An oven is an essential, and expensive, investment in any kitchen, and there is a lot to take into consideration before buying a new one.
So before you rush out to your local appliance store, you need to know your cooking requirements and be able to articulate them into the type of oven you’re looking for. Do you want electric or gas, an induction or standard hob, or a convection or conventional oven? And are there any handy features you desire?
Our guide will help you navigate through the daunting task of figuring out what you want from an oven, and which type of oven is best for you.
In this article:
Even if you’re fairly new to cooking, you should still know that there isn’t just one standard type oven. Like heat pumps or washing machines, there are multiple different types of models. Below we run through the different types of ovens, as well as an oven recommendation for each.
Also known as built-in ovens, wall ovens are the most common type of oven. They are fitted either in a wall space or under a bench. Wall ovens give you a large degree of flexibility when it comes to your kitchen’s layout.
They come in a wide variety of makes and models, from basic ovens with mechanical controls and few cooking modes, to smart ovens with touch displays, smart cook settings, and a host of bonus features and add-ons.
Parmco OX-16S-5 ($649*)
- 58L useable capacity
- 5 cooking functions
- 120-minute mechanical timer
A freestanding cooker is a combination of both an oven and a hob. As they are free-standing, they can’t be installed into a wall unit, so it does limit your layout somewhat. However, these are easier to install, as they can be placed just about anywhere, and can be a good option for small spaces.
When considering a freestanding oven, you need to consider your hobs as much as your oven. Do you want electric, gas or induction? And how many hobs do you need?
Parmco FS9S-5-3 ($2065*)
- 70L main oven and 36L 1/2 oven
- Gas cooktop
- 8 functions on the main oven and 5 on the 1/2 oven
- Robust and stylish stainless steel design
As the name suggests, a toaster oven is a countertop appliance that can grill bread as well as bake food. They are much cheaper to buy than a large conventional oven, and simple to install, but generally do not offer the same bake quality as their bigger counterparts. Because of their size, the amount of food you can cook is also limited.
Sunbeam COM1000SS ($150*)
- 10L compact oven
- Multiple Settings: roasting, baking, grilling and toasting
- Adjustable temperature control up to 220c degrees
- 30-minute timer
As the name suggests, steam ovens use steam to cook food. Steam ovens can be either placed on a counter or installed in a kitchen, and are primarily used for cooking vegetables and certain kinds of meat. As well as reducing cooking time, steam methods of cooking can preserve the flavour of foods, as well as retain vitamins and nutrients.
Generally steam cooks a smaller variety of dishes than other methods, so this oven may not offer the versatility to be the main oven for your home. It is worth noting that some ovens have a steam setting, giving you the best of both worlds.
An example of a steam oven includes:
Bosch HSG656XB6A ($5499*)
- 71L useable capacity
- Wi-fi connectivity
- Cleaning assistance
- 4D HotAir for perfect heat distribution
- Steam function with sous-vide
- ProRoast and ProBake features automate cooking for perfect results
Bench-top convection ovens
Similar to a toaster oven, but rather than letting hot air circulate randomly, convection ovens use internal fans, like those found in most freestanding and wall ovens, to distribute the hot air evenly to create a constant temperature. They are more expensive than toaster ovens, but can cook faster, at lower temperatures and with better results.
Sunbeam BT7200 ($283*)
- Cooks food using the rapid circulation of hot air inside the oven.
- Multiple cook settings: oven bakes, convection bakes, grills, pizza and even air fry
- 22L capacity
- 60-minute timer
Technically, your microwave is a form of oven, and they are great for heating food rapidly. However, for the most part, they are sub-par when it comes to all-round cooking, as they can’t brown or crisp food and don’t cook evenly – hence the rotating table!
However, it’s common to find smaller ovens that have a microwave oven function, combining the two which can be ideal for apartments and small spaces.
Bosch CMG676BB1 ($3799*)
- 45L useable capacity
- Microwave function
- Pyrolytic self-cleaning
- 4D HotAir for perfect heat distribution
- Bosch Assist for optimal cooking
Air fryers have been hugely popular over the past few years. But despite the fancy name, an air fryer is essentially a small convection oven. By making the cooking area smaller, and by placing the heating element and fan directly on top, you can get crispy food that cooks quickly.
