Choosing a Cooktop Appliance

Consider ventilation and fuel type when shopping for a cooktop for your kitchen remodel

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For kitchens with the space and budget to accommodate them, a cooktop combined with a separate wall oven is a nice alternative to the standard all-in-one range. Not only is the oven easier to use because of its location high on the wall, it frees up the cabinet space directly below the cooktop, allowing for close storage of heavy pots and pans. But these benefits come at a price as cooktop-and-wall oven combos cost more than a single range.

Considerations When Choosing A Cooktop

  • What is your budget?
  • Where will the cooktop be in your kitchen design?
  • Where will the other appliances be in relation to the cooktop?
  • Do you currently have gas or electric?
  • How will you set up ventilation?

View Images of Kitchen Cooktops

Cost Range. Shoppers can expect to pay $300 for a basic four-burner gas cooktop and up to $2,500 or more for a 36-inch induction or pro-style gas cooktop.

Size. "With cooktops, the size of the appliance will come down to the size of the cut-out the shopper has in their countertop," explains Jonathan Clinton, Kenmore product manager for Sears. With all countertops, but especially granite, it's wise to find an appliance that fits the available opening. Standard widths are 30 and 36 inches, but models can vary by as much as an inch.

Gas or Electric. "What you have most often determines what you buy," explains Clinton. Shoppers who have a gas line hook-up in their kitchen likely will purchase a gas-powered cooktop. Those without a gas line are not likely to shell out the extra cash to run one for a new appliance unless they are undergoing a major kitchen remodel.

Burner Styles. The least expensive cooktops will feature four (or two in slim models) basic gas or electric coil burners, Clinton says. For approximately $150, buyers can step up to the easier-to-clean glass-top electric or sealed-burner gas. Starting around the $600 mark, gas cooktops will feature seamless grates that combine to form a level work surface, making it possible to slide pots from one burner to another. On the high end of the spectrum are state-of-the-art induction burners, which heat up fast, use less energy and are easy to clean thanks to a smooth ceramic top. The downside is that these appliances start around $1,000.

Burner Quantity and Power. "As you step up in price, you step up in power and flexibility," explains Clinton. A little extra cash will buy shoppers more powerful and more precise burner options. Expect to shell out $100 to $200 for a high-powered gas or electric burner. Stepping up to a mid-range model will often provide a fifth burner, either an ultra-low warm-and-hold burner or a "bridge" burner that sits between two main burners, creating a larger heating surface.

Controls. While gas-powered cooktops will always feature physical knobs, electric models can offer a little more variety. Up to the $1,000 mark, electric cooktops will feature knobs. Above that point, sleek digital controls begin to appear. Electronic touch-activated controls allow for one-touch operation, not to mention easier cleaning since there are no knobs to remove. All models, both gas and electric, position the controls in various places, either up front, in the middle, or off to one side. Which one works best for you is a matter of personal preference.

Venting. If the cooktop is being installed where there is no overhead exhaust, it will be necessary to purchase a model with its own downdraft system. These units will always be electric, not gas, and will be in the $1,500 range. While not as powerful as most overhead systems, the downdraft vents do help eliminate grease, odors and smoke.

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