The cooktop is one of the more visible elements in the kitchen, and thus decisive to its appearance. Cooktops should be chosen for their aesthetic and typology. The materials of the different options impact both performance and results. The latest and most popular evolution in this field is the induction cooktop, though gas, electric and glass-ceramic cooktops have yet to go out of style.
Types of Cooktops
Gas Cooktops. The most common and economic, they are comprised of different sized and easy to regulate burners. They can be in stainless steel, enamelled steel or glass. Stainless steel is the most delicate and requires constant cleaning. Enamelled finishes are available in a range of colours and finishes, while glass, or “crystal” cooktops are the easiest to clean because the surface does heat up, meaning that eventual splashes do not burn. Gas cooktops are not necessarily the most energy efficient and we suggest purchasing models with pilot lights to indicate whether the gas remains open.
Induction Cooktops. They use electrical energy to create magnetic fields. All of the heat produced is concentrated under the pan, with no heat loss. Cooking times are reduced, there is a lesser risk of burns and the elements automatically shut off when they no longer sense the weight of a pot or pan. Their flat surface means no risk of tipping over pots and easy clean up. As drawbacks they only work with steel bottom pots and pans, and in some countries the electrical power they require exceeds the available average supply when multiple appliances are in use. They also tend to cost more than other cooktops.
Glass-Ceramic Cooktops. Electrically powered, they heat up a circular element that in turn heats up a glass-ceramic cooking surface. They are less efficient than induction cooktops and require pots and pans with perfectly flat bottoms. They are not always economical, though this often depends on the accessories one chooses. They are easy to clean and fitted with indicators showing when they have been left on. Their flat surface eliminates any possibility of overturning pots and pans.
Electric Cooktops. They generally feature a minimum of four cooking elements, each with a different adjustable output. While regulation is not immediate, they are generally economical.
Domino System. For more demanding clients, they offer the possibility to use different cooktops for different foods. This custom made cooktop is composed of individual modules, for example gas and induction and perhaps even a built-in deep fryer or steamer.
According to the typology selected and the number of elements, cooktops ranges from 30 cm, for the most basic kitchen, to the more common dimension of 60 cm, though they are also available in 75, 90 or 120 cm versions.
Where is the gas/electrical connection? A cooktop needs to be connected to a gas or power line. For electrical models a wall outlet is enough; for gas cooktops it is necessary to identify the point of arrival of the gas line. Minimal extensions can be made with flexible tubing.
Where is the exhaust hood connection? An exhaust hood is the perfect complement to the cooktop and essential to the long life of a kitchen. Classical models integrated in the upper cabinets or wall mounted models generally exhaust through the wall. Island and peninsula configurations tend to feature ceiling connections. For induction and glass-ceramic cooktops, which do not generate flames, it is possible to use exhaust systems concealed in the countertop, positioned behind or beside or fully integrated into the cooktop.
What about work flows? The cooktop should be positioned close to the oven to create a unique cooking area and to ensure the necessary space beside them. The best position is when movements are as natural as possible between the sink, the countertop, the cooktop and tall cabinets containing the oven and pantry. This simplifies things while cooking by ensuring natural and efficient movements.
Corner cooktops. The corner solution, one of the most common in classical and contemporary kitchens, should be avoided where possible because it requires the use of a base cabinet with an open top for inserting the cooktop. This means the joint runs at 45° with respect to the cooktop, heightening the probability of penetrations of water and humidity.
Distance between cooktops and tall cabinets. To increase the life of tall cabinets it is best to keep their sides as far as possible from splashes of food and excessive vapour. We recommend a minimum distance of 30 cm.
Don’t forget the backsplash. A backsplash is very handy behind the cooktop, and eventually to the sides when it is positioned in the corner. Splashes can be of different heights to create an easy to clean surface in an area that inevitably becomes dirty, and to protect the walls against humidity.
Stainless Steel. This Extremely hygienic material is impervious to stains, though it is less resistant to scratching. Ideal for those seeking a minimalist aesthetic, the cooktop can be seamlessly welded to a top in the same material. It requires a little extra attention during cleaning to eliminate water spots.
Enamelled Steel. This material is much easier to clean than stainless steel and is available in a range of different colours, for those looking to match the sink. Care must be taken to avoid chipping the enamel.
Glass. These cooktops are treated to resist scratches and impact. The beauty of this easy to clean and non-stain absorbing material remains unaltered over time.