As bespoke kitchen designers and architectural joiners who specialise in English country houses, we see our fair share of AGAs in country house kitchens. Over the past 31 years, we have incorporated all types of AGA cookers into kitchen designs for clients. Indeed, many of us on the Artichoke team choose to have one at home.
Whether you are re-doing your kitchen or replacing your old appliances, cookers and ovens are essential. This review may help you choose between the AGA and the conventional oven.
Although we have no commercial affiliation with Aga, we thought it would be helpful to write an electric AGA review. The company no longer sells oil-fired models and has only one model that is powered by gas (with electric hotplates).
In this review we will look to answer the following – How the AGA has changed? Are electric AGAs expensive to run? Are electric AGAs eco-friendly? Is it worth converting your AGA to electric? Finally, we will weigh up the pros and cons of the newer electric AGA models.
Electric AGA Review – AGA Cooking
Many of Artichoke’s clients are familiar with the AGA, some having grown up with an oil-fired version in their family’s kitchen. While there might be charmed memories of the trusty AGA warming their home on cold winters’ nights, there may be questions as to how suitable an AGA might be for the kind of cooking we do nowadays. Whilst AGAs have always been fantastic for traditional cooking like roasting and baking, the modern AGAs are also perfect for a quick stir fry.
Electric AGA Review – AGA Heat Source
Since its invention, the AGA has evolved to use the best fuel available at the time. Original models ran on solid fuel before oil, gas and electric models were launched. As energy consumption became more of an issue, programmable models followed, allowing owners to never use energy unnecessarily. This is, of course, even more important today.
The original oil and gas-fired AGAs had a naked flame that heats a central fire brick. This fire brick then distributes heat throughout the surrounding ovens, hot plates and robust cast iron frame.
Electric AGAs have no naked flame as they use electric elements embedded in the cast iron which makes them much cleaner to use.
Oil-fired Agas need servicing twice a year, gas-fired once a year, and old electric ones every two and a half years. The latest electric AGA models don’t need any servicing at all.
Electric AGAs have been around for decades but it was just over 10 years ago that the on/off electric models were launched that changed the game, allowing the cookers to be turned on and off at the flick of a switch.
With the vast majority of AGA cookers now running on electricity, it seems that gas AGAs are phasing out. There’s only one dual fuel model in the latest AGA collection and it comes with electric hotplates.
Electric AGA Review – Is it worth it to convert an old AGA?
AGA doesn’t recommend converting older cookers and recommends using the AGA trade-in deal if you are planning to replace your old AGA with a brand new one. You can read more on AGA Living.
However, we have a different view on this and suggest the services of ‘Blake & Bull’ to clients who own an oil cooker and are considering converting it. ‘Blake & Bull’ say that ‘reusing the cooker in its original role saves a huge amount of energy. The lifespan of a cooker is a big part of its environmental impact – converting a cooker installed in 1941 could give decades more life to an appliance already 82 years old!’
You can read more on their website.
Electric Aga Review – Aga Flueing
The electric AGA doesn’t have a flue or chimney and the latest AGA 3 Series and 7 Series models don’t have any in-built extraction. (It is recommended but not compulsory to have an extractor above them though.)
The latest AGA 7 Series models (and the Total Control and Dual Control AGAs the 7 Series replaced) are as-standard ‘Room Vented’ but as an optional extra can be specified with the ‘external vent’ kit (a 28mm copper pipe and external fan box).
The AGA 3 Series models can’t be fitted with an external oven vent – they are ‘room vent’ only.
The appliance is easy to install and more flexible to position within the design of a kitchen, including kitchen islands. It can also now be easily enjoyed in urban locations, particularly apartment blocks where the flueing was often a lot more complex.
Electric AGA review – Are AGAs eco-friendly?
AGA cookers are made from cast-iron, meaning much of the cooker is made from recycled material. This also means that once an AGA reaches the end of its life, much of it can be recycled.
All AGA cookers are made at the company’s factory in Shropshire, UK which has a positive effect on reducing emissions that get generated by overseas productions.
It may not be considered eco-friendly if the cooker is always left on, even if it works as a room heat source. However, if the electric AGA is run on a sustainable energy source, this makes it eco-friendly and economical.
Electric Aga Review – Aga Controls
A few years ago, having controls on an AGA would have been an alien concept to many people. Without a naked flame that needs relighting (a tricky task with legacy oil and gas-fired AGA), the electric Aga can be turned on and off at the flick of a switch. Additionally, they are excellent for seasonal cooking or for properties only inhabited occasionally, as each individual oven and hotplate can be operated independently.
The Auto function (part of the AGA eR7 Series) allows you to automatically pre-set the time the ovens come on. This would be useful for those who work away from home during the day and only use the ovens in the evening for instance. Although, this feature does not work for the AGA hotplates.
Electric AGA Review – AGA Models
At just 60cm wide (the same size as a regular slot-in cooker) this model is aimed at those with smaller kitchens who don’t have room for one of the larger AGA models. It comes with two ovens, which can be switched on and off independently of each other. One can be set to roasting or baking and the other is for simmering. Most people choose a model with an AGA hotplate, which can be set to boiling or simmering but you can specify a four-burner gas hob. The top oven in an AGA 60 can be pre-programmed to come on when you need it.
Available in three or five-oven models, the AGA Dual Control offers more flexibility than the older models. Only available as a dual-fuel cooker, its hotplates can be controlled individually, or turned off completely, which can help to reduce running costs.
