Compare cost, and decide between gas vs electric, and cooktop vs range, to choose the best new cooking range for your kitchen.
Gas vs electric: Some cooks prefer gas, and some prefer electric, and it's as simple as that. Fans of each fuel say that it makes cooking faster and easier. When trying to change the temperature applied to a pot, gas is able to perform faster. Gas is also praised for cooking solid foods like meats. Electric cooktops are better for boiling water or other liquids, and apply a more even heat across the pot.
Do you have gas hookups run to the kitchen of your home? If your home doesn't have gas service, you'll need an electric range or cooktop. Most homes with gas service are running a gas furnace for heat, and most have a gas hookup in the kitchen, but not all. If you're not sure that your kitchen has a gas hookup, get behind your existing range and check before going out to buy your new range or cooktop. Installation wise, electric ranges can be a bit easier to install, and gas cooktops are the hardest.
Cooktop vs. range: The range is the traditional answer to cooking food in the kitchen. It encompasses the oven and the cooking surfaces in one simple appliance, and is the easier appliance to install. If you're in a hurry to replace an old range, you'll probably want a new range that fits in the old space. Make sure you measure the old space exactly before going to buy a range""some older ranges came in nonstandard sizes.
Cooktops are the modern aesthetically pleasing choice. They are a nearly flat appliance, meant to sit on a counter and blend with their surroundings. Cooktop installation is usually accompanied by counter installation, as you fill in the space where the old range was, and is also more complicated, requiring a hole to be cut into a countertop. Usually, changing from range to cooktop is a bit of a remodeling project. You will also need to purchase a wall oven unit, which can be installed anywhere in the kitchen. People who frequently cook for large groups might want to consider getting a second wall oven, to let them cook different things at different temperatures at the same time.
Cost: Cooktops and ranges cost about the same, with cheap models running as low as 200 to 300$, but this can be misleading. Remember that you'll also need to purchase a separate wall oven to accompany your cooktop, which will cost another 400$+.
Safety: Gas ranges and cooktops carry the standard safety concerns of working with gas appliances. Unlit gas can accumulate and cause explosions, and professional installation is recommended if you're not an experienced handyman. Luckily, in modern appliances, pilot lights are rarely used, and electronic systems are much safer than the gas ranges of 40 years ago.
Smooth top cooktops carry special safety concerns, as they are easily mistaken for a counter surface and will be hot even after a pot is removed from their surface. Look for cooktops which not only have a bright light while they're on, but don't turn off that light until the surface has cooled to a touchable level. Warn children about the new burn hazard in their kitchen, and remember to warn children who might not have encountered a cooktop before when they visit your home.