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Propane-fueled Cooktop???

  • CindyJ Dec 10, 2006 04:31 PM
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I'm FINALLY going to replace my ancient Jenn-air electric cooktop and I'd like to consider getting one that's gas-fueled, but the only gas we have access to here in the house is LPG. Is it worth it to get a gas cooktop that's designed to be used with LPG, or am I better off with some other type of electric cooktop? I'm soooo tired of the unresponsiveness of the heat controls with the Jenn-air, and I haven't shopped for cooktops in over 20 years, so I'm not really sure how recent innovations have made cooking with electric more manageable. I also don't want to replace my cookware, so I've pretty much eliminated those "magnetic" cooktops. What would you do if you were me?

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  1. Because I live in the boonies, my cooktop choices were limited to electric or LPG. For many reasons, almost all negative, I eliminated electric in favor of LPG. Four and a half years later, I'm gladder than ever that I made this choice.

    I chose a 6 burner Viking cooktop w/ griddle and would do so again. It breaks down completely and is very easy to clean. The low, low simmer is a great feature. High is not quite as high as it would be with natural gas - this is a drawback that is the reality with LPG - so stir-frying is not screaming hot. The versatility and instant response of gas more than makes up for this small negative.

    Good Luck on your hunt.

    P.S. I should add that we buried a large tank (500 gallons) some distance from the house. It has only been filled twice in our 4+ years. In addition to the cooktop, LPG is also used to heat an outdoor spa, run fireplaces, BBQs an a couple of other minor things.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sherri

      I'm pretty sure that propane burns hotter than natural gas, so you're likely cooking hotter than most! Any chemists out there that can confirm...?

      1. re: HaagenDazs

        Propane BTU per therm 92,000
        Natural Gas BTU per therm 100,000

        1. re: Alan408

          There we go! Thanks Alan.

          1. re: Alan408

            I think that should be "per 1 CCF", i.e., per 100 cubic feet of gas at standard temperature and pressure. A "therm" is, by definition, a unit of measure equal to 100,000 BTU. The heat produced by 1 CCF of natural gas is approximately 1 therm.

            Also, I think you're both right about which gas is "hotter," because heat is used (non-technically, of course) to refer to both temperature and (correctly) amount of heat. Propane has a slightly higher adiabatic flame temperature than methane (the principal component of natural gas), so burns "hotter" in the sense of temperature, but methane has more BTUs so burns "hotter" in the sense of producing more heat per volume of gas burned.

      2. Same as you, no NG. When we arrivd here 2 years ago we opted for electric. I was not keen on a big tank next to my house and I have safety issues with propane. Still, I now regret the choice. I don't know about your jurisdiction, but here in Ontario, peak time and volume surcharges are in the offing. Volume discounts apply with propane. We have vicious winds and snowfalls and thunderstorms that leave us without power - some of us for days on end. It's smart to have two sources of heat. And, of course, electric ranges just doesn't respond, so they?

        As a young child we had wood and it was amazing. You're in Pennsylvania. Do you have Amish near you - we do and they cook and heat with wood. Where are they getting their appliances I wonder?

        1 Reply
        1. re: DockPotato

          There's a company in London, ON, selling Amish wood heaters and ranges. I haven't got the website handy, but google should be able to find it. We're planning on buying a farm next year, I will definitely install a wood burning stove and range.

        2. I have both an electric range and an LP range. It's swell, but can you believe this: we ran out of propane the week of Thanksgiving!

          I am happy to have both ranges (they're basic GE models) but surprisingly, we tend to use the electric range the most. My husband - who is a very good cook - actively dislikes cooking with gas and therefore uses our electric stove far more than our gas range.

          I'd go with whichever you enjoy cooking with more.

          1. Also in the boonies and nneded to get a generator so we went with propane and a 250 gallon tank. Year later we went for new kitchen and went with the Viking 6-burner (no griddle). I LOVE IT!!!! The big burner will go real high and the simmer burner actually simmers. Downdraft does an OK job.

            With a 250 tank we use about 10 gallons a year on the cook-top.

            I HIGHLY RECOMMEND

            2 Replies
            1. re: jfood

              We have a 100-gallon tank that's been used to fuel our outdoor gas grill and a small gas heater in an office in our otherwise unheated basement. I'm wondering if that size tank will continue to serve our needs with a gas-fueled cooktop.

              1. re: CindyJ

                Just have the propane company put you on a monthly refill for a few months to get a feel for the amount you use.

                I have a 250 for the house and a 500 for the pool. I buy 50 pounds a year for the house and 100 pounds a week for the pool (thank god for the budget that we can only use the pool from May 1-Oct 1).

            2. I have a Viking 48" dual fuel (natural gas cooktop, electric oven) range at home in the city. When we bought our country house last year, which had a 30" all-electric range I couldn't imagine going back to an electric cooktop. I bought a dual-fuel G.E. Profile range, and had the local propane company install a tank outside and hook it all up. I'm very happy with the range (considering I'm comparing it to a Viking, that's pretty good!), and with the fact that I chose to go this route.

              We also hooked up a new propane grill (a Napoleon) to the main propane tank. Since we're up there mostly for weekends only, our tank is not huge - about 40 gallons, I believe.

