Find the Best Stovetop for You
The pro’s and con’s of gas, electric, smoothtop and induction cooktops
Cooktops are easily the most important component of a property’s kitchen: it’s hard to imagine a kitchen space without a working appliance for cooking and heating food. Not to mention that stovetops are arguably one of the most frequently utilized appliances in the home, which is important to keep in mind when considering their installation or replacement. Ideally, a stovetop will last without needing major repairs over the years, while also allowing for a safe and efficient heating performance.
This post will review the benefits and downsides of the four available types of stove tops: gas, electric coil, electric smoothtop and induction stove tops. Today, different manufactures produce many models with different special features at vastly different price points, but the basic characteristics of each stove type remain primarily responsible for determining the pro’s and con’s of each model.
Gas stove tops utilize flammable gas as their fuel source, with an electric or standing pilot starter igniting the gas to produce a steady flame for cooking. Stoves featuring a standing pilot system have a small and continuously burning gas flame under the cooktop, which ignites the gas as it flows out when the stove is turned on: this makes this system completely independent from outside power sources. Electric ignition stoves rely on electric sparks to ignite the gas, which results in the familiar “clicking” noise.
1. Lower emissions - air is not able to enter and cool the stovetop, thus making gas stove tops able to retain heat without needing to consume extra energy to reach and/or maintain desired temperatures.
2. Lower operating costs - relying on gas instead of electricity makes gas stoves significantly cheaper to power and use.
3. Immediate heat - having access to a burning flame allows for instant heat, making it possible to start cooking without needing to worry about the stove’s components needing to warm-up.
4. Immediate control - lowering or raising the stove top temperature is achieved by easily turning the control knobs. Cooking professionals really appreciate this quality as it makes it possible to precisely set desired temperatures throughout the cooking process.
5. Visual control - being able to see the actual flame’s size makes it possible to quickly gauge whether the temperature is set to low, medium or high.
6. Cookware-friendly - gas stoves can be used to cook with all cookware types, including cast iron, stainless steel and wok-style pans.
1. Flammability - gas is highly flammable. A gas leak can expose tenants to serious risks of accidental fires. For this reason, it’s essential to inform tenants about how to safely operate the appliance and to have it regularly checked by a professional who can ensure that it operates properly and is not allowing gas leaks.
2. Toxicity - the combustion of gas produces toxic fumes such as nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, which makes it necessary to instal an efficient and safe ventilation hood. This is a further expense, and the ventilation hood itself should be regularly maintained by a professional. Tenants should be instructed about how to safely cook with a gas appliance to avoid being exposed to harmful fumes.
3. Cleanup - gas cooking appliances are the most demanding when it comes to cleaning. Gas stove stop require regular and thorough cleaning, both of the exterior grills and surfaces and of the interior parts that make up the burners themselves. This is due to the fact that allowing grease and cooking spills to build up can result in blockages that inhibit the proper workings of the appliance and accidental fires. Regular cleanups of a gas appliance will require taking apart the burners and carefully cleaning under them.
4. Installation costs - not every property has a gas line running through the kitchen, which is necessary for making it suited for housing a gas cooking appliance. Adding a gas line can be expensive.
Electric cooktops rely on electricity to heat an internal metal coil, which becomes the heat source for cooking and heating food. In most electric cooktops, the metal coils are exposed and meant to be in direct contact with cookware.
1. Affordability - electric appliances are cheap to both purchase and install. Completely replacing an electric appliance is also cheap, with cheaper models being retailed for less than $300.
2. Maintenance - if a coil is defective or broken, it is possible to simply swap the individual coil with a new one and not have to replace the entire appliance. Similarly, repairing other broken components is easy as electric stoves are very common and parts are easy to find.
3. Practicality - operating electric stoves is simple and straightforward. Setting low, medium or high heat is done by simply turning a knob. Due to the fact that no direct combustion happens, tenants do not need need to worry about fumes or accidental fires.
4. Cookware-friendly - gas stoves can be used to cook with all cookware types.
1. Slow temperature control - the metal coils need time to both heat up and reach the desired temperature and also to change to different temperatures as one cooks. This makes it difficult to have optimal control over temperatures.
