There are ten types of cooktops in the market: electric, kitchen, stainless steel, downdraft, gas, induction, ceramic, island, modern, hood, range, countertop, two-burner, and griddle.
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Deciding which type works best for you boils down to what you plan to cook regularly, whether you have gas in your home, and your budget.
Knowing the characteristics, material and dimensions of each type of stovetop will give you a nuanced understanding of which type to install in your kitchen and whether it is the right appliance to buy.
For instance, the main difference between a cooktop vs range top comes in the design and installation. The controls of cooktops are found on the surface while those of range tops are in front, thus requiring a portion of the countertop removed before installing the slide-in unit. Rangetops are also ideal for commercial use, while cooktops are suitable for the home.
When it comes to material, ceramic and induction cooktops transfer heat faster than gas cooktops. They also provide more heat control than the traditional electric cooktops with coil burners.
Understanding the different cooktops available in the market, including the pros and cons of each, can help you decide which one to install in your kitchen.
What are the different types available for a cooktop?
The different types of cooktops are electric, stainless steel, downdraft, gas, induction, ceramic, island, range hood, two-burner, and griddle.
The following list includes the different types of cooktops available in the market:
- Electric cooktop
An electric cooktop uses electricity to heat the coils. It varies from basic electric with a solid element and coils to the more efficient and modern ceramic cooktops.
- Stainless steel cooktop
A stainless steel cooktop is a cooking range made with stainless steel materials.
Stainless steel cooktops are resistant to rust, so they last longer. They also give you more flexibility with how to clean them.
- Downdraft cooktop
A downdraft cooktop includes a ventilation system that goes directly into the cooking surface, which reduces the amount of smoke.
A downdraft cooktop uses counter-level exhaust fans, which may be found in the unit itself, behind the burners, on the side, or in the center. It is also possible to install a separate fan next to the cooktop.
The exhaust fan from the downdraft cooktop eliminates the need for a traditional overhead hood but is not as efficient as the latter when pulling in fumes and smoke.
- Gas cooktop
A gas cooktop uses gas to power the coils. It is known to change burner heat quickly.
Gas cooktops are harder to clean because of the many components such as burners, burner caps, trivets, grates, drip pan, and many more.
- Induction cooktop
An induction cooktop is a type of electric cooktop that is considered the safest and most efficient option. It uses electromagnetic coils to heat the pan, which provides more heat control – up to 85% of heat conducted to the pan – and transfers heat faster than a gas cooktop.
- Ceramic cooktop
A ceramic cooktop is a cooktop made with ceramic materials. It is popular because of its modern and sleek design sans the clunky coil burners found in traditional electric cooktops.
It has a smooth top characterized by coiled metal elements underneath a tempered ceramic glass. These elements transfer heat electronically to the selected burner.
- Island cooktop
An island cooktop is placed on a counter in the center of the kitchen. Island cooktops usually include two ranges, one for simmering and sauteing and one for baking.
- Range hood cooktop
A range cooktop is a kitchen appliance that includes both a cooktop and stove. It is a cooktop with an integrated rangehood.
- Two-burner cooktop
A two-burner cooktop is a smaller appliance with only two cooking burners.
Two-burner cooktops may be ideal for smaller homes or apartments.
- Griddle cooktop
A griddle cooktop is a large, flat cooking surface that sits on top of the cooktop’s burners.
It is ideal for cooking breakfast, especially with pancakes, bacon, eggs, sausages, French toast, and hash browns. It is also used to cook grilled sandwiches, burgers, and fajitas.
What are the different ways to use a cooktop?
The different ways to use a cooktop include roasting, grilling, (stir) frying, baking, cooking skillet meals and a wide variety of dishes.
Here are ten uses of a cooktop in detail:
Roast chicken: you can use a cooktop to roast chicken if you don’t have an oven.
Cook pizza: all you need is pizza dough and a cast iron, stainless steel or nonstick frypan.
Bake bread: once you have your bread dough, you can cook it on a cast iron pan, greased with butter or olive oil.
