Cooktops Guide

Learn about gas and electric cooktops and their unique features before you buy.

-For maximum design flexibility in your kitchen, try this dynamic duo---- A cook top plus 1 or more wall ovens. Hi. I'm Lacey Howard. -When shopping for a cooktop, your first big choice is gas or electric heat. Gas burners give you greater control, and gas is an economical heat source. Electric burners are less responsive than gas but they're easier to clean. Although many cooks are passionate about gas, the performance gap between gas and electric is shrinking. Whatever your heat source, consider BTU's or British Thermal Unit. Your cooktop should include a choice of burners with different BTU's. For example, 1,000 to 10,000 BTU's is ideal for general cooking. More than 10,000 BTU's is great for boiling, sauting and searing meat, and less than 1,000 BTU's is appropriate for simmering or slow heating sauces. If you want high speed heat, consider including a specialty burner on your cooktop. An induction burner conducts heat magnetically and could bring a pot of water to boil in less than 2 minutes. The standard cooktop is 30 inches wide and has 4 burners, but an array of witthen burner configurations is available. Look for 5, 6 and even 8 burners. Smooth-top cooktops are easy to clean and give your cooking space a streamlined appearance. They can also function as extra countertop space when necessary. Outfit your cooktop with useful features including a downdraft vent that sucks smoke and stain down and out. Downdraft vents pop out when needed and retract when you're done cooking. Continuous grates allow you to easily slide heavy pans from burner to burner. A cooktop drops into a cutout on your countertop as does pop-up ventilation. So plan what storage unit works underneath and around it. Measure and plan carefully, and remember to include adequate ventilation and insulation. -Whether you choose a cooktop or a range, here's a smart but simple tip. Choose a unit with controls in the front. That way, you don't have to reach over a hot burner to adjust the heat.