Having a cooktop that is separate from your oven allows for greater flexibility when working in the kitchen. Some research must be done when choosing the right cooktop for you. You can even install individual modular cooktops that allow you to customize your setup or create a separate area for steaming food or cooking with a wok.
But how do you choose the one that fits you best? We break down the three options based on five important factors.
Cooktop space considerations
The first thing to consider is how much space you have available. Today, cooktops come in several sizes, from the standard 12”, 24”, and 30” cooktops to the larger types (36” and 40”). However, the size of the cooktop is not the only factor when dealing with space constraints; the type of cooktop also matters.
If you have to go for a smaller cooktop with fewer burners and you cook a lot, you might want to consider an induction cooktop, which heats food more quickly than gas and electric stoves.
If you still prefer a larger size cooktop but don’t want to sacrifice too much counter space, you should also consider an induction or electric cooktop with a smooth flat surface, which can double up as counter when not in use.
Your cooking habits
Your cooking habits will determine the number and type of burners/elements you need and, consequently, the type of cooktop you should choose. If you cook a lot or prepare meals for different people with different dietary needs, you would want at least 5 burners/elements.
Gas cooktops are suitable to cook any type of food. Most products have a combination of low-output heat burners (“simmer”) and high heat burners (single or Power Burner), with some even offering one Triple Crown burner (great to use for wok cookware).
Electric cooktops can come with dual- or even triple-tiered elements to offer heating efficiency and versatility in power levels and also to fit cookware of different sizes. Material is also important for electric cooktops: ceramic glass surfaces are popular but they transfer heat more slowly than metal-top electric stoves
Induction cooktops facilitates faster heating and can come with a “Bridge Function”, which allows you to turn two separate cooking zones into a large one. This comes very handy if you use larger cookware like griddles and poaching pans (please note, though, that induction cooktops only work with cast iron, enamel cast iron or stainless steel cookware).
Electric cooktops signal heat by showing the glow of an active burner. The sensor stays on even after the burner has been turned off, until the surface cools down to a temperature that is safe to the touch. In addition, ceramic glass cooktops don’t get nearly as hot as the pots and pans, so you don’t really risk burning yourself by accidentally touching the surface. Even better is the surface of induction cooktops, which doesn’t get hot as the heat is only transferred to the pots when they get placed over the element.
If you care about energy consumption, then that’s another reason to go for induction cooktops, which save about 10% more energy than gas cooking. Electric cooking is the most energy-consuming option. However, compared to gas, the heat is channelled straight into the pan with less dispersion into the air.
Cooktop maintenance and cleaning
Any cooktop with a flat and smooth surface is going to be easier to clean than traditional gas stoves with grates.
Stainless steel and enamelled surfaces are very resistant and low maintenance, which is why they are still the most popular.
Ceramic glass cooktops are also surprisingly scratchproof and resistant to extreme heat, thermal shocks, and corrosives. However, these surfaces do require greater care. You should avoid using abrasive cleaning products and make sure sugar-rich food, plastic and aluminium sheets are completely out of the way when the cooktop is in use – contact with the heat can cause these products to do permanent damage or leave stains that are much tougher to remove.