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Cooktop Buying Guide

Cooktop Kitchen

A cooktop and wall oven combination is a great alternative in design for the home kitchen. In addition, cooktops and wall ovens provide a practical application with wall ovens being located higher than traditional built-in oven ranges and providing a more ergonomic access while freeing up cabinet storage underneath the cooktop. This extra space is perfect for storing pots and pans for quick access. Cooktops and wall ovens typically require a higher budget than using a traditional range stove, but some of the perks outweigh the costs. It really depends on user preference. Also, there are some home owners or consumers who only require a cooktop for their cooking needs, as an oven may serve little to no use for them. In that regard, cooktops are generally more cost effective compared to traditional range stoves.

Cooktops are designed as a practical partner for wall ovens as traditional cooking ranges might seem redundant to those who prefer a wall oven. Cooktops are designed to fit seamlessly into countertops with all their controls on the top side of the appliance. They are comparable in performance with some cooktops capable of 18,000 BTU output which is adequate for most, if not all, cooking applications.

Cooktops will fit anywhere there is available countertop space and the access towards the appropriate fuel connections. They are usually setup on kitchens with a central island counter providing a unique design aspect and focal point in the home kitchen. Wall ovens are commonly an accompanied appliance for cooktops and are typically installed within kitchen cabinetry anywhere space permits. It is entirely possible to mimic a traditional range stove appearance with having a cooktop installed on a countertop and a wall oven installed underneath it within surrounding cabinetry. The options are based on personal taste and preference.

Features

Burner

Burners

The unique thing about cooktops is that you can find models that offer merely 1 burner or heating element and as many as 8 burners. However, 4-5 burners are the more popular choice in more traditional households. Additionally, consider if there are bridged burners to accommodate griddles and odd shaped cookware. Also, for gas cooktops consider burners that are effective at high output if required and precise simmer control too. This is one of the main features to consider when purchasing a cooktop.

Venting

Venting

Some cooktops offer downdraft ventilation, eliminating the need for a range hood. Downdraft ventilation pulls and circulates air downward away from the cooking area. This is a beneficial feature for installing a cooktop on an island counter when it is not convenient for an island mount range hood. However, range hood ventilation is more effective.

Controls

Controls

Easy to use controls are a must. Some cooktops also provide a lockout feature to prevent unauthorized or unintended use. This is a useful feature for households with small children or when cleaning the cooktop. Gas cooktops will feature traditional turn dial knob controls to control flames whereas electric cooktops will feature touchpad or push button controls.

Flame

Flame Re-Ignition

For gas cooktops, this is a good feature for safety. In the event of a flame being extinguished unintentionally while there is still a gas flow, certain gas cooktops are equipped with an automatic re-ignition feature.

Easy to Clean

Easy to Clean

Cooktops should be designed to be easy to clean without many grooves and crevices. Certain electric cooktops gain a distinct advantage with smooth top offerings over gas cooktops that require the removal of grates.

Gas versus Electric

Cooktops require a gas or electric fuel hookup. Depending on what is readily available in your home, electric may be the only viable choice, as in some regions there is no gas hookup. Continue reading for a side by side comparison between the two types of fuel hookup.

Purchasing a New Cooktop

Cooktop Kitchen

Depending on how you choose to design your kitchen, a cooktop can be an addition towards the luxury in a modular modern design. However, if a cooktop is sufficient for all your cooking needs and capabilities then it is an appliance of convenience. Their sleek appearance offers a stylish way to design your kitchen. Cooktops are also arguably, easier to clean and provide no crevices for food debris to fall in between the cooktop and cabinetry as freestanding ranges often do.

Budget

Budget

One of the major contributing factors in the price of cooktops are the amount of burners they provide. Although, compared to kitchen ranges, cooktops generally start around $200 for some basic models with some premium induction cooktops running around $2,000 and more. However, some of the best cooktops will run around $1,000.

GE Monogram ZHU30RDJBB

Size

Cooktops come in a variety of sizes ranging anywhere from 21” to 48” with 30” and 36” being the two most popular sizes in width. They also come in a variety of finishes to match any kitchen décor.

Types of Cooktops

There are three distinctive types of cooktops when it comes to fuel hookup.

Verona VECTGM365SS

Gas Cooktop

This cooktop uses gas as its fuel source and is capable of immediate high flame output. This is the unique advantage that gas provides over its electric counterpart. With gas flame output, there is quick and immediate precision in control. Gas cooktops also extinguish quickly with heat retention located primarily in the grates and burner cover.

 

GE JP328WKWW

Electric Cooktop

These cooktops are offered in two main varieties, one with exposed heating elements and the other with hidden elements. The electric cooktop is fueled by electricity as its name implies. Electric cooktops generally take a little longer to reach a maximum desired heat output, and in that same regard also requires a long time for the heating elements to cool off as it will retain heat after shutoff.

Exposed heating elements typically come in the form of metal coils. This style of electric cooktop is generally the most affordable.


Hidden heating elements are usually in the form of ceramic glass smooth tops. The hidden element styled electric cooktop is widely offered. They are widely referred to as smoothtops.

Electrolux EW36IC60LB

Induction Cooktop

An induction cooktop uses electricity. They are all offered with hidden elements that utilizes electromagnetic technology to essentially indirectly heat cookware instead of having a direct heat output. The unique advantage with induction cooktops is that there is no wasted heat, any heat produced is through appropriate magnetic cookware, usually iron based and some stainless steel. Induction typically runs the priciest among the three types of cooktops.

Rangetops

Rangetops

Rangetops are an alternative to cooktops. They are similar in design except they mirror traditional ranges with their controls and knobs on the front side. Rangetops are also heavier duty in design and are able to reach high BTU outputs. In that regard, virtually all rangetops are designed to be gas fuel hookup. Their professional styled design also comes with a steeper price tag, with $2,000 being the median with rangetops.

Some Practical Advice

Range Hoods: Another important consideration is providing a range hood ventilation system. A popular option is an island mount range hood for cooktops located in a central island countertop layout. While some cooktops provide a downdraft ventilation, nothing quite beats the effectiveness of a range hood ventilation system.


Get Creative: Although, some would argue a cooktop and wall oven combination will be more expensive than purchasing a traditional cooking range, it really depends on the model and performance capability. In some cases, the two style choices are comparable in price, but the advantage of have a cooktop and wall oven really opens up a lot of options in the way you design your entire kitchen scheme.


Maintenance: Smoothtop electric cooktops are easy to clean, but are also susceptible to scratches and damage from dropping cookware or similar on top. It requires a certain amount of finesse to clean a ceramic glass cooktop. For hard stuck on food, a metal scraper and some chisel action is required. Mild soap or cleanser and a paper towel or rag is recommended over harsh cleansers, as they can promote unwanted scratches. It is also recommended to avoid using ammonia based cleaners on ceramic glass cooktops as they are not strong enough to clean stuck on food residue, additionally ammonia can leave stains on ceramic glass cooktops once it heats up.