The range oven used to be the traditional mainstay of the kitchen. Now there are more versatile ways to streamline your kitchen design to your cooking needs. One of these is a built in cooktop. Electric cooktops are easy to install, and the best electric cooktop is the choice between a radiant coil smoothtop or an induction cooktop. Radiant coils are less expensive and operate in a familiar way, but they are faster and more functional than traditional cooktops.
The best match to a drop in cooktop is a wall oven, but not everybody needs one of these. There are many other versatile countertop appliances to complement a cooktop such as a countertop oven, an infrared halogen oven, a steam oven, a combination microwave oven or a combination toaster oven.
Types of Built-in Counter Cooktops
- Gas cooktops
- Electric cooktops
1. Gas Cooktops
Gas cooktops tend to be a little cheaper on average than electric cooktops, but they cost more to install. They need a 120V plug point for operating electric ignition, a piped natural gas connection, but most can also use liquid propane. The average unit cost plus installation can vary from $650 to $1 000 — depending on the need and length of the gas line. The drop-in cut out and cabinetry work may cost extra.
2. Electric Cooktops
With electric cooktops, you have the choice between traditional electric coils, which are not so common anymore, and glass ceramic smoothtops with either radiant ribbon coils or magnetic induction technology beneath.
Electric Coil vs Induction Cooktop
1. Price and Installation
Both electric induction and radiant coil electric cooktops have exactly the same installation and power requirements—a hardwired 220V / 30‒40 amp connection. The total cost and installing of an electric radiant cooktop minus cabinetry can be $770 or more. Estimates vary according to location or state, and the final cost may increase if you choose a pricier induction cooktop.
2. Heating Technology
Apart from price, induction and radiant cooktops differ the most with heating technology. Radiant elements take more time to heat up and cool down, and have more residual heat compared to induction, but they’re much faster than open coils. Induction plates have similar instant heat properties to gas, and heat is only generated when compatible cookware is on the surface, so they are very safe.
Both cooktop styles generally have hot surface indicators and often locks for controls, while some induction plates may have virtual flames. Both can have mergeable, bridge, or sync elements, and radiant cooktops often have expandable elements for better heat control, or to match the pot size. For either design, the glass surfaces can be damaged by rough use, and sugary liquid spills should be cleaned off immediately.
Radiant smoothtops, like induction smoothtops, also have cookware restrictions in that you should avoid poor heat conductors like glassware and stoneware which can scratch the cooktop surface. Bare cast iron can also damage the surface, but lighter types of enameled cast iron or dutch oven pots are generally okay. If a magnet sticks to the bottom of your pot, then you can use it with an induction cooktop. Some problems with cookware, however, can be overcome by using a heat diffuser.
Two Burner Electric Cooktops and Portable Cooktops
Two burner, or even one burner, electric cooktops can either be built into your counter or they can be portable, meaning you can plug them into any convenient outlet. Built-in electrical appliances generally need to be hardwired to a 220V connection. Portable cooktops are often just called burners and they can use open coils, solid plates, infrared, or induction technologies. Single hot plate burners and double burners are the most popular.
Mixing and Matching Major Appliances
Separating your cooktop from your gas or electric range, or having an additional cooktop for a kitchen island, can create a more diverse kitchen dynamic. More people can use an appliance and you can benefit from the distinct advantages of different cooking technologies. A built-in cooktop is a perfect match to a smaller, more ergonomic wall oven. You can also choose between the best gas or electric wall oven, matched to any type of cooktop. A basic range oven setup can also benefit from something like a portable induction cooktop.
Electric Cooktops With a Downdraft
Some cooktops come with a built-in downdraft extractor. These are limited for choice and often more expensive. A separate downdraft extractor can be mounted flush into your counter, right behind the cooktop, especially for an island cooktop.
Both these types of ventilators are ducted, meaning they run an extraction duct under your floor or into the rear wall which must then vent outside. Downdraft systems are less effective because they go against the natural dynamics of hot air, but they are better than having no ventilation at all.
Alternatively, there’s a wide selection of ventilation or range hoods available for either ranges or drop-in cooktops.
