- The pros and cons of gas vs electricity and the different kinds of electric element.
Induction cooktops: the coolest way to cook.
The old kitchen range — albeit in an upmarket format — is making a comeback, but having a separate oven and cooktop allows you flexibility to put each where you like, at the height that suits you best. You can choose the shape and size of both, and mix and match your fuels by choosing a gas cooktop with an electric oven (a configuration many professionals prefer), or even a dual or multi-fuel cooktop.
Apart from these practical considerations, there’s also style: a cooktop integrated with the bench gives a kitchen a sleek, streamlined look, while new flush-line technology that allows the cooktop to be sunk into the bench looks even more stylish. A separate cooktop also allows better use of space, particularly in a small kitchen. For example, if bench space is limited you can even get a corner cooktop.
The downside is that buying a separate cooktop and oven can be more expensive than buying a combined unit. The typical cooktop prices given below are for mid-ranged models. Your first cooktop decision is whether to go gas or electric.
Please note: this information was current as of October 2008 but is still a useful guide to today's market.
As a rule, electric cooktops are more energy-efficient than gas: about 65–85% of the energy consumed is used to heat the saucepan (and its contents), compared with around 40% for gas.
This is because a lot of the heat from gas is lost to the air, whereas electric elements are in direct contact with the saucepan (which is why it’s important to use cookware of the correct size). Induction models are even more energy-efficient.
However, unless your electricity is generated by non-polluting, renewable energy (such as Tasmania’s hydro power), you’ll contribute more carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas — to the atmosphere using electricity rather than gas. This is because up to two thirds of the energy contained in coal is lost through its conversion to electricity at the power plant, and in the transport to your home and conversion to heat. While there are some transport losses with natural gas, virtually all of its energy is available for use when it gets to your home.
Employ a licensed tradesperson to install a new cooktop:
- It’s safer — they know what they’re doing, and you don’t want to risk an electric shock or gas leak.
- Even if you’re a talented handyperson and think you can do it yourself, if something goes wrong you may void your warranty.