Gas vs Electric vs Induction vs Glass: Which is the Best Heat Source?

When you're looking to buy a new kitchen range or cooktop for your dream kitchen, the first and most important question you need to answer is what kind of heat source you prefer. The choice of cooking heat source can be a very personal one.  Whether you're a beginning cook, a seasoned home kitchen veteran or a restaurant industry professional, chances are that you have a strong preference for one type of heat source over all others. That's why it's a good idea to take a step back and take a critical look at the cooking heat sources available out to make sure you are using the best heat source for your situation.

Three main heat sources dominate the market: gas, electric and induction. The one you choose will depend greatly on the type of cooking you like to do, as well as the setup of your home kitchen. Certain foods are easier to cook on particular surfaces, and may not come out correctly if cooked over another kind of burner. Your choice will also depend on your favored kind of cookware, because pots and pans are designed to work best with different kinds of burners. Finally, your choice will be determined by the fuel sources available in your home; it does no good to consider a gas stove if your kitchen has no gas line!

Advantage of Gas Burners

Gas is the most traditional choice and is most often found in older residences. Because the dial on a gas stove is directly connected to the valve that controls gas flow, heat response is immediate as soon as you turn the knob. Gas ranges and cooktops produce an actual open flame on the stove top, making it easy to tell at a glance just how hot a burner is at any given time. The open flame also makes gas burners indispensable for certain cooking techniques like a flambe or stir-fry; in these methods, a small amount of flame is allowed to curl over the lip of the pan to directly contact the food, resulting in complex and savory 'charred' flavors. Gas grills tend to be more durable than electric on induction units, and the grill grates do not get slippery with spilled oil the way flat heating pads do. In addition to the practical benefits of gas, many cooks also simply enjoy the visual appeal of cooking over a pretty blue flame.

Advantage of Electric Burners

Electric burners come in two types: electric coil and glass surface. Both types work by work by directing a current through a coil to heat the element pad, which then heats your pan through conduction. Because there is no open flame on the cooktop, electric burners heat more slowly than gas, but are much safer. There is no chance of oil spilling and starting a flash fire, or sleeves igniting from getting a little close, with an electric burner. The smooth surfaces of electric coils also make them easy to clean; it's easy to clean around exposed coils or just wipe down a smooth glass cooktop with a damp cloth. Electric ranges and cooktops can also be used anywhereyou have a 220V outlet, while gas burners require a dedicated gas line.

Advantage of Induction Burners

Induction burners are the newest option out there and in many ways combine the advantages of gas and electric; they have the fast heat response of the former, and the safety features of the latter. Induction burners work by using a magnetic current to heat the pan itself without heating the stove top, making induction much faster and more power-efficient than electric or gas. At the same time, the burner itself remains cool to the touch, so it's also safer than both. Induction Cooktops are also the easiest to clean by far; because the cooktop itself doesn't get hot, your can lay a newspaper directly between the pan and burner to catch oil splatters, then simply throw it away when finished cooking. Induction's main disadvantage is that it only works with cooking vessels made of cast iron; stainless steel and carbon steel.  A copper or aluminum skillet can sit on a lit induction burner all day and remain cool to the touch. Induction units also tend to heat in a ring shape, which can lead to uneven cooking and scorching if you're not paying attention.

No matter what kind of kind of burner you prefer, it's worth your time to take a good look at all the options available out there to make sure you're getting the best option for your kitchen. Make sure you take a look at Sears' huge selection of gas, electric and induction burners when you start shopping.

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