In defense of the electric hob

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DitmasPork

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Really comes down to personal preference—it would be too arrogant and small-minded for me to disparage another’s beloved stove. I know some amazing chefs who have electric ranges at home; also know a dude that can’t cook who owns a fancy Bluestar gas range.

One immensely talented home cook I know cooks on electric coils, has no desire to upgrade—she like many other’s just cook on whatever stove comes with their rented apartment.

There was an awesome NYC restaurant with an entirely induction based kitchen, the staff loved it.
 

AT5760

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Tolerating an electric coil range is one thing - preferring it is another. In what way(s) is an electric coil range better than both a gas range and an induction range? I can't think of any.
 

stringer

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Electric has a lot going for it. Cheaper to operate and maintain. Easier to clean. Safer in terms of fire and indoor air pollution risks. Less reliant on fossil fuels. Doesn't release so much lost heat for your air conditioner deal with.

All that being said, I prefer gas to cook on. But not enough to pay the gas company to run a line to my house.
 

AT5760

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@stringer doesn't induction offer all of those same benefits while being much more responsive than electric coil? And it offers an (almost) cool cooktop.
 

stringer

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@stringer doesn't induction offer all of those same benefits while being much more responsive than electric coil? And it offers an (almost) cool cooktop.
Sure. Induction is fine. I use it at work. Much more expensive than a standard electric.
 

btbyrd

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It is not cheaper to operate and maintain. Induction might cost more at the outset (I say "might" because there are plenty of good, inexpensive induction cooktops available) but that doesn't mean it's more expensive to operate. Induction is more efficient than resistance heating and consumes less power, so it's actually cheaper to operate.

From now on I'm just going to assume that anyone defending electric coil stoves is illiterate or arguing in bad faith. :p
 

spaceconvoy

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We get it, it has no benefits that you care about. Claiming it has no benefits whatsoever is extremely self-centered.
 

coxhaus

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I don't know but in Texas gas is cheaper to run than an electric coil range.

PS
When I am talking gas I am talking natural gas. There is lots of it in Texas.
 
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AT5760

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This is the only semi-scientific comparison that I could readily find that looks at costs to run induction vs. coil:https://www.aceee.org/files/proceedings/2014/data/papers/9-702.pdf.

This is several years old, but it looks like running costs for induction may not make up for the higher investment cost over coil. The results could likely be very different in a restaurant environment where ranges are running for several hours a day vs minutes in a residential setting.

So, cost indeed could be an advantage that coil has over gas/induction. (Does that mean its time for an "In defense of AUS-6" thread?)
 

btbyrd

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We get it, it has no benefits that you care about. Claiming it has no benefits whatsoever is extremely self-centered.
Perhaps you could try listing the supposed benefits instead of engaging in personal attacks (which is pretty much all you've contributed to this thread, aside from your ever-so-helpful anecdote about preferring your electric stove to your wife's crappy gas one). Calling those who disagree with you irrational or self-centered, or bad cooks or ignorant monomaniacal zealots is dickish behavior -- especially when you don't bother to engage with their arguments and don't bother to contribute any of your own.

And I never said electric resistance cooktops have no benefits. They get hot and enable you to cook food in pots and pans -- obviously a benefit. It's just that they're worse than gas or induction on pretty much every important metric and there's no reason to prefer them. Those who disagree are just ignorant, irrational, narcissistic zealots who can't cook. ;)
 

spaceconvoy

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So mad you replied to yourself :)

If you can't understand how a lower upfront cost is a clear benefit to some people, whether or not the long term cost is lower, then you either lack empathy or imagination.

Oh and since you're not defending the electric hob, you're off topic. Maybe start your own thread?
 

btbyrd

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Again with the personal attacks. Stop being a jerk, man. Not everyone who disagrees with you is an idiot or a bad person (or lacking empathy or imagination). I do understand why being less expensive is a benefit. That's why I said things like "If we all had had unlimited funds and energy of all types was free, I doubt that any chef or cooking enthusiast would choose to have an electric resistance cooktop installed in their kitchen." And I stand by this. Price is basically the only reason to prefer electric resistance cooktops over gas or induction. Performance surely isn't.
 

DitmasPork

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Admittedly, I was intrigued by the thread’s subject of ‘In defense of the electric hob.' So felt it proper to engage in respectful, constructive, dialogues as opposed to impassioned pontification of my own views. Electric coils vs Gas too subjective to be be about 'right' and 'wrong.' Perhaps my comments would differ had the thread been called 'Electric Coils: Why They Suck!.'

Interested in hearing more from @rickbern on his electro coil adventures.

Yeah, I'm a diehard fan of gas ranges, and have been so for decades—but not by choice. Gas ranges came with the apartments I've rented—usually wonky $200 models.

Type of range isn't at the top of my priorities for good cooking—I'll happily cook on anything—gas, electric, induction—bring it! To me, for good cooking, the priorities are tastes/judgements/problem solving; skill/technique; ingredients; knives; cookware; ...followed by type of range somewhere down the list. If having to cook on electric coils—I'll just get on with cooking. Type of range doesn't affect the quality of food I cook—have to adjust my technique to whatever range I use. All have pros/cons.

