When the time comes to upgrade kitchen appliances, many of us consider trying something new or different. For example, if we’ve always used a gas stove, we may consider switching to an electric range — or vice versa. And when it comes to gas stoves versus electric stoves, we may wonder which of the two would represent an upgrade.
Is it the gas stove with its instant heat and pilot light? Or the electric stove with its typical metal burners? Which saves money, time and/or energy? Which makes a better Dutch apple pie?
It’s generally accepted that professionals prefer gas over electric stoves.
“Professional chefs rely on speed and dependability to serve foods to restaurant patrons,” writes HomeSteady.com. “Additionally, gas stove tops are precise and provide cooks with a greater degree of control in how much heat is applied to the undersurface of pots, pans and cookware. The flame of a gas range also heats more evenly. Overall, when it comes to cooking on the stovetop, gas stoves heat up faster than electric stovetops.”
But if you’re not a professional chef, do these and other differences make that big of a, well, difference? Let’s dig into a little deeper into the comparison between electric and gas stoves and ovens and see if we can draw some helpful distinctions.
Gas vs. Electric Stoves
Quick note: When we refer to electric stoves, we’re including those with electric coils as well as those with flat (or smoothtop) ranges with glass or ceramic burners.
Heating Time: Gas ovens heat up more quickly than their electric counterparts. Electric stoves must heat the cold coils with electricity; gas stoves emit heat instantly with a gas flame. However, as Consumer Reports argues, electric ranges perform better than gas when measuring the speed at which the stovetop reaches “high heat.”
“Of the 62 electric smoothtop ranges in our ratings,” they write, “only one fails to earn a rating of Very Good or Excellent in our cooktop high test. On the flip side, most of the gas ranges in our ratings earn a Good score in that test, and not a single model earns the top rating of Excellent.”
Cooking Time: Since oven heating times must necessarily be included in any assessment of cooking time, gas ovens would seem to be the clear winner here. EssentialHomeAndGarden.com explains that “once the flame is lit on a gas oven the heat begins instantly and can be easily adjusted based on the size of the flame, allowing for faster cook times and higher temperatures.”
Electric coils take more time to heat up, and they adjust more slowly. They do retain their heat longer, however. And once again Consumer Reports says that electric ranges are better at maintaining simmer or low heat settings.
Costs and Safety
Initial Costs: Gas stovetops tend to cost more upfront than electric stovetops. But as always, there’s a wide range of options that make such a determination less simple than it first appears. For example, does the gas stove have an electric ignition or a pilot light? If it’s electric, is it an induction model or a standard? Shop around, you may be surprised at how much variety there is — both in terms of models and options as well as prices.
Operating Costs: Over time, gas stoves cost less to operate than electric ones. Of course, this depends on multiple factors. For example, how often will the appliance be used? What is the cost of natural gas versus electricity in your area?
Safety: Both gas and electric ovens and stoves are extremely safe to operate. However, the presence of flammable gases and open flames make a gas stove a little less safe than an electric one. With proper precautions, however, you shouldn’t have any troubles or worries.
Maintenance Costs: For both stove and oven types, cleaning will likely be the only maintenance you’ll ever need. Electric stovetops are much easier to clean, and many come with self-cleaning ovens. Gas stoves and ovens, on the other hand, require a little more work to get them clean. This is usually because you’ll need to lift the grate away in order to clean the element itself.
Like many things in life, the choice really comes down to personal preference, budget, and whether or not we’re willing to try something new. Gas models vs. electric models is one such decision, and you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons to reach a decision that works for you and your family. This includes, of course, connecting to the city’s gas lines, if you choose to get a gas stove or gas cooktop.
As Bob Vila writes, “More often than not, the type of stove you prefer boils down to what you learned to cook on. Burgeoning chefs may be swayed by the versatility and accuracy provided by the flame heating of gas stoves. Meanwhile, parents with young children may switch to an electric stove, seeing it as the safer of the two. Families also appreciate the easy-clean virtues of electric stoves. Strong as one’s personal preference may be, economics play a role too: Depending on where you live, one or the other stove type might be cheaper to operate.”
Questions? Get in touch with Prairie Electric today!