Cooking Surfaces
Jul 14, 2020

Cooking Surfaces

When it comes to cooking surfaces, there are many different options and people are often challenged by figuring out which appliance might work best for them and their cooking style. In today’s blog we will be reviewing three of today’s most popular cooking surface options: gas rangetops, electric cooktops, and the newest to the U.S. appliance market - induction cooktops.

Rangetops

Most of us are familiar with the traditional cooking range which combines surface cooking with an oven below it in one single unit. Think of a rangetop as a “slice” of the top portion of that range from the control knobs on the front, on up.  It gives you the impressive look of a commercial stainless steel range, but only the top portion, leaving room below the appliance for other things.  Choosing a rangetop (or cooktop) over a range allows for placement of your oven elsewhere - if you have the space - ideally in a wall at a height that is more easily accessible than below the counter.  (Think about the ease of hauling out that Thanksgiving turkey!)

Rangetop vs. Range

Many people ask what the differences are between cooktops and rangetops. For one, rangetops are only offered in gas whereas cooktops are offered in induction, electric, and gas.  Another difference is the way that they are installed. Cooktops are placed in (dropped into) a cutout in the countertop which allows for the countertop to completely surround the cooktop. On a cooktop, the control knobs or buttons are located on the top surface of the appliance which is set farther in, perfect for families with small children because they don’t have easy access to turn on the cooktop.  This may not be an issue in your home if you don’t have kids, or you can opt for an electric or induction cooktop that also has a control panel lock feature for extra safety and peace of mind.

Rangetops on the other hand, are built into the cabinet face as well as the counter surface. The appliance extends down like the top section of a typical range and the control knobs are on the front. This allows for larger cooking surfaces and more cooking options.  Rangetops typically are offered in sizes from 30”-60” wide, and they are often available with higher BTUs compared to cooktops.  Rangetops also offer other built-in cooking options such as griddles or grills.  You can get a solid griddle surface or a grill surface that replaces two of the standard burners, and on the larger size rangetops you can get both.  The minimum number of standard burners is four, so if you want both the griddle and grill option you’re looking at a 48” or larger rangetop.

Rangetop Features

  •  Available in a range of sizes with built-in accessories, like a griddle or grill.
  • Look and functionality of a commercial gas range with access for storage underneath.

Rangetops & Lifestyle

A rangetop is popular when a more commercial look and functionality is desired. A rangetop will give you a variety of larger size burners to fit your needs, and also give you a variety of cooking options whether it is a traditional burner, grill or griddle on one surface. If you are worried about storage, you will still be able to fit a cabinet underneath. Rangetops give you the functionality of a range without committing to an oven directly underneath.

Induction Cooktops

Induction cooktops have electromagnetic coils under a glass cooking surface that use an electric current to create a magnetic field. The magnetic field excites the molecules in your cooking vessel and your cooking vessel becomes your very efficient heat source!  Since the electromagnetic coils transfer energy into the metal of your cooking vessel to produce heat, it heats up only the pot or pan while the rest of the cooktop stays cool. Therefore, cookware used on an induction cooktop must have magnetic properties (i.e. a high enough ferrous content in the metal) in order for it to work. You can test your pots and pans for suitability by using a magnet - if the magnet sticks to the pot then it will work.

The picture below shows that when the food is on the pan it will heat it up, but if it just sits alone on the cooking surface itself, it will not heat up.

Induction Features

  • Consistent heat distribution; even cooking.
  • Because cooking heat is generated directly in the cookware, induction cooktops provide efficient heat transfer, so there is no excess heat produced or wasted.
  • Allows you to achieve high heat very fast, low, low temps such as for melting, and quick temperature adjustments (up to 40% faster vs. gas or electric).
  • Solid glass surface allows for easy clean up.
  • Pots and pans must have a high ferrous content to work on induction cooktops.
     

Induction Cooktops & Lifestyle

Induction cooktops with their clean glass surfaces offer a sleek, modern design profile.
They are the perfect option for someone who wants to have complete control over their surface cooking. Induction provides consistent heat, whether it’s low or high and chefs like it for its ability to cook food more consistently.  The low profile of a cooktop allows for under counter storage space (great for easy access to pots and pans).

In the photos above you can see that below the cooktop, you are able to get storage underneath.  Induction and electric cooktops have the same profile, and visually, it is difficult to discern the difference between the two. 
Note:  This photo shows a good example of a framed cooktop.

Electric Cooktops

Today’s electric cooktops, although not quite as quick to adjust temperature and not as efficient as the induction, are not “your grandma’s electric stove.” Today’s technology achieves much quicker heating and more adaptable temperature adjustments than in the past. The electric cooktop is a good option for someone who wants the clean, contemporary look of a solid glass cooking surface, as well as easy maintenance, but doesn’t want to make the conversion to induction cooking. Electric cooktops are also at a lower price point vs. induction.

Electric Cooktops & Lifestyle

  • Lower price point compared to induction
  • Sleek contemporary design
  • Easy to clean

Cooktops are available in both framed and frameless options.  In the framed version, the frame of the cooktop sits just proud of the countertop surface.  This presents the possibility of inadvertently setting a pot on that edge and for a slight spill.  The frameless option sits the entire cooktop flush with the countertop.  There is no lip, but there is a minute seam between the cooktop glass and the counter into which soil can settle.  Here you have to choose which minor detraction might bother you less.

This photo shows an unframed cooktop installed into a black countertop which is a great example of the sleek contemporary look that can be achieved with this surface cooking option.  Note also that a separate oven has been installed below, likely for space-saving purposes, but the countertop remains as seamless as possible to keep that “clean” look.

We’ll take a closer look at all of the range options in a future blog!

 

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