Choosing a cooktop is one of the most important elements of outfitting a new kitchen, and the process may seem straightforward enough: why would you need a cooktop buying guide? But there's a lot that goes in to how to buy a cooktop, even beyond your choice of heating type. Your ultimate choice of cooktop depends on a huge number of factors, from your preferred cooking style to the size of your kitchen, as well as energy efficiency. Whether you opt for a gas cooktop, an induction cooktop, or an electric cooktop, the experts at Appliances Connection have you covered with this post. We'll go over some of the things that you should look for when buying a cooktop, as well as other things you should consider.
Cooktops come in a nearly limitless variety of sizes. Appliances Connection offers cooktops to suit any size of kitchen: some are as small as 12 in. wide, and others are as large as 48 in. wide. Likewise, you can select cooktops in almost any depth, from under 21 in. deep to as deep as 31 in. This means that regardless of the style of cooktop you buy, there is probably one of that style that fits in your kitchen. It's important to note that most larger cooktops come only in rangetop form. We'll talk more about rangetops later on in this post.
Finally, if you're not up for a full-on remodel of your kitchen, consider getting a portable electric or induction cooktop. These can be as small as 9 in. wide, making them easy to put away in smaller spaces.
Humans have been using gas to cook food for more than 200 years now, and gas cooktops are a popular choice even now. Modern gas cooktops have sealed or open burner caps that radiate a gas flame, and these caps are generally covered by cast iron or porcelain grates. The advantages of cooking with gas include high cooking temperatures, precise temperature control, and the ability to cook food even during a power outage. Many gas cooktops come with safety features such as burners that automatically relight themselves if they are extinguished, making gas cooktops a mainstay in American homes.
Electric cooktops are a much more modern invention. Whether you choose a glass-top model or a traditional one that has exposed coils, their function is the same: they run an electric current through a large metal coil, which then heats up anything you put on it. These dissipate less heat than gas cooktops, making them great for smaller spaces and for homes that get very hot in the summer, and many of them come with extra safety features such as hot surface indicators. If you go for a glass-top model, you also have an easier time cleaning your cooktop.
The newest player in the world of cooktops, induction is efficient, safe, and powerful. Induction cooktops work by using an electromagnetic current to directly heat your cookware. This makes induction cooking far more efficient than cooking on a traditional electric cooktop: it takes far less energy to heat a pan than it does to bring a heating coil to temperature. In addition, you get the same quick heating and precise temperature control that gas cooktops provide, making induction a great option for foodie families with small children or pets that like to jump up on the counters.
One thing to note if you do choose an induction cooktop is that you will need conductive pots and pans with flat bottoms. Cast iron cookware will work on an induction cooktop, but copper and most stainless steel will not. A good test is to see whether a refrigerator magnet will stick to the bottom of your pans. If it does, they are probably induction compatible.
Modular Designs for Custom Configurations
Whether you're a hardcore foodie or just an adventurous cook, you may want the versatility of a custom cooktop in your kitchen. The modules for these come in a wide variety of sizes, as narrow as 12 in. wide, making them a great option for compact kitchens and professional-level ones alike. If you want to mix and match cooking methods, you can get both gas and electric modules in a single cooktop, and brands like Miele are especially sought after in designer kitchens for this exact reason.
With the advent of downdraft ventilation, not all cooktops need a matching range hood. Downdraft cooktops place their vents on the cooking surface itself. This has a wide variety of benefits, especially in the convenience they bring you. Some of the benefits of downdraft ventilation include:
- Space efficiency
- Great for kitchen islands in particular
- Increased storage
- Ideal for shallow pots and pans
The placement of a cooktop in your kitchen has a great impact on the choices you have available. If you intend to place your cooktop in a kitchen island, you will need to make sure that the island has the proper electrical or gas hookups, as well as an appropriate range hood for use over an island. If you want a downdraft cooktop, you'll have to install compatible ductwork. On the other hand, if you plan on installing your cooktop over a wall oven, pay special attention to the required clearances to make sure that you have sufficient room for installation.
If you're looking for professional-level cooking, you may want to consider a rangetop instead of a cooktop. There are a few key differences between the types of appliance, but in general, rangetops increase your cooking area and power, while a cooktop is more compact.
- Rangetops have front-facing knobs that tend to be easier to reach, while cooktops have knobs on the top surface.
- A rangetop has a "bullnose" area that sticks out of your countertop, while a cooktop can often be installed flush (depending on the type).
- Finally, many rangetops come with built-in grills or griddles, whereas cooktops do not.
No matter what type of cooktop you end up getting, there are a few bits of practical advice that will make your life easier. If you or anyone in your family has arthritis or any type of mobility issues, consider getting an ADA-compliant cooktop. These have more accessible controls without sacrificing safety or cooking power.
Also, think about what size and type of range hood you want to use. You'll want a range hood that is the width of your cooktop or wider. For gas cooktops, you want a range hood with at least 100 CFM per 10,000 BTUs of your cooktop. For electric ones, multiply your cooktop's width in inches by 10 (so a 40 in. cooktop would need at least 400 CFM).
Finally, consider your cleaning preferences. Glass cooktops are the easiest to keep clean, but many gas cooktops come with dishwasher-safe grates that make cleaning easier.
How do I choose a cooktop size?
When buying a cooktop, consider not only the size of the space you'll be putting it in, but also the number of heating elements or burners it has.
Which type of cooktop is best?
In the end, the best cooktop is the one you actually use! Gas, induction, and electric cooktops all have a variety of benefits that may make them the best choice for your home.
What type of stovetop is easiest to clean?
In general, induction and glass-top electric cooktops are the easiest to keep clean. Avoid using abrasive cleaners on these surfaces, however.