Gas cooktops are a popular choice for many kitchens. They heat up faster than electric models and provide more precise control of temperature.
However, you must consider the existing hookups and your cooking habits to decide which gas cooktop is best for you. Some of the top brands offer a variety of features that make these appliances safe, durable, and visually appealing.
Whether you’re installing a cooktop in an existing kitchen or building your dream kitchen from scratch, first measure the space where you want to place the appliance. A piece of paper and a tape measure will do the trick. Note that the cooktop dimensions will vary from the kitchen’s appliance cutout size to allow for a gas line hookup and to align with your countertops.
Look at the number of burners, BTU ratings and design features to determine which one will work best for you. Higher BTU burners offer faster cooking speeds for searing and sauteing, while lower ones are perfect for simmering sauces and soups. Choose a model with sealed burners to make cleaning simple; these types of burners prohibit food particles from getting stuck in the grates.
If you’re planning to entertain, opt for a gas cooktop with a fifth burner for added flexibility. This extra cooking zone will let you prepare multiple dishes at once, so you can spend more time enjoying your meal. Some homeowners also prefer the instant heat control that gas cooktops offer.
Gas cooktops take up a lot of visual real estate in the kitchen, so they should have an attractive design that blends in with your décor. Look for a clean, timeless style and thoughtful touches like a gas-powered griddle or grill (great for making indoor s’mores).
Professional chefs prefer gas stoves for their extraordinary control over cooking temperatures and instant reactions, unlike electric surfaces that must heat up before transferring energy to the pot. Also, since they’re open flames, gas burners provide a more authentic cooking experience.
When you’re shopping for a new gas cooktop, pay attention to the number of burners and the power they offer. You’ll want to make sure you have enough burners for your typical cookware sizes and that the smallest and medium settings are powerful for simmering.
Look for safety features that include push-to-turn knobs, flame failure protection and control lockout to prevent accidental use. You should also be able to see the burner lights on when a cooktop is turned on, and many models even illuminate their control knobs with an under-knob light when in use.
The cooktop’s ignition system plays a key role in how well it performs. The best options feature a spark-to-ignition design that eliminates the need for a standing pilot flame and offers flame failure protection to shut off the gas in the event of an extinguished flame.
Other features can make a big difference as well. Look for a fingerprint-resistant finish that’s easier to clean and won’t show smudges easily. Also, etched labels are more durable than bonded ones that sit on the surface and can fade with harsh cleaners or scratching over time.
Finally, consider whether you want a model that connects to your home’s Wi-Fi for smart monitoring. This lets you use your smartphone to remotely check the status and power level of the cooktop. It’s not a replacement for being present in your kitchen while the cooktop is active, but it can come in handy when you’re cooking on vacation or working from home.
The design of a gas cooktop affects the cooking experience. For example, some cooktops include sealed burners that have a cap over the central section of flames to prevent oil and food debris from falling down into the burner holes. This can make cleaning your cooktop much easier.
Additionally, some cooktops have adjustable flame sizes. This lets you choose the right flame size for simmering, boiling, and searing. This feature can help you save energy and money by using the lowest flame setting when possible.
Stainless steel is a popular surface material for gas cooktops because it conducts heat quickly and evenly. It also responds well to temperature changes. Many homeowners prefer a gas cooktop over an electric model because it doesn’t require preheating and gives them instant control of the cooking temperature.
Another advantage of gas cooktops is that they can be used during a power outage, whereas an electric cooktop requires a battery or generator to continue working. This is especially useful for those who live in areas prone to storms or have an unstable electricity grid.
The ventilation system of a gas cooktop affects the cooking experience in important ways. In addition to reducing cooking fumes and smoke, it also helps protect your health.
Gas emits a stew of harmful air pollutants that include PM2.5, NO2, CO and formaldehyde—some of which can aggravate asthma. The EPA estimates that homes with leaky venting or poor ventilation are at higher risk for unsafe exposures, especially lower-income households that may have more people living in smaller spaces and use gas stoves as primary heat sources.
While hoods and fans are effective at pulling smells, smoke and other contaminants from your kitchen, they don’t always work in the same way—and some homeowners simply don’t run them, preferring to open their windows instead.
Downdraft cooktops, however, provide an efficient alternative to a bulky range hood that can help improve your home’s indoor air quality while matching the look of the rest of your kitchen design. Many of these cooktops can be vented to the outside using a compatible duct-free downdraft vent kit or configured for recirculation of filtered air (with models that fit a variety of cooker brands).