types of electric stove tops

Stand-alone cooktops come in several different styles and can be installed almost anywhere you have counter space. Installing a cooktop and an oven separately, rather than having a full range, provides a wider range of cooktop options to choose from and offers more customization of your kitchen. Choosing the best type of cooktop for your kitchen depends on your cooking habits and the needs of your lifestyle. Maybe your passion for making food demands a versatile cooking space, or maybe you’re a messy cook and need a cooktop that is easy to clean. Here is a list of the types of electric stove tops.

A cooktop is a great and functional option for adding beauty and value to your kitchen. Cooktops are cooking stoves that are independent of an oven. These smaller appliances can add versatility to a kitchen, because you have a choice to place an oven at some place other than under the stove, as seen in traditional ranges. Cooktops can be categorized according to the use of gas or electricity, ventilation type, and appearance.

Types of electric stove tops

1. Gas Cooktops

A gas cooktop.

Gas cooktops operate on natural gas or propane. These cooktops are popular among serious cooks who appreciate the preciseness and control offered by gas. Burners on gas cooktops are generally more difficult to clean, but newer cooktops feature smooth cooktop surfaces that are easy to maintain. Gas cooktops allow you to monitor the flame.

2. Electric Smooth-Top Range

An electric cooktop.

A smooth-top range functions on electricity, and is more environmentally friendly when compared to a gas cooktop. You can reduce the temperature to lower levels as compared to a gas cooktop. These cooktops are a more sophisticated version of the electrical coil version. The coil is under ceramic glass.

The main drawbacks of smoth-top ranges are that they lack the control offered by gas cooktops, it’s more difficult to tell if they have cooled down, and these appliances require the use of flat-bottomed cookware.

3. Induction Cooktops

An induction cooktop.

Induction cooktops function on electricity as well, but unlike standard electric cooktops, these appliances use electromagnets as cooking elements. The electromagnets are placed under a smooth cooking surface, and generate resistance when electricity passes through them. This resistance heats up the magnetic cookware that is placed on the cooking surface, which remains cool during the cooking process.

The use of non-magnetic cookware will result in a waste of electricity, as there will be no heat transfer involved. Cast iron cookware can be used on induction cooktops, as well as any stainless steel cookware that has a magnetized stainless steel bottom.

Induction cooktops offer the best features of gas and electric cooktops, and are the most environmentally friendly alternative as well. The drawbacks can be the high price and the requirement of flat-bottomed magnetic cookware.

4. Cooktops with Overhead Hood

A man works on a cooktop hood.

Most cooktops use an overhead hood to draw in the heat and smoke during cooking. Overhead hoods take up space that can be used for counters or overhead equipment. However, they do a good job at ventilating the area while cooking.

5. Downdraft Cooktops

Downdraft cooktops are appliances that use counter-level exhaust fans. The fan may be installed in the cooktop itself, behind the burners, in the center, or on the side. You can also install a separate fan next to the cooktop. Downdraft cooktops eliminate the need for an overhead hood. However, they are not as efficient at pulling in fumes and smoke as the traditional overhead hood.

6. Coil Type Cooktops

A close up on a coil cooktop.

Coil cooktops are the sturdy, traditional version of electric cooktops. Unlike a smooth top range, the heating coils come into direct contact with cookware. These cooktops require more effort to clean, because spills and stains can be difficult to access.

Power options for stoves and ovens

kenmore-41313-electric-oven-range-product-photos-1.jpg
The Kenmore 41313 range has a smooth electric cooktop and an electric oven.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Electric

The heat output from electric cooktops is measured in watts. Output varies from stove to stove and burner to burner, but the output generally falls somewhere between 1,200 watts for low heat on a small burner and 3,800 BTUs for high heat on a large burner, though we’ve seen outliers at both ends of the spectrum. There are different types of electric cooktops from which you can select:

Smoothtop (glass-ceramic cooktop)

These cooktops are made of smooth glass-ceramic with heating units under the surface. A built-in sensor lets you know when a burner is still hot. This is important with smooth electric cooking surfaces, because the burner doesn’t always turn red if the heat is low.

Keep in mind that this type of cooktop is prone to scratches, and not all cookware is safe to use on the surface (the appliance’s manual will give you those specifics).

Electric coil

These burners convert the electricity that runs into the coil into heat. These cooktops contain thermostat sensors that notify you when a burner is on, but not necessarily whether it is still hot. Electric coil stoves are notorious for uneven cooking because of uneven distribution of the coil.

In short, it is hard to keep the coil perfectly level, which can make all of the food in the pan slide to one side. In addition, electric coil stoves are slow to heat and slow to cool. But ranges with this type of cooktop are cheaper than comparable models.

kenmore-fsr95073-induction-range-product-photos-1.jpg
The Kenmore 95073 range has an induction cooktop and an electric oven.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Induction cooktops

Induction burners use the heat created from electromagnetic energy to cook your food. An element just below the surface of an induction cooktop creates a magnetic field. When you put a piece of cookware containing iron on top of that magnetic element, it causes a vibration of sorts that converts to heat through a series of magnetic interactions with iron (you can read more about the science behind induction here).

These cooktops are safer than gas or electric burners because they don’t use flames or direct heat — induction burners won’t start to heat if you put something on them that doesn’t contain magnetic material. Induction cooktops are also more efficient and heat things quicker than other types of burners (the ones we’ve tested have boiled a large pot of water in an average of 6 minutes).

There are a few downsides to induction cooktops. You have to make sure you have cookware that will work with the cooking surface, and ranges with induction burners tend to cost more money than comparable electric or gas ranges.