‘In defense of the electric hob.' On the positive side of electric coils—they're charmingly retro, cheap, iconic, look kinda cool when glowing orange on full blast. It's almost a cliche for cooks to revere their mom's or grandmother's cooking—some of which probably cooked their glorious dishes on electric coils. I was trying to convince an avid cook friend to get gas or induction with her kitchen remodeling—she ultimately went with a glass top electric stove for ease of cleaning; cost; familiarity; and a fear of gas stoves exploding (gotta respect peoples' fears, comfort zone)—I respected and supported her choice, it's her kitchen.

For the most part, I've been limited to cooking on whatever stove comes with the apartment. Cooking on electric coils doesn't phase me since I grew up cooking on them. In the State I was raised, electric much more prevalent than gas; propane tanks not always a possibility. For the amount of money I've spent on gyutos, I could've easily bought a Capital Culinarian Gas Range—but gyutos more of a priority for me.
 

M1k3

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This is the only semi-scientific comparison that I could readily find that looks at costs to run induction vs. coil:https://www.aceee.org/files/proceedings/2014/data/papers/9-702.pdf.

This is several years old, but it looks like running costs for induction may not make up for the higher investment cost over coil. The results could likely be very different in a restaurant environment where ranges are running for several hours a day vs minutes in a residential setting.

So, cost indeed could be an advantage that coil has over gas/induction. (Does that mean its time for an "In defense of AUS-6" thread?)
Another benefit for induction in a restaurant, is way less heat released into the environment. Less ventilation and cooling needed.
 

DitmasPork

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Another benefit for induction in a restaurant, is way less heat released into the environment. Less ventilation and cooling needed.
The now defunct 'Tasting Room' restaurant in NYC's East Village was all induction, their kitchen was in a basement where they couldn't adequately vent.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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I remember an Anthony Bourdain episode, I think it was A Cook's Tour but he was digging on some really good food and discovered they were cranking it all out on a regular ole four-burner residential coil stove. :)
 

JASinIL2006

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I lived in an apartment that had one of those old coil stoves with the very wide heating elements. The thing took forever to heat up, but once it did, it put out a prodigious amount of heat. And it took forever to cool down, too.
 

DitmasPork

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I lived in an apartment that had one of those old coil stoves with the very wide heating elements. The thing took forever to heat up, but once it did, it put out a prodigious amount of heat. And it took forever to cool down, too.
I’ve found the same with glass top electric—takes a while to heat and cool down.
 

DitmasPork

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Good point. I haven't cooked on glass top electric much, but my parents had one (long after I left home) and I do recall it staying hot for a long time.
My parents have a glass top, gas is not an option in her part of the state. Just got back from 3 weeks of cooking on her stove, takes me a couple of meals to adjust my timing.
 

rickbern

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I actually have a gas range now but I used to use coil. It certainly demanded a different approach to cookware; all clad style triply pans were poor performers but thick disk bottomed pans were much better.

I guess the main advantage of an electric stove over gas is that they’re universally available.

I don’t understand someone saying they wouldn’t ever use an electric stove anymore than I can imagine someone saying that they couldn’t make a meal with a santoku. It might not be your preference but you can still achieve superior results if you embrace the tools available to you.
 

btbyrd

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Nobody has ever said that they'd never use an electric stove.

The article that started off this thread began by attacking a straw man. The authors main point? "You don't need a gas stove to be a good cook." Well guess what. Nobody has ever claimed otherwise. The conclusion of the article is that "an attentive cook can make a good meal on a bad stove, and a careless cook can make a bad meal on even the most high-end stove, no matter the fuel. The equipment is not as important as the person using it." Well la-de-freaking-da. Again, nobody has ever claimed otherwise.

For what it's worth, I cook on a glass top electric range. It's fine. I don't prefer it to the alternatives, though it is better than some of the crappy gas ones I've had in rental houses. I still have portable induction and butane burners that I use when the shortcomings of the resistance cooktop are too bothersome. The main problems are that they take a while to heat up and cool down and that they tend to power cycle to regulate their heat, such that the temperature of the pan ping-pongs up and down as the burner turns on and off. Using heavier cookware moderates this effect, but it's still not as nice as having a constant heat input on gas or induction. The total lack of responsiveness is a related major issue. If you see a pot about to boil over, you'd better have somewhere to move it because you have to physically pick it up and stick it in a different location to prevent that from happening. With gas or induction, you can drop the heat almost instantly. This isn't just a problem that happens with boilover -- if you're cooking a protein and notice that it's cooking too quickly, you have to remove the pan from the heat for a bit and allow it to cool down before sticking it back down on the burner.

