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Jun 21, 2013 11:16 AM

Electric vs. Gas Burners

I have used a gas range, for most of my adult life. I like the ease of it and that control I have over heat. I have it that gas is always superior to electric on a range and electric is better for ovens.

We're thinking of moving and we looked at a condo this morning that I liked - except that it is an all-electric building and would require an electric range. The one it is already supplied with is an LG smooth top and looks pretty decent. But I know nothing about using an electric cooktop or the difference between smooth top and coils.

Are electric ranges better than they used to be?
Am am outdated in my view that they are harder to control than gas?
Worth considering?
Too hard to teach and old dog new tricks?

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  1. I have a smooth-top range and I HATE it. It heats unevenly, takes a long time to get hot, and is actually more difficult to clean than either a gas or an electric coil-burner range. Full disclosure - it's the one my apartment building provided and is, therefore, probably a cheaper model.

    If you have to get an electric, I'd suggest a coil-burner style, especially if you go top end. Having cooked with all three, gas is BY FAR the best, followed by coil, with smooth-top a distant third. If you switch from gas to a smooth-top, I think it's going to be a nasty shock.

    You could also get a gas range that uses a propane tank - I hear they exist.

    1. I cook on a flat top electric in a vacation home, and think goodness it's only for a week! The stovetop heats up very fast, which is great, but I found myself chasing the pots and pans around. The handles were constantly spinning.
      I would never, ever get one.

      1. That's a dealbreaker. Find another condo.

        1 Reply
        1. re: allyoucanet

          Same feelings here. I occasionally cook at my sister's house, on her smooth top electric range and I don't think I could ever get used to it - or any electric range after using gas for so many years.

        2. Hi, Gail:

          (1) No. They're about the same.
          (2) No. They *are* harder to control, mostly because you have no instantly visible feedback. You have to go by the knob settings rather than the flame, but you get used to that. If by "control" you mean responsiveness, electrics are better than you might think when you *increase* heat, but much slower to respond in turning heat *down*.
          (3) Sure. Lots of great cooks still use conventional electrics. Both coils and radiants are very even-heating (probably the best of all common modes used in homes). The "open" look and clean-ability of smoothtops appeals to a lot of people.
          (4) Maybe, that's dependent on you.

          Speaking of new tricks, you are--guaranteed--to be told by others here to replace the LG with an induction range. That would involve some tradeoffs, but if your cookware now is induction compatible, that might be a viable option for you. Personally, I think there's something a little soul-less in anything but an open flame or glowing coil.


          1 Reply
          1. re: kaleokahu

            And you will also be told to replace your pans if the bottoms are not flat. The hot spots on those smooth tops are much worse if your pans are even slightly imperfect. This is probably also the case for induction cookers, but I can't speak from experience.

            I cooked on a smooth top for 3 years. I didn't hate it, but I would never want one again.

          2. Get an induction range. All the benefits of gas and electric pluse a lot more. There's lot of info on CH about them. I'm several years into induction and could never step DOWN to gas again.

            9 Replies
            1. re: c oliver

              I sometimes like to use my gas burners to grill peppers for peeling or to quickly grill bread with a nice smokey flavor. How do you handle those tasks with an induction range.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I use my outside grill but don't know why a CI skillet wouldn't work.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    The bread (flat) will work, but the results will be quiet different for peppers. The more irregular shape the peppers are, the more difficult to get an uniform grilling from a cast iron pan.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I made a salsa recently that called for cooking jalapenos and garlic in a skillet til brown and soft. Mine and others (COTM) had the issue that they didn't get soft and it was suggested that we broil instead. That could work.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Broiling is definitely the way to go with standard electric or induction. Yes, it's not necessarily as handy as using a pair of tongs over a gas flame, but OTOH it's easier than gas if you're roasting more than one item. I tend to do it in my Breville SmartOven, but that's a regional heat issue. I don't like to use my large oven because it heats up the kitchen too much.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          <that we broil instead.>

                          Agree. Cast iron grilling works very well for certain items like grilling/toasting spices (coriander seeds...etc). For others, the oven baking or boiling will work.

                  2. re: chicgail

                    You handle these situations the same way you handle it with any range that isn't find another way.

                    For "roasted" peppers I like to fire up the charcoal chimney and roast right over top of it. It's easy and imparts an excellent flavor. :0)

                    1. re: chicgail

                      You can get a culinary torch for the peppers, perhaps.