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gas or electric?

brucet9's picture

A post on BT questioned why gas ranges seem to be preferred despite the fact that, with houses being better sealed now, venting the combustion products might be more of a safety concern than in previous years.

This brings up some other questions:
Do most cooks actually prefer gas ranges?
Does anyone worry about the fumes from the burners being vented into the air in the house?
Bread bakes better in electric ovens where heat is more even and a pan of water can provide some steam, so would a combo gas cooktop electric oven be best?

Heather's picture

I have a gas cooktop and (post #68841, reply #1 of 10)

I have a gas cooktop and electric ovens. I wouldn't trade my gas cooktop for anything. I have no worries about venting since our 62 year old house is definitely not air-tight! LOL

brucet9's picture

i envy you your electric (post #68841, reply #3 of 10)

i envy you your electric ovens. I have to bake my bread in a covered casserole to get good crust. At least the convection feature makes good pizza possible.

kathymcmo's picture

I'd give anything if I could (post #68841, reply #2 of 10)

I'd give anything if I could have a gas cooktop. I'm in a condo with all electric and really miss it for both cooking and heating.

Syrah's picture

I moved into our house with (post #68841, reply #4 of 10)

I moved into our house with electric cooktops and oven after using gas for years. While I think I do prefer the electric oven now, I do not prefer the electric cooktops at all. They are harder to control, do not respond to changes as you desire them and seem to be all on or all off, nothing in between.

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be obtained." -Marie Curie

Napie's picture

I think the simplest answer (post #68841, reply #5 of 10)

I think the simplest answer to that question is what do you see in professional kitchens? Gas rules and control is why, no electric heating element can be adjusted as fast or as accurately. I have a dual fuel Wolf range and love it. Our house is very tight (I'm cheap and we use propane, no NG here in the country) and there is no issue with venting but we do have a nice hood. I would add that a gas oven with a pilot would be nice to proof dough in but the electric convection ovens are so nice and even I don't miss it.

Oh yeah, it is also very difficult to char peppers on an electric element!

schnitzel's picture

I'm very happy with my gas (post #68841, reply #6 of 10)

I'm very happy with my gas (propane) cooktop and electric ovens.

hcookie's picture

Electric induction all the (post #68841, reply #7 of 10)

Electric induction all the way. If I were rich I wouldn't have any gas appliance in my home.

jwest's picture

On the original point about (post #68841, reply #8 of 10)

On the original point about air quality, most gas stoves are pretty good about controlling carbon monoxide even in tightly insulated houses. The difficulties come mainly with other byproducts of gas and cooking in general. Those byproducts affect some people more than others. You do get less byproducts with electric stoves (you don't get much in the way of combusion by-products in the air) but you still get the vaporous goo and steam that comes with any form of cooking. In a tight house, you can mitigate those other byproducts with a good range hood with some kind of make-up air supply. You also want the make-up air to avoid backdrafting carbon monoxide from the vents for other appliances like home-heating furnaces.

Having lived in my house with an electric stove for the first seven years I was here and with a gas stove for the last seven, and having a good range hood and a custom deisgned make-up air system, I can say that the kitchen walls need scrubbing a lot more often with the gas stove than they did with the electric stove.

If gas-byproducts affect you or your family memebers and you want to go with an electric stove, magnetic induction electric stoves combine the advantages of gas with the advantages of electric smoothtop stoves. They may not be to everyone's liking because they are expensive and have ceramic-glass smoothop surfaces.

As an aside, electric induction is used in lots of professional kitchens. For example, the famous Fernan Adria uses them in Spain.

The biggest selling points for induction stoves are near-instanteous adjustments of heat in pans combined with the ability to produce very high and very low hear levels. Induction is far more efficient than gas at putting heat into pans. With gas, only about a third of the energy actually heats the pan; the rest goes around the pan and into the air (and, hopefully, out the range hood.) There is no open flame with induction stoves. So, if you've got a very tight house, cooking on induction stoves puts less stuff into the air and onto the walls.

