Finding the right cooktop for your kitchen can be difficult. There are so many options to choose from, narrowing down your choices can feel like a daunting task. One of the most important choices you’ll face in this process is whether an electric, gas, or induction cooktop will be best for your needs.
As a home remodeling firm based in Portland, OR, our design team at Lamont Bros. has guided dozens of homeowners through the process of selecting the cooktops that work best for their homes. The one that’s right for you depends on your specific needs and cooking methods.
In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between gas, electric, and induction cooktop options. When you’ve finished reading, you should have enough information on the properties and strengths of the different types of cooktops to decide which one will be best for you. Here’s what you’ll need to know:
- What to consider when buying a cooktop
- The different types of cooktops
- How to decide which type of cooktop is best for you
What do you need to know about buying a new cooktop?
The cooktop is so important that it makes up one of the three points in the kitchen work triangle. It’s where you’ll do most of your cooking whenever heat is involved. So before we jump into talking about whether an electric, gas, or induction cooktop is best for you, here are a few factors to consider.
How many burners do you need?
The number of burners on your cooktop will have a direct impact on what you’re able to do with it. For most people, the standard 4-burner cooktop makes the most sense. The average home cook rarely has more than 2 items on the stove at a time, so 4 is plenty.
If you have a kitchenette or want a secondary cooktop elsewhere in the kitchen, a 2-burner stove might make more sense. They’re generally around 12 inches wide and function otherwise like a standard cooktop.
On the other hand, let’s say perhaps you’re an avid cook and regularly have several pots and pans on the stove at once. Whether it’s because you love cooking or have a large family to feed, four burners sometimes come up short. In that case, a cooktop with 6 burners might make the most sense.
Do you want a range or a separate cooktop?
Another factor to consider is whether or not you want your cooktop connected to your oven.
Oven ranges are commonplace in most American homes, and with good reason. They save space and keep your utility lines close together by combining your oven and cooktop into one unit. It’s a more budget-friendly option than buying 2 separate appliances, and it saves in design space, as well. However, it can present an opportunity for kitchen traffic jams when two people are trying to use both at the same time.
On the other hand, having a separate wall oven and cooktop does come with some advantages. Perhaps you’re an avid cook who needs lots of burners, but you don’t use your oven much. It doesn’t make sense to buy a big range with a big oven and lose base cabinet space for an appliance you won’t use. In this case, it makes more sense to have a big cooktop and a smaller wall oven.
Many people choose to go with a separate wall oven because you can place it at a more ergonomic height and not have to bend down when using it. Though more expensive, this approach also helps minimize traffic jams in the kitchen.
Don’t forget about the ventilation
When installing a new cooktop, it is essential to make sure that it is properly ventilated. A range hood removes smoke and toxic fumes from the cooktop either by venting them to the outside or by filtering the air and recirculating it back into the home.
A microhood is a combination of a range hood and a microwave. Though not as stylish as a standalone range hood, a microhood is a more efficient use of space.
What’s the difference between an electric, gas, and induction cooktop?
The method of heat production on your cooktop will have the most direct effect on your cooking experience. An electric, gas, or induction cooktop could each be a great option in the right situation. It all depends on which one most aligns with your needs.
An electric cooktop passes electricity through a coil, which heats up due to electrical resistance. Traditional electric cooktops feature an exposed coil. However, ceramic glass cooktops, which are also electric, have a smooth glass surface overtop the coil.
An electric cooktop is generally less expensive to purchase than gas or induction products. They’re also very easy to install as long as your kitchen space has a 220v plug, which most do. Additionally, glass-top electric cooktops are the easiest to clean because of their smooth, flat surface.
However, while they are less expensive, electric cooktops tend to have a few quirks when it comes to cooking food. Because they rely on electrical resistance to provide heat, it can take a while for the elements to heat up, meaning longer cooking times. Also, the heating elements are not always on, but rather maintain their temperature by turning on and off throughout the cooking process. This function can make precise cooking more difficult.
