When it comes to buying an electric stove/range, buyers have two major choices. You can opt for the traditional coil stove top or you can purchase one with a smooth, glass-ceramic surface. Both choices have key advantages and disadvantages; knowing the differences can help you make the right choice.
Coils, sometimes erroneously called rings or burners, are constructed of spiral steel tubing that houses a heating element that’s powered by mains electricity. Anything placed on these coils is heated in the normal way. Levels of heat are usually controlled by dials that cause a variety of resistances and the temperature will rise and fall accordingly but with a significant time lag.
Ceramic cooktops are a type of toughened glass with useful physical properties that allow heat or infrared radiation through to the pan or other items of cookware without expansion or significant heat dissipation. The resulting flat surface has a number of practical and aesthetic advantages over its conventional cousin.
Coil based cooktops generally occupy the cheaper end of the market as they are the simplest technology and relatively inexpensive to produce. This leaves ceramics to be at the premium end and command a higher price tag.
Both types produce heat relatively rapidly with ceramic having the edge, although neither is as instantaneous as gas. It’s in the cooling down department that the ceramic top has a distinct advantage. Once the metal on the coil is hot it takes a while to cool down, the heat passes through the ceramic surface so it retains less heat. Also, the heat is more focused from beneath the ceramic plate so other parts of the cooktop stay cool. When a pan is boiling or the elements are glowing red, it’s obvious that the parts are hot enough to burn the skin but when everything is turned off residual heat remains much longer in the metal coils which causes a greater safety hazard.
Electric coil stove tops can be a bit of a chore to clean with all those nooks and crannies but since they are made of untreated steel, it doesn’t matter if a harsh abrasive cleaner is used. Ceramics have been toughened but aren’t indestructible. Using special ceramic cleaner and a soft cloth is the best way to ensure that your cooktop stays untarnished. Also, clean-up spills quickly so that they don’t bake onto the surface and leave a permanent mark.
Durability in Use.
Again, when it comes to cookware, coil stove tops can handle nearly any pot or pan you put on them. Special care needs to be given to ceramic surfaces, course pans like untreated cast iron can cause scratching. Heavy cookware is not recommended. If you haven’t noticed it yet, ceramic surfaces can be prone to scratching. Setting anything on them (grocery bags for instance) can cause cooktop damage. Coil stove tops win the battle of durability.
Aesthetics are usually the number one reason people choose glass ceramic. Burners on ceramic stove tops are hidden within the top of the range which gives them a sleek, attractive look over their electric coil counterparts. So a brand new glass-ceramic surface will always win a beauty pageant but with like all beauty it can fade if not taken care of.
In summary, if you want a beautiful electric range top and are prepared to pay extra for it and put the effort into looking after it, go for ceramic. If you want something a bit cheaper and want it to be durable and keep reasonable looking then coils are your best bet.