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  #1  
Old 07-27-2011, 08:59 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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Electric range: flat top or coil-type burners?

My house is all-electric. I live in the country- no gas available. I'm looking at replacing my electric stove that was used when I bought it 22 years ago. Went shopping at Sears yesterday and saw lots of flat top ranges. I'd like opinions/experiences re the flat top v. the coil-type burners.

I know one of the advantages is ease of cleanup, but the flat tops I've see at friends' houses usually have burned on stains and look pretty yukky. I guess they don't wipe up their spills immediately.

Another friend, who lives in an apartment with limited counter space, said the flat top gives him a place to put his cutting board.

Are there any other advantages to the flat top?

I'm not going to spend an arm and a leg, prolly about $500 or so. I don't cook all THAT much, and since I can't have my Dream Range (an Aga... but then, I'd need the English Country Manor to go with it... and the servants... and the horses... and the title... but I digress...), I just want a nice, simple electric stove with a clock/timer.

Thank you.
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  #2  
Old 07-27-2011, 09:05 AM
lieu lieu is offline
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This happened years ago and maybe they've made it a moot point now but my wife did scratch up her mother's new flat top range pretty bad by shuffling the pan on top making popcorn.
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  #3  
Old 07-27-2011, 09:28 AM
Chopper9760 Chopper9760 is offline
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I've had limited experience with both types of electric as we have propane. I've always had better luck with the coil type, they heat up faster and seem a little more responsive than flat tops which have always struck me as weak and slow.

My grandmother loves flat tops but admits that she buys them for looks.
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  #4  
Old 07-27-2011, 09:30 AM
Pai325 Pai325 is online now
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I've had both, and even if you wipe up the spills on a flat top it gets grungy looking. I felt like I was always polishing it with that polish/cleaner that was recommended.
I think the flat top looks nicer than the coils, and when it isn't on it does function as an extension of your counter, but I'm a low maintenance person and keeping it nice looking drove me nuts. However, polishing 10 minutes a day or so is the same in the long run as removing the coils, washing the drip pans and under the pans once a week, so it all cancels out, doesn't it?
They both cook the same as far as I'm concerned.

Last edited by Pai325; 07-27-2011 at 09:31 AM..
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  #5  
Old 07-27-2011, 09:39 AM
Khendrask Khendrask is offline
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I like my flat-top, and I do a lot of cooking. As for burning things on, in 5 years, that hasn't been a problem. Sure, it happens now and then, but scraping it off with a razor blade and cleaning the top doesn't take that long, even if the burnt on gunk has been there a while and cooked over a few times.

I don't remember the heat output of mine, but it was at the high end of the scale, and I have no issues with heating up any of my pots.
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  #6  
Old 07-27-2011, 09:59 AM
Maus Magill Maus Magill is offline
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I currently have a flat top that looks marvelous.

If only it cooked as nicely. If the bottom of the pan I'm using is uneven in any way, then not only does it heat unevenly, but if I have to give something a quick stir, the pan can start spinning.

No more flat tops for me.

Last edited by Maus Magill; 07-27-2011 at 10:00 AM.. Reason: Stoopid commas sneaking in like that.
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  #7  
Old 07-27-2011, 10:01 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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The flat top stoves require far more cleaning -- you pretty much have to scrub the surface with the cleaner every day to keep things from burning on, and things build up anyway. If you do get one, get black, not white.

They're about equal in cooking ability.
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  #8  
Old 07-27-2011, 10:12 AM
bump bump is offline
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One thing to remember about flat-top ranges is that if your pots and pans aren't perfectly flat on the bottom, they'll rock and tilt. This annoyed the piss out of me when I had a flat-top electric range. (have gas now and will not go back to electric)

I'm not sure if it's important or not (are flat-tops radiant heat?), but if your pans aren't flat, you don't get very good contact between your pan and the stovetop, which could lead to hotspots, inefficient use of heat, etc..
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  #9  
Old 07-27-2011, 10:14 AM
Minnie Luna Minnie Luna is offline
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I have a black flat top. Cleaning is not that big of a deal. Cookware should all have flat bottoms, any curve to the bottom is just not going to work correctly.

