One of the most common stovetops is the electric stovetop, which uses electricity to heat the element on the stovetop, composed of either radiant heat coils or a glass surface. Electric stovetops with heat coils are relatively durable and can be scrubbed without causing much damage. Cleanup is easy with a glass surface, but users should be careful not to scratch the glass.
The gas-powered stovetop, which uses natural gas or liquid propane, is another common option. Gas stovetops heat food more quickly than electric ones. Many cooking enthusiasts prefer gas because of this, and their ability to control temperatures more easily. In the rare case of power outages, gas stovetops will still function.
On the minus side, there are potential safety risks associated with gas stovetops, such as burns, impacts to indoor air quality and gas leaks. An exhaust hood is important for reducing air quality concerns from nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide.
Cooking with electromagnetics?
Although less common, the induction stovetop is gaining popularity. An induction stovetop uses electromagnetic heating technology to heat the cookware; only specific cookware can be used. The cookware needs iron to react properly with the stovetop; stainless steel, cast iron or carbon steel are excellent cookware options for induction stovetops.
The induction technology heats food even faster than gas stovetops. Only the part of the stovetop directly touching the cookware heats up, while the rest of the stovetop stays cool—an obvious safety benefit.
Induction stovetops, like glass electric stovetops, are also easy to clean because of the smooth surface. The major drawback is the higher cost; the need for special cookware could further drive up the price.
MARIA KANEVSKY writes on energy efficiency for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.