A Guide to Cooktops:
What To Know When Considering a Cooktop
Due to the variety of cooktop features, configurations and fuel types offered in the market it might be difficult choosing the right cooktop to satisfy your cooking needs.
Here’s what you need to know when considering adding a cooktop to your kitchen.
How does a cooktop differ from a rangetop?
Cooktops are installed in the countertop with the controls positioned within the cooktop on the horizontal plane. They are fuelled by gas or electricity. And thanks to fewer infrastructural requirements, they can be installed easily into tighter spaces in the kitchen than a rangetop.
Rangetops are typically gas-powered and have professional and commercial style. These units can include details like heavy-duty knobs and grates, and fit above and over the edge of the countertop with vertically positioned controls.
Why Choose One Over The Other?
You will experience different response time benefits depending on fuel type. Gas and induction cooktops adjust quickly to temperature changes adjustments whereas radiant cooktops may take a little more time.
Gas burners are measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). Higher BTU output means higher heat, this is important for cooking techniques like searing (15K + BTUs). Lower BTU output means lower heat, essential, for instance, when melting butter (5K BTUs).
Many chefs may prefer gas cooktops – fueled by natural gas or propane – for convenient quick heating and precise burner control. Gas is ideal if you love the perfect sear, simmer and wok cooking and are all about control.
Three main options exist when choosing an electric cooktop – radiant, induction and coil.
Radiant, Induction and Coil burners are measured in watts. Higher wattage means higher heat, helpful for cooking techniques like searing (2K watts). Lower wattage means lower heat, perfect for simmering delicate sauces (1K watts).
Some radiant and induction cooktops even have bridge elements to accommodate Grill and Griddles, and may have an element size range of 4” – 12” (10.2 cm to 30.5 cm) to accommodate most pot sizes.
Radiant cooktops are refined in design with responsive elements capable of reaching high temperatures. They are easier to clean versus gas due to their smooth surface. Many models also come with expanding and contracting burners to better match your pot sizes and a protective coating to avoid scratching.
Induction cooktops work very differently than other types of cooktops. An electric current is passed through a coiled copper wire underneath the cooktop, which creates a magnetic current throughout the cooking vessel to produce heat. Because the heat is transferred directly to the cooking vessel and not through the cooktop surface and then the vessel, induction cooktops cook more quickly and more efficiently than radiant and gas cooktops. Similar to radiant, induction cooktops offer a smooth surface making them easier to clean compared to gas cooktops. Induction cooktops sometimes offer expanding and contracting burners to match your pot sizes providing your cooktop with more versatility. In addition, induction cooktops also offer precision enabling effective high heat cooking but also low, consistent heat for difficult tasks like melting chocolate.
Cookware must be made of a magnetic metal to work on induction cooktops. To check if your pan works on an induction cooktop, simply hold a magnet next to it. If it sticks to the surface, your pan is compatible. Another way to determine compatibility is to place a pan on the cooktop itself. If the display flashes or you hear clicking, the pan is not compatible. If incompatible pans are used, inconsistent cooking results might be experienced.
With the purchase of a qualifying KitchenAid electric induction cooktop, for a limited time you will receive a bonus gift of a set of KitchenAid® induction cookware.*
*Limited time offer. While quantities last. Learn More
Coil cooktops are popular for their affordable prices. However, they tend to be more difficult to clean.
Coil cooktops are not available through KitchenAid.
Size & Burners Available
Need a cooktop with the perfect fit for your kitchen? A number of different cooktop sizes are available to best fit your needs.
Cooktops are commonly available in 30”, 36”, and 48” widths. To cater to small spaces, some brands offer cooktops with 15” and 24” widths. The depth can range fairly significantly based on the model and fuel type; the general range is between 20” and 28” deep.
The number of cooktop burners in most cases is related to the width of the cooktop. 15” cooktops often just have 1-2 burners, 24” and 30” cooktops often have 4-5 burners and 36” cooktops often have 5-6 burners. Cooktops that are 48” wide could have as many as 8 burners but many have less and offer additional features such as a Grill or Griddle.
Style & Colour
Although most commonly available in black or stainless steel, there are various cooktop styles and colours to compliment your desired kitchen aesthetic. Induction and electric cooktops tend to hold a more modern or contemporary look while gas cooktops have a classic feel. Black tops can sometimes be edged in stainless steel. Some cooktops are available with knobs and some with touch control.
Some cooktops offer extra configurations to meet your needs.
Downdraft Cooktops have a built-in ventilation system within the cabinet below that sucks smoke and odours right off the cooking surface. This means you don’t need an additional overhead ventilation hood, which adds flexibility on where to place your cooktop and creates openness in the kitchen. Downdraft cooktops offer a wide range of venting options.
You will typically need more open space under the counter for installation and a proper external floor or wall ventilation for external venting. Always check the installation instruction guide provided by the manufacturer. Check with your builder or cabinet supplier to make sure the cabinet materials used will not discolour, delaminate or sustain other damage.
Grill & Griddle
Grill & Griddle are options available with some cooktops that make your cooktop more versatile.
With a Grill, you have the ability to keep grilling meats, vegetables and seafood indoors year round.
With a Griddle, you have a large cooking surface perfect for cooking grilled sandwiches, pancakes, eggs, burgers, sautéed vegetables, and many more family favourites.
Cooktops with Grill and Griddle options are not
available through KitchenAid.
Cooktops can be installed on a countertop against the wall or, if you want to be more engaged with your guests as you cook, on an island. Some wall ovens can be installed below a cooktop. Ventilation is also a major consideration when deciding where to install your cooktop. You need to ensure there is adequate room to install ventilation that meets your cooktop requirements.
Though most cooktops slightly protrude out from counters, some sit completely flush with the countertop– a feature often found with luxury radiant and induction cooktop brands.
Manufacturers include templates in their installation guides, so the countertop can be cut to fit your new cooktop. Just be sure your have and follow the manufacturer dimension guide and template.