Is gas or electric better for a stove?
February 18, 2005 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Which is better, a gas stove/oven, or an electric stove/oven?

I currently have a gas stove standalone unit with standing pilot lights. It doesn't work all that great, and every time I start the oven, the pilot light for the oven goes out and I have to relight it.

I am considering a new oven, but am I better getting another gas oven, or electric.

I looked into having a 220 installed there, and because of where the kitchen is located at, it is going to be almost $300 to have it installed. There is no electric service, only a gas line, where the stove is currently located at.

The stove has been a pain to clean, so I am attracted to the smooth top electric stoves.
posted by benjh to Home & Garden (31 answers total)
Combo. Gas stove, electric convection oven. Gas for better temperature regulation on the burners, from a boil to a simmer. Electric oven for even steady heat. BTW, $300 to run a line sounds about right. My electrician told me $250. No more standing pilots, piezio ignition.
posted by fixedgear at 1:49 PM on February 18, 2005

Gas stoves are better, electric ovens are supposed to be better. I don't think you'll find anyone who likes to cook who prefers to cook on an electric stove. I've been told electric ovens don't dry out baked goods the way gas ovens do. I don't think the difference is as dramatic as with a stove though.

I have no gas service to my house so I cook on a glass-topped stove and, for an electric, I love it.
posted by bondcliff at 1:50 PM on February 18, 2005

Better is subjective.

Many people I know that cook regularly prefer gas ranges because, they say, the heat is more even and controllable. Electric ranges can heat unevenly and some people who cook dislike that. As added bonuses, they work when the power is out (just use a kitchen match to ignite, but be careful!) and it's fire. How can you not like fire?

On the other hand, there's little chance that an electric range will explode or develop leaks that will kill you in your sleep.

posted by staresbynight at 1:52 PM on February 18, 2005

As everyone has noted, if you have the option of a gas range, go for it. Electric ranges are awful, terrible things. My last two apartments have had electric ranges, and coming from a gas range, I felt terribly slighted. As far as ovens, I don't see a difference, but the conventional wisdom is that electric ovens are better.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:59 PM on February 18, 2005

An electric stove/oven is a dealbreaker for me in an apartment. I really really hate cooking on those things. Waiting for the burner to heat up and then having to wait for it to cool make me want to throw pots and pans at the damn thing, since I'm used to instant fire/instant not-fire. I would recommend test-driving an electric range at a friend's house to cook a meal to determine whether or not you feel like you could adjust.

If you are actually concerned about the safety angle, get a gas stove w/an electric spark instead of a pilot light. Actually, I think that most of the new gas stoves use these anyway. I actually prefer the pilot light, but that's really just sentimental on my part.

I improve even heating of my oven by leaving a pizza stone on the floor of the oven. I don't actually cook on it, it's just a big ceramic holder-of-heat.
posted by desuetude at 2:03 PM on February 18, 2005

One particular problem with electric ranges is that the heating elements don't change temperature very quickly at all. Which makes simple things like "reduce the heat to a simmer" just not work right.
posted by smackfu at 2:04 PM on February 18, 2005

You should be aware that smooth top electric stoves don't work well unless they make good contact with the bottom of the cookware. That means you need good quality cookware that doesn't warp, or you're in for a lot of frustration.

In addition to heating more evenly and controllably, gas stoves are very forgiving of crappy pots.
posted by Galvatron at 2:06 PM on February 18, 2005

I also much prefer cooking on a gas stovetop (the ability to control the temp accurately and immediately is unbeatable) but hate trying to bake in a gas oven -- I've never had one that kept its temperature very reliably. I had no idea that combo gas ranges/electric ovens existed!
posted by scody at 2:15 PM on February 18, 2005

Depends if gas gives you a headache or not.

We don't even have gas connected to the house. I find the electric hotplates to be fine and if I ever have to replace them I'd go for one of those induction systems that's cool to the touch.
posted by krisjohn at 2:49 PM on February 18, 2005

Electric oven, gas stove.
posted by scarabic at 3:00 PM on February 18, 2005

Look at it this way: electric ovens are better than gas ovens and gas burners are better than electric burners. But no one who cooks seriously would trade an electric oven for gas burners. Gas burners win every single time, much like Saladmaster cookware.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:06 PM on February 18, 2005

I don't have much to add, but I can't resist expressing my deep deep hatred of electric burners. They take forever to heat up or change temperature--you need to see five minutes into the future to regulate temperature properly. If you're cooking anything delicate, you stand a good chance of ruining it. I know; I cooked on electric for the first several years of my cooking life and didn't even realize how much I had been crippled by electric until I tried out gas burners once or twice.

On the other hand, I have never had a problem with a gas oven. I may have just been lucky in terms of calibration and I can certainly understand how there could be problems with it.
posted by lackutrol at 3:31 PM on February 18, 2005

Gas stoves are better, comparing the two options in terms of entropy. Electricity is a "high quality" energy source, because you can use it to drive mechanical work. Using electricity for heating purposes is a huge waste.
posted by alex3005 at 4:43 PM on February 18, 2005

Electric ranges suck at everything except one: they are better than gas for holding things at a very low heat for a long time. I cook a lot of grains and beans and use a pressure cooker often, in which case it's important to keep the pot just barely simmering for many minutes. Yeah, I've used a flame-tamer or rigged something else for the gas stove, but too often the flame goes out or the pot boils over. I bought a standalone electric burner for this purpose and it works beautifully. But for everything else they really do suck.

