Cooktop & Range Buying Guide
Versatility. Economy. Efficiency. These aren’t usually terms you associate with cooktop ranges, but today’s major appliances are harder working and more efficient than ever.
As is the case with most major household appliances, there are numerous cooktop ranges to choose from. Electric, gas, and induction are the three main fuel types.
Gas: This fuel is a popular option since it heats quickly and can be controlled easily and precisely. Standard gas burners produce approximately 9,000 BTU’s an hour, and can also range from 500 to 16,000 BTU’s per hour, depending on burner size.
Models that feature sealed burners help prevent spills and food from sneaking down below the burner. The pilotless ignition systems helps to make starting the flame a breeze. Gas cooktop ranges utilize either natural gas or liquid propane (LP).
Electric: This is today’s most widely used cooktop range type and is extremely well-received. Electric units are the most versatile type and offer three different ways of heating:
- Coil sits in recessed cavity
- Quick heating, fast cooking
Radiant heating elements
- Placed under a glass ceramic surface
- Cleaning is easy as wiping a countertop
Solid disk elements
- Heating elements sits in cast-iron burner
- Consistent heating with simple cleanup
Electric cooktop ranges have their disadvantages, as well, most notably a sometimes sluggish reaction time. This could make holding a simmer challenging and possibly increase the time it takes to bring water to a boil.
Induction: This cooktop range’s innovative and energy-efficient design features a flat-surfaced cooktop and uses magnetic fields to heat the cookware. The result? Elements heat up quickly, and the cooktop surface itself remains cool. This is the safest and most energy-efficient type of cooktop range available. In addition, it’s extremely easy to clean.
The only real drawback to an induction cooktop is that it requires magnetic cookware. If you’re unsure whether or not it’s magnetic, just place any magnet on the bottom of your cookware. If it sticks, you have yourself cookware that will work on an induction cooktop range.
Others: In addition to the above cooktops, consider these other options:
- Halogen cooktops utilize halogen bulbs under glass to create heat. They heat almost instantly and respond quickly to changes in setting, but are also average when it comes to energy efficiency.
- Modular cooktops combine gas and electricity.
Back to top.
Common cooktop sizes range from around 30 inches to 45 inches wide. Build.com offers units anywhere from 12 inches to 48 inches wide.
While we should all try to save energy in our daily lives, the cooktop range is an ideal place to improve efficiency—and there are some clear differences between cooktops.
If you’re looking for the most energy-efficient type available, try an induction cooktop range. Around 85 to 90 percent of the energy used actually heats the pot or pan, and it uses about half the energy of gas. But, what makes this type of cooktop—which brings sci-fi technology to today’s kitchen—the most energy efficient?
- Induction cooktop ranges use magnetic fields which induce heat in the cookware that’s placed on top of it.
- Induction heats up (and cools down) quickly, and the heat is easily adjusted.
- Induction does more than just save time and energy. If a saucepan has boiled dry, the induction technology senses this and turns off the heating element. Also, if you turn on the heating element and place a pot or pan that’s not compatible on it (or there’s nothing at all), it detects the mistake and won't heat up.
There’s no getting around the fact that induction cooktop ranges cost a pretty penny, though. But, the initial investment can quickly be made up for in a lifetime of energy and money savings.
Electric cooktop ranges earn the silver medal when it comes to energy efficiency, and are substantially more energy efficient than gas. The electric elements are in direct contact with what you’re trying to heat, so anywhere from 65 to 85 percent of the energy used actually heats the pot or pan. Also, keep in mind that solid disk and radiant cooktop ranges are the most consistent types because of their flat surfaces. Electric coil is the most energy-efficient type of electric cooktop.
When you’re ready to outfit your kitchen with a new cooktop, be sure to visit Build.com.
Back to top.