When it comes to cooking options in the kitchen, it seems there are nearly as many appliances as there are cookbooks. One of the most popular is a stove top; it eliminates the oven and features the top burner-only portion. If you've never thought about installing a kitchen stove top—or if you're in the market for one but aren't sure all the implications for installation and cooking—read on for our helpful guide.
Q: Why would I ever select just a kitchen stove top instead of an all-in-one range?
A: The best answer is, it's a matter of personal preference as well as practicality. Separating the oven and stove top allows you to utilize two separate fuel sources—say, gas for the stove tops and electric for the oven, or the other way around. If you're short on floor space but have lots of wall area, then installing a stove top and wall ovens might be a practical solution (and help you gain some extra below-countertop cabinets, too). And for clean-lined or open kitchens, kitchen stove tops tend to recede into the background since they're installed nearly flush with the countertop.
Q: But I'm typically the only cook in the kitchen. Does a kitchen stove top still make sense?
A: Maybe. But look carefully at costs. One of the advantages of a kitchen stove top is that separate stations allow two cooks to work at the same time.
Q: How big are kitchen stove tops? Aren't they just for expansive, showcase kitchens?
A: Not at all. While stove tops come in 48-inch-wide models, some come smaller—just 24, 30, 36, and 45 inches, making them a good solution for smaller kitchens, too.
Q: I'm remodeling my kitchen and hoping to retrofit a kitchen stove top into my plans. What do I need to know?
A: If your kitchen stove top is intended to be placed on a wall countertop, know that most manufacturers design them for standard depth, which equals a couple of inches at the front and back. Commercial style stove tops may be bigger and protrude slightly beyond the countertop's edge. In addition, some are as shallow as 2 inches, while others as deep as 6 inches. Downdraft models are deeper—18 inches typically.
Q: What about a hood? I'm going to place my kitchen stove top on an island and don't want a hood hanging down.
A: If you want a kitchen stove top but don't want a hood, then you need a downdraft model—but there are several caveats. You must be able to run a duct under the floor and outside; this enables the vents built into the surface of these types of stove tops to operate. Some kitchen stove tops also have telescoping vents, which rise several inches above the surface when needed.
Q: My grandmother had a kitchen stove top and it was so hard to heat up. Is that true today?
A: The electric ceramic-glass stove tops of old did seem like they took forever to heat up. Fortunately, technology has helped and that's no longer the case. Some electric burners can reach maximum heat in as few as three seconds, and alternate between high and low settings quickly.
Q: Won't I have to sacrifice heat with a kitchen stove top?
A: No—but you need to find a model that offers at least one or two high-heat burners. Even so, the maximum watts on electric stove tops is about 2,500 watts, and with gas about 15,000 Btus—about the same.
Q: What about cost?
A: It may end up being more expensive to buy separate appliances versus one—but that's why it pays to do your research and shop around before making a decision. The most important thing is to find the right cooking surface that meets your lifestyle and needs.