Am replacing an electric cooktop (exposed burner element type).
Wife is considering the smooth top type.
What are the pros and cons of the smooth top over the open burner
(Going gas is not an option in this case - it Must be electric).
One big factor is that if you crack the top of one of the smooth top
stoves, you might as well buy a new stove. At least for the moderate
cost stove that is. On the ones I've seen, the cooktop has to be
replaced as a single unit that costs like $250 or so. A friend
bought a new stove for about $325 on sale for a vacation house he
rents out. (not a good idea) Within a couple months a renter
cracked it. Looking online, with shipping, it was close to $300 for
the replacement top. On the plus side, even with a quarter size ding
and a long crack, 2 years later it still working.
Could still be fine though depending on who uses it and how careful
they will be.
I've been using a Sears brand glass top stove for eight years. I even have a
microwave oven over the top of it.
No problems so far. Just be careful not to drop anything heavy on the glass
top and read the manufactures warnings and directions.
Smooth tops have problems with cracking, which is expensive to fix.
Smooth tops are necessarily brittle and so won't take the abuse that a
ductile coil burner structure will. I also don't like the heat
response of typical smooth tops.
You cannot use a canner or a griddle on a typical smooth tops. If
something boils over or spills on a coil burner, you can easily clean
out or replace the drip pan, and the coil itself is self-cleaning. On
a smooth top, you'll have to get out a razor blade to clean off crud.
The wife has had both [she tipped a KitchenAid mixer on the first,
shattering the top] and really likes the kind with "touch controls" and no
knobs. More expensive.
I agree that sold white is probably harder to keep looking good.
If white I suggest all new cookware. Any pan "seasoning" tends to
transfer rather easily and is not easy to remove.
We got ours at 25% of retail and wouldn't have another if they were 3
for a dime, 6 for a quarter.
My wife would not go back to exposed coils, she is very enthusiastic
about her Sears Kenmore smoothtop. It is a little slower than a coil
type electric cooking element, but soo much easier to keep clean. It
is also a great place to put things during the rest of the day that
might otherwise roll off a smooth countertop as the edges are raised
I have a flat surface range, and I like it. It is black, so it does
not have the problem keeping it clean that others have stated. It does
require flat pots and pans, and it does retain the heat longer than
other ranges. This being said, it certainly has an advantage with
regard to keeping it clean and appearance. I suspect a real chef would
prefer a gas range over an electric one, but since I do less cooking
than that of a large family, it suits me fine. Good luck.
Pro's, they tend to look spiffy. I stretched for another one and can't find
- Much harder to clean a spill if it bakes in at all. Easy to damage
surface when trying.
- Often a favorite pan or so can never be used on it (my best cast iron for
- Somewhat fragile, leading to chips or cracks
- Expensive to repair (pretty much replace)
- Pots leave marks, the time you 'save' wiping gets used scouring pot
- Slower to heat, lower final heat (this may be dated info and newer models
may be better)
Reality is the usefullness tends to degrade fast with a person who *loves*
to cook and and is more interested in performance than looks. Seen any
cooking shows? You won't find any glass tops at all in them. Electric and
gas (both slightly different but both work well).
Now, if most of the time you folks are just reheating a soup, or boiling a
few veggies etc, glass top is ok. If using it to put up canned goods, make
jellies/jams, or any of the other assorted things some of us really enjoy
doing, you will find a glass top 'looks spiffy' and after a month, you will
wish to hell you had a regular stove top again. That big pot of tomato
sauce, perking slowly all day to perfection? Nope. Not as efficient as a
regular burner for that.
I had a fortunately *short* 4 month time when I had a temporary place with
one of those glass top units. With no experince with them at first, I
thought it looked really neat and liked the idea. The honeymoon ended in
less than a week in my case. I was really glad to move by the end of that 4
months to a place with a real stovetop.
Cooking precision varies per model/brand.
Our old Amana was perhaps not as efficient as a regular burner.
Our new Bosch w/touch controls is vastly superior for high heat cooking or
Of course, nothing beats gas but in Hawaii electric rules.
Clearly we've had different experiences, Carol, and I couldn't disagree
more. In 3 different houses I have had 3 different smoothtop ranges and
loved all 3. The first was a Frigidaire, the second a GE, and the present
one a Whirlpool.
Cleaning methods are obviously different for these ranges, but done
properly is neither more time consuming nor more difficult.
I will agree that "proper" cookware is necessary for best results. I use
both heavy stainless steel and Le Creuset enameled cast iron, as well as a
few Pyrex pieces.
IME, the heating/cooling responsiveness is far better than an open coil
electric range. I have never liked nor wanted a gas range.
My last two ranges have had variable size elements, as well as true simmer
and "keep warm" settings.
In short, I couldn't be happier with any other type of range. Although,
could I afford it, I would be interested in trying an induction cooktop.
All my current cookware would work with that, too.
~~ If there\'s a nit to pick, some nitwit will pick it. ~~
I am absolutely delighted with my GE Spectra smoothtop. It is black and
I use my cast iron cookware on it every day. I don't always clean it
daily and do have to scrape with the razor blade which came with it.
However, I do feel I can clean it better than I could clean my coil
range and even with cleaning once a month or so it looks like new even
though it is 10+ years old.
Yes, very different experiences. It may have to do with how we both use the
stove top but withough an involved discussion that goes all the way to the
recipe level, I can't tell for sure what is different. "Now, if most of the
time you folks are just reheating a soup, or boiling
a few veggies etc, glass top is ok." was credence to the difference in usage
levels we may have.
We don't know what Bob-tx's wife does. No, I am not saying you just reheat
cnas, but there might be a usage level difference combined with my
experience with earlier versions of this sort of range.
A side tale: When I was 19, I made a trip to Oskaloosa Iowa to visit a
friend. Glass tops were in their infancy and Sara's Mom was really happy
with it. I don't recall clearly why, but we decided to have chili for
dinner. She was shocked to find i knew how and no cans were needed other
than perhaps canned tomatoes. I managed to make it work, but on those 1980
or so circa versions, it was problematic. Fast forward to 1995 with a
'supposed' state of the art model. It *was* much better and i can only
assume 14 years later they are better yet.
So, I am happy that you are happy, but Bob-tx asked for the general input on
pro's and cons. If his wife has set ways, and cooks using the stovetop alot
(not just reheating stuff or frying some bacon and eggs), she may not like
the 'adaption' even if the units no longer have the flaws of the earlier
Thanks to all for your input. I printed it all off and gave it to
my wife. After digesting it, she decided to stay with the open coil
element. She only cooks for the two of us now, but enjoys cooking
and has a variety of recipies and frequently tries new ones.
She is just a bit concerned that she wouldn't like the smooth top,
but would be stuck with it from now on - possibly for the rest of
Thanks again for all the input.
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