In professional tests, electric cooktops tend to outperform gas models, particularly when boiling water or cooking at low temperatures. However, electric cooktops stay hot longer than gas models after the power is turned off, and smoothtop models -- while generally easy to clean -- are susceptible to scratching or fracturing.
Electric cooktops are available with either coil burners or smoothtop surfaces, which hide radiant burners below a glass or ceramic pane. Smoothtops are far more popular than old-fashioned coil models, and are also tested more frequently by major review sources.
Overall, we found excellent feedback for several GE Profile cooktops. For example, the GE Profile PP989DNBB (Est. $1,550) is a frameless 30-inch cooktop with a smooth black glass surface; versions in white or black with stainless trim are also available. It has four heating elements: one large front burner that expands from 6 to 9 inches with a maximum power of 3,000 watts, one 6-inch rear burner with 1,500 watts of power and two 7-inch burners with 1,800 watts each. There is also a bridge element that can connect the two 7-inch burners to form a single large heating area, suitable for a griddle. This unit has knob controls located on top of the cooktop rather than a touchpad.
One special feature of the GE Profile PP989DNBB is its three-speed downdraft fan, which provides built-in ventilation. This is a useful feature for a cooktop that's installed in an area with no existing ventilation, such as an island; however, as our report on range hoods notes, it won't do as thorough a job as a regular hood fan. The entire appliance is covered by a standard one-year warranty, but the glass surface and radiant heating units are covered for five years.
The GE Profile PP989DNBB cooktop hasn't been included in professional tests, but it gets favorable user reviews. HomeDepot.com hosts the largest number of those, though many are sourced from GE's web site. Users praise its fast heating, simple controls and variety of burners, including the expandable, high-powered burner. The downdraft fan is also a popular feature with users, although several note that it makes installing the cooktop more complicated. The most common complaint we saw about this cooktop is that it is difficult to keep clean; more than one owner notes that it needs to be cleaned after every use. Some say the glass surface is easy to scratch, or even crack if something hard is dropped on it.
The GE Profile PP945BMBB (Est. $1,100) lacks the downdraft feature, but has a few pluses of its own -- such as a lower price -- that we think make it a better choice for most; we name it our Best Reviewed electric cooktop. The PP945BMBB has four burner elements, but lacks the bridge element of the PP989DNBB. However, the expandable tri-ring front burner is more versatile than the dual-ring one on the PP989DNBB, and can be set as high as 12 inches with a maximum output of 3,000 watts. There's also a second expandable burner with two rings -- 5 inches and 8 inches. It is designated as a Power Boil element for "rapid, powerful heat; it is rated at 2,400 watts. The two rear burners are 6-inch, 1,200 watt affairs. Unlike the GE Profile PP989DNBB, the controls are a touchpad, and that generally gets good feedback as being easy to use. The top is black ceramic glass.
Reviews are good for the PP945BMBB. It earns a Recommended rating in one professional review for its "superb simmering and brisk heating," Owner reviews are also good -- at least as good as for the PP989DNBB, if not better. HomeDepot.com again hosts the most of these -- over a hundred spread out over the three available color options including stainless steel trim and white on white, in addition to the PP945BMBB's black.
While we give the nod to the GE Profile PP945BMBB, the black-glass, stainless-steel trimmed Electrolux EI30EC45KS (Est. $1,100) is also worth considering. It earns a perfect 10.0 score from the experts at Reviewed.com, along with Editors' Choice and Best of the Year honors. However, it fails to garner much other feedback -- user or expert -- anywhere else, which is about all that's keeping us from bestowing Best Reviewed status on it as well.
Like the GE Profile PP945BMBB, the Electrolux EI30EC45KS has a tri-element front burner that can go from 6, to 9, to 12 inches with a maximum power output of 3,000 watts. The other front burner is a single-element, 9-inch affair, but one that's capable of being cranked up to as much as 3,200 watts. The two rear burners are offset from the front ones; both are 6-inches, 1,200 watts. Cooktop control is via a touchpad with slide controls.
