Should you choose a cooktop or a range top? While both options offer convenience and excellent heating, I recommend cooktops for small kitchens and budgets. If you have the space and proper ventilation, range tops offer more power and durability.
Kitchen appliances are important purchases. They have a large influence on the functionality and beauty of the kitchen, and they can be large investments. So it’s important to find the right ones.
You might be wondering what the difference is between cooktops and range tops. Are they the same thing? Which one is easier to install in countertops? Are there other options available?
These questions are completely normal. Fortunately, I’ve answered those questions and more in this article. You’ll read about the differences between cooktops and range tops. You’ll also find tips to help you choose which one would be the best fit for your kitchen.
Ready to learn more? Let’s jump right in.
Is a Cooktop the Same as a Range?
Both cooktops and range tops are designed to save space. They provide a cooking surface without including an oven.
Cooktops and range tops are ideal for people who just want more cooking space or for those who already have built-in ovens somewhere else in the kitchen.
Despite the similarities, there are a few differences between cooktops and rangetops. Read more about those differences below.
What Is the Difference Between a Cooktop and Range Top?
You might see the terms “cooktop” and “range top” used interchangeably, but there are some differences between the two appliances.
The main difference between cooktops and range tops relates to the installation method and control features.
A range top features similar dimensions as a full range but without the oven below. You install a range top above drawers or kitchen cabinets. It’s installed as a slide-in unit into a cutout of countertop space. Range tops feature control knobs on the front of the appliance.
A cooktop is also installed above drawers or kitchen cabinets, but it features controls on the top of the appliance.
A cooktop is a drop-in unit that requires you to cut out a portion of the kitchen counter, but you’ll still have four sides of countertop surrounding your cooktop.
The average cooktop has only one power burner (alongside three or four other secondary burners), while a standard range top may have all power burners.
For a summary of the key differences, see the chart below:
|Power Types||Electric, Gas, Induction||Electric, Gas|
|Location of Controls||On Top||In Front|
|Best Case||Everyday Cooking||Professional, Heavy-Duty Cooking|
Pros and Cons of Cooktops
Cooktops, also called stovetops, are designed for everyday home use. They come in a range of widths, from apartment-sized 24-inch (61 cm) and standard 30-inch (76 cm) models to larger widths of 36 inches (91 cm).
- Cooktops are available in gas, electric, or induction models.
- The control panel is on top of the cooktop surface, which makes it difficult for young kids to reach. Some cooktops offer touch controls for convenience.
- Cooktops are smaller and take up less kitchen space.
- Cooktops feature a slim profile that gives the kitchen a seamless look.
- Cooktops are easier to clean.
- If you do a lot of heavy cooking, the small size may feel limiting.
- Most cooktops come with fewer professional features than the average range top.
- The controls might be difficult to reach if you have pots and pans on the cooking surface.
- The risk of burns increases if you try to reach the control knobs while cooking.
Pros and Cons of Range Tops
Range tops are ideal for professional chefs or home cooks who want a commercial-style kitchen. They have superior cooking power and offer better control. They also cook quickly, saving you precious time.
- Range tops are available in gas or electric models.
- Range tops can withstand heavy use and are suited for a home or professional kitchen.
- Range tops are larger and offer more cooking space.
- Cooking knobs on the front of the appliance for easy access, even with multiple pots on the burners.
- Rangetops tend to have more professional features.
- The larger size might be too bulky for a home kitchen.
- A rangetop requires a countertop cutout for installation.
- The control location might present safety concerns for small children.
- Rangetop models tend to be more expensive than cooktops.
Types of Cooktops
Gas cooktops are powered by either natural gas or propane gas. They are durable and compatible with all types of cookware. They also require no warm-up time.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective cooktop that saves time, gas cooktops are a great option.
Want to know the best cookware for gas cooktops? Check out my list of the best pots and pans for a gas cooktop.
Electric cooktops are affordable, easy to clean, and compatible with all types of cookware. They also require no open flame, so an electric cooktop is safer in some ways than a gas cooktop.
But there are a few drawbacks.
Electric cooktops are slower to heat and cool than their gas counterparts. They won’t cook as precisely as gas or induction cooktops. And once you’re done using an electric cooktop, you have to wait for the heating element to cool down before it’s safe to touch.
Induction cooktops have recently risen in popularity, and it’s not hard to see why. Induction models offer unmatched efficiency and safety.
Induction cooktops work by creating an electromagnetic field, so there is no open flame or hot coils. The cookware essentially becomes the heating element. Induction cooktops deliver fast, consistent results with superior precision and heat control.
Induction cooking has a lot of advantages, but you can expect to pay more for an induction cooktop. Additionally, this type of cooktop requires magnetic cookware.
