Choosing cooktops

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-05-2003
Choosing cooktops
3
Fri, 03-28-2008 - 12:38pm

IF you are going with separate oven and cooktop in your kitchen, you need to pick a combination that suits your needs. We have a thread going on choosing ovens:
http://messageboards.ivillage.com/n/mb/message.asp?webtag=iv-hgfirsthome&msg=2900.1

Now let's look at what you need to consider when choosing the cooktop!

from http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=howTo&p=BuyGuide/ChsCkTp.html

When choosing a new cooktop, keep your needs and lifestyle in mind. Cooktops have come a long way from the basic four-burner models. With all of the available features, deciding which cooktop is best for you will depend on the features you want and your budget. Cooktops are now available with smooth tops, grills, different burner configurations and much more.

General Cooktop Features:

Many models of both gas and electric cooktops have the exact same countertop cutout, so planning and designing your new kitchen has never been easier:

Cooktops today are easier to clean, better looking and offer more cooking flexibility (more precise temperature control, for example) versus the cooktops from only a few years ago.

Ceramic cooktops are available in gas and electric.

The edge of the cooktop is frameless, so it won't trap food and be difficult to clean.

Cooktops have available accessories, such as interchangeable burners and grids for grilling.

Downdraft exhaust is available on some electric and gas models. A downdraft cooktop is perfect for a kitchen island with no overhead exhaust.

Electric Cooktop Features:

Electronic touch-controls on some cooktops eliminate the need for knobs.
Smooth ceramic cooktops have a sleek appearance and offer easy cleanup.

Ceramic cooktops are available in a variety of colors to complement any kitchen design.

The ribbon elements on a smooth top cooktop heat as quickly as the old coil elements and some are adjustable in size. For example, an adjustable element can accommodate either large or small pans. A triple element can heat a large 9" x 19" griddle or casserole dish.

Some sealed ceramic cooktops can be recessed so they are virtually flush with the countertop.

An electronic touch-control cooktop is available with no knobs. The electronic touch-control makes this cooktop a great addition to your kitchen's decor. This type of cooktop offers other features as well:

If an unoccupied element is left on, sensors in the cooktop will turn off the element.

Sensors adjust the size of the element to the size of pan being used.

The control-lock feature for the elements is a safety feature to prevent accidental activation.

A digital reminder timer alerts you when the cooking time has expired.

Gas Cooktop Features:

Sealed surface burners contain spills for easy cleanup. Many cooktops are designed with the sealed burners recessed below the surface of the countertop.

Models are available with "gas-on-glass" where the sealed burner is mounted directly on the ceramic cooktop, offering easy cleaning of an electric smooth top with the performance of gas.

Sealed "simmer" burners allow you to cook delicate foods without using a double boiler.

Precise temperature controls allow you to control the temperature for every cooking need. You can even cook items at very low temperatures without scorching.

One or more sealed "high power" burners, up to 15,000 Btu's, allow you to boil quickly or do other high temperature cooking like frying or cooking with a wok.

Cast-iron, porcelain enamel-coated grates are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.



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CL for

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-05-2003
Sat, 03-29-2008 - 7:31am

from http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/dc_design_kitchen/article/0,,HGTV_3375_1391263,00.html

look at the latest designs for cooktops. Now that the cooktop and oven no longer must be connected to each other, the design possibilities are endless. Size, color and the power levels are a few of the choices homeowners can make when customizing their kitchens.

The biggest choice is to whether to use gas or electric power. The advantages of gas are its speed and control. Ease of cleaning and superior simmering capabilities are electric power's strengths. However, it is possible to combine both gas and electric on the same cook top of many commercial units.

One of the newest looks in cooktops is the corner ceramic top. Thin enough to accommodate a drawer underneath, it can reach full power in three seconds. Its interesting shape is not limited to corner use, and its sturdy glass surface allows vigorous clean-up with a razor blade.

