What is a Cooktop? Your Ultimate Guide to Stovetops & Placement

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 30, 2022

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Stoves are great for cooking, but what exactly is a stovetop?

A stovetop is a cooking surface that heats up quickly and allows you to control the temperature. It’s usually used for cooking using burners, but can also be used for grilling and baking.

In this guide, I’ll explain how a stovetop works and why it’s so great for cooking.

What are stovetops

What’s the Deal with Stoves?

Stoves come in a variety of types, each with its own features and benefits. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Gas Stoves: These stoves use natural gas or propane to heat burners, providing instant heat and precise temperature control. They’re a popular choice for professional chefs and home cooks alike.
  • Electric Stoves: These stoves use electric heating elements to provide heat. They’re easy to clean and come in a variety of sizes and price points.
  • Induction Stoves (here we compare them side by side to gas cooktops): These stoves use magnetic fields to heat pots and pans directly, rather than heating the air around them. They’re energy-efficient and provide precise temperature control, but require special cookware.
  • Range Stoves: These stoves combine a cooktop and oven in one appliance, making them a popular choice for home kitchens. They’re available in gas, electric, and induction models.
  • Freestanding Stoves: These stoves are standalone appliances that can be placed anywhere in the kitchen. They’re available in gas, electric, and induction models.
  • Countertop Stoves: These stoves are small and portable, making them a great choice for small kitchens or for cooking on the go. They’re available in electric and induction models.
  • Wall Stoves: These stoves are built into the wall and provide a sleek, modern look. They’re available in electric and gas models.

Features and Benefits

Stoves come with a variety of features that can make cooking easier and more convenient. Here are some of the most common features:

  • Multiple Burners: Most stoves come with multiple burners, allowing you to cook multiple dishes at once.
  • Size: Stoves come in a variety of sizes, from small countertop models to large range stoves.
  • Control: Stoves offer a variety of temperature control options, from simple dials to digital displays.
  • Integrated Appliances: Some stoves are integrated with other appliances, such as ovens or microwaves, for a seamless look.
  • Easy to Clean: Many stoves are designed to be easy to clean, with removable burners and smooth surfaces.
  • Affordable: There are stoves available at a variety of price points, making them accessible to a wide range of consumers.
  • Professional Quality: Some stoves are designed for professional chefs, with features like high BTU burners and heavy-duty grates.


While stoves offer many benefits, there are also some disadvantages to consider:

  • Gas stoves can be more expensive to operate than electric stoves.
  • Induction stoves require special cookware.
  • Wall stoves require installation, which can be costly.
  • Freestanding stoves can take up a lot of space in the kitchen.

Getting to Know Cooktops: A Comprehensive Guide

A cooktop, also known as a stovetop or hob, is a primary cooking appliance designed to offer a wide variety of cooking options. Unlike ranges, which combine an oven and cooktop in one appliance, cooktops are standalone devices that require separate installation. They are commonly found in kitchens and are available in a wide range of types and models, including electric, gas, and specialty versions.

The Disadvantages of Cooktops

While cooktops offer many advantages, they also have some disadvantages to consider, including:

  • Price: Cooktops can be more expensive than traditional stoves, especially if you opt for high-quality models with advanced features.
  • Installation: Installing a cooktop can be more complicated than simply plugging in a stove, as it requires a separate countertop or cabinet to be installed.
  • Limited Options: Cooktops offer fewer cooking options than ranges, as they do not include an oven or other specialty appliances like griddles or dinner tables.

The Different Versions of Cooktops

Cooktops come in a variety of versions, each with its own set of features and advantages. Some of the most popular versions of cooktops include:

  • Professional Cooktops: These cooktops are designed for professional chefs and offer advanced features like multiple heating elements, griddles, and other specialty appliances.
  • Table Cooktops: These cooktops are designed to stand alone on a table or other flat surface, making them ideal for outdoor cooking or small kitchens.
  • Wall-Mounted Cooktops: These cooktops are attached to the wall vertically and offer a great deal of flexibility in terms of placement and design.
  • Freestanding Cooktops: These cooktops are standalone appliances that can be placed anywhere in the kitchen, making them a great choice for those who want the convenience of a cooktop without having to install a separate countertop or cabinet.

The Advantages of Cooking with Gas Stovetops

Gas stovetops are known for their quick temperature changes, making them ideal for preparing dishes that require high heat. With gas, you can easily adjust the flame to create the perfect temperature for your cooking needs. This feature is especially important for dishes that require precise temperature control, such as searing meats or creating delicate sauces.

Advanced Features for Better Cooking

Many gas stovetops come equipped with advanced features that make cooking even easier. For example, some models offer a griddle or solid surface for preparing a variety of dishes. Additionally, some gas stovetops have containers that can be filled with water to create a humid cooking environment, which is great for baking bread or roasting meats.

Natural Gas for Better Safety

Gas stovetops use natural gas or liquid propane to produce flames that heat pans for even cooking. While some people may be hesitant to use gas due to safety concerns, natural gas is actually a safer option than electric stovetops. This is because gas flames are visible, making it easier for the user to see if the flame is on or off. Additionally, gas stovetops have an automatic shut-off feature that turns off the gas if the flame goes out.

Available Brands and Products

There are many brands and products available for those who prefer gas stovetops. Some of the most popular brands include GE, KitchenAid, and Viking. These brands offer a wide range of gas stovetops with various features and price points, making it easy to find the perfect stovetop for your kitchen.

Potential for High Heat Cooking

One of the biggest benefits of cooking with gas stovetops is the potential for high heat cooking. Gas stovetops can reach higher temperatures than electric stovetops, which is great for creating dishes that require high heat, such as stir-fries or seared meats. Additionally, gas stovetops are better for creating a char on foods, such as grilled vegetables or meats.