I do very little baking where it makes a difference if the temperature is off by 25F, so gas ovens have been fine for me. It always takes me a while to figure out the quirks of any oven (like where the hot and cold spots are), whether electric or gas.
posted by TimeFactor at 5:29 PM on February 18, 2005

I have a smooth-top electric stove where I live now and I detest it, except for cleaning it. The burners don't heat up like normal electric burners, they sort of pulse on and off [you know how on some microwaves defrost is just HIGH for ten seconds and then OFF for ten seconds? sort of like that] which makes cooking with an even heat impossible. At the place I normally live I have a gas [propane] range with electric ignition burners and a gas oven. I know I'm in the minority here but I like cooking with the gas oven. The temperature can be a bit erratic, but I have a thermometer in there and, like TimeFactor, I'm rarely cooking anything where it matters.
posted by jessamyn at 5:42 PM on February 18, 2005

posted by caddis at 6:10 PM on February 18, 2005

I don't mind gas hobs but gas ovens and especially grills (broilers) do horrible things to food, or at least the cheap ones you get in rented houses do. Whereas any electric one works fine.
posted by cillit bang at 6:39 PM on February 18, 2005

If you do change to electric be prepared to burn many, many things.

I went from cooking with gas all my life to this house which is electric. I constantly forget to turn off burners as there is no visual reference except for a light indicating that one of the burners is on. So you are cooking dinner, the two front burners going, remove a pot but forget to turn off that burner and then set your oven mitt down. Happens to me all the time. Or you have it on high, something starts to overcook, and you must hold the pot in the air for a minute or two while the burner cools down. Or you are in a hurry and the darn burner seems to never heat up. These and many other scenarios will make you curse the day you ever switched.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:32 PM on February 18, 2005

My last electric range was pretty quick to change temps, and its high heat was a little hotter than my gas stove (GE sold with Sears label). But I still like my gas stove better - being able to make coffee when the power's out is a very good thing.

Electric ranges may not blow up, but if the burner coating wears out, they'll arc, which is way too exciting.
posted by theora55 at 7:46 PM on February 18, 2005

The other nice thing about an electric oven is water control.

A gas oven always has some steam in it, as a combustion product of the natural gas.

An electric oven, not. So it's perfectly dry heat if you want that, and if you want it a bit moister you can put a small pan of water in there with whatever you're cooking.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:23 PM on February 18, 2005

I've had both. Gas hobs every time. I'm ok with either oven, but in my experience gas ovens seem more temperamental, with placement being more critical. And they always seem to go out mysteriously just when you're doing the the big production number for 24 guests. So I vote for the combo.

Anecdote: my maternal grandmother was a great cook. She was used to coal gas. When the family moved to New Zealand, my grandfather invested in a shiny all-electric kitchen. After the first meal, my grandmother burst into tears.

Electric hob = no control. No real foodie can accept electric. (In saying this, my current place is rented and it has an electric hob. I'm tolerating it. But I don't like it.)
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:21 AM on February 19, 2005

i'm nowhere near an expert cook but gas ranges are best ... i just look at the height of the flame to judge how much heat i'm using ... and adjustments quickly take effect
posted by pyramid termite at 3:45 AM on February 19, 2005

I go with the flow on this, electric oven, gas stove/hob.

BUT: My mother-in-law, who cooks like no one else I know, chose a smooth-top glass electric stove. It is NOT a cheap one, and it does heat up very fast. I can only suppose it also cools down fast. She ruins nothing, and visiting there is a gastronomical delight of epic proportions (she's a bright professional woman who cooks as a serious hobby. She's Belgian, so even 'ordinary' stuff for her is mind-boggling to my Midwestern tastebuds!)
posted by Goofyy at 7:59 AM on February 19, 2005

One thing about gas ovens, though, is that I've always found the broiler to work better. I do a lot of 5-minute-a-side meat things (pork chops, fish -- basically, what I'd do on a grill if I had one) and I hated hated hated doing them in an electric oven set to "broil" because they just dried out without getting that nice seared-by-fire flavor.

And like many above, I refuse to move into any apartment with electric burners.
posted by occhiblu at 8:58 AM on February 19, 2005

I refuse to move into any apartment with electric burners.

Whereas apartments refuse to have gas ranges due to the fire risk, so I guess you can't live in apartments.

(I have never seen an apartment with a gas range. Not one. And I've seen a lot of apartments.)
posted by kindall at 9:57 AM on February 19, 2005

What's a "hob"?
posted by Alt F4 at 10:26 AM on February 19, 2005

(I have never seen an apartment with a gas range. Not one. And I've seen a lot of apartments.)

I've seen a lot of apartments too and only one of the dozens of apartments I've rented or lived in came with an electric stove; that was one in SCal. Every other apartment (others in Cal, NY, StL, NH, Boston) came with a gas stove (or no stove but a gas hookup).
posted by TimeFactor at 11:36 AM on February 19, 2005

(I have never seen an apartment with a gas range. Not one. And I've seen a lot of apartments.)

I also have lived in at least one apartment with a gas range.

So neener.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:11 PM on February 19, 2005

hob = stovetop.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:25 PM on February 19, 2005

And I *currently* live in an apartment with a gas range. So yes, I can live in apartments.

I've noticed geographical preferences, though. In Boston, the majority of apartments seemed to have gas. In Washington, almost all electric. San Francisco seems split 50/50. So there may be some electric-only city out there in which, yes, I would not be able to rent an apartment.
posted by occhiblu at 11:58 AM on February 21, 2005

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