Sarita Harbour is the owner of An Off Grid Life. The perfect stove is a clutch tool for living off grid.
What's an Aga Stove?
Aga is a brand of cast-iron stored-heat cooking stove—it's also known as an Aga cooker or Aga range. Known for its distinctive appearance (it has as many as four separately contained oven compartments and no knobs or dials) it was invented in the 1920s by a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and engineer, Gustaf Dalen.
Originating in Sweden, the Aga has been manufactured in the UK by the Aga Rangemaster Group for over 80 years. Each Aga stove is handcrafted to the buyer's specifications in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, England, and then shipped to its destination where it must be installed by a certified Aga fitter. Aga Rangemaster is a public company traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:AGA).
Why Are Agas So Popular?
For many, the Aga stove is symbolic of a certain type of British country lifestyle—think Downton Abbey. Given its larger than average size, the traditional Aga requires a spacious kitchen and most often becomes the centerpiece or hearth of the upper-middle-class country home. (More modern and streamlined Aga ranges are now available, but more on that later on in the article.) A place to gather around while the kettle boils, the roast cooks, the gravy simmers . . . dogs curled up basking in the gentle warmth radiating from the Aga's cast-iron sides, while pullovers and other clothes dry up on top.
As it hasn't changed much at all in looks over the past 80 years, an Aga is a reminder of a gentler, unhurried time. There are no dials, knobs, or digital indicators. The Aga cooker is made of cast iron and works on the principle of stored heat. The radiant heat source is constantly keeping the cast iron heated, therefore it is always ready to use and provides multi-directional heating, cooking, or baking food evenly without drying it out. There are no interior elements, so roasting or baking pans can be placed directly on the oven floor.
How Does Temperature Work in an Aga Cooker?
Your Aga is going to generate heat. While it may not be enough to heat your entire home, it will make your kitchen warm and cozy, so if you live in a warm climate, you may want to consider another type of cooker or stove. While the Aga is always ready to cook, according to Aga Rangemaster it is not constantly using fuel. There is a thermostatic control that monitors the temperature in the different ovens and only uses fuel as required to maintain the constant temperature in each oven. As there are no digital indicators of temperature on the Aga stove, here are the approximate temperatures of each oven component:
- Warming Oven: 150° to 200° degrees Fahrenheit
- Simmering Oven: 225° to 275° degrees Fahrenheit
- Baking Oven: 350° to 400° degrees Fahrenheit
- Roasting Oven: 475° to 500° degrees Fahrenheit
Check out an Aga cookbook or recipes site for more tips and trips to cooking with your Aga stove.
Aga Cooker Models
While its appearance has remained relatively unchanged, Aga Rangemaster has introduced several different versions of its legendary radiant heat Aga cooker. Every Aga has its own small heat source, a patented burner, which heats the cast iron which in turn cooks the food—a method known as radiant heating. Each Aga stove also has at least two oven compartments and burners. Here is a brief rundown of the current models available:
- 4 Oven Model: The four oven model weighs 1,290 pounds and takes up about 10 square feet. Available in gas (natural or liquid propane), or electric, the four oven model is equipped with roasting, baking, simmering, and warming ovens, warming plate, boiling plate, and a simmering plate. The boiling plate and simmering plate have insulated covers that keep the heat inside your Aga stove when closed. The boiling plate and simmering plate each have enough room for two to three medium-sized saucepans.
- 3 Oven Model: The three-oven model weighs 1,052 pounds and takes up seven square feet. This stove is available in natural gas or liquid propane. It does not have the warming plate—the simmering/warming ovens are combined.
- 2 Oven Model: The two-oven model weighs 900 pounds and takes up about seven square feet. This oven is available in gas (natural or liquid propane) or electric. The roasting and baking oven, as well as the simmering and warming oven, are combined. This Aga has the boiling plate and simmering plate with insulated Covers.
Dimensions: Both the 2 and 3 Oven Model are 37 7/8" wide, 26 3/4" deep, and 33 1/2" high. The 4 Oven Model Aga is 58 7/8" inches wide.