Important Safety Tips

While gas stovetops are generally safe to use, it is important to follow some basic safety tips to prevent accidents. Some important tips include:

  • Always make sure the flame is completely off before leaving the kitchen
  • Keep flammable objects, such as paper towels or curtains, away from the stovetop
  • Never leave cooking food unattended
  • Make sure the stovetop is properly installed and maintained

Why Electric Cooktops are a Hot Choice for Cooking

Electric cooktops are a popular choice for many households due to their ability to produce centralized heat. They work by having an electrical current flow through a metal coil underneath the glass or ceramic surface. The coil becomes hot and starts glowing due to the electrical resistance. This process is known as radiant heat.

One of the benefits of electric cooktops is that they are easy to clean. Unlike gas cooktops, there are no residual flames or excess heat to worry about. This means that any spills or splatters can be wiped away without the risk of burning yourself.

Another good point to consider is that electric cooktops come in a variety of sizes, making them perfect for kitchens of any size. Smaller cooktops are also available for those who want to save on space.

The Ability to Control Heat and Notice Changes

Electric cooktops offer the ability to control heat with precision. The temperature can be adjusted easily with the turn of a knob or touch of a button. This makes it easier to cook food to the perfect temperature without having to constantly monitor the heat.

One special feature of electric cooktops is their ability to produce residual heat. This means that even after the cooktop has been turned off, it will continue to radiate heat for a short period of time. This is helpful for keeping food warm or finishing off the cooking process.

The Final Verdict on Electric Cooktops

Overall, electric cooktops are a good choice for those who want a clean and energy-efficient option for cooking. They are easy to clean, offer precise heat control, and come in a variety of sizes. While they may be more expensive than gas cooktops, they are actually more energy-efficient in the long run.

If you are in the market for a new cooktop, be sure to consider an electric option. You may find that it is the perfect choice for your cooking needs.

Proper Ventilation and Exhaust: Keeping Your Kitchen Fresh and Safe

Proper ventilation and exhaust are critical in any kitchen, especially when it comes to cooking. Without proper ventilation, excess heat, smoke, and steam can build up, making it uncomfortable to cook and potentially dangerous. Here are some reasons why proper ventilation and exhaust are critical in your kitchen:

  • Removes excess heat, smoke, and steam from the air
  • Reduces the risk of fire and smoke damage
  • Improves air quality by removing cooking odors and pollutants
  • Helps prevent the growth of mold and mildew
  • Keeps your kitchen cooler and more comfortable to work in

The Different Types of Ventilation Systems

There are several different types of ventilation systems available on the market today. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Ducted hoods: These hoods are connected to a duct that leads outside, allowing for proper ventilation and exhaust.
  • Ductless hoods: These hoods use filters to clean the air before recirculating it back into the kitchen.
  • Downdraft hoods: These hoods are typically installed in the cooking surface and pull air down and away from the cooking area.
  • Island hoods: These hoods are installed above a cooktop on an island in the kitchen.

The Importance of Proper Installation

Proper installation is critical when it comes to ventilation and exhaust systems. Here are some things to keep in mind when installing a new system:

  • Follow all building codes and safety measures
  • Check the size and type of fan needed for the area
  • Inspect the ductwork for proper construction and bends
  • Ensure the ductwork is connected properly to the hood and outside vent
  • Regularly inspect and clean the filters
  • Install a cover over the outside vent to prevent animals and debris from entering

The Importance of Proper Placement for Your Stovetop

When it comes to designing your kitchen, the placement of your stovetop is crucial. Not only does it affect the overall aesthetic of the space, but it also impacts the functionality of your cooking area. Consider the following features when deciding on the placement of your stovetop:

  • The stovetop should be easily accessible from all areas of the kitchen, especially the sink and prep areas.
  • It should be placed in an area with good ventilation and exhaust to prevent smoke and odors from lingering.
  • The stovetop should be placed away from any potential hazards, such as curtains or flammable items.
  • It should be placed on a continuous surface, such as a countertop, to allow for easy cleaning and maintenance.

Materials and Composition

The materials and composition of your stovetop also play a role in its placement. Gas stovetops require a gas line to be installed, which may limit the areas where it can be placed. Electric stovetops, on the other hand, can be installed in a wider range of areas, but may require a dedicated electrical circuit. Consider the following when choosing the materials and composition of your stovetop:

  • The stovetop should be made of durable materials that can withstand high heat and frequent use.
  • It should be easy to clean and maintain, with a surface that is resistant to scratches and stains.
  • The stovetop should be regulated by manufacturers to ensure safety and compliance with industry standards.

Practical Placement

As a homeowner and cook, it’s important to consider the practicality of your stovetop placement. Think about the following when deciding where to install your stovetop:

  • The stovetop should be placed in an area that is convenient for cooks to use, with enough space for pots, pans, and other cooking items.
  • It should be placed in an area that allows for easy access to adjacent spaces, such as the refrigerator or pantry.
  • The stovetop should be placed near sinks and drainage areas for easy cleanup and disposal of food waste.
  • It is recommended to place the stovetop away from high-traffic areas to prevent accidents and spills.

Proper placement of your stovetop is crucial for creating a functional and efficient cooking area in your kitchen. Consider the design, features, materials, and practicality of your space when deciding where to install your stovetop.


So, that’s what a stovetop is. It’s a cooking appliance used to heat pots and pans, and can be gas, electric, or induction. You can use it to cook just about anything, from a quick meal to a delicious dessert. So, go ahead and get yourself a stovetop – you won’t regret it! You can’t live without one now!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.