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Oct 4, 2012 06:28 AM

Have no clue about electric smoothtops

Even after reading peoples experiences on the board, I am still confused about soothtop electric stove. i have always cooked on electric coils and I like it ( I have a gas = KABOOM fear ). We redid our kitchen and needed to replace got our old stove - a 40" coil - kenmore. It could have been replaced but I didn't trust the change in quality I expect after 40+ years. We downscaled to a standard 30". Picked the top rated coil top (I know thats not saying much) from Consumer Reports. It was really cheaply made. When the broiler was on high or the oven at 450 the stove top got too hot. It was over 220 ! I worried of its safety. I often cook with my granddaughters and need a safe top. So its going back.

Now I need to decide on a 30" smoothtop and whether induction or not. Money wise I can't afford high end but can get a mid-range price. I worry about using my cast iron, or large pans - like for sterilizing jars for canning, or high heat for searing, or long cooking times. Can I do and use all those on a smoothtop like on a coil ?.

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  1. when we moved to our current home we moved from a coil to a smooth top electric stove. I have not noticed any differences between them with regards to your concerns. I think the smooth top is easier to clean.

    4 Replies
    1. re: jujuthomas

      really? I hate hate hate cleaning the glass top. I'm not the only cook in this house but I seem to be the only one that cleans the stove and let me tell you stuff sticks on that thing like it's welded on and those special cleaning solutions are useless.

      1. re: rasputina

        This might work for you. When I "solder spills" to my glass cooktop, I scrape them off with a razor blade, then polish them with a ceramic cook top cleaner OR I have also made a paste out of Barkeeper's Friend, and it works too. For regular daily cleaning, I never bother with a sponge and soapy water because it always leaves streaks, whether I do it or the housekeeper does it. I have to assume it does that for most people too. So I just clean the cooktop and the granite counters around it with Windex and paper towels. Streak free and shiny clean!

        1. re: rasputina

          There are three things about keeping a glass-top range clean. 1) Do not EVER let stuff stay on there. Clean it off NOW. The more you cook a spill, the more impossible it gets to remove. 2) Keep a single-edged razor blade handy. It will remove just about everything. 3) Then, after you have scraped off as much goo as you can, use a stove-top cleaner. I like Cerama-brite.These are the Three Commandments. But the greatest of these is the razor blade.

          1. re: rasputina

            yep, i hated cleaning the coil range. with this one, I wipe down frequently then - as Caroline and Querencia do - I use a razor blade scraper that I keep in the drawer next to the stove on those baked on spills. i clean occasionally with the stove-top cleaner stuff.

            All that aside, when I redo this kitchen I will most likely install a gas stove.

        2. Yes you can do everything with a smoothtop that you can do with coil, with an improved transfer in energy to your food rather than to the environment.

          Based on the fact that you mentioned broiler, you're talking about a range. There are fewer options for induction ranges than for ceramic heat but there are some which are still reasonably priced.

          Induction you can consider if you already have a lot of cookware that is induction-capable. If you have a lot of mixed pieces that you use a lot, go back to heat. I would consider induction a safer top than ceramic but that's just me.

          2 Replies
          1. re: wattacetti

            I bought a pricey radiant glass cooktop because I didn't want to give up my copper pots and pans. Idiot me! I bought the portable induction unit because I wanted to see if I had made a mistake... Boy, did I! I fell in love with it and have been using it for almost all of my stove top cooking ever since, but not just because induction made a noticeable dent in my electric bill! I'm hooked on its responsiveness. But for anyone who is interested in keeping their electric bills manageable in the future as prices increase, I highly recommend induction.

            As for your current pots and pans and whether they will work with induction, grab a magnet off of your refrigerator door (assuming it's not stainless steel) and test which of your current cookware it will stick to. To work on induction, the cookware must be ferrous. Many "stainless steels"' are non-ferrous (a magnet will not stick to them), but there is some old stainless steel around that works fine on induction. To my huge surprise, I have a forty year old stainless steel mixing bowl with a flat bottom that now doubles as a cooking vessel on my induction unit!

            I do have stainless steel induction friendly cookware, but I try to use my cast iron whenever possible because cast iron on induction is MAGIC...! It is so much more responsive on induction than it is on standard electric or gas, it's like a whole new ballgame! There is a lot less chance of burning myself with the induction unit than when I cook on my smooth-top radiant electric. Induction heats the pan, it does not pass radiant heat through the glass the pan sits on. As a result, if something boils over, I can wipe it up easily, or if I'm cooking something that will spatter a lot and may boil over, I can cover the induction unit with paper towels and put my pan on top of them and it will still cook identically. I am not saying the spot on the cooktop where the pan makes contact will not get hot. It does, just the same way a glass top table will get hot if you set something hot on it. But it only gets hot where the contact points are.

            If safety and economy are issues, induction is your very best choice!

            1. re: Caroline1

              Caring for my disabled brother that accidently set his clothing on fire once, I purchased a smooth top range for safety reasons. I was not especially happy w/length of time my pans took to heat up and discovered different type pans have made all the difference in the world. I love the way the Infinity pans at Heritage Mint work. Heat up quickly, heavy bottoms, non stick. Always have trouble accessing the Heritage Mint website, so I have ordered another set of cast Aluminum heavy weight pans on way and will give an update of how well they work on my cooktop after I receive them.

          2. Modern gas appliances are very safe. The KABOOM fear is really unfounded if you are using competent licensed installers.

