The stovetop is probably the most used cooking appliance in your home, so it’s important to understand the different types of ranges and their most effective uses. Stovetops, formally known as ranges, come in three main varieties: gas, electric, and induction. Each one has their ups and downs and preferred usages.
Gas ranges are the star of the show when it comes to quality cooking. Most professional kitchens have gas ranges. Gas ranges are fueled by natural gas, which has to be ignited to be used. The flame heats your pots and pans directly, offering the most direct heat and the easiest controlled heat. Gas ranges are the easiest on your cookware, as the even heating they provide helps prevent pan burning and warping. They give the best cooking results thanks to this even heating, and their ease of controlling the temperature. Gas ranges also have the added benefit of being able to charr foods directly. Throw low-mess foods like peppers or tortillas directly on the flame to get a great flame-grilled taste! Gas ranges do come with significant drawbacks, however. The open flame heat source can be a hazard for those who aren’t careful, especially children and pets who may be sticking their noses where they don’t belong. While most modern gas ranges have safety shutoffs, accidentally leaving a range on can pose toxic gas hazards to your home. Spills can be much trickier to clean on a gas range, depending on the exact type you have. And, of course, there’s the cost. Gas ranges are the most expensive ranges to purchase and hook up, and you have to factor in the cost of natural gas when installing one.
Electric ranges are the most common stovetops in modern day households. They provide heat from an electric heat source that you put your pots and pans on top of. Electric ranges are found primarily in two common styles: coil stovetops and glass stovetops. Coil stovetops have coils that are heated from the electricity. The coils are easily removed for cleaning and catching any debris that may fall under them while you’re cooking. Glass stovetops are a newer trend, with the entire range covered in a solid sheet of glass with designated burners. Glass stovetops are typically the easiest to clean, although they take quite a bit of scrubbing for more stubborn spills and are prone to scratching. While electric ranges are the cheapest and easiest to use, they come with several drawbacks. Electric ranges cause far more wear and tear on your pots and pans and can cause warping due to uneven heating. The heat is much harder to control, and you don’t get any sort of visual indicator on how hot your burner is, unlike a gas range with a flame.
Induction ranges are, by far, the least common type of stovetop in today’s households. Induction ranges heat pots and pans through electric magnetic heat and come only in glass stovetop styles. The magnetic heating method means that you need specific pots and pans to work with an induction range – most common budget pots and pans, made from Teflon-coated aluminum, aren’t magnetic and won’t heat on an induction range. The benefits of induction ranges are that they only heat magnetic items, so children with grabby hands or pets who jump where they aren’t supposed to won’t feel any heat from an induction range.
So, which range is right for you? If you’re looking to be as professional as you can in the kitchen, or if you want the best cooking results you can get, you just can’t beat the functionality of a gas range. If you’re concerned about accidental burns and don’t mind the additional cost of pots and pans, an induction range offers the best safety for your home. For all other uses, electric is likely the way to go.
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This article was originally published in September 11, 2020 and updated on August 22, 2022.