Consumers have a wide variety of stove tops from which to choose. The three styles of stove tops powered by electricity are: coil, smooth ceramic, and induction. Gas cooktops are also popular. Each type of cooktop has its advantages for different needs and styles of cooking. For instance, on-the-go professionals who may not have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, may want an easy-to-clean electric top, whereas chefs--professionals paid to spend their time in the kitchen--may prefer gas cooktops, which allow for the intensity of the cooking heat to be controlled.
A gas cooking surface provides instant heat. Gas cooktops have grates over a set of exposed burners, allowing pots and pans to be safely placed above the flame. Most commercial kitchens are equipped with gas ranges and cooktops, as they are preferred by chefs who enjoy having precise visual control over the heat being applied to the pan.
Electric Coil Tops
A coil top is a traditional cooking surface using exposed heating elements. These cooking elements are formed into a spiral shape and plugged into an electric receptacle underneath the top. Most electric coil cooktops have drip pans or drip bowls underneath the burner to protect the electrical wiring in case of spills. The coil elements and drip bowls are easily replaceable should they become too dirty or damaged to function.
Electric Smooth Tops
Smooth cooking surfaces, sometimes known as glass tops, recess the electric elements underneath a glass or ceramic cooking surface. Some people consider smooth tops easier to clean; however, anything that burns onto the cooktop may prove impossible to remove. Smooth tops deliver even heat to pans placed on their surface, but can be slower to heat up than a gas burner.
Induction is a cooking technology that uses an electromagnetic field to heat food in ferrous pans. The cooking surface itself does not heat up; instead, as the electromagnetic field penetrates the pan, the molecules in the pan heat up and transfer that energy to the food inside. Induction cooktops are the easiest for cleaning, as anything that spills will not have a chance to cook onto the top. To test whether or not a pan will work on an induction top, use a magnet against the bottom. If the magnet sticks to the pan, it will work on the induction top.