Cooktops fall into four basic groups: gas drop-in, range tops, electric, and induction. We've rounded up our favorites in the 36-inch gas category that offer the power and performance of full-size ranges but with a sleeker stature.
The cooktops featured are pro-style in looks (stainless steel, prominent knobs, iron grates) and in burner power. These drop-in models fit into a cutout in the counter (and typically require at least four inches of room underneath). Many of the models are also available in a 30-inch size (a standard for electric cooktops). They all have high-power burners and very low heat or simmer options. The biggest differences are in burner and control configurations. Here are 10 to consider.
(A range loyalist? See our recent post: Remodeling 101: Range vs. Cooktop, Pros and Cons.)
Above: Top-rated by Consumer Reports and other appliance review sites, the Thermador 36-inch Masterpiece Cooktop—SGSX365FS has five star-centered burners (which distribute heat more evenly across bottoms of pans), an 18,000 BTU power burner, continuous grates, and two extra-low simmer burners. It has been updated with illuminated front controls; $1,899 at AJ Madison.
Above: What sets the Viking VGC5366BSS Professional Series Cooktop apart is its six-burner configuration rather than the five burners customary on a 36-inch cooktop. The burners are sealed and in a seamless burner pan for easy cleaning. It has an 18,000 BTU power burner and a simmer setting on all the burners; $2,199 at Abt.
Above: Wolf range devotees can venture to the cooktop side with the Wolf CG365PS Professional Cooktop complete with Wolf's signature red knobs. Made by SubZero, this cooktop offers an 18,000 BTU power burner, continuous grates, very low true simmer settings, and dual-stacked sealed burners; $2,070 at an Authorized SubZero Dealer in your area.
Above: Another highly rated model, the GE Monogram ZGU385NSMSS Gas Cooktop features three high-power burners with low-temperature simmers (140 degrees) and continuous grates; $2,999 at AJ Madison.
Above: The Bosch NGMP655UC Benchmark Series Cooktop offers a low-profile look with high performance, and it's a bit pricier than its professional cooktop counterparts. It has a 20,000 BTU power burner, continuous cast-iron grates, and metal knobs; $1,399 at AJ Madison.
Above: Made in Reading, Pennsylvania, the Bluestar Drop-in 36-inch Pro-Style Cooktop has five open Nova burners that evenly disperse the gas flames. It features a high-powered 22,000 BTU UltraNova burner, a new 130-degree simmer function, and heavy-duty controls; $2,149 at AJ Madison.
For more appliances made close to home, see our earlier feature on 13 American-Made Appliances.
Above: Miele is a growing force in the cooking-appliance market. The Miele 36-inch Stainless Gas Cooktop (KM3474G) features two 15,300 BTU burners, continuous grates, a center control panel, and a wok ring; $1,699 at Abt.
Above: The Dacor Distinctive 36-Inch Cooktop (DCT365SNG) features five sealed burners in a one-piece spill basin. An 18,000 BTU simmer/sear burner has a built-in melting feature; $1,610 at US Appliance.
Above: The GE Cafe Series 36-Inch Cooktop (CGP50SETSS) offers a center-set 20,000 tri-ring burner and a dedicated simmer burner among its five sealed burners set. The deep recessed cooktop contains spills; $1,439 at Plessers.
Above: A great budget option in the pro-style category, the Maytag 36-inch Gas Cooktop (MGC7536WS) has five sealed burners, one simmer burner, and continuous grates. The lower price brings a high burner power of 15,000 BTU, slightly lower than some but still in the performance cooking arena; $697 in black and $787 in stainless steel at AJ Madison.
And don't forget to vote for the finalists in the Remodelista and Gardenista Considered Design Awards. You can vote daily in all categories, now through August 8. Winners will be announced August 9.
N.B.:This post is an update; the original story ran on May 14, 2008 as part of our Color Contrast issue.