Living & Co Digital Air Fryer 6 Litre: $119
- Wattage: 1800W
- Temperature control: 80C-200C
- Timer: up to 60mins
- Capacity: 6L
- 8 preset modes
- Non-stick basket and pot
- Cool-touch handle
- 20-year warranty
The trade-off is that you can only cook small amounts of food at a time.
You can’t go wrong with an oven that cleans itself, and there are two types of self-cleaning ovens:
- Pyrolytic ovens – feature a self-cleaning mode that heats the oven to temperatures as high as 500°. This reduces food and fat residue to a thin white ash, which you can then wipe away easily.
- Catalytic liners – these are specially developed oven liners that absorb fats and food particles. These are then burned off by running a regular cleaning setting, leaving the oven looking spotless.
Cleaning your oven regularly can greatly improve the quality of the food you make, so having these ovens do that for you can be a big plus.
An example of a pyrolytic self-cleaning oven is
Parmco PPOV-6S-PYRO-2 ($1599*)
- 76L useable capacity
- 12 cooking functions
- Pyrolytic self-cleaning
Gas vs Electric
Similar to cooktops, ovens fall under two main categories of energy sources – gas or electric.
Gas ovens are, on average, quite a bit cheaper to buy than electric ovens of similar quality levels, although they come with some drawbacks. Firstly, you’ll need a gas supply. If you already have gas in your home, then it’s fine; if not, gas installation, either bottled or mains, can be costly.
A common complaint about gas-powered ovens is that they tend to have hotspots and uneven heating. But if a gas oven is compatible with your current kitchen set-up and you’re not too fussy, then it could be the oven type for you.
Electric ovens work using heating elements placed on the walls of the oven. These ovens are the most common variety and tend to have a lot more options for cooking your food at the touch of a button. Electric ovens are the easiest to use, easiest to clean and the easiest to achieve even cooking. They are also available in both convection and conventional varieties, so if an electric oven is what you’re after, there’s plenty of choice to be had.
Overall, most modern ovens are electric, as these lend themselves to better results and more versatility.
Parmco OV-1-6S-GAS ($1099*)
- 56L useable capacity
- 4 cooking functions
- LPG or natural gas
Conventional vs Convection
Conventional and convection ovens look the same, and both can be gas or electric. The difference between them is that the source of heat in a conventional oven is stationery, it rises up from the bottom. The heat from a convection oven is blown by fans, so the air circulates all around the oven.
Most of us probably know this as bake vs. fan bake.
Convection ovens offer better cooking results. But in the grand scheme of things, it just depends on the type and quantity of food you cook, and whether your culinary efforts require more precise baking and roasting options.
Most modern wall and freestanding ovens will feature a convection cook option. But it pays to check, especially on cheaper models.
Parmco PPOV-6S-SIDE-1 ($899*)
- 56L useable capacity
- 7 cooking functions including fan forced (convection)
- Side opening door
- electronic timer
Parmco: New Zealand’s favourite ovens
Parmco is a proud Kiwi owned and operated company that has been providing New Zealanders with innovative, high-quality kitchen and laundry appliances since 1989. And in this year’s Canstar Blue Ovens award ratings, it comes out on top, as the winner of our Most Satisfied Customers | Ovens Award.
Parmco takes out four brilliant 5-Star results for Cooking Performance and Reliability, Value for Money, Ease of Use, and the all-important Overall Satisfaction score. For Ease of Cleaning, Functionality and Features, and Design, Parmco has impressive 4-Star ratings.
What other functions and features are there?
Choosing the type of oven you need, is only the first part. You also need to consider what features and functions you are looking for. Some things you may want to consider are:
- Cook settings – Bake and grill are fine for some, while others may want more choice. Many modern ovens have well over 10 cook functions, and some include specialist modes, such a pizza
- Timers and delayed start – Most ovens come with some form of timer, but modern ovens may be able to set a delayed start, or notify you (or even turn off) once the oven or food reaches the desired temperature
- Smart capability – Like most appliances, ovens have gone smart. Smart ovens allow you to control and monitor them from your smart device
- Split ovens and warming trays – If you’re big into cooking, you may want a double oven to cook more food at once. Other options include separate compartments for grilling and warming trays. These are handy for cooking multiple dishes that need different temperatures and cooking methods.
