A good cooktop is the choice of those who appreciate versatility and compactness. It is a worthy alternative for those who have decided to abandon the old kitchen stove. But choosing a new kitchen appliance is not only a matter of taste but also of needs.
There are three types of cooktops in total – gas, electric, and induction. Each of them has its own features, disadvantages, and advantages. Let’s look at them in more detail.
They remind us of familiar gas stoves from childhood but in a more modern and compact appearance. They take up much less space and fit into almost any worktop. Their simple design makes them less prone to breakage and easier to maintain. The gas flame also ensures fast and uniform heating and allows dishes made of any material to be used.
Gas cooktops are much simpler than their electrical and induction counterparts and have fewer options. Almost all modern gas cooktops are equipped with the two most important functions – gas control and auto-ignition. The first function almost immediately blocks the gas supply if the flame on the burner suddenly goes out (due to a strong gust of wind or liquid escaping from the pan). This allows you to avoid gas leaks that can lead to a fire or poisoning of people in the room.
Auto-ignition is a simple but indispensable function that eliminates the need to ignite the burner by hand with matches or a lighter. Electric ignition systems are of two types – automatic and mechanical. The automatic ones are activated when the gas is applied to the burner, when you turn the regulator. This system is more convenient because you only need one hand for ignition and the other hand remains free. In mechanical systems, the gas is ignited by pressing a special button on the control panel.
The nuances of a gas cooktop
Before buying a hob, you should think about how often and how much you have to cook. As standard, the hob is equipped with four burners:
• one low-power auxiliary burner (which makes it easy to boil water in a small pot or brew coffee in a Turk);
• two powerful burners of different diameters;
• one high-temperature burner with a two- or three-row flame for more intense and faster heating.
This option is perfect for a large family when you need to prepare or heat several dishes at once. But if you rarely cook or only cook for yourself, it’s worth looking at the 2-3 hobs, which is quite enough.
The next point to pay attention to is the panel surface material. It depends not only on the appearance and design of the panel but also its practicality and ease of maintenance. Most often the panels are made of stainless steel or glass-ceramics. In terms of durability, there is no particular difference. Glass-ceramics look better, but to maintain an attractive appearance and a characteristic mirror Shine, you need regular care. Besides, it is impossible to use abrasive cleaners and abrasive cleaning pads. The metal surface looks more utilitarian, but it is much easier to care for it.
The grids on the gas panel can be made of enamel-coated metal (e.g. steel) as well as cast iron. It is considered to be the best option: the grid made of cast iron does not bend under the weight of even the heaviest dishes. And on the black surface, there are not so noticeable deposits.
Electric panels are slightly less economical than gas panels. But they are many times better for safety and convenience. And, as a rule, they fit more ergonomically into any kitchen.
Electric hobs are heated using Hi-Light technology. This is a special heating element – an incandescent tape placed under the glass-ceramic surface of the panel. Thanks to this solution, the burners heat up quickly enough and transfer heat to the dishes. Some burners can also be equipped with additional heating zones that can be activated for convenient use with larger dishes.
The burners are switched on by means of sensory control zones. The power can be adjusted either by touching the sensor or using a sensitive slider. Classic buttons-sensors are located in the sensor area and the slider allows you to set the desired burner power by simply sliding your finger.
Features of the electronic hob
Electric panels, unlike gas panels, are easier to program. Therefore, this type of panel has a large number of convenient functions and settings. Among them – a timer for turning off the burner, a variety of temperature programs for cooking specific dishes, a residual temperature indicator, and others. An interesting function that some models of electric panels with a glass-ceramic surface have is to determine the size of the dishes. The panel adjusts the size of the burner to fit the pan or pan to save energy and reduce the heating time.
It is not difficult to take care of the glass-ceramic electric panel. However, it is better to do this regularly, so that the surface retains its impressive mirror shine for a long time. A special ceramic cleaning fluid is used for care – never use universal cleaners, abrasive products, bath cleaners, and so on. You will also need a special sponge (it does not scratch the surface) and a scraper, which removes the most persistent dirt.
Although such panels are electric in terms of the type of energy used, it is common to separate them as their principle of operation is quite different. Electric panels heat up the heating element, which transmits heat to the dishes; and induction cooking surfaces work on the principle of electromagnetic induction. Induction coils located under the glass-ceramic coating affect the bottom of the cookware. A magnetic field creates eddy currents that heat the metal without affecting either the ceramic surface or the surrounding area. In this way, the dishes themselves are heated and the surface of the panel remains cold.
This is a huge advantage for several reasons at once. First of all, the cookware heats up several times faster than from the heating element and uses considerably less energy for cooking. Safety is important – you will never burn against the induction hob because it does not heat itself.
Nuances of using an electronic hob
At the same time, the principle of operation of induction hobs imposes certain restrictions on what kind of cookware can be used: only cookware made of ferromagnetic materials – steel, cast iron, and some other alloys. Pans made of copper, ceramics, aluminum will be completely useless as these materials have no magnetic properties. You can fix this by using a special adapter or sticker made of ferromagnetic material on the bottom of the dishes.
It is also important that the induction panels will only work if there are suitable dishes on their surface. But in order for the induction hob to recognize the dishes and activate the heating, it must take at least 70% of the burner’s working surface. So you don’t have to worry if there are small metal objects on the burner – a knife, spoon, or coin.
Another advantage of induction hobs is quick and easy maintenance. Since the surface is practically not heated during cooking, nothing burns to it, and you do not need to wait until it cools down. All you have to do at any time is wipe it with a normal cloth. In terms of control, these panels are no different from electric panels – all adjustments are made using sensors.