When it comes to ranges and cooktops, Americans have always had two choices: gas or electric. Induction cooktops, which have been popular in Europe for years, are now gaining a foothold in America and have become an attractive third option.
Each type of cooktop has pros and cons you should consider before making a purchase, so let’s break down the different options.
Gas cooktops are a no-nonsense and very popular cooking solution. Their biggest advantage is instant heat—just turn on the flame and your pot or pan will be hot in seconds. Plus, you’ll be able to raise or lower the temperature instantly, which means more precise control while cooking. Of course, there is a downside to a typical gas control knob: it’s hard to get the same temperature every time you use it.
Another advantage is that you can put any type of pot or pan on a gas burner—including cast iron, copper, and stainless steel. You can find gas cooktops at several different price points, but maintenance costs are low. However, if you don’t already have a gas line in your kitchen, you’ll have to have one installed, which of course adds significant costs.
Electric cooktops are the least expensive option, which is probably their biggest advantage. Their main downside, however, is a slow change in heat. You have to wait for them to heat up when you turn them on, and changes in temperature occur slowly, giving you less control than a gas cooktop, so precise results can be hard to achieve.
Electric stoves that have coiled heating elements can be maintained inexpensively and the ceramic coils can be easily replaced if they get damaged. Ceramic radiant electric cooktops are a bit pricier to repair, but are very easy to clean since you’re just wiping down one flat surface.
Induction cooktops are one of the most popular kitchen appliance trends of the past few years. Induction cooktops use electromagnetism to cook your food, which sounds complex, but it’s actually simple, super-efficient, and safe.
Below each cooking zone in an induction cooktop is a coil of metal. When the power is turned on, a current flows through the coil and produces an invisible magnetic field. If there is no pan on the cooking zone, no heat is produced, so it’s cool to the touch.
Once a pan that contains iron (cast iron, black metal, or stainless steel with a magnetic grade base) is placed on the cooking zone, the magnetic field induces electrical currents inside the pan, so the pan itself gets hot and acts as its own heating element. In comparison, gas and electric cooktops are heated indirectly, using either a gas flame or electric coil to pass heat to the pan.
Induction cooktops can achieve very high temperatures and reach the lowest temperatures of the three types of stoves. As mentioned, with induction cooktops you don’t get heat anywhere except where your cookware sits. This means that if you happen to have an overflow, food cannot become baked on. In fact, most models don’t need a specialist cleaner. You can simply wipe them down with a damp cloth or use the same spray as you do everywhere else in your kitchen.
The main downside to induction cooktops is cost. They are the most expensive of the three options. Also, you need to have pots and pans that contain iron for an induction cooktop to work. So be sure to include the price of a new set of cookware in your budget.
The Bottom Line
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the kind of cooktop or range you choose. Gas cooktops probably fit most people’s needs. However, if you’re a serious chef with a big budget then induction is probably the way to go. But if you just need an inexpensive stove to boil water and fry an egg, then electric will be fine.
Here at Reno’s Appliance, we offer a large inventory of cooktops and ranges from top brands. Stop by our showroom in Paterson, NJ to view our selection and speak to our friendly and knowledgeable sales staff.