Electric ovens: This type of oven uses a heating element that is either visible on the top or bottom of the oven, or hidden. Our baking tests show that they often cook more evenly than their gas counterparts.

smeg-c30ggru-gas-oven-product-photos-1.jpg
The SMEG C30GGRU is a gas range, so it has a gas cooktop and oven.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Gas

Gas cooktops

Both home and professional cooks have valued gas stovetops because of the how uniform the heat output is. An open flame surrounds the bottom of your cookware, which evenly distributes the heat around it. This heat output is measured in BTUs (British thermal units). Like electric models, the power range varies from model to model, but the output generally falls somewhere between 5,000 BTUs for low heat on a small burner and 18,000 BTUs for high heat on a large burner. We’ve seen burners on high-end ranges get as low as 800 BTUs and as high as 20,000 BTUs. If you’re a speedy cook, be aware that our cooking tests show gas cooktops tend to take longer to boil large pots of water than electric or induction cooktops.

Gas ovens

When it comes to gas ovens, we’ve seen in our cook tests that they have a harder time producing even baking results than electric ovens.

dacorer30dcshrenaissancedualfueloven-product-photos-1.jpg
The Dacor ER30DSCH has a gas cooktop and an electric oven.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Dual-fuel

Some ranges use two types of power: gas for the cooktop, and electric in the oven. These dual-fuel ranges are a good compromise for folks who want the direct heat of a gas burner but the even cooking of an electric oven. However, these hybrids cost more than traditional one-power-source ranges.

Design styles

kenmore-double-oven-97723-product-photos-1.jpg
The Kenmore 97723 is an example of a freestanding range.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Freestanding

Freestanding ranges are designed to fit anywhere in a kitchen. Oven controls are often located on a back panel that raises up above the cooktop. These are less expensive than slide-in models.

samsung-ne58k9850wg-oven-product-photos-1.jpg
The Samsung NE58K9850WG is a slide-in range, so it doesn’t have a back panel and sits flush with surrounding countertops.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Slide-in

These ranges don’t have a back panel and are meant to fit in flush with the surrounding countertops. Slide-in ranges are often more expensive than freestanding models because of the mechanics that go into putting all the controls up front.

Drop-in

Drop-in ranges are similar to slide-in models — they sit flush with the surrounding countertops and all the controls are located at the front of the unit. But this type of range looks like you dropped it between two cabinets because of a strip of cabinetry you place beneath the appliance.

Bonus features

The search for an oven or range can resemble a visit to a car dealership — there are always opportunities to upgrade. Assess your needs and decide if these bonus features are worth throwing down more money for an appliance.

Wireless connectivity

Companies have become more proactive in including wireless capabilities such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and near-field communication (NFC) in their ovens and stoves so you can control your appliance from your smartphone. For example, you could begin to preheat your Wi-Fi-enabled oven on your way home from the grocery store, so it’s ready for your frozen pizza by the time you get home.

ge-phb920sjss-oven-product-photos-8.jpg
The GE PHB920SJSS induction range has built-in Wi-Fi and works with Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated virtual assistant. You can give voice commands to this Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker to control the range.Chris Monroe/CNET

Manufacturers have also started to connect appliances with smart-home products to add some automation and voice control in the kitchen. For example, GE’s Wi-Fi-connected ranges work with Alex and Google Assistant, so you can give voice commands to control your appliance. And Jenn-Air wall ovens work with Nest Learning Thermostats ($269 at Amazon) so you can automatically lower your home’s temperature when the ovens get hot. 

Convection fans

Convection fans are built into the back of oven walls. They circulate the heat in the oven so hot air is more evenly dispersed, which means your food will bake more evenly. You’d want convection fans if you’re baking food like cookies on more than one oven rack at the same time. Midprice ovens will have at least one convection fan. Some ovens have what’s called “true” or “European” convection, which means there’s a heating element that surrounds the fan that warms the air as the fan blows. Read more about the science of convection here.

Special cooking modes

Your basic oven can bake and broil. But as the price for ovens increases, you’ll see that there are more cooking options. For example, ovens with convection fans will have modes for convection baking and convection roasting, which will enable the fans and heating elements. Some ovens also come with cook settings for specific foods, such as pizza or turkey, or food preparation methods, like dehydration or bread proofing.

Bottom drawers (baking/warming/broiling)

Some ranges come with a bottom drawer that can serve one of many purposes depending on the model. Some range ovens offer a baking drawer, which enables a person to use the main oven to roast or broil, and the baking drawer for smaller dishes, so you can cook more than one thing at the same time using different temperatures. A warming drawer will keep food warm, but it won’t cook the food. Some ovens have a broiler drawer, which functions like a traditional broiler and must be watched just as closely to ensure that food does not burn.

Temperature probes

Temperature probes plug into the wall of your oven, and you use them to monitor the internal temperature of meat as it cooks. The temperature displays on the control panel of your oven, so you don’t have to open the door to see if your dish is done.

kitchenaid-kfdd50ess-double-oven-range-product-photos-1.jpg
The KitchenAid KFDD500ESS range has two oven cavities, so you can bake two dishes on different temperatures at the same time.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Double ovens in conventional space

The ovens on some ranges have dual baking chambers, which give you the flexibility of double wall ovens without the need for more space. These ovens allow the convenience of simultaneous cooking at different temperatures. Some ovens come with a divider that allows you to split your single oven into two unique temperature zones that will remain separate as long as the divider is in place.

Leave a Comment