Buying Guide: Gas Stoves vs. Electric Stoves
Many people have a strong preference for either gas or electric cooking, and a strong dislike for the other option. Gas and electric stoves each have their own unique advantages and disadvantages involving upkeep, price, efficiency, safety and not least of all, the cooking experience itself.
Deciding whether to buy a gas or electric stove involves more than just cooking. You may want to start by considering:
- Cleaning: For an effortless, pristine, shiny stovetop, a solid-top electric is the way to go. These stoves have either a glass or ceramic top with no crevices for spills to fall into. Any spills can be quickly and completely wiped away. For easy cleanup with a gas stove, look for one that has sealed burners. Both gas and electric ranges are available with self-cleaning ovens.
- Convenience: If you are simply replacing a worn-out stove, the easiest option is to buy the current version of the brand and model stove you currently have. You and your family won't spend the extra time required to adjust to a new system.
- Cost: If budget is a concern, electric stoves are usually the less expensive option. You can expect to pay between $75 and $250 less for an electric range than its gas equivalent.
- Ecology: As we all try to reduce our carbon footprints, energy use becomes an important factor when choosing a cooking method. Because gas burners create instant heat, and instant control of that heat as you adjust the flame, gas cooking is considered the greener option. To further increase energy efficiency, newer gas stoves use electric ignition, which can reduce your gas use by up to 40 percent over traditional pilot lights.
- Safety: Both gas and electric stoves are generally safe when used properly. Gas stoves, however, require some extra caution since natural gas is highly flammable and dangerous to inhale. If you have a gas stove, be sure your home has a carbon monoxide detector. Check pilot lights regularly to make sure they haven't gone out and keep flammable liquids away from the stove area.
Solid-Top Electric Stove
Your Cooking Experience
Professional chefs generally agree that stovetop cooking is best with gas because you'll have very precise control of temperature when you adjust the flame. Another advantage of gas is that when you turn off the flame, the heat stops immediately, unlike electric, so you don't have to rush to move your cookware away from the burner when your dish is complete. Last but not least, you can roast marshmallows on a gas stove!
Bakers on the other hand, tend to prefer electric ovens for these reasons:
- Electric ovens provide more uniform heat than gas ovens.
- Electric ovens brown foods more evenly than gas ovens.
If you do most of your food preparation on your stovetop, you may prefer a gas range, while if you use the oven more often than the stovetop, you might be happier with electric cooking.
Some people use both equally, which complicates the choice. To get the best of both worlds, you might be interested in a duel fuel stove, which has an electric oven and a gas cooktop. These combination ranges can be expensive, however, with prices of $1,500 or more.
Converting Your Cooking
What if your house is set up for one type of cooking and you have your heart set on the other? Converting your cooking appliances isn't all that difficult:
- Converting from Gas to Electric: To safely run an electric stove, you'll need to have a 240-volt power supply installed in your kitchen if you don't already have one. This does add to the initial cost of electric cooking, however, it is less expensive than installing a gas line if your home doesn't have gas service.
- Converting from Electric to Gas: For gas cooking, you'll need a ready source of gas. If your neighborhood has natural gas, you can have a line run directly to your home. You'll need a professional to safely hook up and install your gas stove.
Not every neighborhood has natural gas lines. If you don't have access to natural gas, you can still enjoy gas cooking by using propane. Propane is delivered to a tank safely outside your home, with lines running to your gas stove. You'll then be able to cook with an open flame burner, just like you would with natural gas. Experts recommend professional installation and maintenance for propane cooking.
Making Your Decision
Gas and electric stoves both have distinct advantages and disadvantages, and opinions vary widely. You can make wonderful meals with either option, and ultimately the decision between them is a matter of personal choice. By carefully considering your budget and cooking style, you'll be able to choose a stove that is just right for you.