→Related article: The Best Ovens in New Zealand
If you cook a meal for an hour, including preheat time, you might expect to spend around $0.60 (depending on what your $/kWh rate is with your power provider). The NZ government’s Smarter Homes guide notes modern conventional ovens are well insulated, but only about 10% to 15% of the energy they use actually cooks the food, the rest is just heating the air inside.
Gas ovens are less efficient than electric ones, as they need higher airflows and often have a glow-bar that runs continuously to reignite the gas flame should it blow out.
Convection or fan ovens use about 20% to 30% less energy than conventional ovens, and you can cook more items at the same time because heat is more uniformly distributed. Self-cleaning ovens are more efficient than standard ovens as they have more insulation.
Overall, a microwave is the most energy-efficient type of oven, as it heats food directly. However, the types of dishes you can use them for are limited.
As ovens are not given an electricity star rating, when purchasing one, it pays to check how many watts of electricity it uses. Do you need a 15,000W oven when a smaller 9000W one is enough for your cooking needs? The larger the oven’s wattage the more electricity it will use, so the bigger your bill will be.
Where electricity use is concerned, it always pays to check whether you’re getting the best deal. If you know you regularly use your oven at certain times of the day, why not swap to a provider that offers a free hour of power each day? Your savings could be considerable. To make choosing the best electricity provider easier, Canstar compares them on value and service.
Canstar Blue’s latest review of NZ power companies compares them on customer satisfaction. The table below is an abridged version of our full results, available here.
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Canstar Blue NZ Research finalised in April 2021, published in June 2021.
See Our Ratings Methodology
Need a new oven? What should you consider?
Finding the right oven for you isn’t easy. There’s a lot to consider, such as:
Do you need a cooktop?
Do you want an oven and stove all in one, and if so, what do you want on the top? Freestanding ovens can include gas, electric, or induction cooktops so if you want a 2-in-1 unit you’ll need to consider which cooktop is best for you as well.
Is a standard oven enough, or would you prefer a double oven or an extra-wide single oven? Bear in mind that larger ovens have bigger, heavier trays that can be harder to take out and clean.
At the other end of the spectrum, a small oven won’t accommodate larger trays and, if you’re cooking a roast for the whole family, you could end up having to cut back on the sides and trimmings!
A standard single oven can easily go under a cooktop or in a wall unit. Double ovens or extra-wide single ovens are more restrictive as to where they can go. Do you have the space in your kitchen to accommodate them?
Functions and features
Are you happy to just chuck your oven on fan bake and be done with it? Or are you a budding home cook that wants precise control and all the bells and whistles? This could include accurate cooking functions for perfect cooks, or smart features such as pyrolytic self-cleaning or wi-fi connectivity.
It’s important to stick within a reasonable budget. But that budget shouldn’t just be set by your available funds.
If you use your cooktop more than your oven, or you’re just not into cooking at all, there’s no point going overboard and getting a top-of-the-line model just because you can afford to. Also, there’s no point saving a few dollars if you plan to use your oven religiously.
Ovens are a big investment and aren’t something you can change easily (or at least cheaply). So you should choose wisely.
It’s not all about performance. Your oven also needs to look good and fit into the wider scheme or look of your kitchen. An oven’s interior design should also be considered, as it impacts its ease of cleaning.
When choosing an oven, there are plenty of little things to consider that can be easily overlooked:
- Are the controls easy to understand and use?
- Is the window clear and easy to view through?
- Is the door sturdy, and does it stay open in any position without moving?
- Can the light be replaced easily?
- Are the elements set into the oven and/or have a shield to prevent them from getting damaged or dirty?
- Do the trays and racks slide in and out easily and smoothly?
- Does the oven door/window stay cool, and is there a child lock?
About the author of this page
This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.