Advice And Reviews: Choosing A New Cooktop

This article discusses the varieties of cooktops available and price ranges.

Many homeowners will remodel their kitchens or have a breakdown and will need to replace their kitchen cooktops. There are hundreds of cooktops on the market at a variety of prices. Which ones should a homeowner choose?

The first thing a homeowner must decide is whether he wants to have an electric or gas cooktop. Does he want to change from what he now has? If he changes from electric to gas, will he have to have a contractor come in to install a gas line for it? If he changes from gas to electric, will he need a contractor to come in and seal off the gas line? These kinds of decisions must be made in advance. Most people will probably want to stay with the kind of cooktop they currently have, if they are not doing major remodeling. He will also need to measure his cooktop and make certain he carries these measurements with him when he goes shopping, so that he is looking at the correct models for what he needs. Not every model is available in every size.

If a homeowner needs a new gas cooktop, he has a couple of options. He can go with open burners or sealed burners. Open burners are the traditional kind of gas burners that have drip pans underneath and are open underneath the cooktop. These kinds of cooktops are usually cheaper, but clean-up is an issue, and drip pans will need replacing, eventually.

Sealed burners have the heating element in the center of the burner, and the burner coils on top. The heating element is set into the actual surface of the cooktop, so spills do not seep under it. Clean-up is much easier and no drip pans need be replaced. Gas cooktops may also have good features such as a simmer burner for sauces and warming. Gas cooktops will range in price from $200-$600, depending on their features.

Electric cooktops also have more options these days. A homeowner can go with the traditional coils, a glass radiant heat cooktop or a ceramic cooktop with ribbon elements.

Everyone is familiar with the coils with their drip pans that need to be cleaned and inexact heating qualities. However, they are about half the price of the radiant or ribbon element cooktops. A homeowner must determine what is in his budget. The coil variety range from about $200-$275.

Radiant cooktops are glass and their heating elements are flat on the surface. Most have an indicator light on the cooktop that lets others know when the top is still hot. These cooktops are easily cleaned and provide much more even heating. Many also have a "bridge" between two elements, so a very large pot can be heated on the top.

Ceramic elements are the deluxe way to cook. Ceramic is a "superconductor" and conducts and transfers heat very efficiently, making it ideal for cooking. These cooking elements are ribbon like, slightly raised from the surface. A "bridge" is also usually available for large pots and pans.

Homeowners who have children may want to opt for the radiant or ceramic cooktop, since there is no open flame, as with gas elements, or the superhot coils from the old-fashioned electric cooktops. Radiant and ceramic cooktops will range in price from $300-$700.

As with most appliances, these cooktops are available in a variety of styles, colors, sizes and prices. A homeowner will need to go to a store and compare prices for cooktops that have the features he wants. He should also always inquire about rebates or discounts.

When the homeowner finds the best cooktop for his budget, he can go home happy, and start experimenting with those new recipes.

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