Deciding between a gas range and an electric range for your new kitchen should be made with wisdom and great care. Do you cook often? What types of food do you make? Do you have young children around? Do you have the appropriate wall hookups? These are important questions to consider, since the kitchen — the crossroads of the family — is the most important room in the home.
To complicate your options, electric ranges are available in two basic categories: radiant and induction. Radiant electric ranges — whether they be coiled, solid, or smooth-top — generate heat, which is then transferred to the cookware and on to the food. Induction electric ranges, on the other hand, use an alternating current to heat only certain types of metals — stainless steel and iron. This leaves the range safe to human touch, since only the cookware and its contents are heated.
With the help of Build.com and San Francisco Chronicle’s Home Guides, here are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of range.
The prefered choice of most professional chefs, gas ranges offer immediate heat once lit and precision temperature control while cooking. This is important to chefs since many fine dishes require sudden and frequent changes in temperature. Gas ranges can handle any type or variety of cookware, including cast-iron, stainless steel, and woks. Plus, since natural gas is generally more affordable than electricity, gas ranges are inexpensive to operate. However, gas ranges are generally more expensive to install, since they require both an electrical outlet and a gas line. They are also more difficult to clean than smooth-top electric ranges and, since they operate with an open flame, present a safety and air quality risk.
Electric Coil or Hotplate Ranges
As new homes replace old ones and as old homes are remodeled, electric coil ranges are less common today than they once were. They take time to heat up and to change temperature while cooking, making them rather inefficient. However, they are inexpensive to purchase and repair, work with any type of cookware, and are good for low-temperature cooking.
Electric Smooth-top Ranges
Having grown in popularity over the past several years, electric smooth-top ranges have replaced electric coil ranges as the standard in most homes. Their smooth, flat, glossy appearance looks fantastic and is easy to clean. An improvement over electric coil ranges, they heat much more quickly and are more responsive to changes in temperature while cooking. Electric smooth-top ranges can also handle any type of cookware, as long as it’s not damaged or thorny on the bottom. However, in comparison to electric coil ranges, they are more expensive to purchase and can be complicated to repair.
Electric Induction Ranges
Since they only transmit heat to certain types of metals, electric induction ranges are safe for human hands. Compared to other types of electric ranges, they are more energy efficient and heat instantly. Like smooth-top ranges, they look stylish and are easy to clean. However, since they require stainless steel or iron cookware, they can be inconvenient for those who favor glass or aluminum cookware. Electric induction ranges can also be expensive to purchase and complicated to repair.