            When I had my house built I insisted on gas and loved it. In my new place gas was a kitchen requirement for me. I really like the ease of use of that lovely blue flame.

            The only thing I would consider besides gas is INDUCTION. With your granddaughters, the safety of induction might be a worthwhile consideration. The cooktop itself won't get hot, only the pans which is nice even for adults like myself.

            1. I have used cast iron pans on a glass-topped cooktop for many years. I too was concerned enough about this issue at first that I gave several old CI pans away! But I gathered some more, and started in with them. I never had a problem.

              I don't know about sterilizing jars on the cooktop. You should check the mfg.'s website before purchasing, I think. Or talk to a knowledgeable sales person. (I wouldn't buy this at a big box store.) But I don't see why it would not work.

              You cannot use a round bottomed wok on a glass topped cooktop. You will get better results with flat bottomed pans. If you have old stainless or aluminum that has warped, you might want to replace those pieces. The newer stainless pans do not warp the way older ones did.

              I would prefer gas myself, but my fate seems to be to use the glass topped cooktops. They aren't bad at all. I had no trouble going from coil, to cast iron, to glass topped cooktop. You won't either.

              For an induction cooktop or range, expect to pay more. You might also have to replace some pots, especially if they are aluminum or if they are stainless bottomed. Supposed to be a great way to cook. Out of my price range, although I understand they've come down in price a bit.

              Good luck. You deserve a great range.

              1. You can't use a typical, old style canning kettle on a glass top range, but they do make canning kettles now that are suitable for such.

                I have experienced a couple of current era glass top electric ranges and IMO they seemed exceptionally junky. IME with similarly priced gas ranges, you get a much better product for the money, but even if you can get over your irrational fear of gas, it's probably wouldn't be a direct swap. Presumably you would have the added expense of having a gas line installed.

                If gas were out of the question, it would have to be induction for me, no question. And I agree that induction would address your safety concerns better than anything else. Personally, I would do ANYTHING to avoid a residential electric range of any type other than induction.

                7 Replies
                1. re: splatgirl

                  How you are defining old style canning kettle? You mean those enameled aluminum ones? I personally use a 20 qt aluminum stock pot for my BWB canning without issue on my glass top but it's not induction. I've also used my 23qt aluminum pressure canner without issue.

                  1. re: rasputina

                    I have limited firsthand experience with this, but generally I understand it to mean kettles with a non-flat bottom. Honestly, the first time I heard this I thought it was nonsense, but I'd never owned a smooth top so ?? But I do recall a catering job where I was trying to use a pressure cooker kettle with a non-flat bottom on the client's smooth top and it was like trying to heat something with a light bulb--it never happened.
                    Anyway, here is the most informative bit I could find on the net:

                    1. re: splatgirl

                      Yea, I wasn't sure because I've never used those enamel pots they sell as BWB canners so I don't know what the bottoms are like.

                      I will say I use my Emile Henry tagine that has feet on my glass top without any problems, except that I had to turn the burner down to the absolute lowest it would go and still be on to keep it cooking low. But then I hate this stove so I refuse to baby it LOL. I know it says not to use pots with feet but oh well. If it dies I will rejoice.

                      1. re: rasputina

                        My Hot Point electric coil cook top is well over 40 years old and still going strong. But I know the day is soon coming when it will die on me. We have a gas line to the house, but would have to have one run to the kitchen if I want to cook with gas. My concerns with gas is cleaning the stove and being able to turn the burner down low enough to simmer. My daughter cooks with gas and she says she cannot turn hers down low enough to just warm or simmer something. Then there is a small worry about gas leaks and the kaboom thing. I am more comfortable with gas since we use it for heat now.
                        The thing that attract me most to gas, is that I could cook even if the electricity went out.
                        I also think they look cool. Most of the cooks on TV use them, so I figure they must be preferred by them.
                        I know I don't want glass/smooth top. My MIL has one, and I don't like to cook on it.

                        1. re: dixiegal

                          Cooking when the electricity is out is a real benefit to many. In Alabama and Oklahoma. Without a gas grill we would have been building a fire pit to burn downed limbs to heat our food many time each year.

                          My mom just installed a new electric cooktop but, already has plans to put a pot hanger in the gas fireplace. She looses electricity a lot in winter so, while her food won't spoil she can't eat a frozen block of vegetables either.

                          1. re: Sid Post

                            I live in an all-electric house, but when there is a power failure, I cook with gas. I have a wonderful gas "hotplate" (runs on butane canisters) that may already have celebrated its silver jubilee! Besides using it during power failures, it's my weapon of choice when making risottos. And it does a really low and slow simmer for tagines. I have had it and used it even when I lived in a condo with a gas stove. Even the expensive models aren't that expensive, and if you buy the butane from a restaurant supply house, they're cheap. What could be better than that?

                          2. re: dixiegal

                            I think you will find the simmer or very low heat function much improved on current generation gas ranges, especially if you shop with that in mind. Worst case, a flame tamer is an effective method of mitigating this problem on any range.
                            WRT gas oven function with a power outage--investigate this before assuming it will work. As far as I know, all current gen gas appliances use an electronic ignitor vs. a standing pilot like the old days. So yes, you'll still have gas, but on the cooktop you will have to manually light the burners and I'm not sure about the oven working at all. It wouldn't surprise me if there's some kind of safety on the oven that would keep gas from flowing in the event that the ignitor became non functional.