Reviewed.com is blown away by this cooktop's performance. "Some may be turned off by the atypical design and high price-tag, but rest assured that beneath the calm exterior resides a beast of an appliance," says James Aitchison. The control panel can take a little getting used to, but once done Aitchison says that it is "incredibly user friendly" with settings and controls that should cover just about any cooking situation. Performance testing reveals that the cooktop is an able performer in all regards.
Toward the lower end of the price spectrum, the Whirlpool Gold G7CE3034XB (Est. $750) is one of the top performers in professional tests, and a Best Buy for value, with very good to excellent scores for both boiling and simmering. This 30-inch cooktop has a black ceramic surface that Whirlpool claims is "manufactured without the release of hazardous metals into the Earth"; it is also available in white and black with stainless trim. The largest of its four burners expands from 9 to 12 inches, with a maximum power of 3,000 watts; the two smallest burners, by contrast, measure 6 inches and output up to 1,200 watts. It has a hot-surface indicator and removable, dishwasher-friendly knob controls mounted on top of the cooktop. Whirlpool backs this cooktop with a standard one-year warranty.
User reviews are largely positive. HomeDepot.com has the largest accumulation -- though many were originally posted on the GE site. Regardless, it earns a 4.5-star rating, with 90 percent saying that they would recommend the cooktop to a friend. As with other smoothtop cooktops, some users express disappointment that the great look of this cooktops disappears under the normal staining and splashing that are a part of meal prep, and that the stove is hard to get clean.
If your budget is tighter -- or maybe even if it is not -- the Whirlpool W5CE3024XB (Est. $550) looks like a slam-dunk choice and our pick as the Best Reviewed budget electric cooktop. This is one of the least costly electric cooktops to get a look from professional reviewers, and its performance impresses. "No frills, no fuss, no problem," says Reviewed.com. It aces that site's cooking tests, leading James Aitchison to say "Hidden beneath the unassuming exterior we found this cooktop to be a solid performer."
At this price point, it's unrealistic to expect cutting-edge styling; if you can accept that trade-off, the W5CE3024XB won't disappoint. "From its plain black surface to the simple white circles indicating burner placement, the W5CE3024XB is a prime example of function over form," Aitchison says. On the plus side, he adds, that means it can fit into an existing kitchen without too much design drama.
Features are sparse. There are no flexible/expanding elements. Instead you get one 9-inch burner (2,500 watts), one 7-inch burner (1,800 watts) and two 6-inch burners (1,200 watts each). There's also no touchpad control, but the standard knobs are dishwasher safe. If black on black won't do it for you or your kitchen, the cooktop is also available in white or black with stainless steel trim.
User enthusiasm mirrors that of the pros. It draws nearly 140 reviews at HomeDepot.com -- a number beefed up a bit by feedback also posted at Whirlpool's site. Regardless, the W5CE3024XB earns a rating of 4.5 stars, with roughly 93 percent saying that they would recommend the cooktop. The chief complaint among the complainers? Once again, cleaning issues move to the fore. Amazon.com hosts a much smaller pool of user reviews -- just under 30 -- but these are exclusive to the site. The take there is similar, and the Whirlpool W5CE3024XB cooktop earns a rating of 4.2 stars.
Elsewhere in this Report:
Best Reviewed Cooktops
The best gas, electric and induction cooktops, along with some top values, are named based on expert and owner feedback as well as analysis by ConsumerSearch Editors.
Something about the sight of an open flame makes cooks crave gas cooktops. Editors find a gas cooktop from Thermador is tops, but also name some more budget-friendly options.
Induction cooktops are lightning fast and cool to the touch, but is one right for you? Editors explain what to consider, and identify a top performer based on user and expert feedback.
What are the pros and cons of electric, gas and induction cooktops? Our Buying Guide explains the ins and outs, and what to consider when looking for the right choice for your kitchen.
We used these expert and user review sites to find the best gas, electric and induction cooktops, as well as some great budget buys. The sites are ranked and rated based on their quality and helpfulness.