The most important room in your home
Whether it’s building and designing a new kitchen or revamping your old one, choosing between freestanding appliances or built-in units is one of the biggest decisions you have to make. Freestanding appliances refer to appliances with finished sides that can stand on their own and have no need for installation of cabinetry. On the other hand, built-in appliances such as built-in ovens are usually integrated into kitchen cabinets and even walls. This creates an overall modern and sophisticated look for the kitchen. There are advantages and disadvantages to owning each of these appliances, hence it’s important to decide which appliance would be the best fit for your home.
1. Planning the heart of your home
Before investing in new appliances, it’s important to consider your lifestyle habits, features and options you need, as well as the availability of space and layout. Here are some tips to consider before locking in your purchase.
1.1 Kitchen Work Triangle
When planning your kitchen space, it’s mandatory to ensure that there is a natural flow when these three primary functions are being carried out: food preparation, cooking, and cleaning of dishes. This is also known as the Kitchen Work Triangle. The purpose of the work triangle is to create the most efficient workflow in your kitchen, all while keeping you connected to all the things you need to do. One of the most important work triangle tips is to place your sink between or across from the cooking surface or refrigerator.
One of the top reasons kitchen appliances have to be returned is that they simply do not fit! Many people forget to measure the allocated space in which to fit their kitchen appliances, or do not do so properly. To prevent this from occurring, especially when you’re considering investing in built-in appliances such as a dishwasher, or even essential appliances like a cooker hob; it’s important to measure the cut-out dimensions of your cabinets, shelves, and the appliances. For instance, the number of burner hobs you choose, or the size of your cooker or gas hob has an impact on the kitchen top’s layout and preparation space.
1.3 Appliance Research
After determining the layout and measurements, it’s time to research the appliances that you’re considering to fill your ideal kitchen with.
Setting a budget
Most consumers are naturally drawn to beautiful and fancy products upon seeing them, thus a budget should be established before going shopping.
Reading the reviews
Product reviews are essential in purchases, especially for big investments like kitchen appliances. Not only does reading up on product reviews give you a clearer idea of the product before purchase, but it also helps to manage your expectations.
Visit your retailers
Don’t just stop at the reviews! It’s just as important to view and have a feel of the appliance that you plan to buy in person! From the material to the colour and size, the aesthetics and feel of the product are often different from what you initially had in mind, hence it helps to make a trip down to a reliable retailer to make the judgement in person. Or you can even book an appointment with Harvey Norman Singapore’s Cooking Specialists to try out the appliances in their live kitchen concepts before making your purchase!
2. Choosing The Best Essential Kitchen Appliances
Big-ticket kitchen appliances like built-in ovens, cooker hobs not only make your kitchen space more stylish, they are also essential for your everyday life. Choosing these appliances can sometimes be tricky – You’ll need to consider both the size and performance of the appliance to make a good decision. Fret not, we will be sharing tips on choosing your most essential appliances, the cooker hob, oven and cooker hood, so that you can pick out what is truly best for your kitchen!
2.1 Types of Cooker Hobs
The three most common hob styles in kitchens today are gas burner hobs, ceramic radiant hobs, and induction hobs. Each hob comes with its distinct advantages and has a direct impact on the taste of the food or cooking styles.
Gas Burner Hobs
The most intuitive set up for cooking, gas hobs start a direct flame for users to cook on them. Considered one of the most versatile hobs for cooking, gas hobs give their users full control of the heat range and are designed for the Asian-centric style of cooking. Typically they come with three gas burners of different sizes. Even though gas hobs are not as easy to clean when compared to other types of cooker hobs, they can still be dismantled for easier cleaning.
If you’re into the precision that gas cooking provides but get fed up with the difficulty of cleaning a traditional gas hob, gas-on-glass is an option you can consider! This kind of gas hob sees the gas burners being mounted on top of smooth ceramic glass, thus making it easier to clean the surface.
On the other hand, wide gas hobs are a great choice for those who are into the taste of Singapore’s favourite “wok hei”. With an extra-wide hob to accommodate an additional powerful cooking ring, these gas hobs are useful when you need a more intense and faster heat source. It’s also suitable for larger pots and pans.
