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Electric cooktops: need opinions on solid element vs glass

We currently have a glass cooktop in our kitchen. We're in the process of replacing all of our appliances (changing color schemes and replacing the older stuff after a couple of breakdowns), so a new cooktop is in order. Our kitchen is electric. We're debating either another glass one, or glass with solid cast iron elements. We love to cook, and want something that will withstand a lot of work and deliver great results.

Does anyone have a solid element cooktop and what are your opinions? Durability, appearance? Since we've lived with the glass for 7 years we're pretty well versed on the limitations and capabilities (cleanup sucks), just curious about solid element. We have a friend who has one and says it is his personal favorite, and he's a big-time foodie/cook, but I'm looking for more than just one opinion.

Thanks!

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  1. Would you be interested in considering getting an induction cooktop instead?

    1 Reply
    1. It's been a really long time since I've seen a solid element cooktop. If you can't do induction as already suggested (which will offer great performance though only with appropriate cookware) I think it'll be back to glass. From what I remember, it's still more erg-efficient than solid and coil.

      17 Replies
      1. re: wattacetti

        No, induction isn't even up for consideration - we definitely don't want one.

        Solid elements are quite popular in Europe... never really seemed to catch on in the US and can be difficult to find over here.

        I was curious if anyone here actually has USED solid element and has opinions vs regular glass/ceramic.

        Thanks!

        1. re: pmburk

          "No, induction isn't even up for consideration - we definitely don't want one. "

          Why not?

          1. re: pmburk

            I did a long while ago and that particular range has gone to face the Universal Oneness.

            I found the responsiveness to be inferior to coil though when it finally did come up to heat it didn't fluctuate too badly. It threw off a lot more heat than coil or glass top though.

            I'm going to join the choir: why not induction? It's not like you're loaded with Corning Vision or something is it?

            1. re: wattacetti

              We have a mix of cookware (including a lot of very high end copper and other things that aren't exactly induction-friendly), and I don't want to give that up for the sake of a cooktop. Also, I have a large garden and I can... a LOT. I don't have much interest in having to use a propane burner outside or keep a separate cooktop elsewhere solely for canning. So, induction it isn't a consideration.

              Again... anyone USED solid elements and have opinions vs regular glass?

              1. re: pmburk

                We had a solid element a while (>5yrs) ago and got rid of it the first chace we had. Took too long for the element to heat up, and then, a long time to cool down. So, a slower response time than even the glass or coil types of ranges.

                1. re: Rick Azzarano

                  Thanks for the input!

                  Heating is okay, but our glass top seems to take forever to cool down - the burners stay hot for nearly an hour (sometimes longer) after shutting them down... and the cleaning is a real pain. Even droplets of water leave black scorchmarks that require scrubbing and ceramic cleaner. Quite frustrating.

                  1. re: pmburk

                    So Rick's experience sounds like the last time I used solid-element. The newer glasstops should be more responsive at least in heat up if not necessarily the cool down process.

                    You're going to get the mess with anything electrical that emits heat.

                    There is an alternative if you're willing to purchase a Viking or Electrolux cooktop; both have hybrid units which offer both induction and radiant heat in 36" formats

                    1. re: wattacetti

                      I like the idea of hybrid, but our space available is 30" and unfortunately isn't really alterable.

                      1. re: pmburk

                        http://www.electroluxappliances.com/k... 30" Induction Hybrid cooktop

                        alas if that doesn't work, then I'd get the glass as compared to the solid element. Though I prefer solid to glass when working with cast iron, glass is more efficient, the elements are (imo) easier to clean then the coil, you don't have to clean the messes that get under the coils, and they are generally more elegant - especially if you are getting a unit without an attached range.

                        1. re: DukeOfSuffolk

                          The unit we're looking at isn't coil - it is solid elements that are fused to the glass, so nothing can get underneath or in the little pans underneath (those things are a nightmare - bad memories of our first apartment!)

                2. re: pmburk

                  pmburk: "Also, I have a large garden and I can... a LOT. I don't have much interest in having to use a propane burner outside or keep a separate cooktop elsewhere solely for canning. So, induction it isn't a consideration."

                  O.k.: I'm dense. Why in the world do you think that induction is incompatible with canning?

                  1. re: Politeness

                    I've always been told it was not safe to can on induction because of the way the burners cycle. Also because induction boils water so quickly it alters the timing, and most canners are aluminum or stainless steel (I currently use an older aluminum one.)

                    1. re: pmburk

                      pmburk: "I've always been told it was not safe to can on induction because of the way the burners cycle."

                      I do not know what safety issue is referred to, but so far as the stuff in the pot is concerned, all that counts is the temperature inside -- degrees F. are degrees F. no matter how they got that way -- and induction cooktops can maintain the temperature within at least as narrow a +/- range of temperatures as any other technology.

                      pmburk: "Also because induction boils water so quickly it alters the timing."

                      No. An induction burner is CAPABLE of boiling water more quickly than a resistive electric burner or than a gas burner; but an induction burner can be turned to a lower setting just as an electric or gas burner can. You can simmer all day on induction and never boil the water. The fastest runner in the world still knows how to walk, and he or she can walk just as slowly as the next guy.

                      pmburk: "most canners are aluminum or stainless steel (I currently use an older aluminum one.)"

                      Most stainless steel canners -- not all, but most -- are induction-compatible. Our ancient West Bend brand canning pot turned out (somewhat to our surprise) to have a wonderful relationship with an induction cooktop that is five decades its junior. You are correct, though, that your current aluminum pot will not work on an induction cooktop. However, it seems to me that if, as you say in your first post in this thread, you are "replacing all of [y]our appliances," then the relative extra cost of a stainless canner to replace your old aluminum one is like a bit of fuzz on the carpet. Your decision is yours alone, but do not put the cart before the horse.

              2. re: pmburk

                Have you tried asking at the GardenWeb's appliances forum?
                http://www.thathomesite.com/forums/appl/

                I also wonder why we haven't already retired the electric coil tops with solid elements...

                1. re: cutipie721

                  Because electric coils are at least still popular in North America (and cheaper than glass or induction).

                  1. re: wattacetti

                    No, the question is, why didn't solid element tops take off and replace coil? Can it be so much more expensive than coil that it becomes on par with glass? I don't think so. Coils are ugly and a beast to clean.

                2. re: pmburk

                  Had plates (in Europe). LOATHED. Caps are not sufficient to express my hatred. The plates are slow to heat and slower to cool. Output was poor, even on the fastlite plates (the red spot ones). Boiled over water was impossible to use.

                  I've used coils, plates and glass (no induction) and would choose the glass. All electric cooktops are slow to cool down, unfortunately. The glass was the quickest and most responsive overall.