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BTU difference?

Is there a lot of difference between a 12000 BTU range and a 16000 BTU range? Any difference in searing, etc? Thanks!

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  1. I think there is. We have a 30" Wolf after using mostly standard small ranges and the difference is noticeable. Certainly you can get it higher, which comes in handy when you need that pasta water to come to a rolling boil quickly. But mostly I think it's control. In addition to getting hotter, I can also adjust it to a very low simmer, which I couldn't before, and everything in between. It's still the cook that makes the meal, but I'd say having tighter control doesn't hurt

    1. Yes.

      BTU short for British Thermal Unit is equal to the amount of heat energy required to raise a pound of water by 1°F.

      FYI... A pints a pound the world around. In other words a pint of water, 16 ounce or the metric equivalent, an 1/8 of a gallon is one pound by weight.

      A 16,000 BTU burner is 33.3% more efficient than the 12,000 BTU burner.

      When comparing a 12,000 BTU burner to a 16,000 BTU burner, the former is 75% as efficient as the latter.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Demented

        I'm not sure if "efficiency" is what you're looking for here necessarily. But higher BTUs clearly translate to more heat. And more heat means pans will recover more quickly, and get hotter in general.

        1. re: Demented

          British (and Canadian) pints are 20 fluid ounces. In fact it is only in the USA (I think) where a pint is 16 ounces. Most countries have now left the imperial system, including the UK. (And excluding beer)

          As a Brit child I learnt... "A pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter". Easier still is that a UK gallon is 10 pounds.

          And you need pans with a large flat base to to use big burners. I have to disagree about your efficiency statement. The BTU calculation is a measure of the amount of gas being burned.

          1. re: Demented

            Efficiency; The extent to which time is well used for the intended task.

            Using an 8.5 quart copper stockpot,

            65°F water was brought to 212°F in 22 minutes on a 9,000 BTU burner.

            65°F water was brought to 212°F in 16 minutes on a 12,000 BTU burner.

            Clearly the higher BTU/hour burner, is more efficient at bring a piece of cookware to operating temperature or a given volume of water to a boil than a burner of lower rating.

            As such, similar results should be expected when comparing a 12K burner to a 16K burner.

            1. re: Demented

              If you simply make up a definition of efficiency, you can of course claim that it is the word you're looking for.

              However, I'd be very careful when making claims of efficiency when dealing with something clearly related to fuel consumption. That's like saying driving 100 miles an hour to get to the store is more effecient than driving 50 miles an hour, simply because you get there faster.

              I think it's pretty clear that a 16k burner gets stuff hot faster than a 12k burner.

              1. re: tommy

                Correct. Demented's well meaning comments about efficiency are not accurate. There is no information about fuel consumed delivering these BTU's. Nor is there anything to define efficiency of the 8.5 quart pot used on different BTU settings on differently rated burners. There would need to be readings from a CF/hour gauge to factor in determining efficiency. If you have a meter you could read, that would help. It just might not be that accurate.
                Unrelated to efficiency, but related to accuracy, is the pot, water and grate's temperature. They should be consistent, test to test. I don't think I am equipped to do this kind of analysis accurately and crunch the numbers, nor are most folks.
                It is nice to have the observations, though. I, however, am going induction.

                1. re: tommy

                  In the below context of the word... All things being equal (pan diameter and grate diameter), the 12K BTU burner is more efficient than the 9K BTU burner.

                  This test was done to determine which burner would accomplish the task, boiling water, fastest.

                  I didn't “Make Up” a definition for efficiency, I used my Webster's dictionary, and used the the meaning which best suited the purpose of the test.

                  For this post, I searched Google “Define efficiency”, below are links to the first two listing.


                  The extent to which time is well used for the intended task.


                  Skillfulness in avoiding wasted time and effort.

                  Fuel efficiency, the 12K BTU/hour burner on high for 16 minutes should have used 3200 BTU's, while the 9K BTU/hour burner should have used 3300 BTU's.

                  The 12K BTU burner would appear more efficient i regards to time and fuel economy.

                  p.s. Natural gas, 100,000 BTU's = 1 therm. Propane gas, 92,000 BTU's = 1 gallon.