Electric Cooktop Buying Guide: Things to Look Out For
- Size and space
- Key design features
- Power ratings
- Additional features
1. Size and space
How much space do you have and how much of a spacious cooktop do you need? The two most common sizes are 30 and 36 inch cooktops. Both of these can have either four or five plates. Five plates doesn’t necessarily mean you can use them all at the same time, especially on a 30 inch cooktop, but they do offer more ergonomic cooking options.
2. Key Design Features
Do you want your cooktop to make a statement or to blend in? Cooktops with completely digital controls can look very sleek and minimalist. Cooktops with knobs are more familiar and make a bolder statement.
Do you want your controls in the front or on the side? Controls in the front can be easily brushed or accidentally adjusted, and your pots are a little further back. Some people prefer controls on the side, but moving pots off the stove and onto the counter is trickier, especially with knobs.
Does the plate layout suit your cooking needs, and are the controls intuitive to use? Large power burners are usually situated at the back or in the center. Some people like the smaller burner for simmering in the front, while on some cooktops these might be at the back. If you have fully digital controls, make sure they’re big enough and intuitive enough for you to use.
3. Power Ratings
Check for the maximum and minimum burner outputs and if these suit your cooking needs. Do you need extra low heat for melting chocolate or making poached eggs? Do you need a rapid boiling element or an element that can simmer gently and boil at a high temperature too?
4. Additional Features
Some cooktops have mergeable elements, or synced elements, which you can use for a large casserole dish. If the mergeable elements are in the front and back, this allows you to use a griddle pan. You shouldn’t use a bare cast iron griddle pan on a glass surface, but you can use a double burner griddle pan for a smoothtop.
Other standard features that aren’t essential to performance, but provide a safer cooking environment are things like control locks and an automatic shutoff in case ofexcessive heat. Most glass cooktops should have a hot surface indicator as well.
Reviews of The Best Electric Cooktops in 2021
Our selection of the best electric cooktops include various designs with manual and digital controls, a cooktop with the basic essentials, one with a downdraft extractor, as well as cooktops with the luxuries you can expect on a modern radiant smoothtop.
- Frigidaire FFEC3024LW Electric Cooktop - Best to Buy
- GE PP9830DJBB 30 Inch Smoothtop - Best With a Downdraft
- K&H 2 Burner Radiant Cooktop - Best Value
- GE Profile PP7030SJSS 30 Smoothtop - Best 30 Inch Cooktop
- GE JP3536DJBB 36 Inch Smoothtop - Best 36 Inch Cooktop
- Ramblewood Burner 30 Inch Electric Cooktop - Best With Digital Controls
- Cusimax Portable Electric Stove - Best Single and Double Hot Plate
Here are our picks for the best electric radiant cooktops in 2021
1. Frigidaire FFEC3024LW Electric Cooktop - Best Electric Cooktop to Buy
A basic cooktop that is spacious and well designed. With no fancy extras, the price is very reasonable considering its quality and high rated performance.
Two large 9 inch plates
Hot surface indicator
Granite counter installation kit
Knob edges sharp
No expandable elements
Layout and Design
This 30 inch cooktop has a very practical layout that makes the most of the space you have. The controls are on the right side, so the cooking surface has maximum depth to accommodate large plates. The two large 9-inch plates have a maximum output of 2 500 watts, and the smaller 6-inch plates are both 1 200 watts. It’s quite easy therefore, to braise, simmer and boil at the same time without the surface being too cramped.
For this price point, there are no expandable elements, mergeable plates, or an extra low heat melt element—for these, see our best 30 inch cooktop review below. The elements respond quickly, heat up fast, and people have no issue with how well the cooktop performs. It comes with the usually hot plate indicator, and the knobs are available in different color designs, but you have to check with your vendor.
People love the look of this cooktop, but some have difficulty keeping the glass surface looking smooth. It’s always best to use the correct tools and cleaning fluid, and many people find some brands work better than others. To clean the cooktop properly you also have to remove the knobs, but these knobs tend to have sharp outer edges, so use a dish cloth to remove them.
If you’re upgrading from an older 30 inch cooktop, measure your cut out and check if it fits this cooktop, or needs to be widened. Installation requires a 220V / 30A hardwired connection, and the connecting wires are at the rear right. See the end of the reviews for how to install your cooktop. If you have a granite countertop, there’s also a special installation kit available, and remember that you must have a 30 inch height clearance above your cooktop for any cabinetry.
