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An electric plate cooktop

A cooktop, also known as hob, is a device commonly used for cookery that is commonly found in kitchens and used to apply heat to the base of pans or pots.

Cooktops are often found integrated with an oven into a kitchen stove but may also be standalone devices.

Cooktops are commonly powered by gas or electricity, though oil or other fuels are sometimes used.


Gas cooktop flame

Gas cooktops consist of one or more gas burners with arrangements to control the rate of flow. They often have integral lighters or (in older models) pilot lights,[1] and may have safety interlocks designed to reduce the risk of hazardous gas leaks.[2]

Gas cooking has been associated with negative health effects, such as reduced pulmonary function[3] and a higher rate of respiratory symptoms in children.[4]


A coil-top electric range


Electric coil cooktops use electric heating elements that directly heat pots placed on them. They are inexpensive to buy and maintain, but are considered more difficult to clean than smooth-top models.[5]


A ceramic hob with two multi-zone radiant heaters.

A ceramic hob consists of a low-expansion thermal glass-ceramic that is transparent to infrared. This surface houses radiant or halogen heaters below it. The advantage of this arrangement is that the heat can be quickly controlled.


Glassy smooth featureless rectangular cooktop set nearly flush with a kitchen counter
Top view of an induction cooktop

Induction cooking involves the electrical heating of a cooking vessel by magnetic induction instead of by radiation or thermal conduction from an electrical heating element or from a flame. Because inductive heating directly heats the vessel, very rapid increases in temperature can be achieved and changes in heat settings are fast, similar to gas.[6]

In an induction cooktop ("induction hob" or "induction stove"), a coil of copper wire is placed under the cooking pot, and an alternating electric current is passed through it. The resulting oscillating magnetic field induces a magnetic flux that repeatedly magnetises the pot, treating it like the lossy magnetic core of a transformer. This produces large eddy currents in the pot, which, because of the resistance of the pot, heat it.

For nearly all models of induction cooktops, a cooking vessel must be made of, or contain, a ferromagnetic metal such as cast iron or some stainless steels. However, copper, glass, non-magnetic stainless steels, and aluminum vessels can be used if placed on a ferromagnetic disk that functions as a conventional hotplate.

Induction cooking is quite efficient, which means it puts less waste heat into the kitchen, can be quickly turned off, and has safety advantages compared to gas stoves. Cooktops are also usually easy to clean, because the cooktop itself does not get very hot.

Downdraft cooktops[edit]

Downdraft gas cooktop

Downdraft cooktops have an integrated ventilation system that pulls cooking fumes downwards. This can be useful when updraft (or overhead) ventilation is not possible, such as in open kitchen designs where an overhead ventilation hood is not desirable. However, updraft ventilation is considered more effective; downdraft systems may not be able to extract the fumes from taller pots.[7]



Cooktops are virtually ubiquitous in kitchens. They may be built into a stove along with an oven. Alternatively, cooktops are often installed independently in work surfaces.

Hot plate[edit]

An electric tabletop burner

A hot plate is a portable self-contained tabletop small appliance cooktop that features one, two or more electric heating elements or gas burners. A hot plate can be used as a standalone appliance, but is often used as a substitute for one of the burners from an oven range or a kitchen stove.

Hot plates are often used for food preparation, generally in locations where a full kitchen stove would not be convenient or practical. A hot plate can have a flat or round surface. Hot plates can be used for traveling or in areas without electricity.


  1. ^ Klahre, Ayn-Monique (2018-02-04). "How To Light a Stovetop and Oven Pilot Light". Kitchn. AT Media. Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  2. ^ Prelusky, Alison (2018-02-01). "Can Gas Ranges Run Without Electricity?". P. C. Richard & Son. Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  3. ^ Ware, J. H.; Dockery, D. W.; Spiro III, A.; Speizer, F. E.; Ferris Jr., B. G. (1984). "Passive Smoking, Gas Cooking, and Respiratory Health of Children Living in Six Cities". American Review of Respiratory Disease. 129 (3): 366–374. Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  4. ^ Garrett, Maria H.; Hooper, Martin A.; Hooper, Beverley M.; Abramson, Michael J. (1998-09-01). "Respiratory Symptoms in Children and Indoor Exposure to Nitrogen Dioxide and Gas Stoves". American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 158 (3): 891–895. doi:10.1164/ajrccm.158.3.9701084.
  5. ^ Frost, Shelley (2019-10-03). "Electric Coil Range vs. Smooth-Top". Hunker. Leaf Group Ltd. Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  6. ^ "Induction Cooking Technology Design and Assessment; M. Sweeney, J. Dols, B. Fortenbery, F. Sharp; Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)" (PDF). Archived from the original (pdf) on 2015-09-10. Retrieved 2016-09-19. Paper presented at the 2014 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings
  7. ^ Miller, Renee. "How Good Is a Cooktop Downdraft Ventilation System?". SFGate. Hearst. Retrieved 2020-09-10.