Smooth-top ranges are completely smooth. Traditional stove tops have the heating elements above the main level of the stove, but smooth tops contain the heating elements below the surface of the stove. Cooking on a smooth-top range is different than cooking on other ranges. There is specific cookware that is best to use on each kind of smooth-top range.
Halogen stoves often have a smooth top. The best kind of cookware to use with this kind of stove is metal with a thick bottom. If glass or rough-bottomed cookware is used, then dirt particles or blemishes on the glass bottoms of the pans can scratch the surface of the stove and damage the surface. Stainless-steel cookware with a thick bottom works really well for halogen stoves.
Induction stoves are the kind that look like glass. The heating elements appear as red circles below the surface of the glass. Magnetic cookware is the best kind of cookware to use with induction stoves. Magnetic steel and cast iron are the best for this kind of stove. The easiest way to see whether a pan is magnetic is to place a kitchen magnet on the bottom. If it sticks, then the pan will work on an induction stove.
Solid-Disk Element Stoves
If you have a solid-disk stove, then it is possible to use almost any kind of cookware. However, manufacturers of the solid-disk stove recommend using cookware that has never been used on a different kind of stove. This is because pot bottoms can become warped over time. If the cookware is used only on the solid-disk stove then the pan will never warp and the heat will distribute more evenly.
Ceramic stove tops can be used with a few different kinds of cookware. Metal cookware is recommended. Heavier pots will cook food better. Do not use pots and pans that have a rough bottom. This will cause the surface to become scratched. Glass cookware should never be used on a ceramic stove. Iron cookware is not recommended for ceramic stove tops. Do not use copper cookware on ceramic stoves, either.
Cooking on a flat-surface stove is different than cooking on more traditional element stoves. One problem that often happens with flat-top stoves is that the pans and pots get heated too quickly, and can easily burn. The best way to avoid this is to never turn a burner on without food or water present in the pan.