Appliances How To
How to choose a cooktop
Cooktops come in different colors, shapes, and sizes, but the most important feature to consider is the heat source. we are going to address the heat source first.
Heat source can be:
Gas cooktops:They can use either natural gas or liquid propane or both by using a conversion kit.
- Burners are rated by their BTU value. BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and it measures the energy required to heat up one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. The higher the BTU value the higher the energy it gives off and the faster it heats up your food. BTU values can range from 18,000btu/hr (for fast heating) down to 200btu/hr (for simmering) and any number in between.
- Sealed burners: they prevent spills from reaching the cavity of the cooktop or the cabinet underneath.
- The shape of the burner: a star shaped burner does a better job heating the food, but makes it harder to clean spills.
- The grates shape:
- Continuous grates with flat top surface are more stable for sliding heavy pots.
- Low profile, or recessed grates eliminate the problem of grates sticking out too far beyond the contertop surface.
- Protective rubber standoffs underneath the grates: higher end models include thicker standoffs that prevent scratches when moving the grates.
- The location of the control knobs: can be in the front, or on top, or at an angle. The ones on top are better suited for households with small children.
- Automatic reignition: a safety feature, it automatically reignite a burner if accidentally got extinguished.
- Illuminated control panel: it indicates that a burner is still on.
- Electronic individual ignition system: each burner has its own ignition electrode vs having an open flame pilot on at all times.
- Dual stacked burners: they allow you to set your burners on very low settings with continuous flame without the need for the continuous cycling between on and off that might produce an annoying clicking noise.
Electric cooktops:these cooktops use energy generated by an electrical current passing through a metal coil to heat the cooking zones.
- Each cooking zone have a different wattage value.
- The higher the wattage the more heat they produce and the faster your food will cook.
- Cooking zones are circular and have one or more elements within the same zone.
- These elements are basically the concentric circles you see on the glass surface.
- They differ in size to give you the flexibility of using pots of different sizes.
- A bridge feature: allows you to combine two cooking zones and have them both on at the same time for extra large cooking vessels.
- Infrared sensor:it detects the temperature of the cookware and start cycling between on/off in order to maintain a constant temperature.
- It prevent food burns and overflow.
- It saves you from having to stand by the cooktop to adjust the temperature constantly.
- It requires specialized cookware or a sensor band applied to your cookware to be able to take advantage of such feature.
- A preset cooking programs: for some of the most popular foods.
- A keep warm function: to keep food warm or for melting chocolate.
- A timer with adjustable volume.
- Shape: these cooktop are mostly rectangular, but unusual shapes like oval and kidney shapes do exist.
- Color: most of these cooktops are frameless black or white colored. If you desire a stainless steel accent then you may get a framed one.
- heavy pots and harsh cleaners can leave scratches on the surface.
- Glass surface can crack if wiped clean while hot with a wet sponge.
Induction cooktops:they use a strong electromagnetic field (generated by a copper coil placed under the cooker surface) to heat the cooking vessel which in turn heats the food inside it.
- Safety: these cooktops stay cool to the touch when they are on. Pots with hot foods will feel hot and may transfer heat to the cooking surface.
- Efficiency: very efficient, they heat food quickly and evenly, saving you time and energy cost.
- Residual heat sensors:it stays lit if the ceramic glass surface is hot.
- Overheating protection: it prevent an empty pot that was left on the cooktop with the cooking zone underneath activated from overheating and causing injury and damage to the ceramic glass surface.
- An alarm function that will notify you of liquids boiling over, so you can attend to it immediately.
- Touch panel lock: it will lock the unit when not in use, or being cleaned.
- Some of the disadvantages are:
- Require special cookware: cookware must be made of some ferrous metal, so you cannot use your glass, ceramic, aluminum, or copper cookware.
- Cookware must have a completely flat bottom to make a full contact with the ceramic glass surface.
- Cookware must fit exactly over the heating element marked on each cooking zone, otherwise the cooktop will not heat the food at all (if pot is too small) or heat it improperly.
- Ceramic glass surface can crack if cleaned with a wet sponge while still hot or a heavy pot was dropped on it.