Commercial ranges, available in a range of widths, allow for tremendous customization , including grills and char broilers. The latest feature of gas ranges is the sealed , star-shaped burner that allows for excellent heat distribution.



Co-CL for "The Stitcher's Niche" and "Remodel & Renovate" and CL for "Antiques and Collectibles"








Visit me at That Yank In...
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Stitchery WIPs: "Bath 5¢", "Walking to Town", a selection of 8 San Man snowman charts, 2 sets of curtain tie-backs using a DMC freebie chart and the DMC linen threads, a Kooler Design Studio chart form JanLynn called "Needlework Shop", "Tsunami Charity Sampler" from the fall 2007 Sampler & Needlework Quarterly, and "Autumn Leaves" from the December 2006 New Stitches



CL for

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-05-2003
Sun, 03-30-2008 - 9:53am

from http://www.all-about-appliances.net/cooktops.html

Cooktops for any Kitchen Design

Select the cooktop just right for you and your home by following these easy steps:

When it comes to cooktops there’s not a lot of information to retain. Cooktops are used to clear up space in the kitchen, and give it a less cluttered look. Cooktops can be placed anywhere in the kitchen and are great for island applications.

Cooktops generally come in two sizes, 30-inches wide, and 36-inches wide. Their depths are all the same at about 22-inches deep (Installed, that's the bottom to the top). Cooktops also come in three different surfaces; porcelain-enamel, ceramic-glass or sealed tops that keep spills from going under the cooktop.

First step to choosing the cooktop for your home is to decide whether you want gas or electric.

Electric

Electric cooktops, depending on what part of the country you’re in these days, can save you significantly on utility bills.

Electric cooktops come in two versions, traditional coiled eyes, and smooth glass/ceramic top. The glass/ceramic top tends to be more popular because of how easy it is to clean. It requires a cleaner called “Cerama Bryte”. Although this is the least expensive cleaner, expect that extra expense with this type of cooktop. Another thing to remember with the glass/ceramic tops is that they can crack if something heavy such as a cast iron pot hits it.

Most importantly, these types of tops take longer to heat up, and longer to cool down as opposed to gas, or even the coiled eyes. This could possibly pose a danger, depending on the quality of cooktop you purchase because when cooling down, there may be no indication that the burner is still hot, possibly causing you or a loved one to be burned. This also would make the cooking area warmer.

Finally, these types of tops don’t provide the even heat distribution throughout the pot or pan as gas does. This trait goes for the coiled eyes as well. Modern pots and pans are grooved on the bottom so full distribution of heat wouldn't be possible with anything electric.

Coiled eyes, can produce a slightly better performance than the glass/ceramic tops. Depending on the quality of the coils (the more coils in an eye the better!) they're able to provide faster cooking and faster cool down time. With coiled tops, the coils are your heating element, with glass tops, the coiled heating element is beneath the glass surface which causes the delay in cook times. Coiled eyes can just be a pain to keep clean, so depending on how often you cook, glass surface may be your best bet.

Gas

If you were to visit a chef’s kitchen, you would find in there a gas cooktop. The reason for this is for it’s capability to cook evenly with all pots and pans. Most pots and pans today aren’t flat on the bottom, so electric cooktops wouldn’t be your ideal choice to get that even cook.

Chef’s also prefer gas because of their on/off capability. When you turn it on, it’s hot and ready to go, allowing you to cook faster than cooking with an electric cooktop; and when it's turned off, it cools a lot faster than electric, reducing the heat in the kitchen.

If you are choosing a gas cooktop, make sure you choose one with a good BTU rating. The higher the BTU (British Thermal Unit) the more heat is distributed to that burner. A good cooktop will have a burner capable of 15,000 BTU’s. BTU ratings on cooktops differ on each burner, so make sure you check the specifications of each individual burner.