This cooktop doesn’t have all the bells and whistles a smoothtop can have, but the spacious layout is very good, it reacts fast, and is well suited to everyday cooking needs.Check Latest Price on Amazon
2. GE PP9830DJBB 30 Inch Smoothtop - Best Electric Cooktop With a Downdraft
A very practical cooktop with three power settings for the extractor. It has two mergeable elements for large oval cookware or a griddle pan, a dual power boil element, and a small plate with a melt function.
3 power level extractor
Merging bridge element
Rapid boil 9-inch dual element
Installation not so easy
Layout and Design
With the extractor vent in the middle, the layout of this cooktop is uncomplicated with the kobs neatly placed below. There are two small knobs in the front— one is a control lock and the other is for the downdraft extractor with three power settings. There is a separate hot surface indicator and a cooktop on indicator.
The design and features of the plates provide an ideal balance between versatility and ease of use. The left side elements are both 7-inch, 1800 watt plates for medium sized cookware good for frying, braising, simmering and boiling. There’s a proper bridge element between these so you can merge the surface to use with oval cookware or a smoothtop griddle pan.
The rear right 6-inch element is for smaller pots and it also includes a low heat melt function. The front right element is the dual element ranging from 6 to 9 inches. This element can be used for large pots or square braising pans, and can do rapid boiling with a top power rating of 3 000 watts.
The cooktop doesn't come with a cleaning kit, so you will have to buy your own, and for tougher metal stains you can also use vinegar. The knobs come off easily and they are also dishwasher friendly. Extra knobs are also available in white, black or stainless on the manufacturers website.
Apart from requiring a 240V / 208V hardwired connection with a 40 amp circuit breaker, the downdraft exhaust has to be vented to the outside. Never vent these appliances into a wall or an attic roof. Most people recommend hiring a professional to do the installation and duct work, and this newer model has slightly different ducting to the older ones. Also, the installation bracket is optional and is not included in the package.
Downdraft cooktops can be pricey, but this GE gives you just the right amount of flexibility and useful features at a reasonable price. The extractor works well and it is not excessively noisy.Check Latest Price on Amazon
3. K&H 2 Burner Radiant Cooktop - Best Value
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, or just want some good value for a two plate burner, this K&H radiant cooktop might interest you.
9 power settings
Two hot plate indicators
Two cook timers
Plates close together
The larger 7-inch rear plate heats up to 1 800 watts, and the smaller 6-inch front plate reaches 1 200 watts, so this cooktop is sufficient for basic cooking needs. There are 9 power settings for each plate. Other extras which make it well worth the price point are a child lock, overheat protection, and a hot plate indicator for both plates. The controls are fully digital, so it’s easy to clean, and there’s also a 99-minute cook timer with automatic shutdown for each plate.
The vast majority of users are really happy with how fast the burners react, the overall quality of the cooktop, and the affordable price. The only issue is that the space between the plates is a little tight, but this is common to most two burner cooktops.
Kitchen and Home (K&H) is a Germany based company that specialize in gas, induction and electric cooktops. Even though this is a two plate burner, it still needs to be hardwired to a 208 - 240V junction box with a 16 amp circuit breaker.
If you’re looking for a quality and affordable two plate burner for a kitchenette, a small apartment, a rental property, or a mobile home, this H&R electric cooktop is one of the best bargains you can get.Check Latest Price on Amazon
4. GE Profile PP7030SJSS 30 Smoothtop - Best 30 Inch Electric Cooktop
This 30 inch GE Profile cooktop has all the luxuries you can expect on a radiant smoothtop including a variety of plate sizes, two sync elements, an expandable rapid boil element, a dual element, as well as a keep warm and a melt function.
Red back lit controls
Keep warm and melt
Two sync elements
Red back lit controls
Keep warm and melt
Two sync elements
Layout and Design
If you like the features of this cooktop, make sure you’re comfortable with the front knob layout. If you’re unfamiliar with this layout, it might take some getting used to, especially if you have a short reach. The red, back lit knobs are nice, but the arced design wastes space on a 30 inch surface, and large cookware can cramp up the cooking surface.
The center knob is just a control panel lock, which would have been better as a touch button. Also, when you use the center element, your pot handles can get quite hot if you’re using the other plates.
The 7 inch top left element has the keep warm function, and it syncs with the element below to expand the cooking surface. However, these are not merging elements so there is a space in between where the heat is uneven, but a griddle pan works fine. They are both medium strength 1 500 watt elements.