Also, induction stoves have significant advantages over the more conventional radiant electric burners (coil and smoothtop.) Apart from the very rapid response to adjustment (with radiant burners, you pretty much have to take the pot off the burner for it to cool down quickly), induction burners heat the pan a lot more than the stove top. Plus, you can use "oversize" pans on induction burners where you aren't supposed to with smoothtop radiant burners. (A GE rep recently told me that you can put your 12 inch or 14 inch diamteter canning kettles on a smaller diameter induction burner where you shouldn't do that with a radiant burner. The radiant burners use heat sensors in the cooktop to control burner cycling and oversize pans cause reflections that confuse or damage those sensors.) Additionally, the induction stove's smoothtop surface does not get anywhere near as hot as radiant smoothtops do, so spills are much less likely to bake on and the surface is easier to keep clean. Finally, you can use your rough surfaced, old fashioned well seasoned cast iron on induction stoves without fear of wrecking the glass surfacce as you would with a standard smoothtop. (You just lay a kitchen towel or paper towel over the burner before you put the pan down; induction induces heat directly in the pan, so it does not affect the towel.)

But, as I said there are downsides to induction, and most of them are economic. Number 1 downside is the sheer expense of buying the equipment. GE and Electrolux lowered the bar a bit by introducting free-standing induction ranges last summer. (Sears has been offering the Kenmore/Electrolux version and the GE version for roughly #2300 (US).) If you go up-market from those brands (Diva, Viking, etc.), the prices go well north of $6000.

Downside Number 2: going with induction may require new cookware. Induction stoves only work with magnetic ferrous metals such as cast iron and magnetic versions of stainless steel. Substitute cookware can be expensive. (Although, Costco is now offering for $200 a set of Circulon Premiere non-stick pans that are anodized aluminum with induction metal bases that seem to work pretty well).

Downside number 3: induction tops are ceramic glass which means you have to be careful about not dropping your heavy and cast iron pans. Crack the surface by dropping a heavy pan, and your stove is out of business until you get an expensive rapair. Drop that pan on your gas cooktop and you just nick it (Even an enameled/painted surface is easily repaired with touch-up paint you use like white-out).

Downside number 4: they won't work in a power outage and don't work well with off-the-grid alterntative power supplies. If your area has power outages, you know you can always light a gass stove with a match. There's no way to run any electric stove without electricity. Also, induction stoves (like most electric stoves) have a pretty big current draw so most off-the-grid power sources and home generators just do not put out enough power to run them.

Glenys's picture

I'd add that the new sealed (post #68841, reply #9 of 10)

I'd add that the new sealed element gas ranges are a dream and definitely clean the gas burning process to the finest degree. I've just installed a new Viking dual fuel and compared to my older FiveStar range, it's like a BMW compared to an ancient VW, although it's also true I can tear the old FS apart and rebuild it myself.
I've made the comment before that I still find the induction difficult because there is no flame spread, causing a concentration of heat only in the magnetic area of the element. Giving up gas would be very difficult as a personal choice.

jwest's picture

I agree with what Glenys says (post #68841, reply #10 of 10)

I agree with what Glenys says about newer model gas cooktops being noticably cleaner burning than older versions.

Also, I should clarify that I have a dual fuel GE stove (gas cooktop, 3-element electric convention oven). I've found that the electric convention ovens tend to heat more evenly than gas ovens and tend to put somewhat less vaporous stuff into the air. That is only "somewhat" less which is why I think tight houses should have a good range hood and a make-up air source.

On the subject of heat being concentrated by induction, I'm not sure about the extent of it with the most recent crop of induction stoves. I remember back about 25 years ago when my aunt bought an induction stove --- can't recall the brand --- several of the burners heated unevenly. This was most noticable with sugar syrups and making candy, where some of the burners produced odd patterns of bubbles and you could get some interesting temperature swings depending on where you placed the candy thermometer. I haven't seen anything like that problem in my somewhat limited epxerience with the current crop of induction stoves. As best I can tell, the current crop of induction burners are very even when pan size is matched to burner diameter. (Of course, some cookware is better than others at spreading heat). I can't speak to how well the current models work with oversize pans (such as large stockpots) and pans that span multiple burners (such as griddles and roasting pans). Actually, I've found burner-spanning griddles hard to get heated evenly on any stove. With large stockpots, concentrated heat may not matter much. I just don't know about larger skillets. I'm hoping to get a chance to test this out through one of our local merchants who has the GE freestanding range.

Anybody out there have this range yet?