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CDA Buying Advice – Oven Fuel Types: Do I Need a Gas or Electric Oven?

Perhaps the most fundamental decision you have to make when picking a built-in oven is gas vs electric.

Sometimes it’s not a decision you get to make. The services available in your area, or even just in your house, could define what oven fuel type you get.

Thing is, the fuel your oven uses will make a strong impact on the way it works. How quickly food cooks, how evenly and even how moist it stays can all be affected by the way your oven is fueled. Whether you’re picking a single oven or a double oven, the choice between a gas vs electric oven is fundamental.

If you are lucky enough to be able to choose your fuel source, our guide will explain the differences between gas and electric ovens. We’ll cover the cooking benefits, which is cheaper and even which oven type professional chefs prefer.

Gas Ovens: How They Work

Gas ovens have a flame at the bottom of the oven. This open flame creates heat which rises up through the oven cavity, naturally pooling at the top.

This burner is usually at the bottom of the oven, concealed by a large sheet of metal and the temperature is controlled by the size of the flame. The bigger the flame the hotter your oven gets, and this temperature is displayed as a ‘Gas Mark’.

Most in-built gas ovens draw their fuel from a natural gas line, which is not something every house has access to. Due to the volatility of gas, there are a number of legal requirements involved in hooking up gas ovens or gas cooktops.

Electric Ovens: How They Work

An electric oven won’t have a flame in it at all. Instead they have electric coils or heating elements that transform electricity into heat energy. These elements are automatically cycled on and off to maintain the desired temperature which is monitored by a thermostat sensor.

Most modern electric ovens are fan-assisted. These have a fan at the back of the main cavity, which circulates the air in the oven to create a more even heat distribution. Though some gas ovens feature fans as well, it is a lot more common to see these used to distribute heat in electric ones.

Electric ovens (and electric hobs) run off mains electricity which means they can be used in almost all modern homes.

a gas oven and an electric oven

Gas Oven vs Electric Oven: What are the benefits?

Now you understand how these appliances run, you’re probably more interested in how the different fuel types might affect the way they run.

As we said above the differences are quite far-ranging and can affect everything from your pocket to the quality of the food you produce.

Gas Ovens

  • Changes to oven temperature will take effect quicker
  • They create a more moist atmosphere, which can help prevent food from drying out
  • May still work during a power cut
  • Harder to find fan assisted versions, which will make for uneven temperatures
  • They have a slim risk of gas leaks
  • It is a legal requirement to have sufficient ventilation around them
  • You will have to consider access to a gas supply when positioning gas cookers

Electric Ovens

  • They create a drier heat, perfect for roasting or dishes that want a crisper texture
  • Easier to get fan-assisted versions that evenly share hot air round the oven cavity
  • Take longer to change the temperature
  • More expensive to run

Gas and Electric Ovens: Which costs more?

When you’re purchasing a brand new oven, an electric model will usually cost more than it’s equivalent gas counterparts. The technology involved in a gas oven is less complex, and they don’t always have the same

Of course, if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the initial purchase cost isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Going for an energy-efficient oven will make sure your costs are kept down for years.

Electric and gas ovens use roughly the same amount of energy to run. This should mean they cost the same amount to run too, but usually an electric oven is much more expensive. This is because the cost of natural gas is usually a lot cheaper than the cost of electricity.

Dual Fuel Cooking Options

One thing it is important to remember is that just because you pick an electric oven, doesn’t mean you have to get an electric hob as well. In fact electric cooktops share a lot of the drawbacks of gas ovens, such as slower heat times and less control of cooking temperatures.

The one area where you are tied is with in-built grills. Many modern ovens come with a grill function included, though it’s often an electric grill, even with a gas oven, so it’s worth checking this when buying.

What is better? Gas or electric oven?

For a home cook, we would personally recommend a fan assisted electric oven over a gas oven, because they give even heat distribution to allow you to manage your cooking more closely. This way you can rely on a consistent cooking time, with all the food in your oven being at the same temperature to guarantee the same results across your cooking.

The lower operating costs of gas ovens can appeal, and the fact they are cheaper to buy too. But it is a lot harder to source fan-assisted gas ovens, plus electric ovens tend to have more features such as electric grills.

Though some people may prefer a gas oven for producing certain dishes, many cooks will prefer having more control over the heat of their oven, so we think electric cooking is a better bet when it comes to ovens.

Do chefs prefer gas or electric ovens?

Of course the hot debate of gas and electric cookers ranges across professional kitchens as well as home ones, and who is better placed to know which is favoured than people who produce hundreds of dishes every day.

When it comes to ovens, many professional kitchens will favour an electric oven for all the reasons we mentioned above. Yet there is a commonly held opinion that they prefer gas – this all comes down to the issue of gas vs electric stovetops rather than ovens, which we mentioned above.

With a gas hob, you get instant heat, as well as a higher level of control – both of which are important in large scale kitchens. If you want to know more about the difference between electric vs gas burners, take a look at our hob buying guides.

Many professional kitchens will have hybrid options with a gas cooktop and electric oven.

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