When it comes to selecting stoves, many professional chefs and at-home cooking connoisseurs go with gas. Gas stoves give cooks more control over the heat compared with electric stoves. The BTU -- British Thermal Unit -- power of the stove relates to the amount of heat the stove can produce from the burners.

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BTUs measure the amount of heat produced.

BTUs

BTU is the internationally used and accepted measurement for heating capacity. Technically, 1 BTU equals the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. The BTU capacity is listed on the labeling for the stove in stores and in the owner's manual for stoves and ranges.

Residential

Residential gas stoves range in BTU power from 400 to 18,000 BTUs. In general, the lower the flame the lower the BTU output, and the higher the flame, the higher the BTU output. For example, a low flame on the stove may only use 400 BTUs even though the burner might have an 18,000 BTU capacity. Many stoves have burners with differing corresponding BTU capacities. For example, a four-burner gas range might have two burners with a 9,000 BTU capacity, one burner with a 12,000 BTU capacity and one burner with a 5,000 BTU capacity. In most cases, all burners on the stove adjust down to about 1,000 BTUs for low heat and simmering, which is about 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

Commercial Grade

High-end gas stoves with commercial-grade designs and features for residential use have the highest BTU capacities. These stoves typically have capacities from 12,000 to 22,000 BTUs. Commercial-grade stoves generally have six burners and often feature accessories such as griddle plates or burners for indoor grilling. Like conventional gas stoves, they can be adjusted down to about 1,000 BTUs.

Benefits and Importance

A gas stove with a high BTU capacity will produce high heat instantly. This quality is useful when executing techniques that require the cookware to heat rapidly, such as searing or using a wok. Having variable BTU burners also enables you to cook multiple foods at the same time and according to the amount of heat required.