December 29, 2006

A SocketSite Smackdown: Gas Versus Electric In The Kitchen

Thermador Induction Cooktop

We’ll admit it. When perusing properties, an electric range in the kitchen can stop us in our tracks (and not in a good way). And while it’s not such a big deal when it’s a matter of choice (and can be changed), it gives us pause when it’s a matter of construction (and can not).

We happen to be partial to the feel, control and range of cooking with gas; but we realize that for others it's possibly a non-issue. Electric cooktops have made great strides from the bare electric coils of years past, and induction cooktops are gaining momentum based on speed, safety, and efficiency (we've never had the pleasure). And of course, there are simply those who aren’t nearly as food centric (we have a much harder time identifying with these people).

Regardless, we have to wonder, does an all electric kitchen currently have any discernable impact on resale value or days on the market for properties in San Francisco? And are there any “foodie” readers who swear by their electric/induction cooktops?

UPDATE: Based on Greg’s comments, we’ve been checking out the Thermador website (they provide a great overview of induction cooktops). And we're still looking for some agent insight with regard to the impact (if any) of an all electric kitchen in terms of resale.

First Published: December 29, 2006 11:29 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

If I walk into an open and there is an electric range I am pretty much turned off right there. Yes you MIGHT be able to route a gas line to that location to get what you want but from past experience, even the simplest of installs can run 1K and then there are some where even if gas is present in the home it is nearly impossible to run it to that location. I guess its personal opinion but in my view it does have an impact on the ammount I am willing to pay for any place.

Posted by: Dave at December 29, 2006 12:40 PM

Check out those new induction cook tops from Thermador. They stay cool, and boil faster than the equiv. gas cook top.

I had gas in my house when I bought it, and then added an electric line so I could install one of those dual-fuel ranges. Strictly from a materials/labor standpoint, electric cheaper than gas. Gas pipes are not expensive, but the labor to run them is. Electric is cheap to run, but copper is not cheap these days, and you're talking 6 AWG wire.

Most professional chefs will tell you electric *ovens* are superior to gas because they are dry; gas ovens are moist. This affects breads, etc.

Posted by: Greg at December 29, 2006 12:41 PM

I have had to deal with an electric stove since 1999 and I cannot change it to gas since the kithen does not have a hood that vents to the outdoors. I stopped cooking and will never buy a place again with electric.

Posted by: Anonymous at December 29, 2006 1:27 PM

Gas is more appealing no matter what strides are being made. I think it's due to leftover caveman feelings. Cooking with fire - still good stuff.

Posted by: liz at December 29, 2006 1:48 PM

I'm not sure what a non-outdoor venting hood has to do with it -- I've lived in many places with gas cooktops that didn't have outdoor venting. (Not preferred but acceptable.) There is an ever expanding line of dual-fuel hybrids that I've only recently started to see in some recently renovated resales. Growing up as white-trash in the South, electric was everywhere and there are a surprising number of people who are scared by gas cooktops. So I think there's a lot of history that plays into people's choices on these things.

Posted by: Anonymous at December 29, 2006 1:54 PM

I have a Thermador stove with a smooth cooktop, but, I don't think it's induction. Needless to say, I'm not a cook, so I just appreciate that it looks good and is easy to clean. However, I can attest to the fact that it heats up faster than any electric cooktop I've ever had before. Gas sort of scares me and implies a commitment that, as a non "foodie" causes me anxiety.

Posted by: SeeHsee at December 29, 2006 1:57 PM

If electric has come a long way, then why don't newer "luxury condominiums" that don't offer gas offer induction instead of previous generation of electric coils under a solid glass top?

For me, it would be dual-fuel. Gas range with electric oven...

Posted by: Can't think of cool name at December 29, 2006 1:57 PM

Funny story on induction ranges: a friend bought new cookware (I think it was copper clad), and went to make a big feast with it the first night. Nothing would heat up and he thought the range was broken. Not the case. It turns out - get this - that certain metals cannot work with induction ranges (metals have different conductivities) and he had to return ALL the expensive, shiny new pots & pans for more traditional cookware.

[Editor’s Note: Doh! You're probably right about the copper clad. Induction cooktops use a magnetic field to generate heat, and as such, non-ferromagnetic pans (copper/aluminum/glass) won't get hot.]

Posted by: TheRealScoop at December 29, 2006 2:24 PM

"...why don't newer "luxury condominiums" that don't offer gas offer induction instead of previous generation of electric coils under a solid glass top?"

Cost. While they might look somewhat similar, induction cooktops, in addition to being more effective/efficient, are significantly more expensive than glass topped electric.

Posted by: Michael at December 29, 2006 3:08 PM

Michael, I agree, but with condos now going for approximately $1000 per square foot, you would think that the margins are not that out of whack for induction to the overall cost of the unit that the develoepr still wouldn't make a killing. After all, many of these condos have Sub Zero fridge/freezers that go for $6500 retail.

I guess "luxury condominiums" will get traditional electric (coils under glass), but "world class condominiums" will get induction. If the previous comes true, you heard it here first. But does that mean that "world class luxury condominiums" get gas?

Posted by: Can't think of cool name at December 29, 2006 3:49 PM

I pulled some examples from online stores:

36" GE Profile electric cooktop, 1079$
36" Thermador Induction cooktop, 2749$

Now, these are MSRPs, and contractors get a break on these prices, but the GE model will scale down in price faster than the Thermador, because it's not considered a "luxury" brand. Still almost 3x the price.

Best for the contractor is to put a Magic Chef cooktop and you'll see that price go down to the 500 range.

