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Cooktop Buying Guide

A comprehensive cooktop guide that will give you all the information you need to know when shopping for a new cooktop.
Cooktop Buying Guide
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Cooktop Buying Guide
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What's A Cooktop?

When you imagine making dinner this evening, you might immediately picture sliced veggies and proteins sizzling atop a range—or a cooktop. One of the most commonly used appliances in the kitchen, a cooktop is a great addition to an island countertop and is a necesssity for homes with built-in wall ovens. When shopping for the right appliance for your lifestyle, you'll need to keep a few key details in mind to stay within your budget and match your space's style.
Before you dive in and start looking at brands or products, it's a good idea to step back and consider the basics. Should you choose electric or gas to fuel yours, or is an induction cooktop the best type for your home? What about accessories and the number of burners? And is a rangetop a better option altogether? We delve into the following below, and can help you weigh your pros and cons.

Types: Fuel, Variations & More

Gas Cooktops

Like with a standard range, these appliances require a natural gas source in your home and plug into a standard 120v outlet. They are available in a variety of sizes ranging from 12-46 inches in width and can be purchased with 1, 2, 4, 5, or 6 burners depending on the model. No matter how small your kitchen is, you'll have the room for a high-quality cooktop designed to create culinary delights. Whatever size is best for your home, you'll have more choices ahead—like whether to choose open or closed gas burners.
Open burners apply direct flame to cookware and have a wide opening around the burner. Efficient and popular with chefs, their design allows for extra air intake, which leads to boosted cooking power. Keep in mind that their open design requires you to lift the top surface of the range to clean any spills that may have fallen below the cooktop surface. Some higher-end models have a pull-out tray that rests just below the control panel for easier cleanup, too.
The more common sealed burners are completely sealed around the burner and have no openings within the cooking area, allowing for greater control and easier cleanup. Sealed burners heat efficiently and work well in both professional and residential kitchens. These are the most common burner type, and what you probably picture when you imagine that simmering pot of chicken soup or high-heat stir-fry.
Most gas cooktops will have at least one or two high output burners, which will range anywhere from 12,000 to 22,000 BTUs. These are perfect for boiling water, searing steaks, and other high-heat tasks.
BTU stands for British Thermal Units. It is the measurement of heat output that applies to the power generated by gas cooktops and rangetops. One BTU is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

Advantages of gas cooktops:

  • You have instant control of temperatures
  • You can still use them during a power outage
  • They can be used with any type of cookware
  • Many newer models have the option to convert to propane

Disadvantages of gas cooktops:

  • Even with sealed burners, they are more difficult to clean than radiant or induction cooktops because you still have to remove the caps and grates to get to the cooktop surface
  • Anyone near the appliance needs to be careful around the open flame and grease spatter. Paper towels and cloth pot holders are fire hazards if they are too close to the open flame

Professional Rangetops

These appliances are available as gas-only devices and share the exact same advantages and disadvantages as traditional gas cooktops—but at a much higher level due to boosted heat output among burners.
Rangetops vary in sizes from 24-48 inches wide with the option of 4-10 burner-only models or 4-8 burners with an integrated griddle, grill top or French top included. Unlike traditional cooktops that typically only allow for one or two high-output burners, almost all of the burners on a pro rangetop will be high-output burners. With that in mind, make sure you have the appropriate size range hood when purchasing a pro-style rangetop.

Cooktops Vs. Rangetops

Having a hard time telling the difference? There are some visual cues; cooktops sit on top of your counter and are usually no taller than 2-6 inches, which allows users to install a drawer or built-in oven underneath.
Meanwhile, rangetops slide into both your counter and cabinet and have a bit more depth and height to them. Models typically have a standing height ranging from 7.5-10.5 inches. Rangetop knobs always sit in front, along the same face as your cabinetry. Meanwhile, cooktop controls nearly always sit atop your countertop, though some high-end models have knobs that face in front as well. Keep in mind that because of their taller standing height, rangetops cannot be installed over an oven.

Electric Cooktops

An alternative to natural gas-fueled cooktops, these appliances require a 220v connection in your home. But just like gas versions, they can be installed on top of your counter with a new or existing oven underneath. They range in sizes from 12-45 inches in width and are available with 1-6 burners. Electric cooktops have three different cooking style top options, too: coil, ceramic glass, and induction.

Coil Burner Cooktops

These appliances have electric heating elements that radiate heat up to the pan. Each coil is easy to remove if necessary, but that can add a little more time to clean up. The biggest advantage of coil cooktops? They're the most budget-friendly of the three variations. The main disadvantages are that they take a while to heat up and cool down, and they don't offer many high-tech options.

