Pros and Cons of Owning an AGA

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Our kitchen came with a black AGA range. These ranges are made by a British company and are very on-trend right now due to the fact that they keep popping up in kitchens by British superstar kitchen designers like DeVol and Plain English.

There’s no arguing that an AGA is pretty.

I mean …

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Beautiful …

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Here’s our gorgeous beast:

We’ve lived with our AGA for two years, so I can tell you a lot about it at this point. If you’re thinking of buying one this list is for you, because, of course, the biggest ‘con’ for most folks is the price tag, which is every bit as hulking as the range itself. They start at around $14,000, and go up from there, I believe topping out around $35,000, though top prices are hard to find online. So you want to know what you’re getting for the price of a car!

A few background things to know for those of you who aren’t familiar – your classic AGA range is always on. It’s a heat source as well as a range, and the ovens are always fully heated.

PRO:

  • It’s always on, so the ovens are always heated! No pre-heating means super-fast cooking.

CON:

  • It’s always on, so the ovens are always heated! We turned off our AGA completely for TWO FULL MONTHS this past summer (and this is in chilly, damp New England – we’re not talking about SoCal here) because it took a 90-degree room to 100 stifling degrees. It is also incredibly wasteful with a big carbon footprint, again because it’s always on. AGAs have gotten to be more efficient now than our 20+ year old range, but the fact remains, it’s always burning fuel. This also adds to cost. Our propane bill each month is several hundred dollars.

PRO:

  • It bakes like a champ. The AGA ovens seal completely, keeping in moisture and cooking from all six sides. This makes for moist baked goods.
  • The AGA is also very good at roasting meat, again because it retains moisture.

CON:

  • Roast vegetables are impossible in the AGA. They are always soggy – because (you guessed it!) the oven keeps moisture in.

PRO:

  • The warming ovens are incredibly useful. You have a built-in slow cooker, and an easy way to warm up leftovers.

CON:

  • The AGA has an enameled surface. Again, ours is about 20 years old and lived during that time with a family that cooked a lot. This means the top is very scratched from heavy pots being dragged from one cook plate to another (the AGA has a hot and a simmer plate – these are also always on, and are covered by insulated covers). Because of these scratches our AGA is impossible to clean. Grease builds up easily because the surface is no longer smooth. Scratches are a totally understandable result of cast iron or enameled pots and pans, but be warned, you want to be very precious with your investment and NOT scratch it. It really takes away from the look to have a scratched top.  And re-enameling the thing is nearly impossible in the states.

PRO:

  • Our house is cold and our kitchen doesn’t have a radiator, so the AGA is great in the winter and truly makes the kitchen feel like the heart of the home.

CON:

  • Getting an AGA serviced in the USA can be difficult. There is ONE person who services them in New England, for example, and he’s all the way in New Hampshire (four hours away). So you pay a premium for repairs. Lots of appliance shops will tell you they’re familiar with AGAs. Approach these people with caution. Two of them completely failed to fix our AGA when it was leaking propane, until I called the original installer and had him make his four-hour trek.

PRO:

  • AGAs do have resale value. You won’t get back your full investment, but these things are built like tanks and last forever. What other appliance can you sell, even decades later, and recoup some of your costs? Because of their high price new, buying a used AGA is a great option to cut costs.

CON (and PRO):

  • Child safety is an issue, but it kind of cuts both ways. You won’t be able to put ‘child locks’ on the ovens (it would ruin the enamel to have something sticky), but there are no knobs, and therefore no need for covers on your stove knobs or worry about kiddos starting a fire or setting a gas stove to leak gas. One big pro is that because the outside of the ovens are warm (since they’re always on), my kids quickly learned what hot vs. warm is and to avoid touching the front of the AGA, because if you leave your hand on it it’s uncomfortable, but not dangerous. Therefore, they completely leave the ovens alone and we’ve had no issues with them trying to pop open an oven.

PRO:

  • Having multiple ovens is incredibly useful – I’m honestly surprised how often I have two (or even three) items in there. And while the ovens may look small, don’t be deceived. I easily fit a 20 lb. turkey in mine.  But, like any oven, not everything will fit!

CON:

  • Cooking with an AGA, especially the ovens, is a learning experience. Most of the advice and recipes out there are British, and (no offense to the British) advise you to WAY overcook everything. Our AGA cookbook told me to leave aforementioned turkey in the oven for five hours. It was done in two. So, you must learn to trust your instincts, constantly check the food and NOT trust recipes.  Is is absolutely a range for people who aren’t afraid to experiment.

So, would I buy one for my next home? Personally? No. And probably not for the reason you’d think! The price is high, but I understand paying five figures for a range (paying six figures for a car? That’s not me. But paying the price of a Ford Focus for pretty range? I get it). My dealbreaker is the environmental issue. It’s always on, wasting fuel. This just absolutely kills any enjoyment for me.

Hope this is helpful and happy to answer any AGA questions!

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