            2. It simply means that the higher BTU stove has the ability to get your pans hotter and to boil things faster (well, a little faster anyway). The critical factor in determining whether that's a good or bad thing in YOUR kitchen is whether you need your pans to get hotter. Do you do a whole lot of wok cooking? How critical is it to you to have water boil a little faster? How well will your ventilation system handle the extra smoke and steam? And then there's also the question of how much you want to heat up your kitchen.

              Regardless of whether one cooks plain or fancy, the majority of the things we do cook will come out pretty well on just about any stove on the market. Only you can figure out whether the price difference (if there is one) is worth it for your style of cooking.

              Good luck!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Caroline1

                Just to clarify, burners are rated in BTU/hr. A burner with a higher power rating burns proportianately more fuel. To actually take advantage of all that extra power, your pots and pans need to be big enough -- otherwise the flame spread will direct all that lovely heat somewhere other than what you are attempting to cook. For most apps, it's a simple matter of trading time or volume for heat (aka fuel).

                1. re: MikeB3542

                  Excellent clarification! And if anyone is interested in the environment, unless stoves and/or cooktops/flattops in this heat range are induction units, they are not likely to carry an Energy Star rating. If one is planning for the future (and the financial costs of many things in the future, but especially energy), then something like this can turn out to be a very cost-laden decision for the future. Two ways around it that I know of: One is to make your own energy (wind or photovoltaics will take care of the electrical side, for gas you're on your own) or go to the most energy efficient appliances you possibly can every time you "upgrade." There has GOT to be a reason why so many European chefs and restaurants have been converting to induction cooking all these years!

              2. I brew beer, make mead, can fruit, juice, jelly, jam, pickles and preserves. When waiting for the 40 quart brew pot or 20 water bath to reach a boil, I often wish I had gone with a cooktop having a 16,000 BTU burner rather than 12,000.

                Having a high BTU burner doesn't equate to running it full tilt all the time, I use it on high only when boiling large amounts of water.

                Just for the halibut, I'll time how long it takes to bring 4 quarts of cold tap water to a boil, in an 8 ½ quart copper stock pot on a 9,000 BTU burner and on a 12,000 BTU burner today... and post the results.

                The results should be relevant since the output of 9,000/12,000 BTU burners are equivalent to that of the 12,000/16,000 BTU burners in question, proportionally.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Demented

                  Should the pot's bottom surface area be proportional to the BTU output for this to be fair? The amount of water has to be the same. Probably not for a real world comparison, but I don't think you will see the full potential of a powerful burner without a bigger pan with the same amount of water.

                  1. re: Scargod

                    Should the pot's bottom surface area be proportional to the BTU output...

                    The diameter of a pot (it's bottom surface area) should be matched to the diameter/area of the burner grate rather than the output of the burner.

                    I don't think you will see the full potential of a powerful burner without a bigger pan with the same amount of water...

                    I don't know about this. Putting a 16” pot over an 8” burner may or may not give better results where boiling water is concerned.

                    Putting a 16” pan over an 8” burner would most likely not provide optimum performance from the cookware or burner for any other type of cooking. Hot spots/uneven heat distribution would be the likely outcome of this mis-match.

                2. For searing on a home stove you need extremely high heat (cast iron an a high-output burner) and most just won't get hot enough. For example, the infrared searing elements that are on newer grills are around 30,000 BTU. You also can't get up high enough for real stir-fry temps and possibly for maintaining deep-fry temps on most home stovetops.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ferret

                    Temperature does not equal heat.

                    My guess is that the difference in temp would be pretty similar (assuming a nice heavy pan.) The lower output burner would take longer and its equilibrium temp (where heat is being thrown off the pan as fast as the burner is cranking the heat) would be a little lower. In any event, that equilibrium temp is probably way higher than where you would actually be cooking. (Unless you plan on re-seasoning your pan!)

                    The big difference is what happens once the food goes in. Both pans will have a temp drop once the food goes in. How much temp drop? That will almost entirely be up to the temp and thermal mass of the pan, and the amount of food you are putting in. Since the high output burner is throwing more heat at the pan, it will bottom out at a somewhat higher temp than the pan on the lower output burner.

