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I have recently moved house and one of the downsides is that I'm now stuck with an electric stove instead of a gas stove which was in the previous house.

I'm not liking it one bit:

  • It takes too long to heat up (I have to pre-heat it like an oven)
  • You can't do any funky stuff with the open flame, like charring the skins off capsicums so you can peel them

Okay, I see some advantages:

  • Easier to keep clean
  • Flatter stovetop means less chance of a pot falling over

But seriously - I don't think any professional or keen amateur chef would be able to argue that an electric stovetop is better than gas.

I'd like to replace it with a gas stove in the near future. In the meantime, can anyone convince me that electric is better?

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James Beard famously advocated the use of electric stoves. –  kevins Aug 30 '10 at 21:02
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10 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Can I convince you that electric is better? No, I can't, because I don't think it is. The issue I have is related to how long it takes to warm up (and cool down). Electric cook tops just don't respond quickly. Little too hot? Too bad, nothing you can do about it (in time to save a dish that's starting to burn anyway). Not hot enough? Check back in 2 or 3 minutes. I find this particularly irritating when a recipe requires varying heats while cooking. Sorry I don't have better news for you.

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Too hot? Lift the pan up, or move it. If you're good at flipping stuff in a pan, do that, as it'll help cool the food off even faster. –  Joe Aug 30 '10 at 20:22
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You know you can always take the pan to somewhere that's not the stove, right? If you're not on a glass-top unit, and you're not dealing with liquids, you can even tip the pan so it's not making good contact w/ the burner (which helps the burner cool off faster) –  Joe Aug 30 '10 at 22:36
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@Mike, maybe this is just a semantic thing, but I think of electric cook tops as the ones with coils that heat up and induction cook tops as a completely different thing. So I'm sticking with my answer, especially given the question that was initially asked. –  yossarian Aug 31 '10 at 14:17
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@Mike Scott, for normal people, "electric cooktop" always and only means "traditional resistor-based electric cooktop". If we want to talk about induction cooktops, we say... wait for it... "induction cooktop". –  Marti Dec 30 '10 at 4:22
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@Mike, I don't know why this was revived, but you are dead wrong. While your explanation is technically correct, no one calls it a resistive cooktop. They call it electric. And no one says electric inductive, they say induction. The fact that you want to nitpick what's technically correct is completely irrelevant to the way people actually talk. –  yossarian Jan 4 '11 at 18:05
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Well, with an electric you get

  • Modestly less fire hazard
  • No gas leak hazard

but I'd generally take gas.

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One could add no soot accumulation over the years, but that's still not enough to tip the balance. –  papin Aug 30 '10 at 19:31
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Moderately less fire hazard? I'd argue significantly less, even though I have set an electric stove on fire. Although, luckily, 1970's fashion with large open sleaves are gone. –  Joe Aug 30 '10 at 20:38
    
@Joe: I don't really have any way to quantify it, and I didn't want to over state the case. –  dmckee Aug 30 '10 at 20:41
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I found it is much easier to keep the heat quite low with an electric stove. As for a quick response when the pot is too hot, just slide it off the burner. This is particularly easy with the flat tops.

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What the others say is true, but ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE for an electric induction cooker!!

I used to think gas was better until I also moved into a flat with no gas. I was soon sick of it but I discovered induction and changed the basic electric cooker for an induction one.

Now I know that an induction cooker is even better than gas because:

  1. It responds instantly like gas.
  2. It puts out more energy than gas and thus boils quicker.
  3. It's more controllable than gas. My hob has 19 digital settings, so once you know to set it at 5.5 for boiling pasta, you always set it at that and it's the same every time.
  4. It doesn't heat up your kitchen like gas (or other electric stoves) because the induction effect causes the pan itself to heat and not the hob, so less waste heat.
  5. It's MUCH easier to clean than gas, since it's a flat glass plate and as it doesn't heat up, any spills don't burn on.
  6. It's much safer than gas. No chance of an explosion and no gas smells. Also, the hob only gets hot from the heat from the pans, so much less chance of burning yourself if you touch it.

Downside is that you need pans that work with an induction cooker. Almost all modern pans do. Just check a pan with a fridge magnet - if the magnet sticks, it should work with induction.

