What type of equipment do you use?
Range Components – Cabinet, Cooking Elements (Open Top Element, Hot Top Element, French Plate Element, Induction Element)
There are 2 main components that comprise a Range, the Cabinet and the Cooking Elements
Range equipment is available in many different sizes and configurations. Most units are 36 inches high and 30 to 32 inches deep and vary from 18 to 60 inches wide. Smaller units contain only two cooking elements, while larger units can contain more than a dozen. Ranges can be free-standing or mounted over an oven or cabinet base. Some free-standing units on a counter-top and are sometimes called cooktops.
All ranges have some type of cooking element. The various element types are described below:
Open Top element
The most common type of cooking element is the open-top element.
Open top gas burners have a steel or cast iron grate that holds cookware in place. Gas burners below the grate produce a flame that directly contacts the cookware bottom. Open burners provide precise temperature control by adjusting the height of the gas flame and require no preheat time. Each burner is individually controlled by a gas valve on the front of the unit.
Comparable electric units are commonly known as open coil hot plates. Cookware rests on an electric resistance coil which, when heated, transfers heat directly to the cookware bottom. These units usually take a few minutes to preheat when turned on and a few minutes to cool down when turned off. Each cooking element has a separate thermostat to control temperature.
Hot Top element
Hot-top elements use the energy source to heat a thick metal plate rather than heating the cookware directly. These units have a 12 to 18 inch square plate about one-half to one inch thick. The heat source, which can be electric resistance elements or gas burners, heats up the metal plate. Cookware placed on the plate then heats by conduction from the plate. Since two stages of heat transfer are involved, these units are typically much less efficient than open-top designs. Furthermore, the plate can take 30 to 60 minutes to preheat and cool down. Therefore, chefs typically allow these units to continue operating even during slow cooking periods.
French Plate element
A French plate falls somewhere between the open top and the hot top. The cooking element is a round plate about 6 to 10 inches in diameter. The plate heats up from electric resistance coils or gas burners mounted to the bottom (although most are electric). The plate provides even heat distribution and each “eye” is controlled separately.
The electric induction element is significantly different from other types. Induction coils located under a ceramic surface induce an electric current in the cookware, producing heat. These units offer precise temperature control. These units are by far the most energy efficient because they heat the cookware directly instead of the range surface. The ceramic surface is durable enough to sustain heavy use even when sautéing.
Manufacturers offer a variety of optional features for their ranges. Some units are combined with a conventional or convection oven, griddle, or charbroiler. Some provide space for holding cooked food. Some manufacturers offer units with a combination of cooking elements such as hot tops and open tops. Many ranges also have a shelf or a salamander broiler attached to the back of the unit.