How To Choose The Best Cooktop For Your Needs

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how to choose a cooktop

Choosing the right cooktop can be a daunting task. Not only are there a ton of different models to choose from, but there are also different types of cooktops to choose from. If you’re not sure which cooktop is best for you, here are the pros and cons of the most common types of cooktops to help you make the right decision.

There are three main types of cooktops that consumers often choose from when purchasing a cooktop: gas cooktops, electric cooktops and induction cooktops.

What is the difference between a cooktop and a stove?

A frequently asked question among people is what the difference is between ranges, stoves, and cooktops.

Both the terms range and stove can be used synonymously in everyday conversation. Range includes a cooktop area with zones that can be used to cook using any method of cooking. You will find the oven at the bottom of the cooking area.

Most of the ranges in regular households are about 30-36 inches wide. Ranges used in industrial kitchens and restaurants can often be even bigger than this. Double oven ranges are also getting pretty popular these days. If you’d like to know more about them, we suggest reading our guides about double oven electric ranges and double oven gas ranges.

Induction Cooktops

Induction cooktops use electromagnets to heat or cook different ingredients. The cooktop works by the food items falling into a zone and magnetically cooking without using an external power source. No preheating is required. You can use induction cooktops in more ways than any other type of cooktop, which makes it a good option for people who like to cook a lot or for people who don’t want to use their oven at all.

Pros:

  • No need to preheat
  • Easier to clean
  • No gas or oil needed to cook
  • Induction cooktops can be used in almost any type of kitchen

Cons:

  • May take longer to cook than gas and electric
  • Doesn’t have a heating element
  • Some say older induction cooktops are very dangerous because you can be electrocuted when cooking on them

Gas Cooktops

Gas cooktops are fairly standard. They use an internal flame for cooking. The majority of gas cooktops have a standard gas hob insert with a gas burner and metal burners, or you can choose to go with a stovetop insert.

These cooktops are efficient in heating the cooking surface but require a lot of attention to maintain. Gas cooktops are also prone to tipping and toppling the cookware over due to their uneven surface. The electric range is the superior alternative in this case.

Their burners are usually height adjustable for height preference. They have good back-up heat control, and gas cooktops are ideal for larger kitchens.

The downsides of gas cooktops are they can be more expensive than electric cooktops, and there are safety concerns if there isn’t enough pressure to fill the tank. Gas cooktops also tend to emit a gas-y smell when they’re used. If you don’t like the smell, you might want to look for electric cooktops that use a ceramic induction burners.

Electric Cooktops

Electric cooktops offer a good balance of power, ease of use, and overall durability. You also don’t have to worry about gas lines getting frozen or burnt because the temperature is controlled by electricity.

Most electric cooktops have a gas burner on one side and an electric element on the other side, allowing you to switch between gas and electric, depending on what your cooking needs are.

While gas and electric cooktops are great and very popular, electric elements can be problematic because you are stuck having to switch to gas when you want to add a sauce or a dish to the grill.

Compared to gas cooktops, electric element cooktops tend to be more expensive, but their energy efficiency means that you are spending less on your energy bills.

Downdraft Cooktops

Downdraft cooktops draw the air down through from a small vent that’s placed very close to the surface of the cooktop. If you don’t like the look of traditional range hoods, this is a minimalistic and stylish option to consider. Downdraft cooktops also work well for baking or roasting because they are placed higher than other types of stoves and can provide additional counter space.

Read more: Best 30″ Gas Cooktop With Downdraft

However, downdrafts cost more, take up more space, and aren’t good for those with respiratory problems like asthma.

Wood Cooktops

The major problem with wood cooktops is that they’re extremely difficult to maintain, especially if you live in an area where wood is not readily available. If you neglect the fact that you need to get wood in order to use them, these types of cooktops are designed to be low maintenance, and they’re mostly found in cabins where people don’t live regularly.

Cooktops come in different materials too

There are a bunch of different types of cooktops, and each one has its own pros and cons.

Conventional Cooktops

Conventional cooktops are characterized by solid metal plates with holes that heat up from the bottom. Conventional cooktops tend to have a flat bottom and raised, flat sides. Conventional cooktops are the most common kind of cooktop. This type of cooktop also comes in ceramic and glass.

Smooth Top Cooktops Are Either Glass or Ceramic

The vast majority of modern cooktops are made of smooth ceramic or glass. While they’re very durable and will stand up to a lot of wear and tear, this style of cooktop tends to be a little on the expensive side.

Glass Cooktops

Glass cooktops allow you to cook over a heat source without much effort. Glass cooktops can be easy to clean because you won’t have to scrub away the grease and fat that built up on them. Other than that, glass cooktops tend to be less stable than any of the other cooktops listed here, so you should be careful when cooking in them.

Ceramic Cooktops

On ceramic cooktops, the coils of metal under the ceramic glass are embedded. The heating elements are brought to the targeted temperature using electronic heating.

After the coil heats the ceramic surface, the pan will also be heated. While the elements do cycle on and off during use, the erratic nature of ceramic cooktops makes the heat harder to control accurately than with induction cooktops.

Stainless Steel Cooktops

Stainless steel cooktops are the cheapest of the bunch, but they’re also the most common. They tend to have more of an industrial look to them, making them attractive, but they also look a little dated.

Not only is it more difficult to clean, but it’s also more susceptible to heat transfer and can cause serious issues if you burn something. If you don’t plan on using the smooth ceramic cooktops for most of your cooking, but still want a shiny new cooktop, consider stainless steel instead.

They tend to be cheaper and they won’t give you any problems with their heating power.

Conclusion

With all of the options out there, it can be difficult to pick the best cooktop for your kitchen. To make it easier, we have a few things to consider when you’re choosing a cooktop:

  • Capacity: How much cooktop space you need to fit a meal for your whole family?
  • Convenience: Which cooking surface material will suit your cooking habits the best? Do you want your cooktop to be as easy to clean as possible?
  • Thermal Stability: Do you want a ceramic cooktop that will require regular monitoring and maintenance? Or do you want one that has high energy efficiency, yet is still stable?