The advantage of getting a gas hob is that it’s easier to control the visible flame and is suitable for any cookware. However, the downside is that the heat of the hob may sometimes transfer over to the knobs, which may result in the knobs getting hot during the cooking process.
Induction hobs are getting increasingly popular due to their low energy consumption properties, high responsiveness as well as quick heat-up time. Equipped with copper coils beneath its surface, this form of cooker hob creates an electric current that generates heat when it comes into direct contact with the pans. The heat is generated from the magnetic field between the pan and a copper coil. Because heat is being generated from the magnetic field, induction hobs only work with pans that are made of iron. This would include stainless steel, cast iron, or any black metal or iron pans.
The copper coil is only activated when an iron-based magnetic pan is placed on the hob, ensuring that you only use an exact amount of energy to cook your food, and do not waste extra energy on heating the cooking surface. In addition to the energy-saving feature, the cooker hob surface also cools down quickly upon removal of the pan, making this a safer option for families with young children.
Without the risk of food getting burnt or gas leakages, induction cooker hobs are considered the safest option. Designed with modern technology so you can control the temperature as accurately and carefully as possible, it’s easier to manage or salvage the situation in cases of emergencies. Most induction hobs are designed with a child safety lock button to prevent accidental operation, making it safe to cook with children around. Because of its features, an induction hob will heat only the circular area where the pan is designated to go, hence there is no residual heat beyond the area. This reduces the risk of children scalding themselves and offers parents peace of mind. .
Some induction cooker hobs include pause functions, allowing parents to stop cooking upon any interruptions – like a child running into the kitchen. All hob zones will revert to their previous level when they get back to their cooking. Hence, despite the limited cookware that can be used, the induction hob is still one of the most popular hobs due to its fast heating properties as well as ease of cleaning.
Ceramic Cooker Hobs
Ceramic cooker hobs usually refer to a ceramic glass finish. With electric ceramic hobs, the heating systems are designed to be hidden underneath the tough and durable ceramic glass surface. Upon switching on, the electricity heats the cooking surface through transference underneath the glass. The size and position of the heat source are indicated by the cooking zones on the glass surface. The indicator light on the control panel and red lights glowing on the cooking rings indicates that the hob zone is still hot.
With the sleek and streamlined design, together with the ease of cleaning, ceramic cooker hobs are also a popular choice amongst homeowners. However, the distribution of heat for ceramic cooker hobs is not as even as compared to gas or induction hobs. Plus, it usually takes a long time for the cooking surfaces to cool, increasing the risks of accidental scalding.
2.2 Built-in VS Freestanding Cooker Hobs
After deciding on which cooker hobs are best suited for your lifestyle and home, the next step is to determine if it should be a freestanding appliance or installed as part of the countertop.
Ease of installation
Compared to a built-in cooktop, a freestanding one is much easier to install. Be it an induction or gas hob, a freestanding cooker hob just needs to connect to electricity or a gas pipe for you to start cooking. The portability that comes with a freestanding cooker hob makes it easy for replacement or shifting.
Ease of cleaning
Having a freestanding cooker hob makes it easier to dismantle the appliance for cleaning.
Most freestanding cooktops are less costly when compared to built-in hobs due to its flexibility in the placement, and it’s easier to replace when damaged. The replacement of built-in hobs tends to be more complex as existing cabinetry may be damaged in the process.
While freestanding cooktops are less costly and easier to maintain, they are bulkier as compared to built-in cooker hobs. Built-in cooker hobs are often levelled and integrated into the kitchen countertop, with its gas pipes and electrical wires being concealed. This seamless construction helps create a modern look to the kitchen. Plus, built-in hobs tend to be preferred for compact kitchens, especially in BTOs with small spaces.
2.3 Types of Ovens
One of the key household appliances other than the cooker hob would be the oven. Unlike traditional ovens, the modern ones these days come with a variety of cooking functions, designs, as well as features. Determining your cooking and lifestyle habits can help you to choose the right oven.
