Traditionally found in farmhouses and country manors, wood burning range cookers are ideal for enthusiastic home chefs, providing a huge amount of cooking space as well as being an excellent source of heat. Today, there are wood burning range cookers available for any kind of home. But, with such a huge variety available, featuring multiple different designs and technologies, which one is right for you?
Find out in Direct Stoves’ wood burning range cooker buying guide.
What is a range cooker?
Range cookers are not exactly commonplace, so we don’t blame you if you’re asking this question.
Unlike other cookers, range cookers are free-standing appliances designed to be placed on their own or in-between other items of kitchen furniture such as cabinets. You’ll find that range cookers are also a lot larger than other types of cooker, with range cookers varying between 70 – 150cm wide. Compare this to a standard integrated oven which usually is around 60cm wide and you can see how big they are.
Beyond their freestanding nature and size, range cookers also have several other distinct features. For one thing, a range cooker combines an oven and a hob. Some of the larger range cookers actually have two ovens as well as other features such as a grill, warming drawers or even storage compartments.
What are the benefits of range cookers?
Why should you buy a range cooker rather than a standard integrated oven for your kitchen? We’ve detailed the many benefits of range cookers below.
Yes, range cookers have a higher upfront cost than integrated ovens, but you’re buying an appliance that will last years, perhaps even decades (not to mention that a range cooker is basically three appliances in one).
Wood burning range cookers are particularly long lasting, as they are relatively simple appliances with few parts that can malfunction or deteriorate. So, if you want a cooker that’ll last you a lifetime, choose a wood burning range cooker…
Range cookers just look amazing! If you want to create a traditional, rustic-style kitchen, then a range cooker will completely transform your kitchen in this direction. Given their size and stature, range cookers become the focal point of your kitchen, providing an amazing feature around which you can style the rest of your kitchen.
As we’ve already mentioned, range cookers are incredibly practical. They offer significantly more cooking capacity and features than integrated ovens and with certain range cookers, you can even heat your home. Range cookers are also very effective for heat storage – so, if you’ve just cooked something and want to keep it warm, a range cooker will do this far more effectively than an integrated oven.
Many range cookers offer far more functionality than an integrated oven. Some range cookers are available with features such as dedicated grills, griddles, wood drawers, even pizza ovens!
It’s also possible to buy range cookers that have an integrated boiler which you can use to provide hot water to your home or central heating.
Given their large size, range cookers can also be used to store kitchen items such as pots, pans and utensils. The majority of range cookers come fitted with built-in storage compartments, so they can help keep your kitchen tidy and clutter free!
Range cookers offer great convenience. By buying a range cooker, you won’t have to spend time buying other items such as a separate hob, worktops, cabinets etc. A range cooker is effectively an entire kitchen in a single item. Plus, because range cookers are freestanding, you can take them with you when you move house – not something you can easily do with an integrated oven!
Things to look for when buying a wood burning range cooker
Buying a range cooker is a big commitment. It’s a sizable appliance designed to last for decades, so if you’re going to make the investment, there are a number of things you should check before you commit. We’ve listed some of the most important things to check when buying a range cooker below.
Rated thermal output
When selecting your range cooker, one of the most important things you should check is its rated thermal output. You will often see the rated thermal output measured as a net value in kW. Many of the wood burning range cookers stocked by Direct Stoves have a heat output of 6kW or 6.5kW.
Range cookers are built to last from robust materials such as cast iron. This means you’ll be buying a quality product, but also a heavy one.
When selecting your range cooker, check the weight of it before you click buy. Range cookers can weigh as much as 300kg (or even more), so you should be certain that your kitchen floor is level and able to take the weight of the appliance before you commit.
Compliance with the EcoDesign regulations
From 1st January 2022, all wood burning appliances (including range cookers) will need to comply with a set of new regulations called EcoDesign.
The EcoDesign regulations have been introduced as a means of reducing emissions and improving the efficiency of wood burning appliances. After the 1st January 2022 you will not be able to install a wood-burning appliance in your home which does not comply with these regulations.
So, when you’re choosing a wood burning range cooker, make sure it is EcoDesign compliant. Compliant range cookers may have a clearSkies badge.
You can find out more about the EcoDesign regulations and the clearSkies certification scheme here.
Is it DEFRA approved?
This is another regulation which you need to pay heed to when buying a wood burning range cooker. DEFRA-approved is a certification which is applied to wood burning appliances which are allowed to be used in smoke-control areas. In other words, if you live in a smoke control zone, then you’ll need to make sure that the wood burning range cooker that you buy is DEFRA-approved.
If you are not sure if you live in a smoke control zone, your local authority should be able to tell you.
Find out more about DEFRA in our guide here.
A catalytic liner is a slightly bumpy surface within the body of the range cooker’s oven that absorbs grease and other food splashes. These captured bits of detritus are then burnt off during cooking at high temperature.
Whilst not totally ‘self-cleaning’, catalytic liners will certainly reduce the amount of elbow grease you need to put in to keep your range cooker clean and hygienic.
Part of the beauty of a wood burning range cooker (aside from the range itself), is the fire. Having a roaring fire in your kitchen adds a cosy ambience, so you’ll want to make sure that you buy a range cooker that comes with a panoramic glass window.
A glass window will also be useful on the cooking part of the range, so that you can monitor your food as its cooking.
When looking at range cookers with in-built windows, try to find ones that have ceramic glass as this is easier to clean and less likely to stain or cloud up.