2. Uneven cooking - often times, the coils are not perfectly leveled and thus unable to evenly distribute heat to the cookware being utilized. This can make it difficult to properly cook food.
3. Design - the coils themselves and the openings housing them easily trap food, spills and grease. Heating trapped leftover spills can cause serious smoke and even fires. Tenants must be informed about the importance of regularly cleaning the cooktop. Since the coils are mounted onto the cooktop, it is not so easy to thoroughly clean the appliance.
4. Performance - electric cooktops will not reach the high temperatures that a gas flame can reach. This makes it unlikely to be able to enjoy cooking or charring certain foods that require higher temperatures.
Smoothtops incorporate the metal coils under a flat surface made of tempered ceramic-glass. Newer models substitute the metal coils with halogen lamps as the main heat source.
1. More efficient - the smoothtop surface allows for heat to be spread upward more directly and without dispersing.
2. Safer - ceramic-glass surfaces are able to cool faster than the exposed metal coils, while still allowing for no fumes, leaks or fires.
3. Easier to clean - the flat surface makes it immensely easier to wipe off spills instead of worrying about the cleaning up leftover food out of the complex design of coil cooktops.
1. Slow temperature control - smoothtop cooktops still need time to both heat up and reach the desired temperature and also to change to different temperatures as one cooks.
2. Fragility - the temperate ceramic-glass surface can scratch and crack/break easily. Tenants should be instructed to be very careful when cleaning the surface (no abrasive sponges or cleaners) and mindful of its fragility.
3. Conductivity - the flat surface makes it so that optimal heat distribution can only be achieved with heavier cookware.
Induction cooktops are incredibly innovative: thanks to electromagnetism, they generate heat in the cookware itself, not in an internal heating component that heats the food indirectly. A series of magnets - that are powered by electricity - lays underneath the temperate glass surface, exciting the iron particles in pots and pans and thus generating heat from within. While they are not so common in the United States, European countries have been widely adopting this cleaner and more practical cooking solution.
1. Efficiency - induction cooktops make its so there is virtually no waste of energy. Through electromagnetism, over 80% of the energy is transferred directly to the food in the pan. In comparison, appliances utilizing a heating element to indirectly heat food generally result in over half of the energy needed for heating being lost. Powering and using induction cooktops is cheap.
2. Temperature control - induction cooktops heat up quickly and allow for temperature changes to happen immediately. This makes it possible to have direct and precise control over cooking temperatures.
3. High heat - on the “high heat” setting, Induction cooktops allow for food to reach temperatures nearing 660°F, which is 200°F higher than the maximum average reached by the burning flame of gas stoves. This allows for a considerably shorter wait when it comes to boiling or heating for deep frying - and of course, cooking itself.
4. Safety - the surface of Induction cooktops is always cool. The heating stations can actually be safely touched when they are turned on, as the heating happens within the cookware being utilized (so no touching of pots and pans!).
5. Cleanup - as surfaces are flat, nonporous, and always cool it is possible to clean up spills with unprecedented ease, with food never being “cooked” or melted onto the surface.
6. Practicality - induction cooktops are simple and easy to use. Setting low, medium or high heat is done by simply turning a knob. No direct combustion means no fumes or accidental fires.
1. Cost - due to their technology, induction cooktops tend to be pricier than most other cooktops, with certain models costing up to $2,700.
2. Maintenance - faulty cooktops will likely require a more invasive inspection, as the magnetic coils are found underneath the surface. Higher repair costs are to be expected as individual parts will be pricey.
2. Fragility - induction cooktops utilize the same temperate ceramic-glass surface as electric smoothtop appliances, which is vulnerable to scratches and cracks. Again, tenants should not use abrasive sponges or cleaners and be mindful of its fragility.
4. Cookware restrictions - for the technology to function and actually heat pots and pans, it requires to be exposed to cookware containing iron. For this reason, cookware made with all other materials - such as clay or copper - will not be suitable for this cooktop.