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Thread: Smooth cooktop vs. coil cooktop range

  1. #1
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    Question Smooth cooktop vs. coil cooktop range

    I am now contemplating the replacement of my decades-old electric range with a brand new one. With half the burners dead, it seems the time has come.

    Anyway, I've been seduced by the idea and aesthetic beauty of a smooth cooktop range. It looks so much 'cleaner'. The only disadvantages I've heard of are that they are hard to clean once they get dirty and that some types of cookware cannot be used, such as cast iron.

    Is there anyone out there who has had experience with both and could offer an opinion? Do smooth tops work well or are they slower than coils?

    I would respectfully ask that we not have any discussions of gas versus electric ranges. I have no illusions or interests in being a chef; I just want to make my own space more livable.

    oldblue
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    I have a love/hate relationship with my flat top. It does look cleaner but takes more to get it there and keep it there. I had to go out and buy all new pans, if they get warped or not perfectly flat they slide all over. It retains heat, as in bringing something to a boil reducing the heat to simmer is tricky. Wait maybe I just hate mine! But it does look good!
    Dan Parker

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    We have had our flat-top for a number of years. Don't find it particularly hard to clean. There are special cleaners and one uses a razor scraper to get off particularly hard spots. Guess the tricks are to try not to make a mess in the first place, and, if you do, clean it promptly. The problem with a flat bottomed pan is real, but most pans are flat enough. I use my flat bottomed wok all the time. Regulating the heat takes a bit of practice, but if things get too hot one just slids the pan onto a different zone. No burner pans to clean. Lots of extra "counter space" appears! I wouldn't return to the normal burners myself. Hadn't heard about not using cast iron; have never tried it.
    John

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    By a smooth surface cook top, I would think that you are referring to a halogen lamp stove?

    If it's magnetic, you will need a metallic pan/pot to use the stove. I didn't use one of those myself but heard those are great.

    If it's the one with the lamp, I would recommend staying away from those at all cost. Sure they are supposed to be more energy efficient. The cooking temperature is not consistent with those. They way they work, lamp goes on for a few seconds and heat up what's on it. Lamp goes off for a few seconds. The problem with that, you can have boiling water, water will stop boiling or almost not boil anymore before the lamp goes back on.

    Now, the cleaning bit. I use a scraper blade (like an SE blade) to grate the sticky stuff off. The cleaning bit is easy I'd say.
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!

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    I am just scared I am going to gouge, or hurt it when I have to use a scraper. There are some differences between the ceramic and glass tops also.
    Dan Parker

  6. #6

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    I like mine a little more than the coil top. Everything stays level, which can be better for heavy sauces like spaghetti sauce - the liquid doesn't pool because there's no low side. The coils on my old stove were not level and it drove me nuts. It looks better and heats evenly around the entire pan. If you need to update your stove or if you'll be moving soon, I'd recommend it. If you're updating because you think you'll like it much more - you might be disappointed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luc View Post
    By a smooth surface cook top, I would think that you are referring to a halogen lamp stove?

    If it's magnetic, you will need a metallic pan/pot to use the stove. I didn't use one of those myself but heard those are great.

    If it's the one with the lamp, I would recommend staying away from those at all cost. Sure they are supposed to be more energy efficient. The cooking temperature is not consistent with those. They way they work, lamp goes on for a few seconds and heat up what's on it. Lamp goes off for a few seconds. The problem with that, you can have boiling water, water will stop boiling or almost not boil anymore before the lamp goes back on.

    Now, the cleaning bit. I use a scraper blade (like an SE blade) to grate the sticky stuff off. The cleaning bit is easy I'd say.
    The brochure clearly says radiant elements and not infrared halogen lamps heating elements. I don't think I've seen or heard of halogen lamps being used in smooth top ranges here.

    Thanks to everyone for the input so far. The glass-ceramic cooktop seems to be leading the pack.

    oldblue
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldblue View Post
    The brochure clearly says radiant elements and not infrared halogen lamps heating elements. I don't think I've seen or heard of halogen lamps being used in smooth top ranges here.

    Thanks to everyone for the input so far. The glass-ceramic cooktop seems to be leading the pack.

    oldblue
    Those would be similar. From an estetic point of view, those stove tops are nice. From a practical point of view, I give them a -1. I know you are not looking to be a chef in the kitchen but, those won't give you a consistent temperature.

    When I cook anything, let's say a steak, I can hear the sizzle go higher and then down. A regular coil stove top will give you a more consistent temperature.
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!

  9. #9
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    My current suite has some kind of radiant, smooth stove top. I can't stand it. Previous oven had metallic discs. Easy to clean but took forever to cool down. I have never really used coils, but I get the impression they retain heat too. Induction sounds really neat, but pan material limitations are disappointing. In the future I'd only use either gas or induction.

