The AGA cooker is undeniably the feature to include in a classic country kitchen and it’s a luxury many homeowners have always dreamed of owning. The AGA is synonymous with traditional British charm; the mere mention of the name is enough to transport most of us to a cosy hearth set atop the flagstone floor of a picturesque cottage nestled in misty rolling countryside. The simple and timeless cast iron design is incredibly evocative and it’s no surprise that so many of us pine after its staunch and somewhat buxom silhouette.
Despite its almost cult status, or perhaps in homage to it, there seems to be a sense of mystery surrounding its workings. To demystify the AGA and to help you decide whether it’s the right purchase for you, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide. Our article should answer some of your questions including, what is an AGA, how have they earned such a special place in our hearts and what are the downsides you need to consider?
What is an AGA?
The AGA is a cast iron cooker that cooks food by radiating heat from its components as opposed to the dry cooking of conventional ovens. Invented almost 100 years ago by a Swedish physicist, the AGA cooker was initially designed to run off solid fuel, before the introduction of gas and oil powered models in the 60s and electric versions as recently as 2011.
Things to consider when buying an you’re AGA cooker
Positives of an AGA
Let’s start with the positives. One of the number one reasons so many people are first drawn to the AGA cooker is its iconic looks. The AGA design is instantly recognisable, but it’s not just a style, it’s an emblem of an honest way of life, evoking a nostalgia that’s undeniably unique. The AGA is quite simply unmatched in the character and charm it can bring to your interior. Its functionality is paired back and simple which makes it wonderfully tactile to use. AGA’s are built to stand the test of time and should make a stunning centrepiece to your kitchen for at least 50 years.
Banish cluttered worksurfaces by doing away with unattractive modern kettles and toasters. The AGA cooker makes it quick and convenient to boil water and prepare toast on the stovetop. While saving money on your electricity bill when you use your AGA instead of appliances, the AGA also provides a fantastic heat source to keep your home warm. Providing you keep your AGA on, you’ll certainly notice a reduction in your heating bill too. As well as offering some functions you might not have considered, you can of course, also benefit from cooking multiple dishes in different ovens at once.
Simple & Conventional Cooking
The AGA uses radiating heat to cook your food which prevents dishes from drying out, while the cast iron material stops previous flavours and odours being transferred. Using an AGA ensures every meal you serve is perfectly cooked, nutritious and tasty. If you keep your AGA on, you’ll never have to waste time preheating your oven and you won’t have to battle with fiddly temperature and fan settings.
New Models Designed for More Control
Deciding whether or not to turn your AGA off in the summer has always been a ‘hotly’ debated topic. Similarly, the AGA has often been criticised for its wasteful and expensive constant energy use. AGA has recently devised new electric Total Control and Dual Control models which allow you to turn parts of your oven off or adjust them to a low energy setting so you can enjoy the same gorgeous looks and unique cooking style whenever you choose.
Considerations when buying an AGA cooker
Size & Installation
Needless to say, AGA’s aren’t small, or light for that matter. The cast iron structure is incredibly heavy; with standard models weighing 450kg and up, you’ll need to check the structure of your home is up to the job before going ahead. Gas, oil or solid fuel also require a flue which means you will need an appropriately positioned chimney.
Furthermore, your AGA will need to be delivered and installed in one piece. Many homeowners report traumatic memories of seeing their beloved AGA winched through the kitchen window. In short, the expense and hassle associated with getting your AGA into pride of place isn’t something you want to experience on a regular basis.
For the most part, AGA’s are wonderfully practical and convenient, however, it’s worth bearing in mind that the temperatures of your chosen oven compartments cannot be changed so you may need to slightly adapt your cooking. Another feature to consider is that the traditional gas, oil and solid fuel ovens will potentially need to be turned off during the summer months, this means you might need an additional electric oven and stovetop which will take up space in your kitchen.
A stunning handmade AGA can’t be expected to be cheap, most standard models cost begin at £8,000 and you will need to factor in the additional costs associated with having your AGA delivered and installed. However, the AGA’s ability to stand the test of time is well documented, you can expect your trusty AGA to last around 50 years.
AGA’s are more expensive to run than a normal oven, although the low energy functionality of the new electric range does help to reduce the running costs slightly. An AGA cooker might cost more to run than a conventional oven, but you can save money from using fewer appliances and less heating. Whether the cost of an AGA is worth it over time really depends on your individual requirements.
AGA cookers offer a host of benefits and can be a great option for families with a spacious kitchen, but you might think twice if you don’t spend a lot of time at home. Understanding the brilliant positives as well as appreciating some of the drawbacks will hopefully allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not an AGA cooker is right for you. If you’d like to know more or to find out how an AGA could be incorporated into your new kitchen design, we recommend contacting your local independent kitchen retailer or AGA stockist.