Black Whirlpool® electric cooktop

Comparing 4 types of cooktops

Cooktops are standalone appliances featuring a cooking surface with burners or elements, but no oven. Cooktops provide kitchen layout flexibility since they install directly into countertops, can be placed on an island, and are available in gas, electric, induction and downdraft models in a wide range of sizes. Whether you’re building, remodeling or replacing, use this guide to learn why you might want a cooktop vs. a range and what the best type of cooktop might be for your family.

Side-by-side image of a gas cooktop and a gas range Side-by-side image of a gas cooktop and a gas range

Cooktop vs. range: which is right for my kitchen?

Choosing a cooktop vs. a range separates stovetop and oven tasks while creating a streamlined, built-in look. Great for larger kitchens, this configuration spreads out mealtime action in a way that could help you manage the mess and keep meals moving without a lot of bending or squatting. Cooktops can also be a good option for kitchens with limited counter space, since they’re available in narrower sizes than most ranges. For example, Whirlpool brand offers a 15-inch electric cooktop for compact kitchens.

What are the main types of cooktops?

There are four types of cooktops: gas, electric, induction and downdraft. Each option has features and benefits that you may want to consider when choosing a new cooktop for your kitchen. Read on to learn more about different types of cooktops.

Close up image of a gas cooktop burner Close up image of a gas cooktop burner

1. Gas cooktops

This type of cooktop uses an open flame to heat cookware. Gas cooktops offer responsive control over heat adjustments, making them ideal when making quick adjustments for delicate dishes as well as everyday meals. The flame can be adjusted instantly, so you don’t need to wait for an electric element to heat up or cool down. Gas heat is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Unit), with some burners offering higher heat, and often a larger flame than others for different cooking tasks. Gas cooktops usually feature removable grates, with some models offering a hinged design like the EZ-2-Lift Cast Iron Grates by Whirlpool, which are also dishwasher-safe.

Benefits of gas cooktops
  • Quickly adjust heat levels 

  • Burners cool quickly

  • Flames can get large enough to heat the sides of pots and pans

Heated electric cooktop burner partially covered by a pot Heated electric cooktop burner partially covered by a pot

2. Electric cooktops

Electric cooktops heat cookware using metal coils or heating elements that may be exposed or sometimes hidden under a flat ceramic-glass surface that makes wiping up spills simple. Many models offer elements whose size can be adjusted to smaller or larger cookware for added flexibility like the Dual Radiant Element by Whirlpool brand. Accommodate extra-large dishes with “bridge” elements that heat the space between the front and back elements and can be found on select electric cooktops.

 Benefits of electric cooktops
  • Direct heat transfer to pots and pans

  • Flexible element sizes to fit a wide variety of cookware

  • Easy to clean smooth surfaces

Bell peppers cooking in a pan on an electric cooktop Bell peppers cooking in a pan on an electric cooktop

3. Induction cooktops

An induction cooktop is a type of electric cooktop that uses electromagnetism to turn cookware into it’s own heat source. Induction technology transfers energy directly into magnetic cookware for fast cooking. The system allows for a rapid rise or drop in temperature and, because the cooking surface stays relatively cool, spills are less likely to bake onto it. Keep in mind that you can’t use aluminum or copper cookware on an induction cooktop unless it features a magnetic core. Learn more about induction cooking, induction cooktops vs electric cooktops, or explore the Whirlpool® 30-inch Induction Cooktop.

Benefits of induction cooktops
  • Fast cooking with compatible cookware

  • Instantly adjust heat strength with responsive controls

  • Easy to clean surface

Black Whirlpool® electric cooktop in a modern kitchen Black Whirlpool® electric cooktop in a modern kitchen

4. Downdraft cooktops

A downdraft cooktop integrates the ventilation system directly into the cooking surface, eliminating the need for an overhead vent. They’re a good option if you’re installing your cooktop on a kitchen island where there isn’t room for a hood, or if you just like an open feel to your kitchen. Keep in mind that you’ll need under-counter cabinet space to house the ventilation system. Downdraft cooktops can come in gas, electric or induction styles. Keep in mind that you’ll need under-counter cabinet space to house the ventilation system.

Benefits of downdraft cooktops
  • Combines ventilation with cooking in one appliance

  • Can be installed in kitchens with open floor plans or kitchens without range hood capacity

  • Helps to remove odors and smoke while you cook

Person lifting the grate on a gas cooktop Person lifting the grate on a gas cooktop

What to consider when choosing a cooktop

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a new cooktop for your kitchen. Explore the following shopping tips below to help you get started on your shopping journey.

Cooktop shopping tip #1.
Consider your ventilation needs

Don't forget that you'll need some type of vent near your cooktop. A ventilation system is essential to help clear kitchen air of smoke, odor and grease while you cook. If you're placing the cooktop on a kitchen island, look at island-canopy hoods. If you're installing in-line with cabinets, a wall-mounted canopy hood or over-the-range microwave hood combination might be right for you. Learn more in our guide to choosing the right ventilation for your kitchen.

Cooktop shopping tip #2.
Consider cooktop installation needs

Each type of cooktop comes with its own unique installation needs that you should take into account when choosing a new model for your kitchen. For example, gas cooktops require access to a gas line, while electric cooktops do not.  

You should also consider the surface you're planning to install the cooktop on. If you're installing a cooktop on a kitchen island, you may want to pair your cooktop with a retractable downdraft hood to avoid an over-the-range hood.

Cooktop shopping tip #3.
Consider maintenance & cleaning

Gas, electric and induction cooktops all have different cooking surfaces that require varying maintenance and cleaning methods. To clean gas cooktops, you need to remove and clean the grates in addition to the cooking surface. Induction cooktops–and some electric cooktops– have smooth glass surfaces that make it easy to clean once mealtime is over.

Which cooktop is easiest to clean?

Induction and glass electric stovetops are typically the easiest to wipe clean as there are no removable parts that need additional attention during the cleaning process. All you’ll usually need to clean these kinds of cooktops is a cook surface cleaning solution, non-abrasive cleaning pads and a soft dry cloth to wipe away spills and food debris.

Which cooktop is the most scratch resistant?

Scratch-resistance varies by the make and model of your cooktop. Some gas, induction and electric models offer scratch-resistant surfaces, so be sure to consult the product description when shopping for a new cooktop.

Black Whirlpool® electric cooktop in a modern kitchen Black Whirlpool® electric cooktop in a modern kitchen

Shop all Whirlpool® cooktops

Whether you choose gas, electric, induction or downdraft, Whirlpool brand offers cooktops to fit nearly any kitchen. Whirlpool® cooktops are easy to use and designed with thoughtful innovations to streamline meal prep, so you can trust that your stovetop will help you create your family’s favorite meals every night.

Continue your cooktop research

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