Aga or Rayburn?

AGA VS RAYBURNPlease note that the following opinions are MINE ALONE . I have no connection with Glynwed, Agafood the manufacturers of the famous Aga / Rayburn cookers , which can only be purchased NEW from their approved dealers. So any available from me are SECOND HAND and denoted S/H.

This section gives you some ideas on WHICH TYPE OF COOKER will suit your home. Fuel types. Answer some questions you may have. For a more DETAILED reply mail me

So you fancy a range type cooker?

You have a choice of fuels Oil, Gas (bottled LPG or mains/natural gas, Electric (Agas only) or solid fuel  err bio Mass is the trendy name  (that’s coal, peat, wood or both) but it boils down to (a) cooker only, or cooker with hot water heating (b) Cooker that does cooking, water heating & radiators. Then you have a choice of NEW or SECOND-HAND 

I only supply second hand AGA and Rayburn cookers as I am NOT an approved distributor – however I can organise one through a main dealer friend, at the best price!  I can also get you the Sandyford cooker, which has a lot to recommend it, check it out on and get back to me for my views , prices etc 

Let’s tell you about the different choices you have

Cooker ONLY or Cooker that heats domestic hot water. 

Sitting  in the kitchen burning quietly away and keeps the hob / oven (s) hot to cook at any time. It can be controlled by increasing / decreasing the fuel input and is either adjusted manually or via an OVEN thermostat .Models that do this are the basis of the Rayburn / Aga cookers made from the last century. They are simply to use, cook beautifully and nearly always need a chimney to be connected to – the only exception being those called “balanced flue” which is only available on the 2 types of gas. Most operate WITHOUT electricity which allows you to have POWER CUT PARTIES – bring your own potato for baking etc! 

Naturally this type of cooker uses LESS FUEL than Water Heating cookers 

As the ONLY thermostats are in the hottest oven, the output of hot water is controlled by the cooking – so you can have NO control on either the amount of hot water or the heat of that water, apart from the makers “guide figures” If you don’t draw it off it can get VERY hot, and if you run more than 1 bath it can take some time to replenish the cylinder for the next dirty person!

Some models – notably the solid fuel Rayburn – generated so much hot water that the householder was obliged to fit an “expansion radiator” to release some of this heat – usually the rad was fitted near the cylinder, ideally in a bathroom, so that towels etc can be aired all the time the cooker is going.

Nowadays the Building Regulations require all new cylinders to meet high insulation standards so socks can’t be aired on them any more! So this can lead to excessive hot water temperatures being achieved which can cause scale build up, possible scalding and other problems. So its important to consider the water heating side carefully, allowing for family size and water usage. As these cookers heat the water REGARDLESS of electricity they require a GRAVITY HOT WATER SYSTEM . This means 28mm flow and return hot water pipes to a cylinder located ABOVE the cooker. This can lead to installation problems if your kitchen is in a single story extension, or you don’t want to see 1″ diameter copper pipes running up the wall, or you want the cooker for use in France or Spain.

I personally don’t like cookers that do hot water as well.I have had a solid fuel Rayburn when my 4 children were small – hot water ran out during bath time, admittedly an excessive sploshy free- for- all every night. Then we had a 2 oven solid fuel Aga – less hot water – so I upgraded the boiler to a 135 ( gallons a day). Then I converted to oil, but still required a top up using the central heating boiler as well !

So now I reckon to let “the cooker cook, and the boiler boil” if using a simple cooker without water thermostatic control.

Cookers that do EVERYTHING

Essentially a compromise, as you must have a very large cooker to have a big pair of ovens, a big boiler and a big hob . Thus we can get to the “jack of all trades” situation. For example Rayburn produce the 400 series up to 125,000 btus . Now that’s a lot of hot water – enough for 25 radiators – but if you have that much house, surely you have a utility room that can house the boiler – quietly out of the kitchen?

To obtain MAXIMUM efficiency in this era of high energy costs the burners fitted in today’s cookers need to be fuel efficient. Thus the modern cooker uses ( or should use) a BLOWN GAS or PRESSURE JET Oil burner. Unfortunately these fan the air into the combustion chamber – and as you know from kitchen extractors – fans create noise! What happens is the fan BLOWS in the air and this is mixed with the combustion fuel ( oil or gas) and electronically ignited. The noise element cannot be got rid of as the fan must be able to suck in the air – and mostly this comes from the room. If you consider a fan assisted gas wall hung boiler – these are less noisy as the flue is usually balanced i.e. the fresh air is sucked in from outside, burnt and then the gases are expelled.  If you want maximum fuel efficiency you buy a blown gas or PJ fired cooker. If you want a quiet cooker you choose one with an “atmospheric burner”  thats lit 24/7 and usually manually lit.

If you decide to have a separate boiler – rather than a central heating cooker – you can also look for a “condensing version”. These are almost unheard of in cookers, except for the Sandyford range. Ask for more details.

So here are some COMPARISONS on Aga v Rayburn cookers

Years ago , the FARMER had the Aga, the FARM WORKER the RAYBURN (” free wood off the farm for you Smithers, “Oh thankee, your Lordship , the wife will be very ‘appy about  that ” ). Now Smithers is replaced with a Ford Tractor and the cottage sold to some “incomers” who work in the City !” The farmer hasn’t any wood to spare and the cottager wouldn’t know how to lay a fire anyway!

If you want the BEST cooker , with the largest hot plates and biggest ovens , Oh and keep the cat warm

then you buy an Aga. You can cook your bread at 3am if you wish as the oven is always up to heat .
If you have lots of DINNER PARTIES for 10+ guests you buy a 4 oven Aga.

If you have a 4+ bedroom house with utility room , you buy an Aga – it puts up your home’s value! The central heating boiler goes in the utility room.