Flue liner and stove pipe
As you’ll be burning wood in your range cooker, you’ll need to make sure you have a stove pipe and chimney flue liner too. These are essential for venting smoke and other combustibles up and out of your home.
Not all retailers include these with their wood burning range cookers and the costs for these added extras can soon add up. At Direct Stoves, many of our range cookers are offered with free ‘fitting kits’ which include a stove pipe, registration plate (which is used to seal the chimney opening off from the room) and a single stove glove which you can wear when stoking the fire in your range.
Air and combustion system
Wood burning range cookers are available with a variety of different air and combustion systems. These are important as they are the means by which you start and then control the fire. You should check to see what type of air and combustion system your chosen range cooker will have and ensure you will be comfortable using it.
Some of the best-quality wood burning range cookers feature primary air, preset secondary and tertiary air with post combustion systems.
You can learn more about how these air systems work in our guide here.
External air or internal air
Wood burning range cookers require a source of oxygen in order for their fire to function. However, if you’re going to be sealing your home (or have already done so) then you will require what’s known as an external air range cooker.
With an external air range cooker, a duct is run through the outer wall of your home so that your range can ‘pull in’ the oxygen it needs to keep the fire burning.
If you haven’t had your home sealed, then you will be okay to install an internal air cooking range (where the air to feed the fire is drawn from inside your home).
Depending on what type of range cooker you buy, it may come complete with a range of cooking accessories. You should check which are included as part of the range cooker and which you may need to buy as optional extras.
Cooking accessories included with range cookers can include griddles, roasting trays, and in-built telescopic runners.
So, those are some of the most important things you should check before you buy a wood burning range cooker. Next, we’ll take a look at some of the more unusual questions we get asked about range cookers.
Can I use a range cooker to heat my home?
Yes. Provided you buy the right type of range cooker, you can use it to heat your entire home.
Range cookers that come with boilers can be used to either provide hot water for your taps, or even hot water for your central heating system.
Brands such as La Nordica sell range cookers equipped with ‘Thermo’ boilers that will provide enough hot water to heat your entire home. Other brands such as Esse come with boilers that will provide enough hot water to heat two radiators.
So, range cookers really can do more than heat your home – they’ll heat it too! Another reason why they make a good investment.
The best wood burning range cookers
Now that we’ve taken a look at the essential points you need to think about before buying a range cooker as well as the benefits of owning one, let’s take a look at the best wood burning range cookers that are currently on the market.
La Nordica Rosa Thermo Range Cooker
If you’re looking for a wood burning range cooker that can do it all (including providing hot water), then you’ve just found it in the Rosa Thermo.
Manufactured by La Nordica in the North of Italy, the Rosa Thermo is a beautifully traditional range cooker, complete with a vitrified cast iron frame, warming compartment, enameled exterior, adjustable primary air vents and much more.
It’s also available in a choice of luxurious coloured tiles including Bordeaux Red Majolica Tiles, or Natural Stone tiles.
With a healthy 15.5kW heat output and 79.9% efficiency, this is not only a beautiful range cooker, but a highly effective and practical one too.
La Nordica Rosa XXL Majolica Wood Burning Range Cooker
Based on La Nordica’s popular Rosa range cooker, the Rosa XXL features a MASSIVE oven (at 78 litre capacity) and large cooktop with 2 ring burners, so if you’re regularly cooking big feasts, this is the range cooker for you.
It’s a range cooker which combines subtle, traditional features with the more modern sophistication demanded by today’s keen home chefs. The Rosa XXL delivers an impressive 8.5kW heat output with 85% efficiency, meaning it’s efficient and effective, despite its size.
As with the Rosa, the Rosa XXL is available in a number of finishes such as Red or White Majolica and features a number of rustic details including a wood drawer.
Esse Ironheart Wood Burning Boiler Range Cooker
This is another range cooker that can do it all. Hand built in Britain, the Esse Ironheart was conceived to mark the 150th anniversary of this iconic British manufacturing company.
The Esse Ironheart features a large 47 litre capacity oven, a heat output of up to 10.6kW, an Afterburn system for outstanding flame and heat control, an adjustable fuel retaining guard and much more.
It’ll also do more than cook your dinner! Thanks to its in-built boiler, the Esse Ironheart can provide enough hot water to supply 2 radiators or a hot-water tank.
That’s all achieved with an efficiency of 82%, so it’ll also keep your fuel bills low.
Esse Warmheart S Wood Burning EcoDesign Cook Stove
For those of you who want a smaller, more compact range cooker (also known as a cook stove), there’s the Esse Warmheart.
Resembling an ‘enhanced’ stove, the Warmheart S offers you the ability to heat your room and cook your dinner all in one appliance.
It’s also a very environmentally-friendly stove, surpassing the requirements of the EcoDesign regulations and is also DEFRA approved. So no matter where you live, you’ll be able to use the Esse Warmheart in your home.
The Warmheart S is available with an optional barbecue shelf for cooking over embers in the firebox. You also have the option of upgrading the Warmheart to include a heat conserving hotplate cover and towel rail.
This is one practical cook stove!
Time for a wood burning range cooker?
Are you ready for a wood burning range cooker then? Either way, we hope this guide has helped provide you with an insight into the world of range cookers. If you’d like to find out more, explore this website or contact our friendly expert team (they’ll be happy to answer any questions you’ve got!).
If you’re looking for more range cooker and stove advice, read more on the Direct Stoves blog…