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In this report

Thermador is tops, but costly

Reviewers say gas cooktops excel at temperature control, and many owners like the ability to adjust the gas flame by sight. However, experts say gas cooktops aren't as good as their electric counterparts at maintaining consistent cooking temperatures, particularly at high and low heat settings. Most gas cooktops are 36 inches wide, but many 30-inch models are also available. Some manufacturers also make professional-style cooktops that measure up to 48 inches wide.

We found good reviews for several different gas cooktops, chief among them the Thermador Masterpiece SGSX365FS (Est. $1,900). It does very well in professional tests, and reviewers praise the cooktop's continuous cast-iron grates, which allow them to slide a pot from burner to burner without lifting it. Its five sealed burners -- ranging in power from 9,100 to 18,000 Btu -- have a distinctive star shape, which Thermador claims provides better heat distribution without cold spots. Reviewers also praise the 200-Btu "ExtraLow" setting, which cycles on and off to maintain a precise temperature for simmering. Other features include single-point ignition (which delivers a spark only to the burner being lit, rather than to all burners at once) and automatic re-ignition, which turns the flame back on if it is accidentally blown out. The cooktop is backed by a one-year warranty.

Experts are near unanimous in their praise of the Thermador SGSX365FS cooktop, which  earns a Recommended tag from one independent expert and Best of the Year and Editors' Choice awards from Reviewed.com. Ethan Wolff-Mann says that "If you enjoy cooking, and can afford the $1,899 pricetag, you'll find a 36-inch cooktop that's nearly without fault."

Owner reviews are a bit hard to come buy -- not surprising considering this cooktop's price tag -- but what's available is highly positive. For example, after just more than a half-dozen reviews, the Thermador SGSX365FS earns a 4.9-star score at AJMadison.com. Comments such as "best cooktop I have ever used" are indicative of the overall satisfaction.

The Electrolux EW36GC55GS (Est. $1,450) is another, less-expensive consideration, but it draws pretty mixed feedback. It does earn Recommended status from one well-regarded professional reviewer, but leaves another rather unimpressed.

Like the Thermador cooktop, this Electrolux gas cooktop measures 36 inches across and has five sealed burners; the large center burner is adjustable from 18,000 Btu for quick boiling to 450 Btu for delicate simmering. It also has three continuous cast-iron grates and deep wells below the burners to contain spills. Its five control knobs are located on the top front of the cooktop. The Electrolux EW36GC55GS has a stainless-steel surface, but the same cooktop is also available in white and black. All three models have a one-year warranty.

Though still well regarded, the Electrolux unit does not perform quite as well as the Thermador cooktop in one professional test. It achieves excellent results on low heat, but its speed at bringing water to a boil is only middling. However the race between the two cooktops is not even close at Reviewed.com. The Electrolux EW36GC55G looks great and is feature packed, James Aitchison, says but performance is a letdown. The relatively low output of most of the burners -- a single Min-2-Max burner was the happy exception -- means budgeting lots of extra time when boiling more than one pot at a time.

Users posting at sites like AJMadison.com, where the Electrolux EW36GC55G earns a 4.5-star rating, don't share Aitchison's concerns over performance . Owners especially like the control knobs, which they say offer good temperature control. One user notes, "It is also the safest around [children] because the knobs are on the top and must be pressed down to turn the flame on." We did read some complaints that the stainless steel was easy to scratch, and that the controls are prone to wear -- or even melting, in once case -- but few have anything bad to say regarding performance.

A bargain gas cooktop from Maytag

We didn't see many reviews for gas cooktops costing less than $1,000, but the Maytag MGC4436BDW (Est. $480) gets good comments from users. Unlike most 36-inch gas cooktops, this basic model is available only in white or black, and it lacks the continuous grates found on most high-end cooktops. However, it does have automatic re-ignition and five sealed burners, ranging in power from 9,500 to 14,000 Btu. The control knobs are mounted front and center on top of the cooktop. Maytag's warranty covers parts and labor for one year.

The Maytag MGC4436BDW has not been included in any professional tests, but it gets uniformly positive feedback in more than 40 owner reviews posted at HomeDepot.com (including many originally posted at the Maytag web site). They say this cooktop is a great value: nice-looking, easy to install and well laid out for convenience. One user notes that the wide spacing of burners makes it possible to use all five  at once, and another finds the center burner handy for keeping one item warm while others finish cooking. Overall, this cooktop earns 4.7 stars, and 98 percent of users say that they would recommend this gas cooktop to a friend.

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.  

Electric Cooktops
Electric cooktops are terrific performers and stylish additions to any kitchen. Editors name the best cooktops overall, and the best budget buys.

Induction Cooktops
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.

Buying Guide
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.  

Our Sources
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.

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Thermador : SGSX365FS 36 Masterpiece Gas Cooktop Stainless
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $2,532.00   
Average Customer Review:  
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Electrolux EW36GC55GS 36" Gas Cooktop with Min-2-Max® Burner and Continuous Grates, Stainless Steel
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $1,399.00   
Average Customer Review:  

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