A friend of mine just bought a new induction stove for her new kitchen. She had to buy new cookware, but loves the new stove so far.
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  #10  
Old 07-27-2011, 10:15 AM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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In fall '08 we replaced our coil-element stovetop with a flat top. Much easier to clean. It came with a small bottle of abrasive polish (careful what you use; the grit in this particular polish is hard enough to remove food, but soft enough so that it won't damage the flat top material), but I find that I don't need to use that stuff more than once every week or two - and even then, it's typically only on small spots here and there. Usually, clean up involves spraying the flat top with Windex, maybe letting it soak for a bit, and then wiping it down.

After nearly three years of service, we have some very minor scratches. I'm pretty sure the manual said to avoid sliding pans around on the burners too much, and so we're careful about that.

We like it. As mentioned, it's easier to clean, and I think it looks better - a nice, smooth black surface, uncluttered by the typical matte-grey coils of a traditional range top.
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  #11  
Old 07-27-2011, 10:20 AM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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I'll echo what others have said about your pots and pans having a flat bottom.

One additional benefit (assuming your pans have nice flat bottoms): the flat top is quiet. On our old stove, I always hated the way the pans skritched and rocked on the elements, and the way the elements skritched and rocked in their catch trays, and the way the catch trays skritched and rocked on the enameled stovetop. The flat top? No horrible skritchy noises, just a satisfyingly mellow thud when you drop in a handful of meat or veggies. And when you're tossing the food around in the pan while you brown it, the only noises are the spatula on the bottom of the pan and the sizzle of your food.
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  #12  
Old 07-27-2011, 10:24 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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Very helpful remarks! Thank you!!
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  #13  
Old 07-27-2011, 10:49 AM
ftg ftg is offline
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We've had a flat top for years. Mrs. FtG loves it. Makes her life a whole lot simpler and it looks pretty good. You do have to keep it clean, and the sooner you clean up messes the better. On ours only one of the element areas has some damage.

You have to exercise some care in not putting meltable/burnable things on a warm burner. There's no glow after it's turned off and they retain heat for a long time. (Ours has just a single orange caution light to tell you that one of the coils is still hot.)

The biggest downside for us is that replacing an element is $$$. In fact, I'm not sure if I could even find a replacement element now if we needed one. (One went out, then the same one went bad again, but I cobbled one working one together from the two broken ones. Yeah, I'm one of those geeks.)

Classic coil types are of course much simpler and cheaper to maintain. The cooktop will basically last forever if you don't abuse it.

So you have decide it's worth it, both immediate and long term cost, and are you a naturally tidy person to maintain it properly. (If you're a natural slob, forget it. Promising yourself to to it right "this time" never works.)
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  #14  
Old 07-27-2011, 10:51 AM
Motorgirl Motorgirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
In fall '08 we replaced our coil-element stovetop with a flat top. Much easier to clean. It came with a small bottle of abrasive polish (careful what you use; the grit in this particular polish is hard enough to remove food, but soft enough so that it won't damage the flat top material) [snip]
.

Do you know the brand / name of this cleaner? My flat top stove is looking pretty bad because I am a chaotic cook. I'd really rather replace it with gas but that's not in the stars right now, so maybe I can just spiff it up a bit.
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  #15  
Old 07-27-2011, 11:12 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Had both, prefer flat top. Coils warp and get out of level; you'll never have that problem with a flat top. Easier to clean. Gets hot very fast. Easy to scratch, however, so don't use abrasives, steel wool or scrunge pads. A razor blade used carefully can take off cooked-on food. Looks great, but don't drop a heavy pot on it.
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  #16  
Old 07-27-2011, 11:16 AM
Minnie Luna Minnie Luna is offline
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Originally Posted by Motorgirl View Post
Do you know the brand / name of this cleaner? My flat top stove is looking pretty bad because I am a chaotic cook. I'd really rather replace it with gas but that's not in the stars right now, so maybe I can just spiff it up a bit.
This is what we use now. Sears sells something similar in the appliance section. I have used both with no issues and my cooktop looks great.

