Cooktop advice

Wasn’t sure whether to put this in Cafe Society or IMHO but IMHO seemed like a good start.

Our kitchen has wall ovens and a separate cooktop, versus a range that includes both. We had to replace the ovens a few years back. The cooktop has the ceramic coil burners with the pan underneath that traps crud and is disgusting and can never be adequately cleaned.

And it’s lasted like a champ: the house was build in 1995 or so, and until very, very recently it worked very well. Now, one burner is wonky - 50/50 chance or less that it’ll work at any given time. It’s not worth trying to repair, at 22 years old.

I’d rather have gas but while the house has natural gas, there’s no pipe to the kitchen - so installing gas would be a huge undertaking. It’s annoying, as they could have built it with a gas cooktop (the house across the street, which is roughly a mirror image of ours, has it). But it is what it is.

So: I’ve been lusting after an induction cooktop. Most of our cookware would work just fine on one. But the price!! There are a handful of “brands” I’ve never heard of that start around 400 dollars; the cheapest known brand is Frigidaire at 700+, and all the others seem to start out at 1300 or more. There are some that are close to 3,000 bucks. Ouch. The various websites aren’t terribly clear when you look at 2 models from the same brand, as to why one is spendier than the other. Annoying.

I could get a smooth-top electric (non-induction) starting at 350, on up to 800 or so.

Sears has very few choices in ceramic coil cooktops (last time I looked, they had quite a few, and some as little as 200 bucks). Best Buy has a small selection also, but they are saying we could have that by Christmas - which suggests they’re not sold much any more. Home Depot has a small selection. Most are brands I’ve never heard of. They all start at 350 or so. So there’s no real cost savings.

So it boils (hah - didn’t think of the joke there until I started typing) down to smoothtop radiant, versus induction.

I saw one review of an induction cooktop that said its circuit board died after a few years. And those cost as much to replace as the entire unit, basically - sadly, the same sort of behavior we’ve seen in other appliances. They quite literally don’t make 'em like they used to.

So: Pro of regular smoothtop: Cheaper. Con: Cleaning requires special care, can chip if you drop something on it.
Pro of induction: Saves energy. Neato factor. Con: $$$$, uncertain lifespan, not sure if it poses the same issues re cleaning.

Thoughts? Anyone here have induction and love it? hate it? Same re radiant smoothtop?

I can’t speak to life span but we just installed a 36" Bosch induction cooktop about a month ago and we love it. It takes no effort to clean, though it is black so you can see every smudge and crumb. I just boiled a gallon and a half of water last night for pasta and it took less than 5 minutes. Induction is great and it gives both steady and fast heat. I would definitely recommend the technology.

I’m not sure I love the controls and overall I wish we’d spent more money on the GE Monogram 36" since it has dial type controls for each burner or gone with one of the brands that has physical nobs. I boiled over my pot of pasta water last night and the cooktop beeped at me once the water made it to the controls since it thought I was randomly pushing buttons but the water cooled immediately and I was able to wipe up the spill with paper towels without stopping cooking.

Don’t you need the right type of cookwear for induction? Do you already have it or is that another cost to you?

I have never used a glasstop that I’ve liked. Maybe they have fixed it with the newer models, but all of the ones I’ve used have weird thermostat based heat modulation. It’s hell to fry and egg or boil water. The unit can be set to high but the heat will click on or off depending.

My mom has an induction hot plate that’s pretty awesome. I’ve never used a full stove version.

I’ve had glass radiant stovetops for the past 10 years or so, they’re fantastic. They get a little scratched if you get overzealous about cleaning up something that spilled & burned, but it doesn’t affect their function in the least. Never chipped one.
Con: They heat up slower than ceramic coils, meaning it might take another minute or two to boil a couple quarts of water–big whoop. At least they can be cleaned.