              1. I've installed gas ranges in my last two houses, in both cases requiring installation of an LP tank. It's really very simple and there's no reason to hesitate because you don't have NG service. Our tank serves only the burners of our 48" Thermador dual fuel range. I don't know how many gallons it holds, but it's about 4 feet tall and maybe 24" in diameter and is filled twice a year, at which point it's about half empty. You'll need to have the correct LP orifices installed in the range and have the pressure regulator set for LP (no big deal). The burners will lose about 10% of their rated heat output vs. NG (also no big deal).

                1. Go with gas!
                  When we bought our house in June I bought a gas range and the propane company converted it. No big deal. I would never go back to electric.

                  Yes, you lose about 10% capacity, but if you buy a range with burners of a high output, you won't notice the difference. I have a middle of the road Maytag and I'm happy with it. It boils a pot of water in no time (versus my old gas stove in the city which you could go watch a movie waiting for the water to boil!)

                  1. You bring up a good point, NYchowcook -- how much output should I consider as minimum, given the 10% loss? I've been looking at various models online, and the output from one model to another varies significantly. Also, since I'm not going to remodel the entire kitchen at this point, I'm unfortunately limited to a 30" cooktop.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: CindyJ

                      Cindy, I've got the GE Profile 30-inch dual fuel range (hooked up to propane). There is one 17,000 BTU burner, which works pretty well (the only notable exception is bringing water back up to a boil after adding pasta - it takes a while).

                      It's got a 5th burner - oval shaped, which can be converted to a griddle (comes with the range), and a 2nd fully-functional little oven at the bottom.

                      Here's a link: http://products.geappliances.com/Appl...

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        I'd say you want one burner with a 16,000 BTU output. But if you're like me, you'll also want some medium range burners, which I believe are 12,000 BTU, including one that goes very low.

                        I chose the 5 burner Maytag 'cause there's one 16,000 burner and one 5,000 middle burner and 3 others in between -- maybe 2 12's and one 9? Also it has the grates that go across the entire range so you can push rather than lift pots off a burner.

                        I too was limited to 30", which is kinda small for 5 burners (you certainly can't fit 5 pots on the stove!) but I like the flexibility in burner output. You might want to trek to the library and read Consumer Reports. You can spend alot -- I didn't want to -- and got a good performing stove.

                      2. Sounds like LP gas is a good way to go, but just to give you another option it might be worthwhile to look at an induction cooktop. These are reputed to be very responsive, even more so than gas according to some users. Heat output is also very high. Should be a simple drop-in replacement for your current one.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: PDXpat

                          Induction is indeed very fast and responsive. The drawback is replacing all cookware with induction-compatible products.

                          1. re: Sherri

                            Hmmm... do you really need to replace cookware? Most all the stuff I see on the market these days says it's induction compatible. Are there special requirements, other than it be made of metal?

                            Anyway, unless the OP's kitchen is already plumbed for gas to the cooktop, the cost of having that work done would go a long way towards a new set of cookware. Total cost of the induction+cookware might be equivalent or less than gas+plumbing. Mind you, I'm not trying to sell either solution, just suggest the OP look at the total package, and see what works best for her.

                            1. re: PDXpat

                              I have a gas line that runs under my kitchen, stopping just short of the location of the cooktop. That was installed years ago with a gas cooktop in mind. The cost of running the line the additional distance and connecting to a cooktop will be mimimal.

                              1. re: CindyJ

                                Ah, very good. Should be an easy job in that case.
                                I'm sure you'll enjoy your new LP cooktop.

                              2. re: PDXpat

                                You can use only ferrous steel cookware that sits solidly on the cooktop. If a magnet won't firmly adhere to a pot, that pot won't cook anything on an induction range.

                            2. re: PDXpat

                              I've heard good things about induction cooking, but, as Sherri noted, I'd have to replace much of my cookware. Since it's taken me years and years to build the collection I have now, I'd rather not do that if it's not absolutely necessary.

                            3. gas appliances are specifically designed for either natural gas or propane gas. You can not use propane gas for an appliance that is designed for natural gas and visa versa. Most major brands have two models - one for natural gas and one for propane. Propane is perfectly fine - just make sure it matches the equipment. Good luck

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: kipserfozo

                                I believe most gas appliances are easily converted to propane. My stove was. I had no "propane" model to choose from.

                                1. re: kipserfozo

                                  No, that's not really true. The basic appliance is the same - the orifices need to be the correct size, and are easily swapped out, and the pressure regulator needs to be set for the correct gas. Most ranges come set for natural gas and need to be changed for propane - a simple task that takes about 15 minutes. I've done this a few times and usually do the conversion myself.

                                  1. re: kipserfozo

                                    I bought a second hand restaurant range that was set for LPG. It took about five minutes to change the regulator to natural gas.

                                  2. I think most of us are aware of the advantages of gas, whatever gas is available, over electric cooktops. I have a 4 burner + raised griddle/broiler and 1 large oven propane Wolf Range that is about 16 years old. I ordered it as a propane unit and picked it up at the factory myself. I didn't have room for the larger model that added a small oven, larger raised griddle/broiler and 2 more burners. It is a great tool and has pretty darn hot burners that if I pre-heat enough even get my wok smokin hot. Love my propane Wolf! When I am confronted by a friends or relatives electric range I feel defeated before I start. It's kinda like jumpin on the freeway and limiting yourself to 5 MPH!!!