Additionally, because the transfer of heat depends on contact between the cooktop surface and the bottom of the pan, it’s more likely that food will cook unevenly.
- Easy to install
- Easy to clean
- Longer cooking time
- Uneven heat transfer
- Useless during power outages
Long considered to be the gold standard among professional chefs, gas cooktops use the combustion of propane or natural gas to produce an open flame over which to cook.
The reason gas ranges are so popular is that they provide a better user experience. Gas burners heat up pans faster and more evenly because they don’t require surface-to-surface contact to transfer heat. Because it draws heat from the flame, the temperature of the heat source is constant, unlike electric cooktops that turn on and off.
It’s also easier to control the temperature, and the changes are instantaneous. Moreover, gas ranges have lower operating costs because natural gas is less expensive than electricity in most areas.
On the other hand, gas-burning cooktops tend to be more expensive to purchase and install. This is especially true if you don’t already have a natural gas supply line, which alone can cost several thousand dollars to hook up. Gas also poses more of a safety risk, as the fumes can fill a house and combust if the appliance is not properly turned off after use.
- Great cooking experience
- Fast, even heat transfer
- Lower operational costs
- Expensive to buy and install
- Higher safety risk
- More difficult to clean
An induction cooktop is like an electric cooktop in that it uses electricity to heat pans. However, whereas electric cooktops radiate heat to the pan, induction cooktops heat the pan directly. They do this with a heating element called an inductor. The inductor passes an electromagnetic current through the cookware, vibrating its atoms and causing it to heat up.
Induction cooktops are incredibly energy efficient. Because they don’t rely on radiant heat and instead heat the cookware directly, they waste much less electricity. Also, the surface of the cooktop remains cool to the touch, reducing the risk of burns. Additionally, induction cooktops heat up very quickly and offer the most precise temperature control available.
Unfortunately, induction cooktops are also the most expensive option. Also, because they rely on electromagnetic induction to heat cookware, you must use pots and pans made from ferrous materials like iron or stainless steel. Aluminum, ceramic, and copper cookware won’t work.
- Precise temperature control
- Most energy efficient option
- Lower risk of burns
- Most expensive
- Requires specific cookware
- Emits noise when in use
How to decide which type of cooktop is best for you
Depending on your needs and habits as a cook, any one of these three options could be best for you. Here are a few pointers to help you decide:
Don’t just go with what you’re used to
If you’re accustomed to cooking on a specific type of cooktop, it may feel natural to go with another one of the same. However, if you’ve never tried out the other options, you don’t know what you could be missing out on.
Try cooking with different heat sources at least once before going back to familiar territory. Who knows — you may discover a whole new world of cooking possibilities just by trying something different.
Consider the things you already have
Sometimes, the resources you have available from the start can inform the type of cooktop you choose. For example, if you have a 220v outlet in your kitchen but no gas line, chances are, an electric or induction cooktop will be the better option.
Or perhaps you’ve invested thousands of dollars into a high-end copper cookware set. Since copper doesn’t work with induction, that rules out at least one option. In any case, it’s important to consider how each option might incur or save additional costs.
Look into dual-fuel products
While gas is a great option for cooking, it tends to be less desirable as a heat source for baking. Fortunately, some oven ranges feature different heat sources for the stove and oven elements. The cooktop runs on gas, while the oven itself uses electricity.
This arrangement is often seen as a “best of both worlds” product. It offers open-flame cooking on the cooktop, while still maintaining a consistent, dry baking environment for predictable and even baking.
Ready to learn more about kitchen design and remodeling?
Now that you have a better understanding of how they work, you should be able to identify whether an electric, gas, or induction cooktop is right for you. But don’t stop there! If you’re planning a kitchen remodeling project, check out our Ultimate Kitchen Remodel Guide, where you can learn everything you need to know about remodeling your kitchen.
Want to talk with a professional designer about creating a kitchen specifically tailored to your needs? If so, click the button below to get connected with a member of our professional design team. We’ll guide you through the remodeling process step by step, so you’ll never have to face the challenges alone.