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Buying Guide

Types of Stovetops

Types of Cooktops
A five-burner electric stovetop with a smooth surface installed in a kitchen countertop.

Cooktops can be powered by natural gas, liquid propane (LP) or electricity. Some electric cooktops can have raised heated coils for a pot to sit but most types of electric stoves today have the heating elements underneath a smooth glass surface. Induction cooktops use electricity and also have a smooth surface, but these types of stovetops utilize electromagnetism to create energy for cooking.

Electric cooktops are perhaps the most common, but gas and electric are both capable of delivering a great cooking experience. You may find it easier to judge heat coming from the appliance by the appearance of the gas flame.

When you adjust the knob for a gas burner, the amount of heat generated changes almost immediately with no time needed for an element to heat up. Similarly, as soon as the flame is turned off, no more heat is transferred to the pot.

Cooktops are commonly 30-inches or 36-inches wide, though smaller and larger sizes are also available. Most 30-inch models usually have four heating elements. Larger types of cooktops will generally have more burners for cooking multiple pans at one time and reduce crowding when using large pots.

Consider a modular type of stovetop for more flexibility with the appliance. Some types of stovetops have built-in or insertable accessories for grills, griddles or wok stands.

Comparison of Cooktops
gas cooktops
Induction Cooktops
Electric Cooktops
Description Natural gas or liquid propane produce flames to heat pans for even cooking. Electromagnetic technology creates heat when cookware made from magnetic metal comes in contact with the induction burner. Electricity heats an element and that heat is transferred to the pan resting on top of it. The heating element is exposed on coiled varieties, and beneath a glass surface on radiant models.
Feature/Benefits Preferred by many cooking enthusiasts for its quick temperature changes. Creates a wide range of heat settings and most any type of cookware can be used. Can cost less to operate than its electric counterparts. With no open flame or radiant heat coils, induction cooktops bring a level of safety to the kitchen. The efficient technology brings fast heat-up times and the smooth surface of the cooktop makes cleaning easy. Cost and durability are the big benefits of coil cooktops. Special cookware isn’t needed and its metal surfaces can be scrubbed without worrying about causing damage to a delicate surface. Radiant smooth-top electric cooktops bring a sleek look, though care must be taken to not scratch the surface.
Stovetop Features
A gas stovetop with a grill accessory installed in a kitchen countertop.

Shop different types of cooktops and look for any number of features to meet your needs, such as high-heat burners, electronic controls and space for additional burners.

Downdraft Venting: Cooktops that include a built-in downdraft vent eliminate the need for a range hood by drawing smoke, steam and cooking odors down and away from your kitchen for fresh, clean air.

Electronic Touchpad Controls: Touch-sensitive controls with digital displays make it easy to select precise cooking temperatures and make operation more intuitive.

Wok/Griddle/Grill: Some units accommodate a wok accessory, while others provide space for a griddle or grill.

Simmer/High-Heat Burners: Simmer burners are able to handle more delicate foods like savory sauces. Having a high-heat burner can provide increased energy in order to boil water rapidly or quickly cook other items.

Dual Elements and Bridge Elements: Dual elements allow you to select between two differently sized elements (6-inch and 9-inch) to provide the most efficient heat for the size of cookware that is being used. 

Other cooktops have bridge elements that sit between two of the main burners to accommodate oblong or oversized pots and pans or a griddle.

Additional Burners: Most standard cooktops include four burners, but some models include one or two additional burners.

Hot Surface Indicator Lights: Available on some electric models, these lights are designed to alert you and other persons in the kitchen that a surface may still be hot even though it is powered off.

Measure the space that you have available for your cooktop. Know the width and depth of the area you want the new model to fit into. If selecting a gas cooktop, you must be able to connect to a gas source at the installation location. You will need an electrical hook-up for both gas and electric cooktops.

With so many different types of stovetops available, you can be confident that you’ll find the right one for your situation. Whether you’re shopping two-burner coil cooktops or looking for a 48-inch gas model, be sure to get the right size to fit in your kitchen and meet your needs. Shop online for your new stovetop or cooktop parts. Scheduled delivery is free for most appliances. You can also make purchases online and pick up at your local store.