The low heat melt function is on the 6 inch element in the top right corner, so all the low temperature functions are at the back. The fast boil center element is adjustable between 6 and 9 inches, so it can take a relatively large sized pot. The lower right element is a 5 and 8 inch 2 200 watt dual element suitable for small to medium sized cookware, and this element is good for braising, intense frying and also boiling.
If you want to use glass or ceramic earthenware, make sure they’re compatible with a glass smoothtop, or use a heat diffuser. Avoid porcelain because it can melt onto your cooktop at high temperatures. It can be a hassle cleaning around the arced knobs, and GE has a recommended cleaner for their cooktops, but other popular brands should work just as well.
If your cut out is too large for this 30 inch cooktop, an additional filler and trim kit is available separately. There’s also an alternative installation kit using wing nuts and brackets for additional support. Apart from a 240V / 208V hardwired connection, a 40 amp circuit breaker is required.
This cooktop performs really well and has all the high spec extras you can get on a radiant smoothtop. For a 30 inch cooktop, however, the knob design and spacing takes a bit of getting used to.Check Latest Price on Amazon
5. GE JP3536DJBB 36 Inch Smoothtop - Best 36 Inch Electric Cooktop
This is a very versatile cooktop with a practical layout. It includes functions such as keep warm, melt, rapid boil, as well as a 12-inch plate for large pots.
Front simmer > boil
Front rapid boil
Large 12-inch element
Keep warm and melt
Two adjustable elements
Front simmer > boil
Front rapid boil
Large 12-inch element
Keep warm and melt
Two adjustable elements
Layout and Design
A 36 inch cooktop is a lot more spacious, especially if you like to have a fifth element. GE uses an arced knob design on this cooktop, and this design works a lot better than it does on 30 inch models.
The layout of the elements and their features is a real plus for this cooktop. The left front dual element is ideal for both simmering and boiling, with adjustable rings from 5 to 8 inches. Right behind this is the 1 200 wattrear element which has the keep warm function, and the identical rear right element has the extra low heat melt function. The front left element is for rapid boiling, and it is also suited to braising. The center 2 700 watt dual element is for larger pots and has a 9 and 12 inch setting.
Other features on this cooktop are dishwasher friendly knobs, a hot surface indicator, cooktop on indicator, and control locks.
Maintenance and Installation
The only issue some people have is keeping the glass top clean, but if the recommended cleaner doesn’t work, then you should try a popular alternative. Like other GE cooktops it requires a 240V / 208V hardwired connection, and a 40 amp circuit breaker.
This is a very practical cooktop with an ideal layout suited to almost any style of cooking. It’s spacious enough, but there are no mergeable or bridge elements for griddle pans or large oval pots.Check Latest Price on Amazon
6. Ramblewood 30 Inch Electric Cooktop - Best With Digital Controls
This fully digital cooktop can accommodate a variety of pot sizes including a larger oval pot. Each plate can be set to a cook timer with automatic shutdown, so you have less to worry about.
Round expandable element
Oval cookware expandable element
Cook timers + auto shutdown
Hot plate indicator
Controls very sensitive
The main advantages of a digitally controlled cooktop are the minimalist design, easy integration of cook timers, and without knobs, it’s easier to clean. The downside being it takes time to get used to and master the touch controls. Like many similar digital cooktops, on this Ramblewood you have to be careful not to brush the controls because they are very sensitive. Therefore, it’s best to always engage the control lock.
The feature most appreciated on this cooktop are the two booster plates. The front left plate is good for low heat simmering with a 1 000 watt element, which can boost up to 2 200 watts for boiling or searing. The rear right ranges from 1 100 watts to 2 000, and expands to accommodate oval cookware like an enameled dutch oven casserole dish. The rear left element is 1 800 watts for medium sized pots, and the front right is 1 200 watts for smaller pots. All elements have up to 9 power settings.
Other features on this cooktop include a hot surface indicator, control locks, and a 99-minute cook timer with automatic shutdown that can be set individually for each plate. The cooktop needs to be hardwired to a 220V junction box, but there are additional instructions for using a 220V plug and faceplate. Ramblewood Green is a Colorado based kitchen appliance company focused on green technologies.