Cook fries: you can use the cooktop if you don't have access to an oven. Heat a frying pan until medium-hot, add a generous amount of vegetable or canola oil enough to cover the entire bottom of the pan, then layer your frozen fries.
Bake a cake: you can cook a moist cake on a cooktop. A lidded saucepan that is 5cm wider than your cake tin is necessary for this project. Make sure it's deep enough so the batter has room to rise and does not hit the lid.
Cook breakfast: A griddle cooktop is ideal for pancakes, bacon, eggs, sausages, French toast, and hash browns.
Grill foods: you can use cooktops for making grilled sandwiches, burgers, and fajitas.
Quick stir fry: honey-garlic chicken, Asian stir fry, shrimp and broccoli stir fry – you name it!
Cook pasta: make ravioli or a Tuscan tortellini skillet with a cooktop.
Skillet meals: cook an egg roll skillet or Southwest Skillet Ragu.
Once you learn how to use a cooktop, you’ll find it has many use cases – from roasting, cooking, grilling, frying and baking!
What sizes do the cooktops come in?
Cooktops are designed in various sizes that range from small (29cm x 52cm x 5.3cm) to large (52cm x 89cm x 6.9cm). Here are the approximate dimensions for each cooktop type:
Electric cooktop: 29cm x 52cm x 5.3cm
Stainless steel cooktop: 50cm x 58cm x 5cm
Downdraft cooktop: 48cm x 58cm x 18cm
Gas cooktop: 50cm x 58cm x 5cm
Induction cooktop: 51cm x 58cm x 6.5cm
Ceramic cooktop: 51cm x 58cm x 6.8cm
Island cooktop: 51cm x 58cm x 6.5cm
Two-burner cooktop: 29cm x 52cm x 5.3cm
Griddle cooktop: 52cm x 89cm x 6.9cm
What foods can I make in different cooktops?
The foods that you can make in different cooktops are listed below:
- Baking products
- Breakfast foods like pancakes, bacon, eggs, sausages, French toast, and hash browns
- Grilled sandwiches
- Skillet meals like Mexican skillet and egg roll skillet
- Stir fry dishes like honey-garlic chicken, Asian stir fry, shrimp and broccoli stir fry
- Pasta like ravioli, green olive pasta or a Tuscan tortellini skillet
What determines the best cooktop type?
The best cooktop type can be determined by the following: size, controls and features, energy efficiency, ease of cleaning, and what style of cooking you need to do.
Consider the overall size of the cooktop and the number of burners when deciding which type to buy. If you frequently cook meals with multiple dishes, then you'll want a cooktop with numerous burners. If you are in the foodservice industry, you will need an industrial cooktop with efficient rangehood, compared to regular home use where a two-burner cooktop is sufficient.
Controls and features are also essential when choosing the type of cooktop. Gas cooktops come with knobs, either on the side or in the front panel. Ceramic cooktops have manual controls, but the modern ones come with touch control, allowing more space and a more effortless clean than traditional gas and electric cooktops.
Modern induction cooktops come with features such as child lock, timers for each zone or burner, pause buttons, pan detection, overheat protection, automatic shut-off sensors, and many more. Some cooktops also have remote capabilities that can be operated from a smartphone.
Some cooktops are designed to be energy efficient, which can reduce monthly heating costs. Induction cooktops are considered the most energy-efficient type because of fast cooking times. They also have sensors that only turn on the stove when it detects a pan. This means that the appliance does not emit heat when not in use.
Certain cooktops have built-in cleaning features that help you maintain the cleanliness and condition of your appliance. Electric, ceramic and induction cooktops are also easier to clean than gas cooktops because they have a smooth top.
Style of cooking is an essential consideration when shopping for a cooktop. Gas cooktop burners give off robust flames, which can heat your cookware faster. Ceramic and induction cooktops provide better heat control and are helpful for a cooking style that requires precision. If your kitchen prepares more stir-fries than baked meals and pasta, then a gas cooktop will be suitable than electric and induction cooktops.
Are electric cooktops safe?
Electric cooktops are safe with careful and thoughtful use. Some models have heating lamp signals, a safety feature that tells which burner is in use, and residual heat indicators that show whether a burner is still hot from recent use.