Mother-in-law has an induction stovetop. Loves it. [del]Heats up[/del] Cooks fast, and is easy to clean. She’s really careful with her stuff, and she doesn’t cook much anyway, so hers looks brand new even after five years. Points for style: hers is on an island and has a pop up smoke sucker that vents under the floor and outside.
Con:

Any cast iron or stainless will do. Aluminum trash is out–boo hoo. And, unlike with the radiants I’ve had, it actually matters if you scratch them up.

I’ve heard people yammer on about how wonderful gas is to cook with. I’ve never liked it enough to get used to it. In fact, the gas kitchen was a big reason I didn’t fight for the house in the divorce–she can have it. Besides, you think the ceramic coil designs are hard to keep clean…Gas sucks, I’m certain its benefits are all overblown marketing. If you have the means for induction, and you don’t have children who will mess it up, go for it and never look back.

If running the gas to the stove is the issue, it might not be as expensive as you think. I assume you don’t want to do it yourself, right? A plumber will be able to do it and it’s not all that much more work than running copper, it’s just different.

Yeah, I got a new cooktop a few years ago and had to have a new gas line run to the kitchen. I don’t remember how much it was, but it was not prohibitively expensive. Before you dismiss gas, I would get a quote on what it would cost.

Only certain stainless alloys will work. It it attracts a magnet, it’s ok. I’ve also heard induction doesn’t work well with non-flat pan bottoms like woks.

All my life till now I have had gas cooking appliances. Now I have a electric range with the flat induction cook surface.

OK, I love gas cooking, however there are other factors to consider.

  • Induction stove top is very easy to clean. Now to be honest I cook my SO cleans, but I respect that, and while I would rather cook with gas, I would rather she has a easier cleaning time. If I had to go electric, no question I would go induction, the ability to wipe it down to clean is a clear winner.

  • I have not noticed any issue with any of my pots, though there are all good to decent quality and none warped.

  • Gas oven has a natural convection which helps in certain foods. The gas combustion creates far more convection currents then electric. This helps more for meats, however baked goods generally do better with electric.

  • Gas oven and stove have lots of spill over heat. This may be seen as good in winter, not so much otherwise. While gas is less expensive per unit heat then electric, most of that heat is dumped into the kitchen. The electric seemed much more efficient at delivering that heat to the item cooked.

Popping back in:

Gas, I just don’t feel like making that significant of a modification to the house. Yeah, I know it’s not THAT big a deal, but unless we have the funds for a major redo (like redoing the entire kitchen, and setting up for a gas fireplace), I don’t think I’ll bother.

Cookware: pretty much everything we have should be good. I have one or two Calphalon anodized aluminum pans taking up space in the cabinet, that I never use; this would remind me to get rid of them. We do have a wok - I haven’t checked it for magnetism (it’s carbon steel, not stainless) but it does have a flat bottom.

The fact that there’s less of an issue with residual heat (better safety, faster cleanup opportunity) is very appealing. Inigu mentioned the possiblity of kids messing it up - not sure why in particular.

It’s not clear why scratching an induction cooktop would be worse than scratching a regular smoothtop stove - as the elements are below the glass in both cases. I mean, if you gouged it badly enough to damage the underlying layor, of course…

What I stumbled across today, that is really worrying me, was an article on the lifespan of these gadgets.
In particular:

(bolding and underline mine)
I don’t know of those estimates are still current - I think the article was 4-5 years ago - but it’s a bit disturbing to think of spending north of a thosand dollars… and having to do it again in 3-4 years.

We’ve had smooth top radiant for 30 (?) years. Recently replaced it since it was looking crappy. Got an open box Whirlpool for half price off eBay with free shipping. (I installed both.)

Works great. Much faster heating than the old one. Can’t imagine another electric type beating it. A new feature of this one is the “dual element” deal. One “burner” has two sep. elements. Using the knob you can turn one or both on. So if you want a ton of heat quickly to a big pot, you’ve got it.

As for durability: sometimes a burner goes out. I’d hop down to the nearby appliance parts store and get a replacement. (And I’d save the old one for parts which I then use when the burner goes out again but for a different reason.)

That store is closed. So it’s eBay time. But after 30 years these parts are rarer and therefore $ier. (They weren’t cheap to begin with.)