                    The higher output burner will then recover faster. The thing is, recovery does you no good. If you really let your pan temp get too low, you are steaming instead of searing anyway. The real issue with searing is to control how much you put in the pan. If you crowd your pan, you will have a mess no matter how high the flames. The higher output stove will get your pan ready to do the next batch quicker.

                    Similar issues are at work with stir-fry.

                    1. re: ferret

                      I sear meat, fish and poultry all the time in copper cookware over a medium-high flame. It takes a matter of minutes for the pan to get hot enough, stir frying and deep frying also work. No problem, so long as you don't over load the pan/wok/oil.

                      1. re: Demented

                        Woking in batches is a misery. I'd love a range with enough BTU so I can do stir fries in one shot.

                    2. ALL ELSE BEING EQUAL, a high BTU burner will, for example, bring a given pot of water to the boil faster than a low BTU burner, or heat a given saute pan much hotter.

                      However, all else is not necessarily equal. Something as simple as grate height above the flame can make a high BTU burner cook more slowly than one which burns significantly less fuel but puts the heat source closer to your pan..

                      I've found my experiences with infra red (which I love) very instructive. The infra red broiler in my 20+ year old Caloric gas stove has a VERY low BTU rating, but will roast a pepper in 1-2 minutes and can blacken a steak in just a few minutes more. The infra red burner in my BBQ grill has a very high BTU rating (I can't recall the number offhand) and generates a lot of heat - about 1900 F just above the glowing grid. Unfortunately, supposedly for safety certification reasons, the cooking grate is set very high and the cooking surface temperature is only about 800F.

                      While a conventional burner is less sensitive to distance than infra red, the principle still applies.

                      If you find you are always using the highest output of your burners and not getting a good sear, or if you frequently bring large pots of liquid to a rolling boil, you will enjoy using a high BTU burner on a well designed stove. That said, you also need to be sure that you can get a low simmer. In short, test before buying.

                      You also need to be sure that you won't set your cupboards alight or overwhelm your ventilation when cooking at, say, 22,000 BTU.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: embee

                        All very good stuff. Can I add my twopenny worth?

                        Also look at what the minimum BTU is. I have a big six burner range (2 small, 2 medium, 2 large) and both of the small burners are at the back. That is a pain. If I want something on very low the big burners chuck out too much heat. And if it needs attention or stirring (such as a sauce, tempering etc) then you have to lean across that big burners which have the big pots on them. It is also better to have the big burner at the edge of the range. If they are in the middle of a five or six burner range then a very large pan overlaps to the other burners.

                        And in reply to the original question - yes it does make a difference in areas like:
                        1) Making tomato sauce in jars in a large kettle
                        2) Flambeing
                        3) Flash frying
                        4) Using a cast iron griddle over the burners
                        5) Waiting for the pasta water
                        6) Repetetive processes such as sauteing batches of onions

                        1. re: Paulustrious

                          Very few ranges/stoves/cooktops are designed by engineers who have ever even heated a can of soup!

                          1. re: Caroline1

                            Caroline, such cynicism.

                            I am (or rather was) an Engineer and I shudder at some household design. And while we are still on cookers, make sure it is easy to clean with a minimum of nooks and crannies and no sharp 90 degree crumb catchers.

                            And the high-low controls should be a logarithmic scale, but on gas ranges they never are.

                            1. re: Paulustrious

                              Not cynical at all. But I have enough years as an interior designer to know where the idiots live! You sound like a possible exception. '-)

                              In addition to what Paul says, stay away - far far away! - from those high trivet-style burners that raise your cooking vessels an inch or more above stove/.counter level. They are dangerous! Any heat source you place a pot or pan on should support the entire bottom of the pan for safety, otherwise you are at risk of serious burns!

                              And the same is true of oven vents. When buying a single unit stove, make certain the oven vent is not directed at you (when standing in front of the stove) or at the cooking surface of the unit where it will heat up handles on pots and pans, again putting you at high risk of burns.