Ceramic Glass Cooktops

The most common (and popular) variety of cooktop, ceramic glass models are similar to coil versions when it comes to how they work; the difference is that ceramic cooktops heat by passing electricity through heating elements below the smooth ceramic top. The heat is then sent out in waves through the ceramic cover to the cookware. Ceramic glass versions come in all kinds of variations and options and can be used with almost any kind of flat-bottom cookware (including cast iron).

The advantages of ceramic glass cooktops are:

  • The ceramic glass is resistant to cracking
  • Easier to clean than gas or coil cooktops
  • They can accommodate any type of flat bottom pan
  • They heat up faster than coil models
  • Their smooth surfaces are aesthetically pleasing

The disadvantages are:

  • Users have to be careful when transferring pans from one burner to the next to prevent surface scratches
  • They are more expensive than coil burners
  • They take longer to cool down than gas burners

Induction


Important Detail About Induction Cooktops
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Important Detail About Induction Cooktops
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Less common, but more high-tech. Induction cooktops use magnetic fields to induce a warming reaction in steel-based pots and pans. That reaction then allows the pan to heat the food, while the cooktop surface receives no heat at all. Because heat is created immediately in cookware through induction, food cooks up and water boils fifty percent faster on induction cooktops when compared to electric or gas cooktops. They also cool down instantly, making them faster and more energy-efficient than all other cooktop types.
Induction cooktops have many of the same advantages and disadvantages as ceramic glass except:
  • You will need to use magnetic flat-bottom pans when using an induction cooktop. Not sure if yours will work? See if a magnet attaches to the bottom or not for a quick answer. If yes, add it to your cookware collection. If not, it will not work to create an induction reaction.
  • Induction cooktops are the most expensive of all variations

Features

Bridge Element

Combines two elements into one large cooking area which is ideal for oversized cooking. Found in electric and induction only.

Coil Heating Elements

Provides consistent even heat on the cooktop with a plug-in element that is removable for easy cleaning. Electric only.

Downdraft Exhaust

Available on some cooktops, these integrated hood vents are similar in function to a range hood. A fan draws smoke and odors down into the cooking unit and disperses them outdoors through a venting system. Available in both electric and gas variants.
Some models also have the option to recirculate exhaust instead. If the cooktop doesn't have integrated downdraft venting, you may have the option to add downdraft venting independently. Available in electric, induction, and gas cooktops.

Dual Stacked Sealed Burner

Two burners are stacked one above the other. One produces lower BTUs for simmering sauces or melting delicate items like chocolate. The other is for searing or power boiling. This allows for a true simmer or sear, all on one burner. Available in gas cooktops only.

Electronic Touch Controls

These are electronic touch-control cooktops with no knobs. This type of cooktop allows for precise control of the surface elements, virtually eliminating the guesswork regarding heat settings. Comes in electric and induction variants.

Electronic Ignition

An automatic system that instantly lights burners on gas cooktops.

Flex Zone Elements

These elements allow you to use two induction zones separately or link them together to create one large cooking surface. For that reason, Flex Zones are exclusive to induction models.

Freedom Cooktops

The entire induction cooktop can be used as one large cooking surface. Perfect for holiday meals and those who host and cook for large families often.

Modular Accessories

Some manufacturers offer modular attachments for their cooktops. These attachments are usually 12" to 15" and can be used with either gas or electric units. Examples of modular add-ons include a griddle, grill, teppanyaki, deep fryer, steamer and wok burner. You can find these on all types of cooktops.

Pan Presence Sensor

Detects when a burner element is left "on" and automatically shuts it off when not in use.

Pan Size Sensor

When the sensor detects a pan's temperature is surpassing a safe limit (around 450°F) the burner will shut off automatically until a lower, safe pan temperature is reached. These sensors are found in electric coil models only.

Pan Size Sensor

This sensor automatically adjusts the heating element to match the size of the pan, and is only found in induction cookers.

Triple Stacked or Tri-Ring Burner

These burners give you three different levels of heat all in one burner. This level of control allows users to gradually reduce sauces or boil quickly without having to change burners.

Smart Cooktops

A smart cooktop allows you to connect via Bluetooth or WiFi with help from a downloadable app. The app allows you to remotely control and monitor your cooktop. Some models even work with virtual assistants like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

What Our Customers Say About Us

  • Excellent Quality of Service. Communication was easy. Delivery and installation of the refrigerator was on time and professional. I am a repeated customer of ABT and without hesitation will reach out to them for any future purchase of an appliance.
    Veda D. - Dyer, TN
    June 7, 2022
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