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What are the pros and cons of the three cook-top types?

You need a range that can be adjusted in small increments and can respond quickly to any heat adjustment. That is crucial when, for instance, something starts to boil that shouldn't. The range must also heat food reasonably fast. The original radiant cook-tops disappointingly botched the above duties.

Although ribbon-style radiant cook-tops do better, they still do not perform those jobs as well as the halogen and induction cook-tops. And their cooking area remains hot long after the pan is removed - a hazard.

Halogen cook-tops produce the cooking heat with a halogen bulb. Like radiant cook-tops, they heat the cook-top, which heats the pan, which heats the food. Because they become a great deal hotter than a radiant cook-top, they are even more hazardous.

Induction cook-tops heat a pan directly by means of a magnetic field. They do not heat the glass-ceramic panel that lies between the pan and the magnetic induction device. When you remove a pan, the cook-top's cooking area is not hot. What warmth it has comes from the heat conducted from the hot pan. Magnetic induction cook-tops heat and respond to temperature adjustments as fast as halogen and gas ranges. A major drawback is that you can use only pots and pans that contain a metal (like iron or steel) that is responsive to magnetic fields.

You can purchase a mixed-unit cook-top. It is built with a combination of radiant, halogen, and/or induction heating units. Because of their flat surfaces, all cook-tops are easier to clean than gas and electric-coil cook-tops. However, it is expensive to replace a glass or ceramic cook-top that has been broken by an accidentally dropped pan. Moreover, a pan has to be perfectly flat for optimum cooking on the smooth cook-top. Gas burners - because they cook with flames - are more forgiving if the pan's bottom is dented or warped. Another advantage of gas is that you can see the flames, which help you estimate without uncovering a pot the intensity of the heat that is being applied to the food.

Overall, most good cooks cast their vote for a gas range. Those who prefer electric ranges are partial to magnetic induction cook-tops.

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