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Remodeling 101: Gas vs. Electric vs. Induction Cooktops

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Remodeling 101: Gas vs. Electric vs. Induction Cooktops

August 24, 2022

These days, there are so many types of cooktops on the market that just determining what’s best for your kitchen can be overwhelming. What size do you need? Will you go with a plain cooktop or a cooktop-range combo? And perhaps trickiest of all: What type of heat source is best—particularly now that induction cooktops are on the rise, in addition to gas and electric options?

When it comes to selecting an appliance of any sort, we like Appliances Connection, the online purveyor of home appliances. They carry more than 300 brands and their appliance specialists can explain the ins and outs of all the different products, helping to make what may seem a daunting selection process easy.

This week, we asked Appliances Connection to weigh in on the gas, electric, or induction cooktop debate, the kitchen renovation topic of the moment. Here are the pros and cons of each.

Photography via Appliances Connection.

Gas cooktops

The original cooktops, gas ranges use open flames to cook. They’re prized for their precision and controllability, and you’re likely to find them from the kitchens of the finest restaurants to well-equipped home cook spaces.

above: a small but important detail: continuous grates on a gas cooktop allow f 18
Above: A small but important detail: Continuous grates on a gas cooktop allow for easy sliding around of pots without having to lift them up onto a singular perch.

Pros

  • Gas cooktops are favored by chefs for a reason: they’re high performing and precise, ideal for maintaining maximum control while cooking
  • Quickly and easily adjusted
  • Burners heat up much more quickly than electric and turn off immediately, too
  • Still possible to use during a power outage

Cons

  • Emits radiant heat, so can heat up the kitchen
  • Fuel source is more expensive than electricity
  • Cleaning can be tedious because of the grates

Two options

The Fisher Paykel 30-Inch Gas Sealed Burner Cooktop has electronic ignition, continuous grates for easy maneuvering of pots and pans, and a stainless-steel finish; it’s also available in a 36-inch width. Another option, the Forte 48-Inch Natural Gas Rangetop, is larger, with eight sealed, Italian-made burners and continuous grates, all in stainless steel.

Electric cooktops

Electric cooktops are powered by coils—either visible or hidden beneath a smooth cooktop—that are heated by electricity. They tend to be more affordable than gas cooktops, and they’re extra easy to keep clean. But if you live in a place where you tend to lose power, you’ll be out of luck in an outage.

above: an electric cooktop can fit unobtrusively into a countertop, particularl 19
Above: An electric cooktop can fit unobtrusively into a countertop, particularly ideal for clean-lined, modern kitchens.

Pros

  • Smooth versions are particularly easy to clean—just wipe down
  • Doesn’t generate much ambient heat, so won’t add extra heat to the cook space
  • Generally much less expensive than gas cooktops

Cons

  • Burners retain high heat for a while after they’re turned off
  • Smooth cooktops are prone to scratches; those made from ceramic can crack if they come into contact with cold water while hot
  • Cannot be used in a power outage

Two options

A good bet for an electric cooktop and oven combo, the LG 30-Inch Electric Freestanding Range has a smooth cooktop, five cooking elements, and smart capabilities (it’s WiFi-enabled). A higher-end option is the Bertazzoni Professional Series 30-Inch Electric Smoothtop Style Cooktop, which has four cooking elements and a sleek black glass ceramic surface.

Induction cooktops

Induction cooktops, which use electromagnetism to transfer heat into cookware, have been around for some time, but they’re on the rise in the cooktop world. Generally speaking, an induction cooktop works only with pots and pans that contain iron, and it’s extra safe for families with kids—no risk of burns.

above: induction cooktops have a minimal silhouette and often come equipped wit 20
Above: Induction cooktops have a minimal silhouette and often come equipped with special settings for boiling water or keeping prepared dishes warm.