AGA eR Series models offer the lowest running costs for any heat storage range cooker available on the market. All eR3 Series models have two cast-iron ovens – one that can be used for roasting or baking, the other for simmering. These ovens are designed to be left on when you want gentle AGA warmth in the kitchen or switched off when you don’t. Models range in size from 90cm to 170cm.
AGA eR3 Series cookers also have an independently heated warming oven, with the 90cm and 150cm models having a tall version, complete with a plate rack. The 150cm, 160cm and 170cm models have a 90-litre conventional fan oven for when you don’t want the cast-iron ovens on or need extra cooking capacity.
All eR3 Series cookers offer a state-of-the-art two- or three-zone induction hob with a bridging feature for use with a griddle or fish kettle.
AGA eR7 Series cookers feature a cast-iron baking oven, roasting oven and simmering oven and the 150cm model offers two additional ovens for slow cooking and warming. The 160cm and 210cm models also offer a slow cook oven with a grill, a fan oven, and a choice of gas or ceramic hob.
Two AGA hotplates – one for boiling and one for simmering – can accommodate extra-large pans or may be used as a cooking surface. The 150 model also has the option of either a warming plate or a single-zone induction hob.
The AGA eR7 roasting, baking and simmering ovens and hotplates are controlled by a state-of-the-art digital touchscreen panel which enables you to switch them on and off as required and control the temperatures of the roasting and baking ovens. There are five settings for the roasting oven and four for the baking oven.
Using a separate handset, you can program the ovens to turn on automatically on selected days and times so it’s ready to cook when needed.
These models are designed for those who loved the original – on all the time AGA but want added functionality and to save money on running costs. With these 13-amp electric AGA cookers each oven and hotplate operates independently. They have a high-speed infrared grill. All models have at least one hotplate (some have two) and all models bar one have an induction hob.
These models work well if you have a draughty kitchen, work from home or simply enjoy the cosy AGA warmth in the kitchen. This collection has models available in sizes from 90cm to 170cm.
For times when you don’t need your cooker but don’t want to switch it off, R3 Series models have an e-setting which works to reduce the temperature of the ovens, helping lower energy use and limit running costs. It only takes an hour to heat the R3 Series back to full temperature from the e-setting.
For optimal cooking flexibility, the AGA R3 Series 150cm, 160cm and 170cm models offer an additional 90-litre conventional fan oven.
These models are designed for those who want a heat source in their kitchens at all times. AGA R7 Series models feature three cast-iron ovens and two independently controlled hotplates (for boiling and simmering). The AGA R7 100cm model features ovens for baking, roasting and simmering. The 150cm models have two additional ovens for slow cooking and warming, and the choice of either a warming plate or a single-zone induction hob. The 160cm and 210cm models also have an additional slow cooking oven with a built-in grill, a fan oven and the choice of a gas or ceramic hob.
Easy to control using the simple control panel, the ovens offer four temperature settings for enhanced efficiency. The three cast-iron ovens operate together and there are four temperature settings including an eco mode.
AGA Review – Running Costs
It’s really tricky to say exactly how much an AGA cooker will cost to run as it depends very much on the lifestyle of the people using it and, even then, it varies. For example, on a weekday summer evening you might simply turn on one hotplate to griddle a piece of fish, whereas on a freezing winter Sunday, you might turn the cooker on in the morning, cook breakfast, lunch and dinner while benefiting from the kitchen being cosy.
In general, AGA running costs depend upon the model that you own, the fuel supply you use and how you use your cooker. There is a lot of information available on this topic on AGA Living website.
AGA Review – The Pros and Cons
- Can be switched on and off whenever you wish
- AGA cookers use radiant heat which is kind to food and locks in all the flavour, moisture and goodness.
- The AGA cooker is a design icon.
- There’s an AGA to suit every size of the kitchen. The smallest AGA cooker is just 60cm wide – the same as a conventional slot-in cooker – and the width of a standard kitchen cabinet.
- The newer electric models are great to use alongside renewables.
- They have superb build quality.
- They can keep the kitchen cosy when you want warmth.
- Newer models can have induction hobs and fan ovens.
- AGAs use a lot of energy so can be bad for the environment unless a green source of energy is used.
- The ovens take a long time to heat up from cold compared to more conventional ovens.
- When baking you can’t see into the ovens as the doors are solid.
- They offer limited temperature control and do not have features like wireless food probes, steam cooking, pyrolytic cleaning, automatic cooking programmes etc. There is also a limited choice for hobs compared to more modern cookers such as a teppanyaki, griddles, BBQs, French tops etc although you could argue that is part of the charm of the simple cooking you get with AGAs.
At Artichoke we find that for large country houses an AGA can make a lovely focal point in a family kitchen and bring instant charm and atmosphere. However, we often specify more technical ovens and hobs to support the AGA – perhaps located in a back kitchen or pantry. In this way, the household can enjoy the best of both worlds.
It is safe to say that here at Artichoke we are all fans of AGA cookers although we specify a wide range of cookers. We select on the basis of client preference and the unique requirements of each project. Officine Gullo, Esse, Everhot, Wolf are all brands that we have recommended.
We like to incorporate AGA cookers into our beautiful kitchen designs if our clients choose them and then we only hear good things about them. The latest electric models combine the beauty of the old with convenient updates for modern living.
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