Kitchen Hob Buyer Guide | Types of Hobs Explained

Hobs are an essential part of any kitchen. They’re the focal point of our culinary endeavours and, without them, we’d be unable to cook many of our favourite meals.

However, there are different types of kitchen hobs – and it’s important to understand the unique benefits and limitations of each before choosing which type is best for you.


What is an Induction Hob?

An induction hob uses electromagnetic fields to generate heat within the cookware.

It relies on induction technology to transfer heat, making it energy-efficient, quick-to-heat and precise. The surface of the kitchen hob also remains cool during cooking, making it the safest option in a busy household.

An induction hob cooking an egg


How Do Induction Hobs Work?

Induction hobs use electromagnetic fields to create an alternating current in the hob’s coil beneath its ceramic surface.

This current induces a magnetic field in the cookware, generating heat directly within your pots and pans.

The hob itself remains cool and heat is only generated when compatible cookware is present.


Advantages of Induction Hobs

The key advantages of induction hobs include:

  • Rapid heating.
  • Precise temperature control.
  • Energy efficiency.
  • Safety with a cooled surface.
  • Easy cleaning.


Limitations of Induction Hobs

The limitations of induction hobs include:

  • Requires a specialist set of induction cookware with magnetic properties.
  • Higher initial cost.
  • Potential noise disruption from cooling fans.
  • Needs a dedicated power supply.

Can potentially produce electromagnetic interference that can affect nearby technology.


What Is a Gas Hob?

Gas hobs are what most of us picture when we think of kitchen hobs. It’s a type of cooktop that uses natural gas to generate heat.

They use Bunsen burners with adjustable flames to create a desired level of heat beneath the pan.

A lit gas hob


How Gas Hobs Work

Gas hobs work by distributing natural gas through pipes to the burners located on the kitchen hob.

When that gas is ignited, it creates a flame that heats your pots and pans.

The flame intensity can be adjusted with a dial to control the temperature of the hob.


Advantages of Gas Hobs

The advantages of using gas hobs include:

  • Precise temperature control.
  • Quick heating times.
  • Even heat distribution.
  • Compatibility with a wide range of cookware.


Limitations of Gas Hobs

Gas hobs also have a few limitations that are worth considering before choosing a kitchen cooktop:

  • Higher energy consumption (making them more costly to run).
  • Potential for open flame accidents and fires.

Harder to clean than other types of kitchen hobs.


What Is an Electric Hob?

An electric hob – as its name suggests - uses electricity as its power source instead of gas. It typically consists of heating elements that are embedded beneath a solid plate or ceramic surface.

Electric hobs provide consistent heat distribution and offer different heating elements for a variety of cooking requirements.

These elements include but are not limited to – radiant, halogen and coil.

A glowing red electric hob


How Electric Hobs Work

Electric hobs work by using an electrical current beneath a glass or ceramic plate to generate heat across the plate's surface.

When the hob is turned on, the heating elements warm up – this transfers heat to the cookware placed on the hob.


Advantages of Electric Hobs

Some of the advantages of electric hobs include:

  • Precise temperature control.
  • Easy-to-clean surfaces.
  • Compatibility with various cookware.
  • No open flames for improved safety.


Limitations of Electric Hobs

However, some of the limitations of electric hobs include:

  • Longer heating time.
  • Increasing or decreasing temperature takes slightly longer.
  • High energy consumption.


Choosing the Right Kitchen Hob

Choosing the right kitchen hob can be tricky. There's a lot to keep in mind when selecting a hob for your kitchen, from your cooking habits to how much you’re able to spend.

The main factors to consider include:

  1. Budget
  2. Cooking habits
  3. Safety considerations


What’s Your Budget?

There are kitchen hobs for every budget – from larger models for bigger homes to compact or energy-saving models that cost less to run.

If you’re happy to spend more upfront, an induction hob can provide quick and efficient cooking, while also saving on energy costs long-term compared with gas hobs.

However, electric or gas hobs come at a lower price point and can still be affordable to run for smaller households.


Lifestyle and Cooking Habits

Your cooking habits will likely determine which type of hob is right for you. If you like to cook up a storm in the kitchen, a gas hob provides temperature control accuracy to help you perfect your meals.

However, if you prefer to cook relatively simple meals, an electric or induction hob will get the job done while proving easier to use.


Safety Considerations

For families with children, or in smaller, enclosed kitchens, induction hobs are the safest solution.

They generate no heat on the cooking top itself, reducing the risk of burns or surrounding items catching fire.

Electric hobs also prove safer than gas hobs, as they don’t generate an open flame – however, no hob itself is necessarily dangerous when used carefully.


Ceramic vs Induction Hobs

Ceramic hobs use electric coils under the hob surface. On contact, these heating elements transfer energy to the bottom of a pan.

This is different to induction hobs, which use magnetics to heat the pan directly. With ceramic hobs, the plate surface also heats up – but with induction hobs, only the pan is heated.

