What size oven and what cooking functions do you need? What is meant by pyrolytic cleaning and catalytic liners?
Here's what to know before choosing your new built-in oven, including the best brands.
What size oven do you need?
- Single ovens can often be mounted under a bench or cooktop, but models with separate warming drawers are too tall so must be installed in a wall unit.
- Extra-wide single ovens are good if you want to cook two things side by side on the same rack. But they have larger trays that are heavy when fully loaded. The trays and racks are also awkward to clean in a standard kitchen sink.
Be aware that extra-wide ovens don’t all have the same usable internal space even if they have the same external dimensions and claimed volume. That’s because manufacturers measure differently.
Check out our test results for useable space. We measure from the lowest rack or baking tray to the grill element, side wall to side wall, and the rear wall to the door.
- Double ovens are effectively two separate ovens stacked one on top of the other, each with its own door and cooking controls. You can bake in one and grill in the other, or bake two things that require different temperatures, one in each compartment.
- Double ovens have to be installed in a wall unit due to their height.
Note: We don’t have test results for double ovens at this time.
What cooking functions do you need?
Most modern ovens are fan-forced. The fan keeps the air circulating, meaning the temperature is consistent in all parts of the oven so food cooks more evenly.
Fan-forced cooking is also faster. But that’s not suitable for all types of food. Some baked goods need to be cooked slower to prevent the outside burning before the inside is done.
While many fan-forced ovens can be used without the fan, some can’t. Check our test results to see which models have the flexibility of both classic bake and fan-assisted cooking.
You’ll also find some models in our test with a steam-assisted cooking function. It’s ideal for baking bread with a fluffy centre and crispy crust.
What to check instore before buying
- What’s the useable space? Take your largest baking dish or a measuring tape into the store to check what will fit in the oven. Don’t rely on manufacturer specifications.
- Are there at least two grill tray positions, and a range of rack positions in the main oven? Three racks are handy if you want to cook several items at the same time.
- Are the controls clearly labelled and easily understood?
- Does the door window allow a clear view to what’s cooking?
- Is the door easy to open and able to stay open in any position without slamming shut or falling fully open?
- Do all racks stay level and have safety stops when pulled out? This will prevent food spilling or the baking dish sliding right out unexpectedly.
- Are there telescopic runners? Not essential, but a nice bonus, helping oven racks to stay level and slide smoothly. They can be a bit fiddly to remove, clean and reinstall.
- Is the top element set high into the ceiling and/or have a shield so you won’t easily bump it and burn yourself?
- What accessories are included? We think two oven racks and one baking tray should be standard. A smokeless grill tray would be a good inclusion too, allowing fat and oil to drain through slits into a drip tray, reducing splattering.
- Can the interior light bulbs be replaced easily without a technician?
Many modern ovens have a pyrolytic cleaning or steam cleaning function, and some have catalytic liners. Each can make it easier to clean the oven. But what do these terms mean?
Pyrolytic cleaning allows you to clean your oven without chemicals. It’ll heat the oven to around 500°C, converting food residue to ash, which you then wipe out. You’ll need to remove and separately wash all runners, racks and other accessories.
Although the oven door will be locked during a pyrolytic clean, the outside of the oven will be much hotter than usual – something to be aware of if you have kids. You’ll also need good ventilation as the cooling fan can blow excess air from the oven door.
Steam cleaning is another way to clean your oven without chemicals. Steam is either injected into the oven cavity or created by heating water in an oven dish. The steam softens food residue, which you then wipe out. You’ll probably still have to do a little scrubbing.
Note: You can steam clean your oven without a specialist function by heating water in an oven dish for 30 minutes at around 150°C.
Some ovens have catalytic liners on one or more of the internal walls. The liner absorbs fat splatters while the oven is in use. Check which walls have liners as you’ll need to clean all other surfaces yourself, including the door, rack supports and racks.
While catalytic liners will last a long time when maintained as directed in the oven’s user manual, they may eventually need replacing.
Confused by the symbols on your oven?
While there’s some variation, most ovens have similar symbols. Read our article to learn what they mean.
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Whether you’re putting a new oven in the place of an old one or choosing a new location, pay close attention to the dimensions and installation requirements in the new oven’s user manual to make sure it’ll fit and function safely.
There will likely be specifications for spacing and ventilation, and the cabinetry surrounding the oven may need to be heat resistant to a certain temperature.
If you’re renovating and planning your kitchen layout from scratch, make sure your oven will be handy to your refrigerator, food preparation and clean-up areas. Allow enough space for people to be working in those areas at the same time without getting in each other’s way.
In the past, it was best to keep ovens and refrigerators separated. But modern models of both are better insulated than older ones, so they can often now be placed alongside one another if needed.
You’ll want to make sure the doors for your cupboards, oven, refrigerator and dishwasher can all be opened fully without clashing with other appliances. It’s a good idea to consider which way your refrigerator door opens too.
If you have younger children, you might choose to mount your oven in an elevated position. Pyrolytic cleaning functions can make the oven exterior quite hot, and curious kids can change your cooking settings or turn the oven on if it doesn’t have a control lock.
You won’t have to bend so far to load and unload oven trays if the oven is elevated. But you might prefer to install your new oven under a counter or cooktop, as this provides an area to immediately unload trays. If your cooktop doesn’t have integrated ventilation, install your rangehood or extractor directly above.
Remember to consider installation costs when buying. In addition to locating and installing your built-in oven, you may also need to employ licensed tradespeople to ensure a safe power supply.
While some ovens are plugged into a power point, many are hardwired. You’ll need to know how your existing oven is connected and what its power rating is (whether it’s the same as your new oven), so you know whether you need an electrician to wire the new oven.
When you're replacing like with like, existing wiring that’s in good condition will usually be suitable. But always check with the supplier or retailer about the installation requirements for the new model. Large ovens may need a circuit with greater capacity.
If you’re replacing a gas stove with an electric one, you’ll need to employ the help of a licensed gasfitter and electrician.