Last edited by Minnie Luna; 07-27-2011 at 11:17 AM..
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  #17  
Old 07-27-2011, 11:48 AM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
Had both, prefer flat top. Coils warp and get out of level; you'll never have that problem with a flat top. Easier to clean. Gets hot very fast. Easy to scratch, however, so don't use abrasives, steel wool or scrunge pads. A razor blade used carefully can take off cooked-on food. Looks great, but don't drop a heavy pot on it.
I used a razor just last night to clean up a spillover. It is pretty necessary, I've found. I prefer coils, but we found that we could hardly find one for sale any more.

The pans for the coil one get much dirtier than for a flattop, but at least they were usually out of sight.
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  #18  
Old 07-27-2011, 12:05 PM
diku diku is offline
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I love my flat top, I specifically replaced another stove because I hated the coils. Hating dealing with them, cleaning them, and fighting with them if they weren't sitting perfectly flat.

I use Bartender's Friend on my flaptop. Gets everything off without scratches. I also use the heavy duty Scotch-Brite Scouring Pads. Again, no scratches, and makes for a fairly quick clean up.
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  #19  
Old 07-27-2011, 01:00 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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I refuse to consider a flat top because I'd have to replace so many of my pots and pans. Some models claim that you can use normal ones, but they all caution that you must not use cast iron skillets. How am I supposed to make bacon and scrambled eggs without my cast iron pans? No way.
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  #20  
Old 07-27-2011, 01:02 PM
Motorgirl Motorgirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnie Luna View Post
This is what we use now. Sears sells something similar in the appliance section. I have used both with no issues and my cooktop looks great.
Thank you!
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  #21  
Old 07-27-2011, 01:44 PM
papergirl papergirl is offline
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Originally Posted by MLS View Post
Some models claim that you can use normal ones, but they all caution that you must not use cast iron skillets. How am I supposed to make bacon and scrambled eggs without my cast iron pans? No way.
I use cast iron on mine all the time. Just don't drop it on the surface!
I like my flat top pretty well, mostly because it's easy to keep clean. (I'd rather scrub a flat surface every day than have to remove coils and drip pans, etc...and although I'm a messy housekeeper, I HATE a dirty stove.) Scrub it, wipe it down, done!
The only down side I've found is that occasionally someone will slap a hand down on it while it's still hot, or the cat will jump up there. No serious injuries, but it's something to be aware of, and I suppose you'd have the same type of danger with a coil.
I'd love to have gas, but I'm afraid of setting a cat on fire.
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  #22  
Old 07-27-2011, 03:57 PM
geneb geneb is offline
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My parents had a flat top but I have only ever had coil. I'd take the coil over flat top any day. (I'd prefer gas but you don't get a lot of places that have a gas line anymore. At least not where I live.)

In my experience, flat tops put out much less heat than coil and, to top it off, are way too easily breakable, especially if you put anything heavy on it. (I'd never even consider trying to boil 7 gallons of water on a flat top but I do it regularly on a coil stove.)

I find cleaning a coil stove to be just as easy as a flat top as well.. Pop out the eyes, put the trays in the dishwasher, scrub the enameled top, wipe it off and replace everything.
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  #23  
Old 07-27-2011, 07:01 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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Originally Posted by geneb View Post
Pop out the eyes...
Eeee-YOW!!
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  #24  
Old 07-27-2011, 07:16 PM
Joe Kerrman Joe Kerrman is offline
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When we went to buy a new stove, we considered a flat-top electric. Price made us reconsider and we went with old-fashioned coils.

