What You Need to Know When Deciding on a New Cooktop
Ideas and Advice

What You Need to Know When Deciding on a New Cooktop

Cooktops are some of the most cost-effective and design-friendly major appliances currently available for the kitchen. First, their numerous fuel types allow them to accommodate any utility hookups in your kitchen. Secondly, a plethora of widths and modular combinations allow them to fit any size workspace and cooking style. Best of all, their drop-in installation allows them to be placed on virtually any style countertop, including a kitchen island. However, not all kitchen countertops are built the same, so it’s essential to consider every factor of cooktop installation before purchasing a new one.

It is not as simple as taking measurements of the cutout space you wish to place the cooktop. Since they are built into your countertop, you must consider everything that will be under them as well, including cabinetry, fuel hookups and possibly even other appliances. Whether you're installing an induction, electric or gas cooktop, you can add one of these low-profile appliances to your kitchen easily if you plan accordingly.

Basic Measurements

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The first step when preparing to purchase a new cooktop is to take measurements of the area around the cutout in which you intend to place it. Use a tape measure to get your existing cooktop's dimensions from side to side and from front to back. If you intend to create a new cutout in your countertops, plan and then measure out the space you want your new cooktop to sit in. We suggest you place tape along the edges of the space to help you see it visually. Note: These initial measurements only cover the countertop surface overlap of the cooktop.

The second step is to remove your existing cooktop from the cutout and take precise measurements of the hole. This means not only getting the length and width of the cutout, but its depth as well. Having both surface and cutout measurements is critical if you are not designing a new cutout to fit your intended purchase. While the cutout is exposed, you should also measure the thickness of the countertop. If your counter does not rest on cabinetry and is not dense enough to secure your new cooktop in place, it can potentially collapse under the mass of both your appliance and any heavy cookware resting on it. Consult with your contractor or an appliance expert if you are unsure whether your counter can support your new cooktop. Their expertise can help you determine if your appliance is safe to place inside your countertops as well as any brackets or framing that can be installed to provide necessary support.

Space Considerations When Selecting a Fuel Type

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It is also very important to understand the amount of space necessary for fuel hookups (if necessary)—a consideration that should not be overlooked. When installing a new cooktop, consider your selected fuel type before you make a final purchase, as each can have vastly different space requirements and hookup capabilities.

  • For a gas cooktop: Choose a model that minimizes the length of the connection to your gas main since gas valve locations differ by brand.
  • For an electric or induction cooktop: figure out where the power cords will be in relation to the plug. This is to ensure you avoid pinching, bending or otherwise damaging the electrical cords in ways that can cause a fire hazard.
  • If you plan on converting your cooktop to be used with liquid propane, make sure to also allow room for a propane tank under your counter or any connecting lines to a larger outdoor tank.

Additional Factors Affecting Cooktop Installation

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When selecting the size of a cooktop, ensure you are going by the exact measurements as listed by the manufacturer. Online retailers categorize their appliance selections by rough widths to optimize search filters for consumers, but there can be just enough variation in their actual measurements to have an impact on the appliance’s exact fit in your kitchen. For instance, a cooktop’s width might be listed as 30 inches, but the actual width on the manufacturer’s spec sheet could be 29.75 inches—even a small difference like this could have a major impact on the fit of the cooktop within the countertop!

Do you plan on installing your new cooktop over a wall oven? While keeping your cooking appliances centrally located is efficient, you need to make sure you have adequate clearance between both appliances. It is recommended that you buy your cooktop and wall oven pairings from the same manufacturer, as these appliances are often designed to complement each other. Manufacturers can advise you on the necessary clearance required for compatible cooktops and wall ovens.

If you have drawers or cabinetry under your cutout, you may need to replace them with sealed false fronts. The components of a cooktop’s underside will inhibit installation of telescopic racks for drawers, and you won’t want to store items in an undercounter cabinet with exposed electrical wires or gas valves. False fronts will serve as a stylish aesthetic choice for both concealing cooktop components and ensuring your safety.

Finally, it is paramount you measure for clearance on all sides of (including above) your cooktop’s surface. These measurements are most often found in your cooktop's included manual or installation guide. Here are some standard recommendations:

  • Allow at least 12-15 inches of space on either side of the cooktop.
  • A minimum of 3 inches of clearance between the cooktop and the rear wall should be sufficient to prevent heat damage or fire.
  • The bottom of any range hood you install should be between 24-36 inches above a gas cooktop and 20-24 inches above an electric model. If you choose to go with a downdraft cooktop, you will likely need additional depth in your cutout to accommodate ducting.

The process of purchasing and installing a new cooktop can be a relatively simple endeavor with adequate preparation. Due diligence at the early stages can save you a ton of time and money by eliminating the need to either return your appliance or perform additional modifications to your countertop before installation.

Related Questions

Does a cooktop need to be installed by an electrician?

While you can install a cooktop yourself, it is advised you hire a licensed professional to do the job. You will be liable for any accidents caused by the malfunction of your appliance due to installation mistakes, and doing so would also likely void your appliance’s warranty.

Do electric cooktops require venting?

Even though electric cooktops dissipate less heat than gas, they can still warm up your kitchen and make it uncomfortable due to the steam, smoke, and odors emitted by the food you’re cooking. Most cooking surfaces should have range hood pairing to protect yourself and your surrounding cabinetry from excessive heat.