Whether you are buying, building or remodeling your home, many people would agree that the most important room in the house is the kitchen. Somehow this is the place where everyone loves to congregate, where families eat together, where children and teenagers seek out snacks, where company wants to linger. And this   all occurs amid the delicious smells of home cooking.

The trend in kitchen design today is moving away from those serviceable but bulky standing ovens that take up so much precious space. Instead, designers are turning to handy and attractive wall ovens, which also are safer, more convenient and less intrusive. However, this means your oven offers no cooktop, and you certainly need a place for burners for your daily and special-occasion meal preparation.

This is where those glossy electric cooktops come in. With the versatile and flexible electric cooktops, you can put them on any countertop or kitchen island, or just about any place where stovetop cooking would make sense for you. These ceramic cooktops are stylish, resourceful and convenient. While you are busily getting a meal ready, you can simply push a button or turn a knob to adjust the size of a burner or pinpoint the precise temperature you want for efficient, even cooking for a special dish.

We looked at electric cooktops from the most popular appliance manufacturers and identified a healthy variety of models. Our product lineup includes a variety of stovetop burner configurations, control options and safety features. To learn more, you can also check out our articles about electric cooktops.

What Is Important in Selecting an Electric Cooktop?

We focused on ceramic glass cooktops instead of coiled burners. The design is contemporary, easier to clean and safer because there is no open flame to worry about. The best electric cooktops have touch controls and an assortment of burner elements, giving you the freedom to heat up pots and pans of any size. Some even offer a bridge heating zone that spans two burners so you can put a roasting pan, griddle or huge pot in that area and cook a gigantic meal.

For convenience, some cooktops have the ability to bring liquids to boil quickly or adjust temperatures automatically. Any appliance that heats up poses a fire risk, so it is always best to get the safest and most reliable appliance available as well. An important safety feature is an indicator light for each burner or the cooktop surface to show you when anything is unsafe to touch or use as counter space, even after you've shut off the cooktop. If you have children, a child lock is also essential to keep them from turning on the cooktop or messing with the settings.

What Else Should You Look for in an Electric Cooktop?

The most important thing to consider when choosing an electric cooktop is how versatile it is. The best ceramic cooktops combine many different burner configurations in a limited space. Others have dual or triple burners, which you can adjust to fit perfectly with the size of the pot. You should look for a high wattage. Electric cooktops should have at least one burner that reaches 3,000 watts, giving you the ability to reach a fast boil.

As far as aesthetics, most people agree that electric cooktops look much better than old stoves with coiled burners. Ceramic glass cooktops are sleek and flat, allowing them to double as counter space when not in use. For many people, the touch controls are best if they are placed in the middle so the cook doesn't have to reach over a burner to make adjustments. However, some consumers prefer control buttons or knobs. These take more work to clean and, to a degree, limit how effectively you can use the cooktop as extra prep space, but some cooks swear by them, since they can control temperatures the way they like.

The options available on many electric cooktops make cooking dinner easier and less dangerous. Control locks render the cooktop unusable, meaning your curious children will no longer have unsafe knobs to play with. The burners mimic the look of coiled heat, displaying internal red lights that indicate when the heat is on or off. The lights even stay on after the cooktop is off, letting you know when the range is safe to touch. The best cooktops even allow you to preset the temperatures. For example, you can choose a time frame to boil water and have the cooktop automatically adjust to simmer without you having to get up.

Our Suggestions: Which Electric Cooktop Would Suit Your Needs?

The electric cooktops on our product lineup can work very well in any kind of kitchen. They are all excellent products made by reputable manufacturers. However, each is slightly different from the others. Some would suit certain types of cooks and kitchen configurations better than others.

Best for a Large Kitchen: Electrolux / KitchenAid

The handsome Electrolux EI36EC45KS takes up considerable space on your countertop, since it is 36.75 inches wide and 21.75 inches deep, but if you love cooking, this will be space put to good use. This glossy black ceramic cooktop has five burners, with two featuring double or triple heating elements so you can use pots and pans of differing sizes. You get a quick-boil feature of 3,200 watts on one burner, a total of 19 power levels and 25 push-button preset options that you can save.

The KitchenAid KECC667BSS is another electric cooktop that reaches 36 inches across. On it, you get a big triple burner, two double burners and two single burners, with a total of nine different heating configurations. This ceramic cooktop also provides the rarely seen simmer and melt functions that are beloved by cooks who enjoy making sauces, melting chocolate for desserts and other low-heat tasks. The five burners all provide a rapid boil capability and also give you consistent heat, which makes it possible to prepare a multitude of dishes without worrying that one will either burn or be undercooked.