I’ve had gas stoves before. I do not get the attraction. Sure, quick on, but you just need a tiny bit of patience and you have something that has far fewer other issues.

That design is time-tested, efficient, and cheap.
And simple to repair – you could probably do it yourself (with help form online videos, if needed).

The problem is very likely to be in one of these 3 areas, with possible fixes listed. (unplug the stove before doing any of thesse!)

  1. Coil itself:
  • remove & clean the coil contacts.
  • fix bent coil contacts so the connect securely.
  • or replace the whole coil with a new one.
  1. Coil socket:
  • clean the contacts inside the socket.
  • fix or replace loose or worn wires to the socket.
  • or replace the entire socket assembly.
  1. the control switch: (this is hardest, more wires & often hard to get to)
  • fix or replace loose or worn wires to the switch.
  • replace the entire switch.

I’d reconsider replacing the entire thing, when this isn’t real hard to repair. (Unless you really want a new stove, and this occasional problem is your excuse for getting one.)

I have a Miele induction cooktop. This thing is the bee’s knees.

Downsides. Ain’t cheap. Needs cast iron or special cookware. One burner after 8 years of hard uses as the main burner has a lot of scratch marks. Takes a while to get used to the right temperature setting (for example, an 8 setting burns really easily if you don’t watch it like a hawk, but 7 is fine. Miele is 1-12).

Upsides. Heats up very fast. Boils water incredibly fast. Have a special needs kid, and the burners will not burn her (although the stovetop burner is pretty hot if you’ve just boiled water). Just wipe it off for the most part.

I love it. My wife, from China, is able to cook all her high heat Chinese food without an issue. Kids from 8 years old use it just fine and the self burning risk is far lower than electric and/or gas.

Also Miele, similar age. If I put enough water for a large Starbucks mug (I think it’s 20 oz) on to boil, I have to make sure the mug and tea bag are already prepared. Otherwise the water boils before I get the bag in the mug.

Yes there are a few scratches. And I’ve managed to get it in demo mode once, and get an F about once a month (F = Fault, because there’s gook on the control pad). Because I have very dry hands, I sometimes have problems with the control panel. My controls are 1-9, with B for overdrive.

We have a Bosch range with induction, it’s about 2 or 3 yrs old now. LOVE it. The Speed Boost feature boils 2L of water faster than my plug-in kettle. The only feature I dislike, which shouldn’t be a problem on a stand-alone cooktop, is that the push-button controls are right at tummy height, and if I’m leaning over to stir a pot, they often get accidentally beeped. It was worse when I was pregnant!

Do you can? Or do you think you might want to start canning?

If so, check before you buy whether the stove will allow you to can. In some cases, a canner full of jars is too heavy for the stovetop. In other cases, the stovetop will turn off by itself – definitely not what you want while canning. On one of the canning group sites I participate in, some have resorted to buying a propane stove to use outdoors for canning.

Had a glass-top stove in a rental I shared with a roomie for a year. There’s no real visual indication that the surface is still hot if it’s just been shut off, except for a teensy red light up in the control panel, so despite being careful, roomie and I both singed the hell out of some dish towels that we casually tossed onto the surface. I think one actually smoldered.

This is true of standard coil burners as well. Except you don’t get the warning light.

This is just something you adapt to. You treat all burners as potentially hot all the time.

I grew up with a gas range, then moved out and lived 15 years without it. When our house fire forced a remodel, I made sure we had room in the budget to run a gas line to the kitchen, and buy a gas stove. Now I’ll never live without it again. We’re planning to move soon, and if our new house doesn’t have a gas stove, I’ll make sure we have enough money leftover to run a gas line and swap out the stove.

Personally, if I were in your position, I’d pay the extra money to run a gas line to your kitchen and buy a gas range. If you can’t for whatever reason, I guess I’d consider induction. I haven’t ever cooked on an induction stove top. But my understanding is it’s much faster to heat up and more responsive than electric. Everyone on the internet raves about it. All I know is regular electric is terrible, whether coil or glass top.