If you have a mid terrace you buy a RAYBURN as an Aga would overpower the kitchen!
If you have an adequate heating system and your boiler is less than 10 years old you should buy an
Aga or  dry RAYBURN, especially oil or gas versions. 
If you like to cook cheap joints of meat, slowly, in a large casserole until the meat falls off the bone,
buy EITHER, as both have CAST IRON OVENS 
If you have a space some 39″ wide by 27″ deep you have enough room for a 2 oven Aga.
If you have a chimney, unused by any other appliance, you CAN flue your Aga!
You have sufficient funds to buy and install your Aga .Say £7000  as a rough guide to a recon 2 oven,
flue liner and gas / oil supply .

please see a wonderful website telling you even more!

You should buy a Rayburn if you –

  • Need lots & lots of hot water
  • Want your range as a back up cooker, but really want to heat a BIG room plus heat the bedroom above
  • Cook a lot but happy with one big oven ( Aga oven is the same size but 4″ deeper), plus a warming drawer ( ok, 2 cooking ovens on SOME models ) and like to cook at a settable  temperature- the Rayburn oven can be adjusted up or down quite quickly ( unlike an Aga )
  • Want to run 4-18 radiators from your cooker.  Have only 36″ space under your chimney.
    (Agas NEVER run rads- unless they have a separate boiler bolted alongside – looks like part of the cooker)
  • Want to only turn UP the oven when you want to cook – you need a Rayburn .
  • want to TIME your cooker – you can on a GAS Rayburn ( several models )  or an Electrickit aga-even by an APP on the phone1
  • Want a cooker / room heater on a BOAT – have supplied several!
  • Want to run a cooker on HEAVY oil ( diesel / mazout French oil) – sorry NOT an option!
  • Need to burn WOOD ( paper, disposable nappies, junk mail, ) then you MUST use a Rayburn
  • Can only get CHEAP COAL or PEAT – Agas only use Phurnacite or similar manufactured coals

Having had both Agas and Rayburns my “cooking division” prefers the Aga – bigger ovens and hob.  But if you are a TINC couple ( twin income , no children) a timeable Rayburn saves heating the kitchen all day with an Aga whilst you are out!

Some perfect answers if you can only afford a S/H cooker.

Semi detached 10 rad house , mains gas 15ft sq kitchen   – a 380AG /480 AG- DO NOT BUY A GAS NOUVELLE as gas parts obsolete and illegal to fit ( NO CE stamp)

Mid Terrace  6 rad house ,  – 2 beds & bathroom , through lounge / diner – Rayburn MF ( solid fuel )

Rambling Victorian Vicarage. Aga in kitchen, boiler in utility room , log burners in study & drawing room!
If you want to burn WOOD
If you have a small house or bungalow that needs only a few rads, only  a Rayburn can do it . If you have a LARGE house that needs 25 rads _ yes, a RAYBURN can be supplied ( oil fired) but be careful!

In the past the Rayburn was the “poor mans Aga ” but now it can do full central heating – say 100,000 btus
rads and that’s not a poor mans house! But it will cost you £8000 + fitting to buy and for that you can buy both
a recon Aga and a new central heating boiler .

What are Agas and Rayburns BAD AT COOKING?

Woks – better on a gas flame ( see you local Chinese take-away burners  )* Buy a separate one for £25

Chips – or French Fries – need double dipping in very hot fat – again buy a proper deep fat fryer. Update – electrickit  converted Agas will do chips now!

If you would like to see the look of the different cookers please see the “stock” pages for photos But if you still aren’t sure ,  email me and I send you a photo (jpg format)

There are many different models of cooker but here are some “trade terms ” which will help you

Conventional flue – means a chimney ( brick ) or man made is required. Unless stated in my spec ,EVERY cooker needs a chimney and that means FULL HOUSE HEIGHT and it needs Planning!

>Balanced flue- no chimney needed, just a hole through the outside wall BEHIND the cooker. These are only available to SOME purpose built gas cookers, NEVER oil or SOLID FUEL, and no, other models can’t be “converted” if exiting in someone else’s garden it can lead to problems!

Central heating- (can also do domestic hot water)

LPG (bottled liquid propane gas – VERY EXPENSIVE !)

Multi fuel -designed to burn wood and coal in the same fire ( at the same time if you want) even peat, disposable nappies, junk mail where allowed!

200, 300, 400 series – see to understand these categories ! ditto heatranger / cookmaster etc

Left hand or right hand ovens Up to 1988 you could have a handed cooker – now ALL Rayburns have a right hand oven, left hand fire arrangement. So if you OLD cooker needs replacing you may have a job FINDING a good replacement.

VITREOUS ENAMEL – This is GLASS melted onto the metal at 830oC. It’s not economic to re-do a Rayburn front – they are NOT designed to come to bits, unlike Agas. Beware other processes – see below

>Powder coating – Often called ENAMELLING this is NOT the same as Vitreous and can MELT with a red hot pan on it. Ideal for side panels on cookers, but NOT RECOMMENDED on cast iron body parts! There is POLYESTER POWDER, ACRYLIC POWDER & others! Great on my motor bike frame – it withstands knocks, stone chips well but not kitchen use on a cooker.

Fuel Types used on Agas and Rayburns

Oil – Only 28 second heating oil ( called kerosene –  paraffin if bought “loose” )  can be used on cookers at present produced new with WICK BURNERS,  work on the current ( and past) range of vaporising burners.

NOTE French oil IS DIFFERENT and wick burners WILL NOT WORK ON IT. The ONLY exception to this is the Pressure Jet burner fitted on some Rayburns – the burners can be modified to pump the heavier fuel. Not recommended.

If you are CONFUSED – mail me your questions – even what you may think of as SILLY one!