Rangetops vs. Cooktops: What’s the Difference?

Many people assume that “cooktop” and “rangetop” are interchangeable terms, but in reality there are many differences between these two cooking appliance types. They both are essentially standalone stovetops, complete with burners, knobs and cooking grates. Many people opt for a rangetop or cooktop instead of a freestanding range because their cabinetry does not have the space for a freestanding unit. While both appliances serve the same function and contain many of the same features, there are a few basic differences.

Pro-style rangetops are a slide-in appliance, flanked on each side by the countertop. Your cutout area for a rangetop will be deeper and taller than the cutout space for a cooktop. Unlike cooktops, rangetops extend through the front of the cabinetry, and the control knobs are positioned on the front of the unit. Many people prefer the convenience of front-positioned controls, especially when several burners are running. This means less reaching over boiling posts to turn another burner on! The back of the rangetop rests close to your wall, and a separate backsplash is usually required to reduce the amount of heat that reaches the wall. They are generally a good choice for cooks who need commercial-style power. The gas-powered Viking rangetop models come equipped with a TruPowerPlus 18,500 BTU front burner, along with patented Viking features like VariSimmer low-temperature control and a one-piece, porcelainized cooking surface. The restaurant-style Electrolux rangetop consistently garners good ratings from consumers. The pro-style Icon series gas rangetop has sealed burners, continuous grates and a ceramic glass surface. If your goal is a pro-style look in your kitchen and you don’t have space for a range, then a rangetop is the way to go.

Cooktops, on the other hand, require a much smaller cutout in your countertop space. As kitchen technology and design improves at a brisk pace, manufacturers are constantly introducing new cooktops, including Viking’s new D3 line and Dacor’s always-evolving series of gas and electric cooktops. Cooktops are set into countertops and surrounded on all four sides. The knobs and cooking controls are on top of the appliance, not facing outward like the knobs on rangetops. Parents of young children often prefer this setup, because it puts the burner controls out of reach of their youngster’s curious hands. Glass cooktops, sometimes referred to as smoothtop cooktops, have the advantage of easy cleaning that you would not get with a rangetop. Dacor cooktopsare a great representation of various cooktop styles.  From their black ceramic glass electric-glide cooktop to the Distinctive Series stainless steel gas cooktop (winner of a Good Design Award by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design), Dacor combines streamlined looks and ultimate cooking power – the Distinctive gas cooktop boasts a total of 60,000 BTU.

If you’re trying to decide whether to purchase a cooktop or rangetop, there are several factors to consider, from the physical appearance of the appliance and how it will fit in with your décor and color scheme to the size of the rangetop or cooktop and the appropriate fuel option.  There’s a lot to think about, but our sales staff is available to assist you via phone, email or in person at our showroom.

UPDATE: Elite Appliance (our retail appliance dealership) released video tours of both a Viking cooktop and rangetop. Watching these videos can help to illustrate the differences between the two surface cooking appliance types.

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