As with all types of cooktops, it is important not to touch any hot components like burners and coils when in use.
Other types of cooktops provide more safety features than electric cooktops.
Induction and ceramic cooktops come with extra features such as pan detection and overheat protection. These features only turn on the cooktop as it detects cookware on the surface, thus preventing burn, overheating and fire. They also have other safety features such as system lock and safety switch off, hot surface and residual heat indicators, child safety lock and electronic timer.
Modern gas cooktops also feature a safety device in the form of an in-built flame failure system, which automatically shuts down the gas supply when a pot boils over and puts off the flame.
What is the average price for a cooktop?
The average price for a cooktop ranges from $375 – $4,000 depending on the features, size, brand and number of burners.
Gas cooktops range from $200 to $3,500+.
Electric cooktops start from $250 and can go as high as $1,000+.
Ceramic cooktops that are fueled by electricity range from $250 to $2,000+.
Induction cooktops start at $500 and range up to $6,500+ for a 93-cm size housing up to six pots and accommodating large pans and dishes.
Standalone cooktops made with cheaper materials and fewer features cost less than a stainless steel electric cooktop with smartphone capabilities. Commercial cooktops may cost even more than residential cooktops as they're much larger and have many more features that help with more extensive cooking needs.
What is the lifespan of different cooktops?
The average lifespan of a cooktop is 14 years. Electric cooktops tend to last slightly longer than gas cooktops, with an average of 15 years.
How long a cooktop lasts is based on the type and material of the cooktop, frequency of use, maintenance and upkeep, and installation.
How does the cooktop type affect the cooking process?
The cooktop type affects the cooking process by how fast it changes temperature, how much flame it provides, the precision of heat control, and the kind of cookware used.
Gas cooktops provide instant temperature changes – from high to low heat in just a turn of the knob. It is also the only type of stovetop that provides an easily controlled open flame, an essential requirement for roasting and stir-frying.
Electric stovetops are flat, and the burner heat comes straight to the bottom of the pan. They conduct most heat (75% of what is emitted) through contact with the pan instead of radiating into the air, which a gas cooktop does. Electric stovetops have poor heat control and slower response time than a gas or induction cooktop.
Induction cooktops offer instant and precise heat control, as well as energy efficiency. Pots boil sooner than gas and electric cooktops because induction cooktops transfer 85% of the entire heat to the cookware, and less heat is lost in the air. This is a strength for induction cooktops as they won't heat your entire kitchen, which is beneficial during summer.
With an induction cooktop, you’ll need iron-high and stainless steel cookware, which means those made of pure copper, aluminium, stoneware, glass, earthenware, and low-iron stainless steel won't work. You also can't roast a pepper or toast tortillas on it.
What effect does cooktop type have on taste?
Cooktops do not affect the flavor of food.
The use of heat, and not the cooktop itself, affects how delicious a meal is. How long the heat is used in varying levels – low, medium, high – affects how a food is cooked on a cooktop.
Choosing a gas or electric cooktop shouldn't make a difference in how food tastes, but it may be necessary to learn how to adjust the cooking style to avoid changes to how the food tastes.
It is also essential to clean the cooktop regularly while doing proper maintenance and upkeep to ensure that it works efficiently.
Is it better to use stainless steel cooktops or range cooktops in the kitchen?
Deciding whether it’s better to use stainless steel cooktops or range cooktops in the kitchen boils down to kitchen space and functionality.
Do you have a large kitchen with ample counter space? Then there is no limitation on how large the cooktop should be. On the other hand, having a small kitchen space may require smaller and fewer boilers, like having a two-burner instead of a six-burner induction cooktop.
Kitchen usability is something to be considered when picking a suitable cooktop. It refers to the function and structure of kitchen appliances that make them easier to use. If you have a small kitchen, organizing appliances alongside other items is essential to maximize space properly.
A cooktop suitable for Asian stir fry dishes may not be the same for cooking pasta and sauce or any cooking style that requires large saucepans. It is essential to look into the layout of cooking zones, elbow room, and cookwares that need to be used on the surface.