cooking in the oven. But if you aren’t used to this cooking style, consider placing it away from the hob area. The oven will get hot when it’s being used and you don’t want to stand in front of a hot oven while you’re whipping meals in front of the stove.
Design: DB Studio
You will need tall kitchen units if you are placing your built-in oven at eye level. This is the most ergonomic, since you won’t have to bend your back when you use the oven. Plus, it gives you extra convenience if you like to eyeball your food when it’s cooking. Make sure you don’t locate your oven too high though, since it will make it difficult to reach out for your hot trays or dishes and it will increase the risk of burning your arms. A good height to go for is to have the base of your oven aligned with the height of your countertop or just slightly below it.
4. How much budget should I set aside?
Built-in ovens go anywhere from about $400 to over $3,000 in Singapore. The price difference is mainly due to branding and the number of features. Unless you cook professionally at home or just have a lot of moolah to spare, I wouldn’t recommend shelling out more than $1,500 for a built-in oven. The higher range ones usually come with a self-cleaning function. Most ovens around $800 to $1,000 are pretty decent, with enough functions that can cover most of your cooking needs.
5. Do I need a self-cleaning oven?
Speaking of self-cleaning, ask yourself if you really need a self-cleaning oven. They don’t come cheap, but they are great if you can’t stand the idea of scrubbing down the insides of your oven to clean them.
There are basically several kinds of self-cleaning ovens. Pyrolytic ovens are the most expensive and most effective. They come with a feature that lets you run the oven at a very high temperature to burn off any food spills or grease during the cooking process. These leftover food bits get turn into ash, which you can then easily wipe away with a cloth when the cleaning cycle is finished and the oven has cooled down. The process usually goes for a couple of hours or more.
Design: Jubilee Interior
Catalytic ovens come with liners on the inside of the appliance that are chemically treated to absorb grease automatically. Through high heat (above 200 deg C), oxidation takes place, letting the grease residue burn off or soften over time, thus making it easier to wipe down the oven after use. Depending on your level of maintenance, the liners may need to be replaced when the chemical treatment wears off or gets damaged.
Design: Fuse Concept
Then there are built-ovens that come with a steam cleaning function, which turns water into steam at high heat, loosening the debris or grease that gets stuck, making clean-up easier. Teka is one of the few brands in Singapore that offer ovens with this sort of steam cleaning function.
For something more basic, consider just getting an oven with an enamel coating. They don’t do much, but the enamel makes it just a little bit easier to scrub down the oven after a cooking session.
6. What heating option do I need?
When choosing a built-in oven, you need to know what heating modes are available in the appliance. In general, there are three kinds: conventional, convection and multi-functional. The source of heat for conventional ovens come from the top and bottom, while convection ovens use a fan to circulate hot air throughout the oven.
Design: Dreamcatcher Interior Design
Food gets cooked quite a bit faster and more evenly in a convection oven than in a conventional oven. That said, conventional ovens are better off if you bake cakes and cookies more often since the mode of heating helps to prevent baked goods from turning out too dry or being cooked prematurely.
Most built-in ovens nowadays are multi-functional, where they come with a variety of heating modes. This is great if you do different kinds of cooking so you can experiment to see which sort of heating element works better for you.
7. What extra features do I want?
There are some features that are good to have, although not entirely a necessity. If you are a novice, you might want to invest in a built-in oven that has more automatic cooking modes that will help take the guesswork out of cooking. The modes set the temperature and time for you, so all you need to do is press a button and let the magic happen.
Some built-in ovens also come with digital controls instead of a knob control, which offers more precision cooking as well as a more streamlined, modern look.
Other features you can look out for include safety child lock features, removable oven doors and shelving to make clean-up less of a chore, a delay start function useful for busy people who can’t always be around to turn on or off the oven, as well as a steam cooking programme for the health conscious.