Cast iron, carbon steel, and magnetic stainless steel pots and pans are your best bet.
Not sure which cookware to get for your induction cooktop? Read more about the best induction cookware sets.
Types of Range Tops
Gas Range Tops
A gas range top offers better control and instant changes in heat while cooking. With multiple cooking elements, you can cook food quickly and efficiently.
Many models have continuous cast-iron grates for easy movement of pots and pans. Some also offer a dual-stacked design with two distinct flame-port tiers: one that delivers high heat for boiling and another that produces a low flame for simmering.
Electric Range Tops
An electric range is not as common as gas, but it has its advantages. Electric models feature a smooth cooking surface that’s easy to clean. Spills and messes can be wiped away with a damp towel.
Additionally, an electric range top’s cooking elements do not generate a lot of ambient heat, so you don’t have to worry about heating up the kitchen during the cooking process.
Electric range tops are more affordable than gas, as well. Unless your kitchen is already equipped with wiring for gas cooking appliances, electric units are the more economical option.
Why Should I Choose Range Tops or Cooktops Over a Range?
There are a few reasons someone might opt for a range top or cooktop over a full range with oven.
For starters, you might prefer to have a wall oven. Wall ovens can save lower cabinet space, and they give a high-end aesthetic to the kitchen. But you’ll still need something for stovetop cooking, which is where a cooktop comes in.
Secondly, some people like having a stovetop on their kitchen island. While it’s possible to have a standard range with an oven in an island, it’s certainly not common.
Most people who prefer that configuration choose to separate the oven and the stove.
Lastly, separating the stove from the oven allows you to spread out the cooking tasks. If you’ve ever prepared a holiday dinner, you know how cramped it can get in the kitchen.
Spacing out cooking appliances is a great idea for relieving traffic jams and optimizing the workflow.
Watch as Steve Sheinkopf from Yale Appliance explains what to consider before choosing between a standard range and a separate stove top with wall oven:
Can I Replace a Cooktop with a Range Top?
You can replace a cooktop with a range top, but it can be a somewhat tricky process. You must have adequate ventilation for a range top. It’s also necessary to have the correct dimensions cut out of the countertop.
Furthermore, you have to consider the type of power. If you currently have a gas cooktop, you should get a gas range top. If you currently have an electric cooktop, it will be easier to install an electric range top, rather than gas.
If you’re looking to replace your cooktop with a range top, I recommend consulting with a professional to check the dimensions and ensure proper installation.
Why Is a Cooktop Called a Range?
Cooking appliances come in many forms. And with all the terms (oven, stove, cooktop, range top, stovetop, range), no wonder it gets confusing!
If you want to choose the right appliance, however, it’s helpful to have the right terminology.
A cooktop is often called a range because that’s what we’ve heard others say. But technically they’re different, even though there’s some overlap.
Here’s a quick rundown of the correct terms for each type of kitchen appliance:
An oven is an enclosed chamber that heats or cooks food.
A stove is any device that uses fuel to generate heat. It can be for cooking food or for other purposes (e.g., wood burning stove).
A stove top consists of one or more burners that are used to heat or cook food. The stovetop might be attached to the oven, or it might be separate. When it’s separate, it’s also called a cooktop.
A cooktop consists of one or more burners that exist separate and apart from the oven. It’s installed on the countertop. This is a popular option for kitchens with a separate wall oven.
A range top is similar to a cooktop but has control knobs on the front. It’s installed as a slide-in unit, instead of being dropped down into the countertop.
A range is a combination kitchen appliance that includes a cooktop and an oven. This is one of the most common configurations in American kitchens.
What to Consider Before Choosing a Cooktop vs. Rangetop
Your kitchen’s size is a major factor. You’ll have to determine how much counter space you’re willing to sacrifice, as well as whether or not to hire a professional.
You also want to consider the amount of cooking you normally do. Do you have a large family? Avid home cooks might need something with more space or with more power burners.
The type of cooking power you prefer is another factor. Both cooktops and range tops come in electric and gas models, but only cooktops offer induction cooking options.
While cooktops offer a basic design, many range tops have professional-style features like a built-in griddle or grill, for instance. Other features like touch controls might be on your wishlist, as well.
You’ll want to choose the type of unit that matches your cooking needs.
Cooktops vs. Range Tops: Last Thoughts
The bottom line? When it comes to choosing between a cooktop vs. rangetop, it largely boils down to personal preference. Both cooking elements can heat food and prove to be convenient.
If you have a small kitchen or want more counter space, I would go with a cooktop. If you want top-of-the-line features or something super durable, I would go with a rangetop.