We felt even better about our purchase when the salesman asked "Are you going to get the extended warranty?" I thought about it a minute and then said no.

"Yeah, with the coils, you won't really need it anyway." So I'd venture that the ceramic tops are probably the weakest link in the system.
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  #25  
Old 07-27-2011, 07:24 PM
Weedy Weedy is offline
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We had an old flat top for a while, and it drove me nuts because the touch buttons often didn't respond when I wanted them to, and then did respond when I didn't. Sometimes I couldn't get the stove to even turn on for several minutes, and then it would get switched off accidentally. Modern ones are probably better.
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  #26  
Old 07-27-2011, 08:09 PM
SnakesCatLady SnakesCatLady is offline
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Maybe we just got a lemon, but I cannot keep the flat-top at our family's shared cabin clean. I even bought the $9 a bottle recommended cleaner - still looks grungy. And as mentioned above, if your pan bottoms aren't perfectly flat the pan will spin when you stir.

I hate having to use electric anyway.
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  #27  
Old 07-27-2011, 10:29 PM
Full Metal Lotus Full Metal Lotus is offline
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I have worked in appliance sales and in service. When asked this question I always ask "Do you do a lot of cooking?" If the answer is yes, I tell them to go with coils. The flat bottom pan issue is not as important with coils, but you can use a wok with coils. With a flat top, you can actually fracture the surface with a wok (heat is absorbed at one very small point (bottom of wok) while the rest of the burner gets as hot as if a pan was sitting on it. The difference in temp can fracture your top.

Also, although they do look pretty nice, and add counter space, they are very expensive to repair. A coil for a typical coil stove will run $25-50 and take 10 minutes to replace. You can do it yourself VERY easily. A flat top coil replacement part can run as high as $150, be hard to obtain, and requires a service call (generally unless you are pretty skilled at that sort of thing... not a typical DIY project). The glass/ceramic top can run as high as $700 (!) to replace.

Thirdly, the ceramic/glass tops vary in quality by manuafacturer. Some scratch very easily, some are "sticky" and food literally bonds like a ceramic glaze to them, or they can be very fragile.

I am not sure if the SD allows for brand recomendations (Mod, feel free to edit this out if so), But go with GE,Amana, Moffat for either coil or flat top. Avoid Sears, Maytag. Sears (Kenmore) stoves are made by a large variety of manufacturers, often repair or replacement parts are hard to find, and the quality of the manufacture is a crap shoot. Much the same goes for Maytag, although parts are generally easier to find.

My wife and I both cook extensively.. (see my Dim Sum write up in the "Dinner PartY" thread. We both prefer gas stoves.

Regards and hope this helps.
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Last edited by Full Metal Lotus; 07-27-2011 at 10:31 PM.. Reason: if I typed as good as I loooked, I would need to edit even more....
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  #28  
Old 07-27-2011, 10:35 PM
Full Metal Lotus Full Metal Lotus is offline
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Missed the edit, but want to add - cleaning flat tops - BAR KEEPER'S Friend - it ROCKS!
http://www.barkeepersfriend.com/

Last edited by Full Metal Lotus; 07-27-2011 at 10:36 PM..
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  #29  
Old 07-27-2011, 10:49 PM
Rhiannon8404 Rhiannon8404 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLS View Post
I refuse to consider a flat top because I'd have to replace so many of my pots and pans. Some models claim that you can use normal ones, but they all caution that you must not use cast iron skillets. How am I supposed to make bacon and scrambled eggs without my cast iron pans? No way.
This is why I have never considered a flat top. A friend of mine uses her cast iron pans on her flat top (was told she could!) and it looks terrible. She has never dropped her pans on the surface or broken the top, it's just all scratched up. I don't know how you can cook w/o moving the pan around some on the heated surface. Some of my cast iron pans were my grandmother's. They're heavy and rough on the bottom. They make the best food, though.
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  #30  
Old 07-28-2011, 06:32 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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Excellent discussion! I'm going with the GE coil-type. Y'all are the best.
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  #31  
Old 07-28-2011, 10:20 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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This came up last weekend. I mentioned a flattop range to roomie, and she said someone she knows has one. (So FOAF/third-hand information.) She said her friend said that flattops are harder to clean than coil ones.