Induction

Like gas and electric, induction is a different energy used for cooking. Now for supreme cooking efficiency, energy efficiency, and time efficiency, induction is the way to go. Simply put, instead of using electricity or gas it uses magnetic energy to product heat. The interesting thing about induction is that the cooking surface never gets hot! You can take a boiling pot of water off of the burner and immediately put your hand on it, and it will be cool to the touch. So how does this work? Again, magnetic energy! The ceramic surface reacts to the iron-based pan, which produces the heat. This technology cooks twice as efficient than electric or gas.

Now for the cons. These are a lot more expensive than electric and gas, not only that, you have to purchase new cookware. You need special pots and pans to be able to react to it's surface to create the heat. So converting over to such a thing can be very costly. Is it worth it? Well depends on what you cook (do you just open a can to heat p? If so, than Yes! It would be worth it!), or if you have some extremely curious children (who seem to ignore, "The stove is hot!" and just may burn themselves from playing around the stove so much)...

However if you wanted to test the waters with this technology, there are single burners available, such as Sunpentown Induction Cooktop - SR-1851. It's a little over $100 and although it's a lower, perhaps the lowest end ,model, it's something good to have on the side to test and see if that is something you would like to go with entirely. Whatever you do, don't forget the cookware! It's not as expensive as you may think. $40 for a pot or nice sized pan. Very reasonable. When choosing induction, get the highest wattage that you can afford. The higher the wattage the longer it will last, and the more efficiently it can cook.

Ventilation

Ventilation is very important when installing a cooktop. You must decide where you want to place the ventilation, over the cooktop; in which a range hood would be used; or a downdraft ventilation. With a downdraft, fumes are pulled from the cooktop down, and led out of the house. You will know if a cooktop has a downdraft because it will have a long vent, usually in the middle of the cooktop. It may also have a pop-up downdraft that is located across the top of the cooktop which pops-up out of the cooktop to pull fumes down.

One advantage of using a range hood rather than a downdraft for your ventilation is that you do not have to have ducting leading out of your home. Range hoods have carbon filters inside of them which purifies the air and re-circulates it back into the kitchen.

Features

Some features to look for in a cooktop are its burners. Depending on the size of the cooktop you can have anywhere from 4-6 burners. It may also have a grate for grilling, or it may have interchangeable grates (which are sold separately). If you purchase an electric cooktop, you may have adjustable burners that compensate for the size of the pot or pan, for example, there’s a switch to adjust for 6”, 9”, or 12” cookware. It may even have a bridging option where you can combine two burners to make one large rectangular burner. There are many options to choose from so shop around!

Also, take notice that most cooktops do not have 5 burners. Generally the center, smaller burner, is a “warming zone” which is just used for simmering. So don't get fooled by this burner. It’s great to have for simmering but you can't cook on that burner.

Check for cleaning capabilities as well, does it lift up to clean under the cooktop? Does it have removable grates to clean under the grate? Does it have knobs? Some come with digital, electronic buttons with no turning dials.

Last but not least, if you are getting knobs, make sure they are durable. This normally only applies to stainless steel models; some cooktops appear to have stainless steel knobs but they are really plastic. Make sure they are stainless steel, you’ll know this because they will be heavy. If you can’t see the cooktop personally, call the manufacturer and ask.

Energy Efficiency

Like ranges, cooktops are not considered to be energy efficient appliances. So don't waste your valuable time comparing energy consumption. If any brand name claims to have ENERGY STAR cooktops, double check with EnergyStar.gov ...



Co-CL for "The Stitcher's Niche" and "Remodel & Renovate" and CL for "Antiques and Collectibles"








Visit me at That Yank In...
and Traveling with That Yank




 





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Stitchery WIPs: "Bath 5¢", "Walking to Town", a selection of 8 San Man snowman charts, 2 sets of curtain tie-backs using a DMC freebie chart and the DMC linen threads, a Kooler Design Studio chart form JanLynn called "Needlework Shop", "Tsunami Charity Sampler" from the fall 2007 Sampler & Needlework Quarterly, and "Autumn Leaves" from the December 2006 New Stitches



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Registered: 09-05-2003
Thu, 12-18-2008 - 5:51am



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