There are a variety of cooktop styles to choose from. They range in price and requirements. The choices are gas burners, electric coils, glass ceramic surfaces, and modular burners.
Gas burners heat with natural gas or propane. They are rated on the BTU (British thermal units) usage, which is the heating power. The higher the BTU rating, the quicker foods and liquids will heat. This can be demonstrated by the time is takes to boil water.
Higher BTU ratings will increase the cost of the cooktop unit. If you plan to use it for just everyday cooking, 9,000 BTU would be acceptable. For high heat needs, such as sauteing, stir-fry, and etc, 12,000 BTU or more will be needed. A high-powered cooktop is normally considered as pro-style. You may also want some of the burner to reduce down to 5,000 BTU for simmering. As a rule of thumb, all new stoves and cooktops are factory made with at least one simmer burner and one boost burner (12,000 BTU or better).
With gas burners you get instant heat and control, rather than waiting for electric to heat up to the temperature you want. All models are now made with electronic ignition. These are safer and more energy efficient than the old-fashion pilot lights.
You are still able to light the burners in the case of a power failure using a match. A word of caution: gas fumes can be very dangerous, so be sure your ventilation and gas-hookup is properly installed and maintained.
Cost for a basic gas cooktop ranges from $300 to $1000. If you purchase from a local dealer, you may find that installation and delivery are included.
They will normally become your future service provider also. Keep in mind that although the appliance has a warranty from the manufacturer, you may have a difficult time finding a service provider in your area if you have not made the purchase from the local dealer.
Electric Coil Cooktops
Electric black coils are metallic tubes covered with insulation that create heat through electrical resistance. The heat moves from the coils to the pot or pan through conduction and radiation. Coils usually cook faster than gas, so if you are using them for the first time, start out with lower temperatures and work up until you get a feel for how quickly they heat. This way you will be less likely to burn your first meal on the new cooktop. Coils are easier to clean and repair. They are normally the lowest cost in electric cooktops for the purchase and repair. Most coil cooktops start around $200.
Glass Ceramic Cooktops
Whether you opt for radiant, halogen or magnetic induction, they all heat up using electricity. The flat, glass ceramic surface has patterns to indicate where to place your cookware. They operate using knobs or a touch pad.
Ceramic cooktops are very easy to clean and keep clean. They give a stylish appearance to your kitchen. These cooktops are equipped with an indicator light to let you know when the cooking areas are still too hot to touch.
It is very important to watch the indicator and be very cautious because you will be unable to tell by looking at the cooking areas if they are still hot. The manufacturers will alert you that any type of pan is safe to use on the cooktop, but it must have a flat bottom.
Pans without a flat bottom can damage the cooktop and be damaged themselves. Steel or cast iron are required if you opt for magnetic induction. If you can't stick a magnet on your cookware, they won't work with this option.
On all glass cooktops you should know two important things...
- These cooktops will withstand most types of cooking with the exception of boiling sugar water, such as when you make candies. If the boiling sugar water boils over onto the surface, try to clean it immediately as it will bubble, damage, and void the warranty.
- Plastic is also a problem, such as bread wrappers. It has been found that if plastic touches the surface while still hot, it melds into the surface and is impossible to remove. Average cost is $500 to $700. Don't let it happen!
These kinds of burners can run on gas or electricity and allow you to vary the placement of your burners. The benefits to a modular burner are you can use them on an island counter and you can vary the type of cooking you do on the same cooktop. You can expect to pay about $450.
A range combines an oven and a cooktop and they generally use the same heat source - gas or electric. A professional-style range affords you the luxury of having a gas burner and electric convection oven. The same pros and cons of oven and cooktop features apply to ranges as well.
When it comes to installation, you can choose from freestanding, slide-in or drop-in. The price varies depending on the style - electric coil ranges will cost between $425-$650; electric smoothtop ranges $650 -$1400; gas burners $550-$2000 and $4000 and up for a pro-style model.
Just as a mental note, keep in mind that all gas appliances are now electric ignition, which is safer and more energy efficient, but in the case of a power outage, you can still light the burners with a match but not the oven.
Grease, smoke, steam, and gas byproducts are always in issue when cooking in your kitchen. The ventilation you choose to address this issue will depend on the layout of the kitchen, your local building codes, and your own personal preference.
The higher the airflow and lower the noise rating will affect the cost of the ventilation hood. Higher CFMs and lower sones will increase the cost.
The CFMs are the cubic feet of air the vent system can move per minute. You can purchase a plain simple vent hood with or without venting to the outside, but if you do a lot of cooking or have planned a stylish kitchen you will most likely prefer either an updraft or downdraft vent hood.
An updraft vent is located over a range or cooktop and cleans the air by either pulling the polluted air up by a fan, then through filters and out of your house through a metal duct or by a fan that filters the polluted air and then re-circulates the clean air back into the room. These are very effective and are available in a variety of decorative models. The drawback to this system - they are generally hard to clean and require a filter change regularly. Vents can be as cheap as $100 or as costly as thousands.
The downdraft vent is placed into a base cabinet and expels air by pulling it down through vents located on the sides and back of the cooktop. While appearance may be better, they are not as effective as updraft vents. They only catch the byproducts directly around the vent. Average cost is $500.