                              To mention just two common but serious flaws... :-(

                          2. re: Paulustrious

                            All the reasons why I chose my cooktop. I wanted a small diameter burner at my front right (sauce tempering, a large diameter burner front left for saute and an additional large center or back for boiling water or long simmer in larger pans/ pots.
                            Here's my first run at a BTU time test. Two liters of 80 degree water to 212 degree. 10" diameter pots:
                            15K 11 minutes
                            12K 12 "
                            10K 19.5 "
                            8K 18.5 "
                            6k 22.5 "
                            The 12K and 10K are the same burner diameter, the others are proportionately larger and smaller. The difference between the 12 and 10 seems to be the burner jet orefice diameter. I'm going to swap them and see what the times say. The 8K is obviously using the BTUs more efficiently. Hmm...
                            What I really notice is not how fast the water boils, but the ability to keep water boiling while cooking pasta. Even with 15K, 7 quarts in a 10qt, 10" diameter pot with a pasta insert, one pound of pasta won't stay boiling high with the lid off. Older Revereware copper bottom, BTW.

                            I spent the evening sauteeing with cast iron, and the larger diameter really helps regulate heat in an 11" pan. The 9" was very happy on the next size down burner for multiple onion and peppers, and an extended roasting was a success. Yay...

                            1. re: toomanypots

                              Looking at efficiency from a fuel use perspective (at least by my math), the 6K should have used the least - 2250 BTU's and the 10K the most – 3250 BTU's.

                              How are you judging efficiency?

                              p.s. Nice cooktop.

                              1. re: Demented

                                I'm not judging efficiency; I'm examining my new appliance's 'cooking ability'. As in its 'ability' to accomplish a task. All well meaning 'green' comments aside, is the tool getting the job done? Is it allowing me to be more versatile? Lastly, is it letting me cook in a shorter time frame, or with less effort? My time tests were all meant to teach me more about how to be 'at one' with the tool.

                                Glad you like the cooktop. :-)

                                1. re: Demented

                                  Fuel-use: That's what I'm trying to figure out. My stove is converted to propane, and I know the calculation for amount of propane used to BTUs, based on the pressure of the propane. But I think the stated BTUs for a burner are based on the burner being turned on high??? Is that correct?? What if the burner is on medium, or low??

                                  This may sound really silly, but I'm trying to calculated the actual cost of canning my own fruits and vegetables, compared to buying them. And the actual cost has to include the propane that I use in doing that (if I'm going to be accurate).

                                  Does anyone have info on the BTUs of a burner on medium or low? Can I use some kind of percentage of the stated BTUs for the burner?

                                  1. re: lliefveld

                                    The value quoted is the maximum.

                                    To guestimate how many BTUs I am putting out on medium I would use my gas meter With propane that is more difficult unless you have a flow-meter. The expensive/pita way to do it would be to weigh the propane container, see how long it takes to use 1lb of gas on high and then how long to use 1lb on medium. You would need a balance mechanism to do this with any accuracy...

                                    Make a balance (plank of wood overdowling. Fix/position tank at one end. Add scrap weight to the other till it balances. Then add a weight (herinafter called the brick) to the other end so the tank end is now resting on the ground. Then burn the gas (on high) until the the plank just lifts. Switch off, and remove the brick. Re-balance the plank using more scrap weights. Replace the brick in the same position as before and repeat the test on medium. The ratio of the times should be the ratio of the BTUs - and you know the max. If you do it while really cooking it won't waste any money.

                          3. Much like others have said, a high BTU stove can make a lot of difference. I had a Thermador Pro, with six burners and it could blacken food like nobody's business! Each burner was around 15K BTU. When I put it in, I installed a commercial ventilator on the roof to handle the smoke and heat. It can really heat up a house )and fill it with smoke), if you don't have adequate ventilation. If the house was closed and the vent on, it played hell with the fireplace.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Scargod

                              A very powerful hood can cause a back-draught through your gas furnace. A safety mechanism in it will disable the furnace until it is reset / times out.

                            2. The one thing that seems to be disregarded or overlooked in most of these responses is that BTUs don't really mean a thing without information about how wide an area that amount of energy is diffused across. With barbecues, for example, a 1200 BTU grill is not going to be very efficient if it's heating up a 1200 square inch grill as it will be on a 600 square inch grill. So how well the gas jets or electric coils on any given burner are configured and how well you match your pan to the burner will be the REAL determining factor on how well a stove functions.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Caroline1

                                That is absolutely correct and has been touched upon. This is more evident in grills, I would say. Let's just assume all things being equal that if you have a burner on high, you have a pot or pan big enough to cover the flame.

