Cooktop Comparison: Gas vs Electric

Your cooking appliance, be it a standard range or a cooktop, is the focal point of your kitchen. Modern gas and electric cooktops have so many features and functions that deciding on one can be tough. Your choice of cooktop should ideally be dictated by your needs, budget and space constraints, and style. Some of the key distinctive features and benefits of gas and electric cooktops are outlined below.

Gas Cooktops

To use gas cooktops, you will need a gas supply and a basic electric circuit, if the cooktop has electric ignition. The gas supplied can be either natural gas or propane from a cylinder. Gas cooktops are very popular among professional chefs, because of the total control they offer. You can instantaneously adjust the cooking flame by turning the knob, and visually monitor the flame. Most other cooktops do not give the same accuracy and control. The exposed flame, though considered a safety hazard by some users, is a useful visual tool to others.

Compared to electric cooktops that turn on and off to adjust the cooking temperature, gas cooktops can be maintained at a consistent temperature--which can be a low heat for simmering or high heat for searing. When turned off, the burners cool down very quickly as well. Gas cooktops are also less expensive to operate and are more environment-friendly than electric cooktops. However, energy efficiency is lower than for electric cooktops because some of the heat from the flame is lost to the surrounding space.

Standard gas cooktops feature open burners which can be a bit of a hassle to clean. Newer versions with sealed burners and “gas on glass” features make the chore of cleaning much simpler.

Electric Cooktops

Electric cooktops are mostly favored because they lack an open flame, are easy to use and allow easy cleaning . Electric cooktops with coil elements are the standard, least expensive versions available. They offer high levels of efficiency, with the only drawbacks being the lack of appeal, and the complicated task of cleaning the elements and corresponding drip pans when there are spills.

Smooth-top electric cooktops hide heating elements under smooth surfaces that are very easy to clean. These cooktops also look very sleek, which adds to their appeal. Electric cooktops also offer advanced features like sensors, timers, automatic turn off, and heat indicators that glow until the surface is safe to touch. Touch pad controls eliminate the need for knobs. Some cooktops feature adjustable burners which can be modified according to the size of the cookware.

Some drawbacks of smooth-top electric cooktops are that they require flat bottomed cookware and that they may be susceptible to scratches and other damage if not handled with care. Electric cooktops tend to be slower to react than gas cooktops. High-end induction cooktops feature all the positive features of gas and electric cooktops, at a higher price. Magnetic cookware is an essential requirement for induction cooking, which uses magnetic resistance to heat up the cookware which, in turn, cooks the food placed in it.