Induction hobs heat faster and are more efficient but require special magnetised cookware to use. Ceramic hobs are slower to heat and less energy efficient but can be used with multiple types of cookware.


Which Pans Are Best for Which Kitchen Hobs?

Different kitchen hobs transfer heat in different ways and, therefore, may require unique cookware. So, which hob is best suited to your current cooking equipment?

Below is a simple guide on which types of pans are best suited for each kitchen hob:


Which Pans Are Best for Electric and Gas Hobs?

For electric hobs, pans with smooth, flat bottoms are best – providing as much contact between the pan and the heating element as possible.

For gas hobs, pans with thicker bottoms and even heat distribution are ideal. This is because open flames are naturally uneven, so a pan with a thicker bottom will help evenly spread the heat for the best cooking results.


Do Induction Hobs Need Special Pans?

Induction hobs require specialised pans with magnetic properties made from cast iron or stainless steel. Induction cooking uses magnetic fields to generate heat directly in the pan, so the cookware must have a magnetic base for effective heat transfer.


Do Ceramic Hobs Need Special Pans?

While ceramic hobs don’t require special pans, like electric hobs, they work best alongside pans with a wide base and smooth surface for even contact with heating elements.

Pans with rough or uneven surfaces can also scratch the ceramic plates.


Maintenance and Care for Kitchen Hobs

It’s important to look after kitchen hobs to avoid wear over time, which can affect cooking performance or simply prove unhygienic.

Most hobs can be maintained with household cleaning items and should be wiped down after each use, with regular deep cleaning around every six months.

A woman cleaning an electric kitchen hob


How To Clean Kitchen Hobs

For gas-powered kitchen hobs, it's important to use a non-abrasive cleaner and a soft cloth to wipe away spills and stains.

First, remove the burner cap and cooking grates. Clean these separately by soaking them in warm, soapy water and scrubbing gently before re-assembling.

Regularly wipe down the cooktop surface and the associated dials with a simple mild detergent solution.

For electric and gas hobs, simply use the same non-abrasive cleaner to wipe down the flat surface of the cooktop.

Remember: It’s important to double-check that an electric hob has been turned off and has been given sufficient time to cool before cleaning.


Gas Hob Maintenance

Regular maintenance for gas hobs includes cleaning burner caps, grates and burner ports and checking gas lines for leaks.

It’s also recommended to schedule provisional maintenance with a qualified gas professional to ensure optimal performance and safety.


Caring for Electric and Induction Hobs

Caring for electric hobs means cleaning the cooktop surface with a non-abrasive cleaner, checking for faulty heating controls and replacing them, and ensuring proper ventilation.

It’s also important to follow manufacturer guidelines and avoid using harsh chemicals that could damage the cooktop.


Common Troubleshooting for Kitchen Hobs

It’s important to be aware of the common issues that can affect each type of hob, so they can be quickly resolved.


Induction Hobs

  • Error codes or flashing lights.
  • Cookware compatibility issues.
  • Overheating or automatic shutdown.
  • Unresponsive touch controls.

Troubleshooting steps may involve checking the power supply, ensuring proper cookware placement or resetting the hob.

To avoid serious injury with any of these troubleshooting methods, it’s advised to call an appliance repair specialist.


Gas Hobs

  • Uneven flame distribution.
  • Burner ignition issues.
  • Clogged burner ports.
  • Gas odour (could represent a gas leak).
  • Clicking sounds after ignition.

These problems can be commonly resolved by cleaning the burners regularly, checking the gas supply and adjusting the burner caps.

However, if you suspect a more serious fault, call a specialist gas engineer.


Electric Hobs

  • Unresponsiveness or malfunctioning heating elements.
  • Uneven heat distribution.
  • Temperature control issues.
  • Indicator light problems.

These problems can regularly be resolved by checking power connections, replacing faulty elements or controls and ensuring proper cleaning and maintenance.


Kitchen Hobs from RDO

Ready to buy your perfect kitchen hob after reading our helpful guide? We stock a range of gas, electric and induction hobs in various sizes to suit any home kitchen.

View our range today or chat with our kitchen appliance specialists for more help today.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Q: What Is the Difference Between a Solid Plate and a Ceramic Hob?

A: The main difference between a solid plate and a ceramic hob is in the heating element design. Solid plate hobs have electric heating elements sealed beneath solid cast iron or metal plates, while ceramic hobs have embedded electric heating elements beneath a ceramic surface.


Q: Can You Replace a Ceramic Hob with An Induction Hob?

A: While it is possible to replace a ceramic hob with an induction hob, it does require some modifications to its electrical setup. This is because induction hobs typically require a dedicated power supply. Before undertaking any modifications, it is recommended to consult a qualified technician.


Q: What Is the Difference between an Induction Hob and a Normal Hob?

A: The main difference between an induction hob and a normal hob (such as a gas or electric hob) is the heating method. Induction hobs use electromagnetic fields to directly heat the cookware. This offers faster heating times, precise temperature control, energy efficiency and a cool-to-touch surface. Normal hobs rely on other heating mechanisms, like gas flames or electricity.