With increasing space constraints in modern HDB flats, a built-in oven is a more popular choice amongst homeowners in Singapore. Having a built-in oven is not just functional, it can also beautify kitchen aesthetics and save space. For an open-concept kitchen, a freestanding oven that is combined with a stovetop is often considered.
For families with children, having an oven with safety features such as a child-lock prevents them from opening the oven during a cooking process. Getting an oven with three layers of glass on its doors is also necessary to prevent children from unintentionally scalding themselves when it gets too hot.
Whether it is a built-in or freestanding oven, it’s important to get one that has a light and easy-to-operate door with a clear-view window. This is so that you do not have to constantly open up your oven while checking on the food, and thus saving heat and energy over time. Plus, it’s better that the doors stay open in any position you leave them in, to prevent it from slamming shut on your fingers or food.
Gas ovens use gas as the power source to create heat for the oven, and it tends to heat up more quickly as compared to electric ovens. As gas ovens require getting a gas line fitted, it is not a common choice for installation within flats and apartments for safety reasons.
Unlike gas ovens, an electric oven is a more popular choice for homes. They are affordable, requiring only easy maintenance whilst accommodating a wide variety of home cooking needs. Whether you choose a freestanding or built-in oven, all electric ovens come with two options: Conduction or convection ovens. The main difference between the two is how the air is being heated up.
Convection ovens are more efficient and provide a more even cooking as they have a fan installed at the back, allowing for better distribution of heat. Convection ovens are also able to cook food at a lower temperature, thus saving energy and money.
In a conduction oven, the source of heat rises from the bottom and tends to be stationary. This can sometimes lead to inconsistencies in the heat level as well as uneven cooking.
With the rising trend in Singapore for healthy living and eating, a built-in steam oven might be the perfect addition to your kitchen space. Steam ovens are equipped with a compartment that needs to be filled with water. The heat from the oven then converts water to steam for your cooking needs.
With this steaming method, foods tend to retain more vitamins and minerals as compared to boiled food. Plus, the risk of overcooking is reduced. The downsides? A steam oven is generally more costly compared to a convection oven, and you may not be able to achieve nicely-browned food due to the nature of its heating!
While it is important to clean your oven, most people in Singapore may not have the time to do so, or simply do not prioritise it. With the addition of a self-cleaning feature, these built-in ovens now come in two types: pyrolytic and catalytic. In pyrolytic ovens, the self-cleaning feature will turn up the temperature within the oven to approximately 500°C. This high heat aims to burn off the food stains and reduce them to ashes. During this process, the oven’s safety lock will be activated to prevent the doors from opening, thus reducing the risk of accidents happening. After the cleaning process, all that’s left to do is to clean up the ash from the bottom tray.
On the other hand, catalytic ovens are designed with oven liners that aid in the absorption of fats and food particles.
2.4 Types of Cooker Hood
To achieve a smoke and steam-free kitchen environment, it is essential to have a cooker hood. Owning a cooker hood helps with the removal of smoke, steam as well as odours from your kitchen, whilst protecting the cabinets and walls from discolouration.
Undermount cooker hoods in Singapore are affordable and generally installed under cabinets. One of the main considerations in installing this hood is the height of your cabinets. The height of the cabinets has an impact on the amount of steam and oil that can be suctioned.
Wall-mounted hoods are installed between cabinets or flat walls to achieve effective ventilation. Usually, while most cooker hoods have horizontal housings to be directly positioned over a hob, there are also options with vertical or angled bodies. This is to provide more headspace for cooking.
Similar in terms of performance and appearance to wall-mount hoods, island cooker hoods can be hung freely over a kitchen island, also known as a freestanding cabinet that can be used to house cooking appliances. One of the main advantages of this is that they can be installed in any parts of the kitchen without the need for a mounting space.
Owning a dishwasher can bring many benefits to you and your family. It doesn’t matter if you are an avid cook or if you need a hand around the house to run a busy family because a dishwasher is the perfect time-saving solution! When it comes to choosing a new dishwasher, the first and also most important decision is to decide whether or not to get a built-in or free-standing model. When it comes to choosing a new dishwasher, most people in Singapore tend to go for built-in models due to the limited space of modern homes.
