Once man discovered fire we were well on our way to cooking our food. Since then we’ve certainly evolved bringing us up to the present day where we are given Numerous choices of cook top. These include; Induction, Electric Ceramic, Electric Coils, Modular Cooktops, Single Wok Burners, In Bench Steamers and Gas. Each of these types of cook top has specific advantages and features.
Before choosing your cook top you should take into account the number of people you’ll be cooking for, the space available to fit the cook top and of course the type of cooking you like to do. If you are mounting the cook top on a bench it is wise to measure first. Cook tops come in several configurations. Some cook tops include an additional larger Wok burner for those who like traditional Asian cooking.
Below is a guide to the different cook tops along with their advantages
Induction Cook tops
An Induction cooker works by creating heat on the cooking surface of the pot or pan. This is quite different to the heat being generated in the electric coils or gas fire of more traditional cookers. In simple terms a low current is passed through a copper wire coil in each burner position. This in turn creates an oscillating magnetic field which is carried directly to the pot or pan. This current produces resistive heating which in turn cooks the food or liquids in the pot.
Advantages – Induction cook tops heat up quicker than traditional electric cook tops. Induction is more economical than a traditional electric cook top. The cook top will cool much more quickly as no heat is generated on the induction cook top apart from the contact point with the pot or pan. Safety is better due to no flames of red hot elements being present on the induction cook top. Better control of heat than standard electric cook tops. Easy to keep clean as the cooking surface is made of flat heat resistant glass.
Electric Cook tops
Electric cook tops operate but passing an electrical current through a metal coil. This creates heat which in turn is passed into the pot or pan placed on top of the coil. The heat is controlled via a dial. Electric cook tops are the most inexpensive cook tops to buy however not necessarily the most economical to run. Electric cook tops are usually constructed with a ceramic or solid hob. They solid hob has coils under a metal plate on which the pots and pans are placed. The ceramic version uses a heat resistant glass over the coils which heat up and glow red. These can take longer to heat up than the solid hob however do have safety and cleaning advantages.
Advantages – Electric cook tops are generally less expensive than Gas or Induction cook tops. Some ceramic cook tops include child safety lock switches. Some electric cook tops have multiple concentric heat rings which allow the user to choose a relevant setting for the right sized pot or pan. Can be used with all cookware (not so good with woks)
Gas is generally the preferred cook top of most top chefs. A Gas Stove provides a very quick heat and is very easy to control. Gas can also be used with all types of cookware. Gas Cook tops come in a huge variety of configurations and can be adapted to all kitchens. If mains gas is not available there are models which run on bottled lpg.
Advantages – Gas is much easier to control as the flame can be clearly seen. Gas cook tops are more economical. Some models of Gas cook tops include a wok burner which is perfect for Asian style cooking. Some models of gas cook tops include a safety cut off feature if the gas is accidently blown out or does not ignite.
In addition to bench mounted cook tops there are also combination cook top/ovens available. These are generally available in either Gas or Electric.