The trend in kitchen design today is moving away from the bulky standing ovens that take up so much precious space.
Instead, designers are turning to sleek looking built-in wall ovens. They are able to be installed at a convenient height for the user and are therefore safer and visually less intrusive.
Cooktops are equally as flexible and versatile as you can put them on any countertop, kitchen island, or just about any place where stovetop cooking works for you.
The ability to mount them anywhere means they can be made accessible to a wide range of people. For example, if you use a wheelchair or need to sit down when you cook, you would create an open area below the cooktop. With a regular oven you’d always be sitting sideways at it to cook, which is uncomfortable and dangerous.
The benefits to cooktops are many and varied. Even though the pros swear by gas for cooking with we’ll be focusing on the merits of the smooth-topped ceramic cooktops, as they have more accessible features.
Features of an Accessible Cooktop
Easy-care and safe. The smooth, flat, surface of ceramic cooktops are faster and easier to clean. It also allows you to slide pots on and off the elements instead of lifting them. On an induction cooktop the heat is created by electromagnetic coils that transfers heat to the bottom of the cookware. This results in the surface of the glass remaining relatively cool to the touch, which in addition to being safer it’s also helpful in cleaning up spills easily as the food doesn’t instantly get burnt onto the element. TIP: Since only the cookware gets hot, it reduces heat loss from the element which saves 85 to 90 per cent in electrical energy compared to regular electrical stove tops.
- Extra work-space in a pinch. Due to their flat surface they can double as extra counter space in a small kitchen. It’s also much easier to put a pot to one side on a flat glass top rather than one with an uneven top.
Create a roll-under space. This can be achieved by removing a section of cabinets below the cooktop, or building a mobile cabinet on wheels that can be rolled out from below the cooktop and moved out of the way. This roll-under space should be at least 30 in/75cm wide x 27 in/68cm high. Or as an alternative……..
- Install a height adjustable cooktop. This countertop section/cooktop should be able to range in height between 28in/71cm and 36in/91cm. TIP: If an adjustable countertop is not possible, ensure your countertops are at the slightly lower height of 34in/86cm.
- Clear approach space. A clear floor-space area of 30in/76cm x 48in/122cm is required directly in front of the cooktop for a wheelchair to manoeuver comfortably and easily.
- Burner controls at the front. Ensure that the cooktop has front-mounted controls to safely keep your hands clear of hot elements and boiling pots.
- Staggered burners. This allows you to use the elements safely by not having to reach over a hot pan to reach the back one. Especially useful if you are sitting down or aren’t very tall. TIP: Make sure your cooktop has burners with heat indicator lights for added safety.
Water source nearby. Avoid lugging heavy pots of water from your sink by conveniently locating a faucet in the backsplash at your cooktop.
- Keep your cooking oils close at hand. Try a pull-out drawer beside the cooktop.
- Touch controls rather than knobs. The smooth surface of touch-controls are much easier to clean and use for people who have difficulty grasping and turning knobs. Electric cooktops can offer features such as if an unoccupied element is left on, sensors in the cooktop will turn it off. In some units, sensors can adjust the size of the element to the size of the pan being used. Many cooktops have safety child-locks that can prevent the elements from being turned on.
- Good task lighting. Ensure you have appropriate lighting for this area so you can see better, which is in turn safer.
Before you decide on a regular oven re-evaluate your kitchen and see where you can fit in a cooktop instead. There are several sizes of cooktops including 24in/61cm, 30in/76cm, 36in/91cm, 45in/114cm, so you should be able to find one to suite your kitchen size.
GE has a large selection that meets ADA regulations or google ADA compliant cooktops for more choice.
If you already have a cooktop, let us know in the comments below what you love, or even don’t love about it.