                                You can parse this a million different ways, but at the end of the day, to answer the OP's question, I would think there's a meaningful difference between a 12k btu burner and a 16k btu burner.

                              2. There are no Energy Star qualified cooktops or Ranges listed.


                                12 Replies
                                1. re: Demented

                                  I'm fairly confident that all induction cook tops have an Energy Star rating. Don't know about ranges with induction burners though.

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    Are there ENERGY STAR qualified ovens, ranges, or microwave ovens?

                                    No, there is no ENERGY STAR label for ovens, ranges, or microwave ovens at this time.


                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        Yeah, induction units are efficient, but they are so expensive (the KA stovetop is well over $2000, excluding the install and electrical wiring required if you don't have a 240/208 circuit, not to mention you will need to buy a separate oven and cabinets to house the oven) that most folks would never see a "payback". That is the cost of extra fuel needed to run a typical gas range over the lifetime of the appliance (let's be generous and say 20 years) would probably never exceed the additional cost of the induction unit.

                                        The reason Energy Star doesn't touch stoves and ovens is that just isn't where the important energy savings are. Want to save the planet? Start with your furnace, water heater, laundry appliances and refrigerators. Next, kill the power vampires, the little LED's that are on your tv's, vcr's, stereos, computers, dvd players, etc. that indicate that those units are consuming power even though the unit is off.

                                        1. re: MikeB3542

                                          Actually, the very best way to go green is to keep all of the LEDs but produce your own electricity with photovoltaics or wind power. I MUCH preferred that route three and a half years ago when I bought my house, but couldn't find a photovoltaic contractor in the Dallas area, so I spent the money on all energy star kitchen appliances and a pair of 17 seer heat pumps. When you produce your own electricity -- and photovoltaics and wind power are VERY green! -- you can live with whatever you want as long as you produce enough power.

                                          The price of induction cooktops is coming down as more and more manufacturers are adding them to their line. To the best of my knowledge, there are no induction ovens. And I don't care if it has an Energy Star rating or not, when I can cook a 23 pound stuffed turkey in my Trivection oven in a few minutes over two hours, I'm cooking green! '-).

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            Nothing to do with your reply here, Caroline. Just a convenient place to make a remark...

                                            Most people don't realise that you can seriously reduce cooking time by having a large water reservoir in the oven. They are under the misapprehension that if there is a pan of water in the oven they are steaming the food. This is not so. When steaming over a pot the temperature of the steam is approx 212 / 100. When it is in an oven the steam is at the temperature of the oven. However the amount of energy in the air+steam is considerably higher and is available for transfer to the food.

                                            Let's call it the 'sauna effect'. Put water on the coals and it feels a lot hotter even though the temperature of the sauna may have dropped as a result.

                                            And before someone shouts at me I know I am unfairly confusing latent heat of vapourisation with the specific heat of steam....

                                            But it works.

                                        2. re: Caroline1

                                          I can't find anything that says that the KitchenAid you point to or ANY cooking appliances are Energy Star rated. The page KTinNYC references is dated 12-2007! Our Government needs to get with the program!
                                          Yes, induction cooking is far and away more energy efficient.

                                          1. re: Scargod

                                            Immediately above the top photograph, it says this:
                                            "Green Appliance Collection > KitchenAid Energy Star Appliances > KitchenAid Induction Cooktops

                                            Our beloved government needs to get with a WHOLE lot of programs. Especially financial!

                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                              I know... but on Kitchenaid's website there is no pdf "energy guide" or mention of energy star rating for an induction cooktop like there is for their dishwashers.
                                              I think it's a Google Goof.

                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                They may not list it on their website BECAUSE the GOVERNMENT hasn't issued an Energy Star rating. Doesn't mean the cooktops wouldn't qualify IF the government updated things on a regular basis. You can get three types of information from a government website (or person): truth, outdated information, or they don't want you to know (lies, aka "disinformation") '-)

                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                  Spoken by a true, ex-government employee!
                                                  Are you suggesting that the person who wrote the text, on the page you referenced, knew something they were not supposed to know? Leaked the info?

                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                    So Demented was correct in saying that there are no Energy Star rated ranges.