Pros

  • The heating element itself emits virtually no heat, using electromagnetism instead, so cooktops are safe (particularly useful for households with kids)
  • It is eco-friendly–cleaner ​and more energy-efficient than traditional gas and electric cooktops 
  • Doesn’t heat up a room
  • Less expensive to operate since it doesn’t waste heat

Cons

  • Induction cooktops themselves tend to be more expensive than their electric or even gas counterparts but can save money over time
  • Can only be used with certain cookware; no need to buy a particular brand, but generally cookware must contain iron

Two options

When it comes to induction, the Frigidaire Gallery Series 30-Inch Induction Electric Freestanding Range is a good budget option, with a four-element smooth induction cooktop and oven combo. For just a cooktop, the Miele 36-Inch Electric Induction Cooktop has five cooking elements, a sensor that detects the presence of pots and pans, and a keep-warm function.

For much more, browse Appliances Connection, and for more of their appliance advice, see Remodeling 101: How to Create an Outdoor Kitchen and Remodeling 101: The Case for Small Appliances.

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Frequently asked questions

What are the main differences between induction, gas, and electric cooktops?

The main differences between induction, gas, and electric cooktops are:
Induction cooktops: Induction cooktops use electromagnetic fields to directly heat the cookware. They are known for their fast and precise heating, energy efficiency, and safety features. However, they require compatible cookware with a magnetic base.
Gas cooktops: Gas cooktops use a flame produced by natural gas or propane to heat the cookware. They provide instant heat control and are popular among professional chefs for their precise temperature adjustments. Gas cooktops require a gas supply and proper ventilation.
Electric cooktops: Electric cooktops use electric heating elements to heat the cookware. They can be coil-based or smoothtop (glass-ceramic) with radiant or halogen elements. Electric cooktops are easy to clean and often come with additional features like timers and touch controls.

Which type of cooktop is the most energy-efficient?

Induction cooktops are considered the most energy-efficient type of cooktop. They transfer heat directly to the cookware, resulting in minimal heat loss and faster heating times. Induction cooktops can be up to 90% efficient, making them more energy-efficient than gas or electric cooktops.

Are induction cooktops safe to use?

Yes, induction cooktops are generally safe to use. They have several safety features, including automatic shut-off, pan detection, and residual heat indicators. Induction cooktops only heat the cookware, not the surrounding surface, reducing the risk of burns or accidental fires. However, it's important to note that induction cooktops generate electromagnetic fields, which may interfere with certain medical devices, such as pacemakers. Individuals with medical implants should consult their healthcare provider before using induction cooktops.

Can I use any type of cookware on an induction cooktop?

No, not all cookware is compatible with induction cooktops. Induction cooktops require cookware with a magnetic base, such as cast iron, stainless steel, or cookware specifically designed for induction. Non-magnetic materials like aluminum, copper, or glass won't work on induction cooktops unless they have a magnetic bottom layer. You can use a magnet to test whether your cookware is compatible with induction.

Which type of cooktop is easier to clean?

Electric cooktops, especially smoothtop (glass-ceramic) ones, are generally easier to clean compared to gas or induction cooktops. Smoothtop electric cooktops provide a flat surface without any crevices, making it easier to wipe away spills and splatters. Gas cooktops may have grates or burners that require more thorough cleaning, while induction cooktops are also relatively easy to clean due to their smooth surface.

Can I switch from a gas or electric cooktop to an induction cooktop?

Yes, it is possible to switch from a gas or electric cooktop to an induction cooktop. However, the installation process may require professional assistance, especially if your kitchen doesn't have the necessary electrical infrastructure. Switching to induction may involve upgrading your electrical wiring, installing a dedicated circuit, and ensuring compatibility with your kitchen's power supply. It's recommended to consult a licensed electrician or a professional appliance installer for a safe and proper installation.

Which type of cooktop is more responsive to temperature changes?

Gas cooktops are known for their immediate and precise temperature control. When you adjust the flame, the heat changes instantly, allowing for quick response to temperature adjustments during cooking. Electric cooktops, including induction, may have a slight delay in temperature changes due to the heating elements needing time to adjust.

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