If you want a cooktop with a sleek and minimalist aesthetics which is not too pricey, this Ramblewood is a good choice. Independent cook timers for each plate, and two expandable elements are good value for the price.Check Latest Price on Amazon
7. Cusimax Portable Electric Stove - Best Single and Double Hot Plate
These Cusimax infrared portable burners have some distinct advantages over more expensive induction hotplates. They are very light, emit no EMF radiation, and come with an 18 month replacement warranty.
Single burner 1 200 W
Double burners 900 W
Compatible with most cookware
No EMF radiation
18 month warranty
Glass top slippery
Cusimax portable cooktops come as either a single burner or a double plated burner. The plates are 7.1 inches in diameter, and the only difference is that the single plate burner is 1 200 watts, while the double burner has two 900 watt plates. The single burner is better for searing, browning, intense boiling, or deep frying— while the double burner is more suited for general cooking and heating. The manual controls make it easy to use, but the glass top can be a little slippery with cookware.
These infrared burners heat up very quickly, but take about 15 minutes to cool down to a safe-to-touch temperature. The heat, and the heat indicator, cycle on and off while maintaining the selected temperature. Infrared burners are particularly safe because, unlike induction burners, they do not emit EMF radiation.
These burners also have an automatic safety shut off and they are compatible with most cookware including glass, aluminum, ceramics, cast iron, and stove top tea and coffee pots.
All Cusimax products come with an 18 month, free replacement warranty, and customers have no issue with service and returns. Depending on your vendor, you may also get a 30 day money back guarantee.
If you’re looking for a dependable portable burner that is both lightweight and safe all round, these cusimax infrared burners are our recommended choice.Check Latest Price on Amazon
Comparison Table of The Best Electric Cooktops
|Frigidaire 30 Inch||W 29.625 - 29.875 |
D 20.25 - 20.5
|38 lbs||Four: 9-inch 2 500W x 2, 6-inch 1 200W x 2|
|GE 30 Inch Downdraft||D 20.625 x W 28.875||40 lbs||Four: 2 mergeable 7-inch, 9-inch power boil, 6-inch melt element|
|K>H 12 Inch 2-plate||W 19 x D 10.8||10.5 lbs||Two: 7-inch 1 800W , 6-inch 1 200W|
|GE 30 Inch||W 28.5 x D 19.625||41 lbs||Five: 2 sync elements, melt, keep warm, power boil, dual.|
|GE 36 Inch||W 33.875 x D 19.125||47 lbs||Five: 2 expandable, keep warm, melt, rapid boil, 12-inch plate|
|RambleWood 30 Inch Digital||W 27.95 x D 18.9||29.9 lbs||Four: two adjustable, max. 2 200W, min.1 000W|
|Cusimax Portable||n/a||3.5 lbs|
|Single burner 1 200W, Double burner 900W x 2.|
How to Replace and Install an Electric Cooktop
1. Before You Start
- Make sure your old cooktop has not been used recently and is cooled down.
- Locate the breaker switch in your household circuit box and cut the electric current.
- Unscrew the junction box that houses the electrical connection below your cooktop and note the wire color connections. The new setup will be similar.
- Carefully unscrew the round wire caps, and at this point you can also double check the connection with a circuit tester.
2. Removing Your Old Cooktop
- After removing all the wires, you can proceed to lift the old cooktop out of its hold. You may require assistance for this, and you can also push the cooktop from below to get a better lift and grip on the cooktop glass lip.
- If you’re installing your first cooktop, you may need to do additional electrical work, and your cooktop will also need a 30 inch clearance above.
3. Preparing For Your New Cooktop
- Measure the width and length of the counter cut-out— and add between half an inch to an inch each side to account for the cooktop lip overhang.
- When you have found the right cooktop for your space, also check the electrical requirements to your junction box just to make sure.
4. Installing Your New Cooktop
- Your cooktop is secured in its place by a spring clip, so make sure this securely in its place before lowering the new cooktop into the hold.
- Reconnect the wires, clean off your cooktop, and switch the circuit back on.
Go here for more detailed and step by step instructions.
Modern cooktops have an array of convenient features, and if you’re getting your first cooktop, our selection of the best electrical cooktops will help you on your way to an exciting new cooking experience. If you have any comments to add or questions to ask, please use the comment feature below. We are always here for you.