Unlike freestanding models, a built-in dishwasher is designed to fit beneath your countertop or flush with kitchen cabinets; providing a neat and streamlined look that many homeowners in Singapore prefer. In addition to the aesthetic appeal of built-in dishwashers, it is also bigger in size and can hold between 12 to 14 place settings and are considered more ideal for homes with more than two occupants living in them. Another advantage of built-in dishwashers is that it has a lower operating noise. This can be attributed to it being surrounded by cabinetry, thus its operating noise is muffled by insulating materials.
3. Tips To Keep Your Appliances In Tip-Top Condition
Regular cleaning of kitchen appliances is essential to prevent the build-up of grease and spilled food. Unclean kitchen appliances are more prone to dirt, grime, fungi as well as bugs. These particles contribute to the contamination of food which may result in the development of infections and sickness when people consume them. Cleaning your kitchen and its appliances regularly can help prevent this from happening.
Dirty appliances also consume a lot more energy and electricity to produce the same desired results as compared to a clean appliance. Last but not least, a well-maintained and clean kitchen appliance has higher longevity as compared to a dirty one. Cleaning regularly allows you the opportunity to identify smaller issues or malfunctions, reducing the need for costly repairs over time.
Generally, gas hobs are easy to use. However, difficulties may arise when the flow of gas is hindered by food residues spill over and clog the ports around the burner heads. We recommend cleaning your gas hobs once a month by soaking the burner heads and caps in warm water for 30 minutes. Next, scrub them with an old toothbrush, rinse with water, then dry them before reassembling them on the gas hob.
Induction Cooker Hobs
Induction cooker hobs are generally easier to maintain as compared to gas hobs since there is no need for any disassembly of parts. We recommend cleaning your cooker hobs every day after using it as soon as the hob is cool enough to the touch. Damp sponges and cloths can be used to wipe up any stains. A kitchen spray should be used to remove grease stains. It’s important not to use abrasive cleaners such as detergents containing bleach or ammonia on your induction cooker hobs. This may cause scratching on the surface, resulting in food stains being embedded in them and permanently damaging the glass surface.
Having a self-cleaning feature in your built-in oven saves the time and effort in cleaning the appliance regularly. However, it’s important to remember to activate this feature regularly, preferably once every few months, and wipe down the oven doors once every week. While you should keep your oven as clean as possible, take note not to remove the oven knobs when cleaning as it puts you at risk of electrocution.
If you’re someone who cooks daily, the inside and outside of the hood, plus the filters should be cleaned every month. Since the purpose of a cooking hood is to suction draw the grease and food particles up into ductwork, regular cleaning is essential to not only make the hood smell better but also prevent a house fire from occurring.
To increase the longevity of your cooker hood, you need to clean the fan blades to prevent the build-up of grease and dirt, thus avoiding excess stress and overheating. It’s also essential to degrease the air filter by soaking it in a degreasing solution. Remove the filter after 30 minutes and wash it thoroughly under running water before drying it completely.
As dishwashers are used to clean dishes on a daily basis, most people have the assumption that the appliance itself does not need cleaning. One of the most common perceptions of dishwashers is that the dishwasher gets cleaned at the same time while washing your dishes. But the reality is food debris and other deposits may build-up over time, especially with constant usage. This build-up often results in the dishwasher not being able to perform optimally.
Using acidic products such as white vinegar or lemon juice, and running them through a short cycle can help get rid of water deposits and build-up in your dishwasher.
In recent years, the role of kitchens has shifted. No longer just a functional room for food preparation, the modern kitchen has shifted to become a space to hang out and spend time with loved ones. From catching up over a meal to spending quality time cooking together, to even social occasions, the kitchen is expected to be a pleasant and welcoming space for all. But, with the hectic lifestyle in Singapore and the small space of modern homes, it’s easy for the kitchen to become disorganised. As the heart of the home, it’s more important than ever to maximise the space available in the kitchen to ensure a smoother flow of your daily routine.
Visit any Harvey Norman Singapore retail outlets or online stores for the perfect kitchen appliance.