Is there anything electric resistance cooktops are especially good at? No. I guess it's good at being cheap, but that's not really a great defense of the technology. It's a point in its favor, but when we're evaluating whether or not cooking equipment is good or bad, the price isn't a primary consideration. In terms of cooking performance, resistance heating is still not as good as gas or induction at pretty much everything. I guess it cleans up kind of easily (unless you boil over a sauce or spatter oil and it scorches on the burner you can't turn off). But induction is even easier to clean because there's less scorching, and I never found gas especially onerous to clean. Meh. It's just not as good as the alternatives.

At the end of the day, the best combo for me would be a a pro-sumer gas cooktop, an electric oven (preferably a combi), and a portable induction hob (preferably a Control Freak). I prefer the immediacy and visual feedback of gas and find that it works better for most of my cookware. You can't use donabes on resistance or induction cooktops. Cast iron and carbon steel is easier to season and maintain over gas. Induction is fine, but the elements tend to be small and create hot spots in the center of the pan (unless you shell out a lot of money for one with huge coils, or loads of smaller ones). But for now, I'll continue to crank out meals mostly on my low-mid-tier electric Maytag range. And when it's too annoying, I'll break out the butane or plug in my Vollrath Mirage Pro.
 

DitmasPork

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I actually have a gas range now but I used to use coil. It certainly demanded a different approach to cookware; all clad style triply pans were poor performers but thick disk bottomed pans were much better.

I guess the main advantage of an electric stove over gas is that they’re universally available.

I don’t understand someone saying they wouldn’t ever use an electric stove anymore than I can imagine someone saying that they couldn’t make a meal with a santoku. It might not be your preference but you can still achieve superior results if you embrace the tools available to you.
Totally agree that cooking on coils takes a different approach—mainly with timing; having to be more aware of heat level once I'd turned the burner off; being more attentive than with my gas range. I dig cooking when I travel—being flexible; dealing with whatever type of range available is just a part of cooking for me.

My preference is for gas stoves—but the low cost of electric coils stoves is as valid a reason for many to buy electric coil stoves, as is performance. Some cooks I know are perfectly happy with their electric coils.

To some, electric coils are better than gas ranges—I know a few who don't like having a gas range in their kitchen.

Below is the beauty of a glass top cooker I used for a week on my last trip to Australia. Must admit I was a little shocked as this was described as a 'full kitchen' in a 'luxury cabin.' Got used to it, cooked some fine meals for four.

IMG_1943.JPG
 

btbyrd

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That article is a defense of induction, not electric hobs.

"Electric stoves have a bad reputation to people who remember the coils of resistance stoves, which heated slowly and were not very responsive. But today we have a much better option: induction stoves. Powered by magnets, this new technology does everything that gas can, and also heats faster than gas and allows more precise temperature control. ...

Induction stoves heat quickly and are nearly three times as efficient as gas stoves [and are also more efficient than resistance stoves]. Based on these energy savings, a national EnergyStar rating would help cities, states and big box stores like Home Depot incentivize and promote induction stoves. If the health, climate and energy-saving benefits of induction stoves were monetized, policymakers would practically give them away. "
But what the article really argues for, though it doesn't know it, is investing in good ventilation for home kitchens. Gas stoves don't pollute the homes of people who bothered to vent them properly and get adequate makeup air installed. The article acts like it has made a great case against gas from a health perspective, but it's really just made a case against insufficient ventilation. All ranges lower indoor air quality unless properly vented.
 

DitmasPork

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That article is a defense of induction, not electric hobs.



But what the article really argues for, though it doesn't know it, is investing in good ventilation for home kitchens. Gas stoves don't pollute the homes of people who bothered to vent them properly and get adequate makeup air installed. The article acts like it has made a great case against gas from a health perspective, but it's really just made a case against insufficient ventilation. All ranges lower indoor air quality unless properly vented.
I’m still a gas fan—but found the article interesting with some valid points.

All the places I’ve lived have poor ventilation, without the possibility of improvement; the building I currently live doesn’t allow kitchens to vent out.

IMHO, an altogether different situ if one lives in a house; owns it—so they can do whatever. For urban dwellers like me in NYC, gotta make do, and embrace whatever stove given.

From a performance perspective, cooks I know that have electric coils in their apartments are fine with it—they just learn how to eek the most out of it. The best stove is the stove one cooks their best food on. Gas ranges do scare some I know—they’re more familiar with electric.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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That article is a defense of induction, not electric hobs.



But what the article really argues for, though it doesn't know it, is investing in good ventilation for home kitchens. Gas stoves don't pollute the homes of people who bothered to vent them properly and get adequate makeup air installed. The article acts like it has made a great case against gas from a health perspective, but it's really just made a case against insufficient ventilation. All ranges lower indoor air quality unless properly vented.

"...people who bothered..."

Ya know, lots of folks don't have the means or are restricted in a whole lot of this stuff. I'll put myself in that category. I'm not going to go strutting around saying coil stoves are superior to other types, but, and like I said, they aren't the devil's messenger either. For crying out loud. If I'd had the internet 30yrs ago when I was watching Great Chef's of the World or Two Fat Ladies on Discovery Channel, I might have abandoned my desire to cook.

How's about we just encourage people to cook and get excited about that?
 
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