Cookers are the heart of our kitchen, and something most of use nearly every day for preparing our daily meals or baking some treats. If your electric oven is broken or starting to get old, you might be ready to replace it with a new electric cooker.
If you already have a plug socket in place where you plan to install your cooker, you may be thinking of buying a new appliance that you can simply plug in yourself. But is it possible to plug any new electric oven into a normal 13-amp plug socket, or do electric ovens need to be hardwired?
What kind of plug does an electric cooker use?
When it comes to installing a new electric cooker, there are two main categories:
- 13-amp plug – Cookers that are rated under 3kW and can run on a 13-amp plug.
- Hardwired – Cookers that are rated at more than 3kW and need to be hardwired (wired into the household wiring).
Some basic electric ovens can run on 13-amp plugs. However, as electric cookers become more advanced, with capabilities such as self-cleaning and rapid pre-heat programmes, many cookers are now rated at more than 3kW. This means they will need hardwiring into the household wiring.
Often cookers made in European countries outside of the UK will need hardwiring. Many European models are designed to run on European 16-amp plugs rather than the 13-amp plugs we have as standard in the UK.
Also, a higher outlet allows the stove to draw more power to generate and maintain heat more quickly and efficiently. It’s unlikely that a 13-amp plug will be sufficient for a model that has a hob as well as an oven.
Some manufacturers, such as Neff, have recognised the lack of features in cookers rated under 3kW, and are now making models with more advanced multi-features and so on which can still be plugged into a 13-amp plug.
Small ovens that are designed to be part of a fitted kitchen are often rated under 3kW, and may be replaced simply by plugging a new model into an existing 13-amp plug socket. Larger freestanding cookers are usually rated higher than 3kW and require hardwiring.
You can check the manuals and specifications of most models online before you buy. Alternatively, if you visit a high street store or showroom you can look inside the oven where you will find a rating plate displaying the wattage, which defines the required amps.
Is it always better to hardwire an electric oven?
Some electricians believe that it’s always better to hardwire any electric oven into a higher-rated dedicated circuit with a separate cooker on-off switch, even if the specifications and manual state it can run on a 13-amp plug.
Unlike appliances such as toasters or kettles which only load circuits for a small amount of time, ovens can be switched on for several hours. You’re not always recommended to load a circuit shared with other sockets in this way, as the circuit may become overloaded. This is particularly true if it’s shared with other high-demand appliances.
If any doubt, ask a qualified electrician to do a survey on your kitchen and to check your new cooker before you install your new appliance.