In part 1 of the stovetop series we looked at the different heating techniques and ways to clean the electric coil stovetop, the electric smooth top, and the induction stove top. In the second part of this 2- part series we will finish by looking at gas cooktops and modular cooktops.
Gas cooktops will have 4 or more burner with a visible flame as the heat source which brings fast, precise cooking. These types of cooktops are often preferred by cooks for their fast heat up and quick cool downs. These cooktops use a natural gas or a propane source. They need a 120 volt household circuit as well.
How they heat:
Gas stoves when run by natural gas are connected to a gas line that runs underground and is pressurized. As the stove turns on, the gas line becomes unblocked and the fuel can then flow through the stove’s pipes and then to the burner. In the pipes the gas is then mixed with air which produces a blue, easily controlled flame.
In the stove pipes, a small pipe branches off to the ignition source of the stove. In an older gas stove this would be the pilot light- a small gas fueled flame that is lit at all times. In a newer gas stove the ignition source is an electric spark igniter. This electric spark igniter makes the “clicking” sound heard when the burner is turned on.
The ignition source lights the main pipe igniting the gas there. The flame then travels to the burner where it comes through holes at the base of the burner. The height and strength of the flame is determined by the burner dial which allows the amount of gas in the main pipe to change. 
Always make sure the stove top surface is completely cooled before cleaning. The first step is to remove the burners and if food is stuck on, allow them to soak in either the sink or a basin full of warm, soapy water. Use a rag to wipe off the surface. Where the actual flame is emitted it is a good idea to take something small such as a pin to remove any muck or build up from inside the holes. Rinse the burners thoroughly to ensure there is no soap or residue left on them. Leave these upside down on a clean, dry towel to air dry.
The same method can be used for the burner rings.
For the stovetop surface, start by removing any large food particles you can see and easily pick up such as burnt veggies, or grains of rice. Then using soap and water or baking soda and water mixed together, clean the surface and wipe with a cloth or sponge. Use a clean, dry cloth to wipe down the surface and ensure there is no more soap or baking soda left on the surface.
Induction cooktops are often cooler than other cooktops because only the cookware and the food inside it are heated. They are often more energy efficient as they don’t use traditional radiant heat and they heat food up at a more rapid pace than other cooktops. Induction cooktops are usually heated with electricity.
How it Heats:
Induction cooking is very interesting and quite different than the other ways that stove tops heat up and cook food. Induction stoves make the heating unit (the pot or pan) the generator of the cooking heat. The element’s electronics power a coil that produces a high-frequency electromagnetic field. This electromagnetic field hits the metal of the pot or pan and starts a circulating electronic current which produces heat. The heat produced in the pot or pan is then transferred directly to the food or water inside, which means that nothing outside of the pot or pan gets affected by the heat. The unfortunate part of induction is that it requires that all heating units be made of a “ferrous” metal. Which means aluminum, copper, and pyrex will not be useable on this type of cooktop. However, iron and steel pots and pans should still work fine. 
As the induction stovetop is glass you can follow the cleaning instructions of the electric smooth top stovetop. Theoretically these stovetops stay cleaner as the pot or pan is what becomes hot so caked on food is typically not a problem.
Modular cooktops are perfect for the person who wants flexibility in their stove top. While they have the typical round heating element, it can be replaced with either a grill or griddle. This makes for easy use of pots and pans, and the ability to grill a steak or use the griddle to make perfect pancakes. These are available in both gas or electric.
How it works:
The electric variety of the modular stovetops work in a similar way to the electric smooth top where only the burner puts out heat while the rest of the stovetop can stay cool. This is especially useful if you wish to use the grill and the burner to prevent heat from the burner to be transferred to the grill.
The gas variety provides heat in a way similar to the gas cooktop where it can be run on natural gas and the gas travels through the pipes to bring the flame to the base of the burner.
Cleaning will depend on whether the cooktop is gas or electric. If electric follow the cleaning guide for the electric smooth top and if gas follow the cleaning guide to the gas stove top.
Electric coil, electric smooth top, induction, gas, and modular cook tops all have their individual pros and cons. Next time you need to buy a new stove or range keep these cleaning tips and a basic understanding of how they heat in mind. Are you looking for something easy to clean? Maybe something with more diversity? Maybe a mix of both! Let me know in the comments below if this basic guideline to stovetops helped you and let me know which kind you find best for cooking food and easiest to maintain.
Gord Haines is a journeyman appliance technician with over 25 years of experience. Contact Gord’s Appliance for repair and servicing of all your residential appliances.