If you're considering a new or renovated kitchen there are plenty of decisions to make - and one of the first will be what type of oven you want. For years the basic choice was between gas or electric, and if you didn’t have gas on your property, the choice was effectively made for you. Induction cooktops - popular in Europe for years - are now gaining a foothold and have become an attractive third option.
Cooking With Gas Means Instant Heat
Gas cooktops are a no-nonsense cooking solution as they offer instant heat. There’s no waiting for a heating element – just fire it up and your pan will be hot in seconds. The same goes for raising or lowering the temperature while you cook — it will happen instantly, which means more precise control.
Another advantage is that you can use gas on most types of pan, including cast iron, stainless steel, and woks.
Electric cooktops are commonplace in rental properties and apartments, due to their low initial and maintenance costs. Their main downside is a slow change in heat. You have to wait for them to heat up when you turn them on, and changes in temperature will happen slower, giving you less control than a gas cooktop. Overall, they have lower heat levels as well.
Electric stoves with coiled heating elements are nice because it’s easy to swap out the coils inexpensively. Ceramic radiant cooktops are a bit pricier to repair, but are very easy to clean since it’s just one flat surface.
Compromise With An Induction Cooktop
The secret to the induction cooktop is the coil of metal. When the power is turned on, an alternating current flows through the coil and produces an invisible magnetic field. If there is no pan on the cooking zone, no heat is produced, which makes it safe to touch.
Once a pan that contains iron (cast iron, black metal, or stainless steel with magnetic grade base) is placed on the zone, the magnetic field produced by the coil penetrates the iron inside it and induces electrical currents inside the pan, turning it into a heater.
Induction cooktops are very efficient as there is no wasted heat energy, and the pans heat up quickly. Cleaning an induction cooktop surface is easy, as it’s just a flat surface, and because there is no heat generated by the surface, food doesn’t bake on and can be wiped off. However, you’ll pay more for induction.
What About Installation?
Installation will vary depending on what is already available in your kitchen. Despite the name, gas cooktops need both gas and a source of electricity. For an electric cooktop, electricity does the cooking. On a gas cook top, it lights the gas, although you can light the burners manually using a match, which makes gas cooktops still usable in the event of a power failure, an advantage over electric.
A gas cooktop needs to have a gas hook-up available; if you don't have a gas line to your house or kitchen, you'll need to install one, which could be very costly. An electric cooktop needs a 125/250-volt outlet. Most kitchens have the proper electrical outlet, but if your kitchen was built with a gas line only, running new power lines to the range will be an additional expense.
Things To Consider Before You Buy
Do lots of research first, by reading about the different methods available and asking friends and family who have a similar cooking style for advice on what type of cooktop to use. Other things to consider are whether you have the right pans already. It might sound like a minor point but, if your budget is tight, forking out for a whole new set of pans might not be possible.