The hob in your kitchen has become just as important and every bit a style feature as your kitchen doors. They come in many different shapes and sizes, makes and models. You can choose between induction, ceramic, solid plate and gas.
Want to combine cool, contemporary design with great cooking performance? An induction hob could be for you. At first sight, it might look a bit like a ceramic hob, with a stylish surface featuring an LED display and touch controls. But because it uses magnetic induction technology, it heats up more rapidly (instantly, in fact.)
If you're a fan of the minimalist look, we think you'll love ceramic hobs. It's the combination of smooth glass surfaces, touch controls built into the surface and sophisticated LED displays that give them their sleek, ultra-modern style.
Are you a keen cook or fervent foodie? Chances are you'll want to go for a gas hob. Easy to control, energy-efficient and quick to heat up, they're the choice of many professional cooks. You can get them with up to six burners - and some have wok burners too.
Solid plate hobs
Using traditional solid electric plates to heat your pans, these hobs are generally the cheapest around. That makes them a great-value buy if you're on a limited budget or need to fit out a rental property.
Induction hobs are very safe to use. That's because only the pan and its contents get hot, while most of the hob's surface stays cool - so you can touch it without burning yourself. Also, the cooking zone only works when a pan is resting on it. And as induction hobs are very energy-efficient, they're cheaper to run and more environmentally-friendly too.
One thing to bear in mind, though, is that you can only use iron pans with an induction hob (or stainless steel pans if they have a magnetic base). So you may have to add these to your shopping list if your present set doesn't fit the bill.
A ceramic hob's cooking zones heat up more quickly than solid plate hobs (but not as fast as the ones on induction models). They're hot on hygiene, too, as their glass cooking surface is quick and easy to wipe clean. And to make sure no-one burns their fingers, many come with a "hob hot" indicator that lets you know when the ceramic is still too hot to touch.
Solid plate hobs
Their low price makes solid plate hobs cheaper to buy than other types of hob. But they do take longer to heat up.
You can control the heat instantly on a gas hob. That's because the flame warms the pan directly and distributes the heat efficiently. So whether you're creating a chilli or rustling up a risotto, you'll enjoy top-notch cooking performance. They also score highly on safety - after all, you can see the flame and hear the gas supply. Many people reckon that gas is the most energy-efficient fuel for hobs, too.
Unlike ceramic models, you can use any type of pan on a gas hob. But if you do go for one, remember you must have it connected to your gas supply by a qualified installer.