Also, induction is not cheap. However, you can buy small single or double ring worktop models that just plug in to a socket to augment your existing cooker if you don't want to go the whole way and completely replace it.

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Induction is a different game from resistive heat: I've only use one for a sort time, but found it much better. Likewise, the glasstop has some advantage over coils and open flame. –  dmckee Aug 30 '10 at 15:08
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Good answer, but unfortunately, I think the OP is trying to get someone to convince them that their current electric stove is ok and doesn't need to be replaced. You've just suggested that he replace it with something even more expensive than the OP was planning! :o) –  yossarian Aug 30 '10 at 16:43
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yossarian, he's planning to replace it: "...I'd like to replace it with a gas stove in the near future..." I was suggesting he might like to investigate induction as an alternative to gas. –  Mike Scott Aug 31 '10 at 14:01
    
additionally, I added "However, you can buy small single or double ring worktop models that just plug in to a socket to augment your existing cooker if you don't want to go the whole way and completely replace it." –  Mike Scott Aug 31 '10 at 14:02
    
I have to say that this fails to answer the question that was asked. In normal English usage, "electric stove" always refers to the traditional resistor-coil technology, not to induction/magnet-based technology. To refer to the latter, the proper term is "induction stove". –  Marti Dec 30 '10 at 4:30
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Good electric stoves often put out the same or more power (BTUs/hr) than gas stoves, and they are more efficient at transmitting the heat, as it is via conduction not radiation. This means that on a good electric stove, water will boil faster, heavy pans will heat up faster, etc. By a "good electric stove" I mean one that does not have a glass pane over the element, as these are horrible at conducting heat and take forever to heat up.

Additionally, as was pointed out above, electric stoves have the ability to maintain a lower temperature than gas stoves. So electric has a better range of heat (cooler to hotter), while gas is quicker to adjust. Still, for the home chef, switching to another burner shouldn't be a problem if you need quick adjustments in temperature.

See also this comparison.

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"as it is via conduction not radiation" Citation needed. Both gas and electric transfer by both conduction and radiation. Glass-ceramic cooktops work entirely by radiation. –  endolith Dec 28 '11 at 15:50
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Besides what @dmckee mentioned :

  • No pilot light, so you're only using fuel when you need it. (except for the clock, if you have one)
  • No failed electric starter, and having to go find matches for those that don't have a pilot.
  • No chance of explosion from when you tried setting the gas so low the burner blows out.

update :

  • doesn't use hydrocarbons, could be make 'green' by using electricity from replenish-able sources (hydro, wind, solar) or nuclear. (unfortunately, you then have the issue of conversion and transmission loss, so if you're in an coal or gas power plant area, it's less green)
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If I had my perfect stove, it would have an electric oven for more precise temperatures with less variance and gas burners for faster, hotter (and I think more efficient) heating.

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You're in luck -- these not only exist, they're actually quite common at the high-end. –  Pinko Sep 4 '10 at 4:49
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The only advantage of an electric stove is that you can use it in a place where there is no gas. There are far fewer places that have gas but no electricity.

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You can easily convert natural gas stoves to propane, and have it delivered just about anywhere. Its fairly common in the more rural parts of the southwest. –  KeithB Aug 30 '10 at 13:40
    
And the midwest, and the south... –  kajaco Aug 30 '10 at 13:59
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The flip side of this is cooking on a gas stove while the power is out (which was the case for me for two days after a hurricane once). Later I had a five day outage with an electric, but I was able to make do with my camp stove. –  dmckee Aug 30 '10 at 18:57
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Cooking rice. Depends on the type of stove, but this type is great for cooking rice: Add rice, salt, and right amount of water to a pot; bring to the boil; switch off once boiling and you have perfect rice 20 minutes later.

Unfortunately this, and the before-mentioned ability to keep low temperatures, are the only advantages I can think of.

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Safety

Electric ranges do not rely on gas flames, which could potentially trigger a fire. Also, if a pilot light goes out on a gas range, the room can fill up with toxic and noxious gases, which are unsafe to inhale. Many electric stoves come with a light that indicates when one of the burners is on and hot, warning those around the stove not to touch the surface.

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Posting promotional links is not allowed. Links should either be citations or provide additional context for an answer. –  Aaronut Feb 15 '12 at 16:59
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