Gas vs. Electric Range: Which Is Better?

·5 min read

Each type of range has its strengths, and they're not what you might assume

By Paul Hope

When your stove, or range, conks out, you’re typically limited to replacing it with one that runs on the same fuel source—either electric or gas.

Only about half the homes in the U.S. have gas service available as an option; the rest rely on electric. But as much as gas ranges are hyped in real estate listings and on cooking shows, they don’t necessarily deliver cooking performance that’s significantly better than electric.

And even if gas is an option for you, there are very good reasons to think twice before going with gas—aside from contributing to climate change, recent studies, including this one from Stanford University, have found that methane leaks associated with gas stoves and cooktops may pose health risks, particularly without adequate ventilation.

“If you could determine how well a range could cook from its fuel source, my job would be pretty boring,” says Tara Casaregola, who oversees CR’s range, wall oven, and cooktop lab. “We see the greatest discrepancies between individual models, and you can find excellent choices in gas or electric.”

In most cases, electric stoves outperform their gas counterparts. But there are exceptions to almost every rule, and that’s certainly the case here. Within our range ratings, you’ll find plenty of models that earn top scores in each test we perform, regardless of fuel source.

In CR’s range tests, the best models of either type deliver solid performance across the board. Read on for a breakdown of the two types. And be reassured: If you live in an area without natural gas service, your culinary ambitions don’t have to be limited by the type of range you own.

How CR Compared Performance

For this article, we specifically compare electric smoothtops and gas stoves because they make up the majority of what consumers see in stores. (Electric coil-top and induction ranges have a much smaller slice of the market.) And we found that in most cases, electric ranges have a serious leg up on the performance of gas ranges.

We compared results from the four most crucial tests we perform: high heat, low heat, baking, and broiling. And although performance varies from model to model, whether the range is gas or electric, our tests showed which type of fuel has the edge in each test.

High Heat

Manufacturers of gas and electric ranges have been in a race for years to maximize the output of large burners, which you use to, say, boil a big pot of water for pasta.

Which is faster? Electric, by a pretty big margin. Of the 74 electric smoothtop ranges currently in our ratings, 32 models earn the top rating of Excellent. Forty-two models earn a rating of Very Good. For gas, 49 of the 86 models in our current ratings earn a rating of Very Good, 37 earn a rating of Good. None earn the top rating of Excellent.

Low Heat

For all the emphasis placed on boiling water quickly, a range’s ability to maintain a low, steady simmer is arguably more important. Given enough time, any range will boil water. But there’s no cure for a cooktop with erratic simmering, which can scorch delicate sauces or melted chocolate in an instant.

Which simmers better? Here, electrics are again the winner. For electrics, 45 of 74 models (slightly less than two-thirds) earn the top rating of Excellent, with 15 earning a Very Good and 14 earning a rating of Good. Not a single model earns a rating of Fair or Poor. For gas, about three-quarters of models earn either an Excellent or a Very Good rating in this test, but 13 of the 86 models in our current ratings earn low ratings of either Fair or Poor.

Baking

Lofty cakes and evenly browned cookies aren’t a given, unless you have an oven that bakes evenly.

Which bakes better? It’s close, with gas narrowly getting the edge. For gas ranges, a little more than 70 percent of all models earn either an Excellent or a Very Good rating, and about 27 percent earn a rating of Good. Just one model earns a rating of Fair, and none earned a Poor. For electrics, about 62 percent earn ratings of either Excellent or Very Good, and 30 percent or so earn a rating of Good. Just three earn a rating of Fair, while none earn a rating of Poor.

Broiling

Some of the biggest performance differences we see between gas and electric ranges involve the broiler.

Which broils better? You may assume that—because they cook with a flame—gas broilers are better. But in our tests, they routinely underperform compared with their electric counterparts.

More than half of the electric ranges in our ratings earn a rating of Very Good or better for broiling, and a full third earn the top rating of Excellent. None earn a rating of Poor. For gas, it’s a far bleaker picture. Less than 10 percent of models earn a rating of Very Good or Excellent, and more than a quarter of all models earn a rating of Fair or Poor.

If you’re still undecided about which type of range is right for you, our range buying guide delves even deeper into the pros and cons of each. And below, we’ve highlighted six of the best gas and electric ranges from our tests.

Best Gas Ranges From CR's Tests

Best Electric Ranges From CR's Tests



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