Editor's Note: This article last updated September 14, 2015.
Your stove is the most important part of your kitchen, helping you create both everyday dinners and holiday feasts for your friends and family. There are many different stove models available, and it can be difficult to narrow down your choices. There are advantages to both gas and electric ranges, and the ultimate choice comes down to what you use your stove for.
A major consideration for anyone purchasing a new kitchen range is cost. Overall, electric ranges are less expensive to manufacture, making them less expensive to purchase. The cost is also significantly less since your kitchen is likely prewired for an electric range. It can be costly to have a gas line installed in an existing property.
You may also want to consider the safety of a gas stove compared to an electric stove. Both have inherent risks. You may feel more comfortable with the lasting heat on the electric stovetop than the danger of a gas leak. The open flame of a gas range can easily burn something or someone by accident. However, it is more obvious to the naked eye than a still-hot electric element, and therefore easy to avoid burns.
There are more factors to consider when making your choice beyond just cost and safety. Consider the pros and cons listed below as you make a decision about which stove is best for your cooking needs.
Easy to Clean: A smooth-top electric range is the easiest type to clean, but a coil-element style range is also fairly easy to clean. You simply lift up the element and clean the stovetop without moving any other parts out of the way.
Even Surface: Smooth-top electric ranges are more stable for pots and pans than stoves with coil-elements, which are more stable than grates on gas stoves. An electric stovetop’s even surface can serve as additional counter or storage space when not in use. With a smooth top, you also don’t have to worry about oil pooling on one side of a pan as a result of a tilted element.
Ignition: To turn a burner on, you simply twist its knob and the stovetop element begins heating up immediately. An ignitor is not required to light your burner. An electric oven also heats up faster than a gas oven and heats consistently.
Extra Features: Electric ranges come with more optional features, such as fans and grillers, than their gas counterparts. Some models even have a fifth element that heats up only enough to keep food warm.
Heat Distribution: The heat in an electric oven is drier and more evenly distributed compared to a gas oven, which is better for baking and roasting most types of food.
Power Source: If the power goes out, you can’t cook.
Durability: A smooth ceramic cooktop can shatter if you drop a heavy item on it or splash cold water on a hot burner. You can also scratch the top with a cast-iron pot and ruin the shiny finish.
Heats Quickly: The flame on a gas stovetop lights immediately, giving you instant heat, and you can control the heat level with precision. When you turn the flame off, the food can stay on the range without worry of overcooking because the elements cool quickly.
Fuel Source: Gas ranges operate on either propane or natural gas, both of which are relatively inexpensive and clean burning. You save money in the long run by using gas rather than electricity to cook your food.
Broiling Temperature: If you like to broil, a gas oven can provide an appealing unevenness to your food, such as with potatoes or cheese on French onion soup.
Heat Distribution: Oven temperatures are hotter at the top of your gas oven, so baking requires rotation and placement farther from the heat source. Gas gives off moisture, creating a humid heat rather than the dry heat required for effective roasting.
Flame Stability: If you have an open window near your stove, the wind can diminish or put out your gas flame cooktop. This can be annoying if you are cooking fish or something similarly smelly and want to air out your home as you cook.
Difficult to Clean: Cleaning your gas cooktop involves moving the heavy cast-iron burner grates. Each burner has moving parts that can be knocked out of place by accident and result in uneven flames next time you turn your stove on.