  10. #10
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    After owning two glass cooktops and two coils, Id have to say that I'd prefer the glass. The heat is definitely not as easy to control, but cleanup is a breeze.

    Just FYI: I use sitram stainless copper core cookware and lodge cast iron pans and a Dutch oven. Never had a problem with either. My cookware helps with heat transition. Never had a problem with getting a simmer with the cookware.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luc View Post
    If it's magnetic, you will need a metallic pan/pot to use the stove. I didn't use one of those myself but heard those are great.
    Magnetic = Induction = the way to go!

    An Induction cooktop will cook with half the time and half the energy compared to either a standard coil or a gas stove. They are 90% efficient, meaning a lower electric bill, and less time waiting for your food to cook.

    You do have to get certain cookware to work with Induction. Nothing spectacular ... standard stainless steel will work. Cast iron is best. Just no aluminum, as it will not react to the magnetic field.

    You can buy a single-burner induction hot-plate for as little as $70 ... honestly, how often do you need more than one burner at a time? As for the rest of your stove-top, you can cover it over with a slab of butcher-block or marble, and create extra counter-space.

    If you don't want to go with induction, a second-best choice is cast-iron electric burners. My mother had these in her kitchen, and they work great. They take a few minute to heat up, but they heat up evenly, meaning no scorched food. They require a specific wax-like cleaner, but you can get that from the same place you buy the stove-top, and one can of the cleaner should last you for several years.
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  12. #12
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    If you can afford it, I would also say go with induction,it's probably the way we will go when our stove bites it.
    -Darren

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  13. #13
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    I hate our ceramic top stove - very hard to clean, any spill gravitates towards one of the 'burners' where it is instantly turned to a black cindery stuck mess that will resist any cleaner. Plus it retains so much heat I generally have to pull pans off and wait until it cools down so I can simmer.

    On my kitchenaid I have also replaced a burner and a switch - doesn't seem to be very reliably or solidly built - and parts are not cheap (it's actually made by whirlpoool in case you're wondering)

    I'm buying induction the next time this one breaks down if I can afford it, or a plain old coil

  14. #14

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    Cerama Bryte and a scouring pad easily removes all stains.

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    we went with a Kenmore Elite a couple of years ago.. we use all the cookware we already had including iron skillits, stainless w/copper, Le Creuset. As far as I know we don't own anything we have not used. Muc easlier to keep clean. Usually just a damp towel. When we 'clean' it we use a special spray and springe thing.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kouros View Post
    Cerama Bryte and a scouring pad easily removes all stains.
    Don't believe it. I've had a smooth top for years now and if you get something on it and it burns on the only way to get it off is with caustic oven cleaner. You can scrub with those special cleaners and a scrub brush till the cows come home and it won't do anything. If something spills and its something very light and you clean it immediately yea it comes off easy but try burning something with sugar or oil.

    Also another consideration is these tops are a glass-ceramic composite material and if your butter fingers and drop something on them they can crack very easily and a new one usually costs the same as a whole new stove.

  17. #17
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    I've had them both, and the smooth glass certainly is a step up from the old coils, but it still has serious drawbacks that most have addressed here. The biggest of which for me is the is the fact that you constantly chase the heat around the dial. I have successfully used cast iron on mine for years, but you have to make sure that the bottom of the pan is dead flat. Yes, the oil coating from the cast iron will transfer and scorch on the glass top, and will need to be cleaned off regularly. I've found that simple water and baking soda work just fine. If you end up getting the smooth glass surface, do yourself a favor and buy a splatter guard now. Any grease or stain will be very apparent on the glass.

    All that being said, check out the induction tops if you haven't already. They are a pleasure to cook on (almost as good as gas), and solve many of the problems with the flat glass electric ranges.

  18. #18
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    If anyone here is a fan of home canning, check the stove manuals carefully. Most glass top stoves have special restrictions which might influence your choice.
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    I've been using a Maytag Ceran model for 10 years. It came with the house and was probably 2 years old. It took a bit of getting used to what happens when things boil over and things become a hissing skating rink of what is about to become a hell of a mess when it scalds and burns onto the cooktop. One learns how not to have things boil over.

    Now I'm used to the flat top, use cast iron in it without worry (It's 12 - 13 years old . . . I don't expect it to be pristine) it cleans up well with barkeepers friend for cooktops. I've never had to have any service.

    If I were putting in a new cooktop I'd go gas. Unfortunately in our house the cupboard clearance is insufficient . . .then again when the time comes . . . it really is only a few cupboards.
    Mike

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  20. #20
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    All the sheep with the new-fangled technology. What's wrong with a charcoal stove anyway? Just a matter of technique, air-control angle and proper prep.. The results are far better than any modern multi-burner stove can give you and you don't pay for all the fancy marketing either..

    /ducks and hides

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