Breaking down modern cooktop technology: Electric, Gas, Induction
For those that want a cooktop that is just as aesthetically attractive as it is useful when it comes time to cook, there may not be a better option than electric cooktops. Designed to “disappear” on your countertop when not in use, there are no burner guards or any other protrusions that extend from the surface of electronic cooktops. This helps to make them perfect extra counter space when not in use.
On top of their attractive design, electric cooktops are also very easy to clean and maintain. They provide a flat and stable surface for even the largest pans, and will provide instantaneous and even heat that you can control with just a turn of a knob.
There are a lot of accessories out there as well for electric cooktops, and you’ll have the chance to customize them to your hearts content.
Not all is sunshine and roses with electric cooktops, however. For one, you won’t have completed total control over the heat that you are disturbing to your pans. Secondly, it’s going to take a while to cool down after the burner has already been turned off. And finally, you won’t be able to use your cooktop in the event of a power outage.
Gas range cooktops
The preferred kitchen technology for professional chefs and serious home cooks, gas ranges offer a wide variety of big advantage is that you won’t find with any other kind of cooktop.
For one, you’ll have completed total control over the kind of heat that you are distributing to your pans and cooking instruments. It’s easy to adjust this heat to a picture-perfect level, much easier than any other kind of cooktop solution.
Secondly, the natural gas used to fire these cooktops is inexpensive and abundant while also providing a clean and energy efficient fuel source. You’ll also be able to fire up the cooktop with multiple burners set to multiple heat levels, adjusting on-the-fly so that you have instant access to exactly the kind of heat you need. Preparing dishes will become a dream when you have this kind of complete and total control.
Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks when you’re looking at gas range cooktops. For one, they are wildly more expensive than electronic ranges or induction cooktops – and it usually isn’t even close. Secondly, natural gas (if installed improperly) is very combustible and poses a real safety and health risk – and there’s always the potential for an explosion.
Finally, if you are big into baked goods, you may not have the kind of perfect conditions or “high heat” levels that you have with an electronic set up. Gas ranges introduce a bit of moisture when they are firing, which creates a more human heat than the dry heat that is better for roasting.
Even though it isn’t exactly brand-new technology, induction cooktops are starting to enjoy a real surge in popularity in just the last few years. Induction cooktops are incredibly energy efficient, as the heat is only going to be generated on the pan itself.
There is absolutely no wasted heat energy at all, with induction cooking being right around 90% efficient (compared to 48% efficiency with electric and 40% efficiency with gas options).
Safety is another big factor when speaking about induction cooktops. The burner is going to remain cool even while the induction pan is boiling away, thanks to the fact that the heat exchange is only transferred to the surface of the pan – and nowhere else.
Because induction takes advantage of electromagnetic currents to heat the pan, it’s also almost instantaneous heat that you can use almost on demand.
On the flip side of things, induction cooktops will require special (and usually very expensive) cookware – and you may not be able to use any of your current cookware again!
Obviously, this can prove to be an almost prohibitive cost as you’ll need to change out all of your old cookware, but you’ll also need to invest in a high quality induction cooktop itself (which can set you back a pretty penny).
It’s still a somewhat new technology, and is nowhere near as widespread or as developed as electric or gas. You may have a difficult time locating it in the United States (or other parts of the world)