If you require a smaller oven, consider the Aga Companion. Its dimensions are 23 1/2" wide, 23 3/4" deep, and 33 1/2" high. While the knobs and dials might not satisfy the Aga purist, it has been designed to fit in with current kitchen cabinet designs and is a dual fuel range.
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Alternatively, should you prefer even more cooking flexibility, consider the Aga Module—this can be added to your 2, 3, or 4 oven Aga stove.
Contemporary Aga Range Models
Bowing to consumer demand for oven solutions that look like the traditional radiant heat Agas but with modern functionality, Aga also carries three lines of Dual Fuel and Electric Range Models: the Legacy Line, the Six-Four Series, and Aga Rangemaster's Pro+ with Energy Saving Panel.
- Pro+: Billed it as the "world's most versatile 36-inch self-clean pro range...and one of the largest ovens on the market," Aga Rangemaster is attractive for the environmentally conscious chef. Each Pro+ is outfitted with five burners on the stovetop, one large glass door for the full-sized oven, (also has convection oven ability) and an intriguing Energy Saving Panel, which, when inserted, will divide the full-sized 4.9 cubic foot Aga oven into a smaller and more energy-efficient 2.4 cubic foot oven, thereby reducing fuel consumption by approximately 30%. It also has a Sabbath Mode option, for Jewish cooks and chefs who do not wish to ignite a flame on a holy day. It's available in four colours.
- Legacy: The Legacy Line of Aga Ranges is touted as a more contemporary-looking and energy-efficient cooking appliance than the traditional stored-heat Aga cooker. Available in seven colours, the Legacy has knobs and as many as six burners, conventional and convectional oven availability, and does offer the choice of three or four separate oven compartments. The Legacy Aga is available as a Dual Fuel or Electric Range.
- Six-Four Series: The Six Four is a traditional Aga in disguise. With six gas burners and four electric ovens, it is NOT on all the time like the radiant heat Agas. And at 463 pounds it is significantly lighter than its cast-iron sister.
Installing Your Aga
Whether you are building a new home or considering an Aga for your current residence, it is imperative that you arrange for a certified Aga installer to survey your kitchen and prepare an installation plan prior to making any renovation or installation choices.
Colour choice, suitability of surrounding cabinets and countertops, re-enforcing floors and load-bearing issues, venting and fuel options and requirements are all issues that should be carefully analyzed and addressed early on in your Aga adventure.
If you are in Canada, your new Aga can range in price from about $9,000 to upwards of $40,000 CAD, depending on the size, fuel type, installation and renovation requirements, and options.
Famous Fans of The Aga Stove
- Jamie Oliver
- Martha Stewart
- Elizabeth Hurley
- Prince Charles
- Shania Twain
- Sharon Stone
- David Ogilvy (an advertising salesman extraordinaire - an original "Mad Men" type who wrote the classic sales manual "The Theory and Practice of Selling the Aga Cooker")
- Claudia Schiffer
- David Cameron
- Nick Nairn
- Natasha Hamilton
- Emma Bridgewater
The Aga cooker is a classic tool for home keepers and chefs alike. If you ever get the chance I highly recommend investing in this fantastic tool. Happy cooking!
B Owen on September 20, 2018:
Can you tell me if Aga will reintroduce a wood fired/solid fuel oven?
Graham Rogers on August 09, 2013:
Hi there, Great Hub, I was wondering though what is an 'AGA certified engineer? I can't find any reference to any certification scheme on the AGA website. Thank you for a great read.
whitton on December 10, 2010:
This is a really great Hub! These Aga Stoves are very unique looking and give your kitchen a whole new look.
Sarita Harbour (author) from Yellowknife, Canada on December 08, 2010:
Sophia - I was interested to read that Aga is no longer making "solid-fuel" stoves, such as coal or wood burning. I also found accounts of Agas that had been fitted with a water tap to provide heated water. So as you know, the role of the Aga has changed somewhat over the past few decades! Thank you for the comment and for stopping by.
Sophia Angelique on December 08, 2010:
I felt strange reading this article. In the 50s, I remember my late mother installing an Aga into my late grandmother's home. In order to cook, one had to have a fire inside the Aga. There was no running water or modern facilities on the farm, so it wasn't a luxury. It was a necessity! Thanks for a good read. :)