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Electric Cooktops Buying Guide

Cooking is more popular than ever, and the many television programs about food are evidence that foodies are everywhere. This may be why so many people want to invest in unique or new cooktops, and this brief buying guide will review the most common varieties, options, and choices.


The Many Cooktops

When you begin shopping for cooktops it is useful to understand the choices that will be available to you. You will find that you have access to hot plates, ceramic cooktops, solid element cooktops, and radiant coil cooktops among others. You may also be able to get your hands on one of the coolest technologies to emerge in the world of cooking and that is the induction cooktops.

With all of these choices, it means that you have to really know what you want, and precisely why you need it. In fact, that is the first essential question when shopping for cooktops of any kind.

Why? The functions of these various types of cooktops differ pretty substantially, and that means that you will really want to be sure about your intentions. After all, why would you want to invest in something as innovative as an induction cooktop if you did not have the intention of purchasing the special pots and pans that it would require?

So, let's begin with the first variety of cooktop mentioned - the hot plate.


Hot Plates

Simply put, a hot plate is a free-standing cooktop that usually contains only one or two burners. It is most often a solid element unit, but there are larger models that rely on ceramic or radiant burners too. It is something that tends to be used when a traditional cooking surface is just not viable. Buffets, small offices, dormitories, and workshops are often the areas in which these are used.

This means it must have features that keep people in those diverse environments safe. Easy on and off functions, a heavy base that won't move or slip easily, and clear indicator lights showing that the unit is on or off should be essentials for the buyer.


Ceramic Cooktops

These use the standard "coils" but keep them tucked conveniently under a bit of ceramic glass. There are also some systems that use halogen bulbs to generate heat, and many say that these are as fast as the classic "gas" burners. They rely entirely on electricity and are usually found as "built ins" or as the top of more traditional stove tops.


Solid Element Cooktops

These are meant to conduct heat more evenly than coils, but have the same appearance. They can be easily confused for induction tops as well because of their solid surfaces. When purchasing them it is important to be sure that there are controls and indicators that let the owner know when the unit is on and while the burners are still too hot to touch.


Induction Cooktops

These are truly unique and use magnetic fields to create heat when special pots or pans are placed on top of them. What this means is that the surface around the pans stay cool to the touch, and it is the pan itself that turns into the heating element. This is known to be twice as fast as any other heating and cooking method. The issue, as already mentioned, is that the owner has to also invest in the special cookware.


The Factors to Consider

In addition to choosing the type of burner and cooktop, you must also consider the amount of control that each option allows. All of the electric cooktops need a source of electricity. This means that an adequate outlet has to be in a safe and convenient location. The use of electric elements tends to mean that there is less control over the heating and cooking than with something as direct as a gas flame or an induction pan.

So, if you do not mind monitoring the cooking process and locating a cooktop in a place ready with electrical supplies, you will find many good options in electric cooktops. Before choosing, however, be sure that you are purchasing "enough" cooking space. There are many models with two burners rather than four, and this is tempting to those hoping to save space, but it could leave them in a very unsatisfactory situation.

There is also the ease of upkeep to consider too. The ceramic cooktops are known to be the easiest to clean, but may not be as reliable where cooking is concerned.

If you can itemise the most important factors for your kitchen - safety, upkeep, ease of use, cost, etc. - you will be able to choose the right cooktop for your needs. There are many excellent materials, and many hours of cooking pleasure ahead, but it all begins with the selection of the most important kitchen tool - the cooktop.