1. Cooktop Size
If you’re wondering how to buy a cooktop, one of the primary considerations is size.
Cooktops can be bought as a standalone unit or combined with an oven, but this will depend on how much space you have to work with.
Separate cooktops are usually more common in small apartments or studios where space is limited.
2. Types of Cooktop
There are three standard types of cooktop: gas, electric and induction.
Many chefs prefer to use gas cooktops because the heat can be instantly modified when cooking. Food is also likely to cook quicker because the flames heat up the sides of pans as well as the bottom. This means they are often more energy-efficient to run, although they are pricier to get installed.
- Gas (also known as Natural Gas or Mains Gas)
This is the gas that comes through your mains gas pipes to fuel your gas appliances.
It’s the most popular household gas used for gas cooktops in cities around Australia.
- LPG Gas (or Bottled Gas – you know, the type you’d use for your BBQ)
This gas comes in a gas bottle which connects to and fuels your gas cooktop.
LPG gas is used in rural, regional and remote areas where there are no mains gas pipes.
When an LPG gas bottle runs out it can be exchanged or refilled by an LPG tanker.
The temperature on electric cooktops is slower to change, making on-the-fly cooking a bit more difficult. However, they are cheaper to install than their gas counterparts and they have no risk of gas leaks or open flames. Purchasing a model with a ceramic surface also makes cleaning easier than if you buy a traditional product with coil burners.
Induction cooktops are the most expensive, using magnetic field-based heating rather than applying direct heat to the pan. Not only do induction models have the fastest cooking times, they are the most energy efficient and you can set your dishware anywhere across the entire surface.
3. Cookware that's compatible
Your new cooktop needs to be compatible with your current cookware, or you may need to buy new cookware to suit your new cooktop.
You can only use induction-compatible cookware on induction cooktops. Induction-compatible cookware has a special ferrous base which is used to transfer the heat into your pots and pans using a magnetic field inside the induction cooktop. To see if you can use your current cookware on an induction cooktop, see if a fridge magnet sticks to the base — if it doesn’t you can’t use it on an induction cooktop, so if you buy an induction cooktop you’ll need to buy induction-compatible cookware too.
Gas, electric and ceramic cookware
You can use any kind of cookware on gas, electric and ceramic cooktops, including induction-compatible cookware.
If you decide to buy a:
- Ceramic cooktop: heavy cast iron cookware is not recommended, but if you do use it be really careful when picking it up and putting it down to avoid damaging the delicate surface.
- Gas cooktop: don't let the flames go too high up the sides of pots and pans as this can warp the sides.
To find the cookware that’s compatible with the kind of cooktop you want, use the Narrow Your Results tick boxes on The Good Guys' cookware page.
4. Power Settings
When buying an induction cooktop it will come with a number of power settings, which enables you to have various dishes at different temperatures at the same time.
The more power settings you have, the more expensive the unit will be – but it may come in very useful if you regularly cook large meals for the whole family.
5. Useful Extras
You’ll need to think about what features are important to you when buying a cooktop, and how these will factor into your budget.
Here are some common features on modern cooktops:
Bridge element – creates one large cooking area for bigger tasks
Downdraft exhaust – draws smoke and odours out through a vent
Electric touch controls – start cooking at the touch of a button
Pan presence sensor – automatically turns the unit off when not in use
Pan size sensor – automatically adjusts heating element to pan size
Power burner – offers at least one high-intensity burner
‘Gas on glass’ top – burners are mounted on a ceramic cooktop for easier cleaning
6. Cooktop Style
The cooktop you choose will have an impact on the style of your kitchen, either working with or against the overall kitchen look you’re trying to achieve.
Induction, ceramic and gas on glass cooktops blend seamlessly with your benchtop, enhancing a modern, minimalist kitchen style.
Induction cooktops are the safest for families because they use magnetic field-based technology to heat up induction-compatible pans so the cooktop surface stays touch-cool.
Industrial kitchens channel warehouse and factory style, so a big, chunky stainless steel freestanding cooker or gas cooktop with a large wok burner will give your kitchen an industrial edge.
A sleek gas cooktop or a flat induction cooktop adheres to Scandinavian minimalism principles, or a designer freestanding cooker can be used to create a focal point and add character to the kitchen.
An all-in-one freestanding cooker with lots of gas burners on top and a wide oven underneath creates a stylish cooking hub and becomes the hero of any country kitchen.