Best for Smaller Spaces: LG / Whirlpool Gold

You might live somewhere with a somewhat small kitchen, but that doesn't have to cramp your style as a great cook. The LG LCE3010SB measures only 30 inches across, but it features five radiant-heat burners, including two that have dual-size heating elements, three that are helpful for general cooking, and one 6-inch burner dedicated solely to keeping foods warm. In all, there are nine heat settings. One burner also gives you a rapid boil capability, which is great for busy evenings when everyone is hungry and you have to get food fixed quickly. The slim size of this attractive cooktop does not restrict your culinary creativity.

Versatility is the name of the game with the 30-inch Whirlpool Gold G9CE3065XS. This five-burner glass cooktop uses less space in your kitchen than other electric cooktops, but the burners still offer multiple functions. Four can handle standard cookware, with the fifth offering a double heating element that expands from 6 to 10 inches. You also get a unique feature, AccuSimmer Plus, on each burner that permits quite low temperatures for foods that require only gentle heat. You also get a fast boil capability and a warming option that goes as low as 20 watts. This cooktop might be slim, but it is quite versatile.

Best for Hands-On Cooks: Frigidaire / Maytag / Kenmore

While many people love the button kinds of controls, other cooks are stalwart believers in being able to adjust the heat on their electric cooktops with the tactile benefit of knobs. The Maytag MEC9536BS ceramic cooktop gives these traditionalists what they want. It has sturdy, die-cast metal knobs that are easy to use and located in front so you do not have to reach over anything to adjust the heat. It also offers five burners, including two dual burners and a warming burner, as well as a speed-heating setting, so your cooking options are numerous with this electric cooktop.

The handy Kenmore Elite 45113 electric cooktop provides power knobs for nine different heat settings from low to high on three of the burners. The fourth, which is a warming burner, gives you settings that range in electrical output from 300 watts to 1,300 watts. To make things easy, all the control knobs are situated on the right-hand side of the ceramic cooktop so you know exactly where things are and will not be reaching across burners to adjust anything. In addition, you get a dual burner that can go from 9 inches to 12 inches to suit your cookware.

The straightforward Frigidaire FFEC3225MB electric cooktop has two 9-inch burners that can get to 2,500 watts and two smaller ones that can go as high as 1,250 watts. You control the heat with knobs that not only show numbers for power levels, but labels for the levels along with their numeric ranges. These knobs have nine power levels, so you can keep control of how hot each burner is and cook your food the precise way you want. For safety's sake, this ceramic cooktop gives you indicator lights on each burner and a hot-surface light that stays on even after you have turned everything off, only shutting off when everything is safe to touch.

Best for Griddle Cooking: GE / Bosch / Bosch 800

Among the helpful features on the versatile GE Profile PP9036SJSS is a bridge that links two burners so you can put a big roasting pan or other cookware item there to heat a large amount of food. This electric cooktop offers five burners altogether, with two double burners and three different sizes for the middle burner. In all, you get a creative configuration of heating elements, 11 different heat settings, a triple heating element on one burner that can reach 3,000 watts to bring fluids to a boil fast, and the added benefit of individual timers for each burner.

The Bosch Benchmark NETP666SUC electric cooktop offers the bridge element that is favored by many cooks, giving you many cooking possibilities. It allows you to cook in a long pan that spans two of the burners and the space in the middle, which is also heated. You can also use the bridge area to cook a couple of different items in different sizes of pans along the heated oval, or place a griddle in that spot and fry up some flapjacks and bacon, crepes, or quesadillas. This ceramic cooktop has five burners that give you nine different heating configurations, including a two-zone heating burner and a three-zone heating element on one 12-inch burner that has an electrical output of 3,080 watts.

If your household favors eclectic menus and you enjoy making exotic delicacies or down-home treats such as salmon patties, Colombian arepas, naan, hash browns, Southern hoecakes, or anything that needs to be cooked on a griddle, the Bosch 800 NET8068UC is a good option. This electric cooktop gives you a bridge element that links two burners into a hot oval for expanded cooking. It comes with four burners, including a double burner that goes to a high of 3,100 watts and can expand its heating area from 6 inches to 9 inches. You get a total of 17 power settings and precise overall heating.

An electric cooktop is an appliance you'll use every day, so a versatile cooktop that gives you plenty of features can make a huge difference in the kitchen. A well-equipped cooktop will help you to make consistently well-cooked meals and also means you will spend less time prepping and cleaning. Our buying guide can help you find an electric cooktop that will turn your time in the kitchen into a tasty, convenient and safe experience.

Contributing Reviewer: Linda Thomson