Posted by: Greg at December 29, 2006 5:45 PM

"I'm not sure what a non-outdoor venting hood has to do with it -- I've lived in many places with gas cooktops that didn't have outdoor venting."

Hmmm, that is what my HOA said but maybe they just don't want to allow it. Good excuse.

Posted by: Anonymous at December 29, 2006 11:54 PM

I bought my place a few months ago (new development) and have a gas stove/oven. I personally don't care at all whether it's gas or electric. I would personally rather have those smooth types like in the picture because it look high tech. But like others have said, my realtor told me that a gas oven has a better resale value because a lot of people prefer gas for some reason. I guess that's good for me.

Posted by: PotreroResident at December 30, 2006 9:36 AM

I'm a fantastic cook, and I have never had an issue with my traditional electric stove and oven.

People who say you can't cook with electric are the same folks who blame their golf ball for not going in the right direction.

Posted by: Jennifer at December 30, 2006 9:53 AM

Jennifer, I don't believe the issue is cookability (is that a word?), but rather if gas has a greater impact on a home sale than electric. For me the answer is yes, but that's just my opinion. If I'm to pay $1000 or more per square foot for a home in the city, gas is one item (of many) I'm looking for as a requirement. Yes, I will admit it may be psychological.

And everybody knows it's not the golf ball that causes the problems, it’s always the golf club...

Posted by: Can't think of cool name at December 30, 2006 10:30 AM

I try to be a good cook and have lived with both gas and electric, but chose (shocking I know) electric for my remodel since 1) I was very short on counter space and 2) I did not want to plumb a gas line in (it would have had to come in overhead to an island, therefore it would have been visible or had to be covered somehow, and the architecture would not like either option). Even the newer non-induction electric cooktops are very fast on heating up, but their biggest deficit is of course lagging transitions compared to adjucting the flame. You just can't overcome the thermal lag (does induction completely eliminate this?) and gas will always win over conventional electric in this regard. That said, a friend who's a real foodie and great chef has lived with both, and he shrugs off any religiosity about either, comparing the difference to that between an automatic transmission and a stick shift. Not sure I get that analogy (:-) but I agree that you can't blame being unsuccessful in the kitchen on electric. And in my case I love the ability to use the glass top to prepare food, roll out pastry, etc.

Posted by: Tom at December 30, 2006 10:52 AM

Jennifer .. I'm with you. In my past four houses, two have had gas and two have had modern electric. Today's electric cooktops (at least the GE & Bosch variaties) are extremely effiecient at their jobs. Glass cooktops with halogen burners are truly amazing -- fastest water boiling I've ever seen -- and with as much fine control as with a gas burner. I'm eagerly awaiting the chance to upgrade my current Bosch electric cooktop to an induction cooktop as well. (You can find them for around $1800 if you look). Induction is the most efficient choice around -- and will work fine with All-Clad!

Posted by: Garrett at December 30, 2006 6:47 PM

My mother had a beautiful induction cooktop installed at a cost of several thousands of dollars when she re-did her kitchen. It looks very striking, but apparently it's very fragile. Perhaps she's just very protective, but not being able to slide over a heavy pot would make it a non-starter in my book. Perhaps she got the wrong stove, but it takes a long time to heat a pan as well. I assume they sell most of those stoves to the people who buy marble top cooking surfaces-- folks who are willing to spend more time wiping down surfaces than cooking things.

Posted by: GimmieGas at December 31, 2006 11:51 AM

I always had gas until my current house. The main kitchen has an electric cooktop, and the secondary kitchen has a gas range. The electric cooktop is modern, coil-under-glass, not induction. I didn't think I'd like the electric cooktop, but works just fine. It actually heats up pots very quickly. I've never had any cooking task that has required me to use the gas range as opposed to the electric.

Maybe with the next kitchen remodel-- in several years-- I'll put in gas, but I'm in no rush. At this point, the only rationale would be theoretical-- that gas is more desireable at resale.

Posted by: Dan at December 31, 2006 2:50 PM

I think you would wish you had electric instead of gas in the event of an earthquake. I just hope the new condo buildings won't be "Tower Inferno" when the Big One strikes.

Posted by: Anonymous at January 2, 2007 10:16 AM

Ge ceramic downdraft cooktop. does anyone have this and like it. the model with the bridging element. any problems. is the vent powerful? Is the glass fragile? would you buy again?

Posted by: pam at October 7, 2007 6:41 PM

i think it's pretty obvious that anyone that knows how to cook prefers gas, the rest don't miss it.

Posted by: james at October 8, 2007 7:08 AM

Gas is a waste of space and more importantly money. 20-30% of the energy contained in that gas goes into heating the pot. The other 70% is heating the room which your HVAC unit then has to pump out of the house. So you are paying double for the right to burn that inefficient gas cook top. Oh yeah not to mention that my down draft vent pulls the flame into the vent thus further reducing the cooking effectiveness. Also if I open a window, a cross wind could blow the flame out causing the igniter to constantly relight the flame. Oh yeah and then their is the by products from combustion polluting the air. I'll never put gas in a house I build again. Induction with its 90%+ efficiency, fast heating, and safety blows the old school competition out of the water.

Posted by: Daniel Byrne at May 20, 2008 12:45 PM

We recently remodeled our kitchen. I loved cooking on my old electic range. My husband thought that a gas cooktop would be a better choice this time around. I don't like it. It's harder to keep clean, some of my pots and pans are discolored now, even when I have a burner on a low setting it is sill too hot for my taste. I also do not like the idea of having an open flame expecially with small children in the house. I wish I could get an electric cooktop.

Posted by: Sally Smith at March 28, 2011 7:44 AM

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