Are cooktops range stoves? Induction, gas, or electric? Stoves come with choices. Learn the basics of each type and what to consider when choosing a stove.
With so many types of burners and cooktop surfaces to choose from, it can be hard to decide which kitchen stove is best-suited for your home, not to mention your household's needs. Ultimately, you'll have to balance your aesthetic preferences, cooking habits and budget as you sort through your options. That's why we've assembled this quick guide to the most popular kitchen stove models.
Induction cooktops are electric ranges. However, in place of traditional exposed heating elements, induction cooktops consist of magnetic coils covered by a smooth, glass-ceramic surface. Because the stove relies on electromagnetism, it only heats up if an induction-compatible metal pot or pan is placed on the cooktop.
- Because they do not generate heat via flames or direct electrical means, cooks are less likely to burn themselves while using an induction cooktop.
- Induction cooktops are typically more energy-efficient than gas or electric models.
- Induction cooktops heat up almost instantaneously and are very responsive to temperature adjustments. They offer a great deal of precision and user control.
- Induction cooktops are often more expensive than comparable electric or gas models.
- Not all cookware is compatible with induction technology. You may need to invest in new, flat-bottomed magnetic cookware if you purchase an induction stove.
Electric Smooth Top Cooktops
As with induction cooktops, the actual heating elements in an electric smooth top range are covered by a glass-ceramic surface. However, the heat underneath is generated by steel coils or halogen lamps.
- Because they optimize the infrared conductivity of glass-ceramic materials, electric smooth top ranges deliver more of their heat directly to your pots and pans. That means they waste less heat. In doing so, they also help keep your kitchen cooler while you're cooking.
- The smooth cooktop surface is the one element of the stove that will need regular cleaning.
- Electric smooth top range surfaces are quite susceptible to scratches. Scratching the glass-ceramic surface can create fissures in which food can become trapped and baked in, keeping them from operating at peak efficiency.
- Likewise, any food that spatters, boils over or spills must be immediately cleaned up in order to minimize the likelihood of a permanent stain.
- You must also exercise great care in selecting and using cookware to avoid damaging the range's smooth surface. For instance, cast iron can easily scratch the smooth glass-ceramic surface.
- Finally, the stove's glass-ceramic surface can only be cleaned using special solvents.
- They are often more expensive than traditional electric ranges.
Electric Coil Cooktops
In a traditional electric range, burners convert electricity running through metal coils into heat.
- Electric coil ranges are the least expensive options on the market.
- The heating elements plug in and are easy to replace in case they burn out or otherwise malfunction.
- Electric coil stoves have a reputation for uneven cooking due to coil "hot spots."
- It can be difficult to keep the coil burners perfectly level, which can also lead to uneven cooking as food tilts to one side of the pan.
- The coils are often slow to heat, as well as cool.
- Electric coil cooktops lack the control and precision offered by induction and gas models.
Gas ranges consist of several individual sealed gas-fired burners. These burners sit underneath iron grates that support pots and pans. Open flames from the gas burner surround the bottom of the cookware, evenly distributing the heat across its surface.
- Gas stoves heat up more quickly than electric models.
- As the flames are always visible, gas stoves are easy to monitor. Smooth top electric ranges may still be dangerously hot to the touch even though the burners are no longer glowing red.
- Gas stoves do not rely upon electricity and can still be used in case of a power outage.
- Gas stoves can be difficult to clean. Food can easily spill or fall into the depressions surrounding the gas burners. However, the grates and pans in a gas stove can be removed and cleaned separately
- If your kitchen is not plumbed for gas, you may have to hire a service technician to install a gas line in order to use one of these models.
- Gas leaks can be very dangerous. They can cause fires, lead to explosions and expose members of your household to poisonous carbon monoxide.
- Most models rely on a pilot light that can be extinguished, requiring the entire stove to be relit (and creating the risk of a gas leak).
- Gas stoves are more expensive than electric ranges but less expensive that induction models.
Whatever kitchen stove you decide best meets your needs, remember that it will be a major purchase. Since your stove is one of the most frequently used appliances in any home, it's inevitable that it will break down over time. Be sure to protect your investment and your budget by purchasing an American Home Shield® Home Warranty. It covers up to 21 major home system components and appliances, including your range, oven, cooktop and microwave oven.