I really want a new range, and I like the looks of the flattops. As others have said, they can double as extra counter space. But I don't think a flattop is compatible with my cookware or cooking style. I frequently use cast-iron. My pans would be sure to scratch the surface. Also, I'm one of those cooks that shakes pans over the heat. That is, I rapidly slide pans back and forth on the element to agitate the food. You can't make a proper omelette without the agitation action. Or popcorn. Or several other things. My Calphalon Tri-Ply pans are nice and smooth on the bottom, but it's still sliding metal on glass.

One of these days I'll re-do the kitchen. I'd like to have a range, plus a gas cooktop connected to the propane tank. That would solve the cast-iron issue. But if I had a flattop range I'd have to use the gas cooktop for things that could/should be done on the range. So even though coils are unattractive, I'll probably get a coil range. (And I can get a coil range before re-doing the kitchen.)





.

Last edited by Johnny L.A.; 07-28-2011 at 10:21 AM.. Reason: Grrr! Failing keyboard!
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  #32  
Old 07-28-2011, 01:57 PM
diku diku is offline
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Sorry, I'm just not seeing how the coils are easier to clean than a flat top. And maybe mine has a magic top (it's just an LG), but I get better heating and I use all kinds of pans on mine, including my cast-iron skillet. I generally use a stainless steel set, but I've used pretty much everything.

If you need to move your food around, you raise the pan just off the top. Just so it's not touching, then do what you want.

My problem with coils was always the same thing, they'd start fine, and then you'd end up with coils that wouldn't sit flats, no matter what you did. I hate putting an egg in a pan and watching it run to one side because the coil is messed up.

As for cleaning, it just takes a little scrubbing. Like I said before, Bartender's Friend (should be at any store near the Comet and stuff) or just a heavy scouring pad should take everything off. You can also switch to a razor blade if it's really stuck.

I've had my flaptop for two years, I cook on it daily, and I would never switch back.

Last edited by diku; 07-28-2011 at 01:59 PM.. Reason: Forgot about cleaning
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  #33  
Old 07-29-2011, 11:15 AM
Rocketeer Rocketeer is offline
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We have a flat-top and are very happy, having formerly had coils.

But we did manage to etch the glass when a sugar solution boiled over. Made a little line of pits eaten right into the glass.

So if you make a lot of candy, I'd go for coils.
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  #34  
Old 07-29-2011, 11:31 AM
horsetech horsetech is offline
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As mentioned above, I have had issues in past apartments with coils that didn't sit flat, making it impossible to cook things evenly short of standing there and rotating the pot. I don't know for sure if it's an issue of old coils vs newer flat-tops, but I have been happier cooking-wise with flat-tops vs coils. Of course, I prefer gas by far, but that's irrelevant in this discussion.
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  #35  
Old 07-29-2011, 11:43 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLS View Post
I refuse to consider a flat top because I'd have to replace so many of my pots and pans. Some models claim that you can use normal ones, but they all caution that you must not use cast iron skillets. How am I supposed to make bacon and scrambled eggs without my cast iron pans? No way.

I use cast iron pans to make scrambled eggs on a ceramic hob and it works just fine. No idea what the warnings are all about.
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  #36  
Old 07-30-2011, 12:29 PM
FluffyBob FluffyBob is offline
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Sounds like the decision has been made but I wanted to add that instead of standard coils I see a lot more solid burner models now. They don't seem to perform any differently, and do not have a pan underneath the burner that requires cleaning. They look nicer too.

My wifes old condo had a flat top range, god I hated that thing. We now have an awesome dual fuel gas range with a convection oven. I love it.
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