Stoves, ovens and cooktops can be powered by gas or electricity. While gas has been an historic favourite for many Australian households, electric appliances are becoming increasingly popular. So what’s the difference, and which is the best fuel for cooking?
It cannot be accurately claimed that either gas or electricity is the best for cooking under all circumstances. While gas stoves and ovens have certain advantages, they will also be less favourable than electric models on some occasions. Take a closer look.
What are the pros of cooking with gas?
One of the most noticeable features of gas stovetops is that they are generally more responsive to adjustments in heat than their electric counterparts. From the moment you switch on, a gas stove will heat to the desired temperature, while electric stovetops will instead require a few moments to heat up. It’s for this reason in particular that restaurants favour gas appliances – so they can cook quickly!
As for gas ovens, they tend to produce a moist heat in contrast to electric models. This can be a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it, because while it means electric ovens are slightly better for baking, gas ovens excel at roasts.
What are the cons of cooking with gas?
The main drawback of gas is that it has a reputation for being less accurate than electrical stoves. The power on an electrical stove can be set at a certain level and will remain there indefinitely, whereas gas flow can sometimes be temperamental and vary in volume. The flame can also be interrupted by wind if you have an open window near the stove, or open your oven door. That said, modern stovetops are much more reliable than in previous years and the difference is pretty small.
Another drawback of gas, and perhaps the most obvious, is that you need some sort of gas connection. Nearly all Australian houses have an electricity connection, but far fewer have a connection to mains gas. If you don’t have a gas line, then the only way gas cooking appliances can be used is with LPG, which requires regularly refilling the bottle.
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How much do gas stoves and cooktops cost?
Given the above pros and cons, many kitchen connoisseurs will likely favour gas stoves. Unfortunately, quality comes at a price, meaning gas appliances are slightly more expensive than electric in terms of both the purchase price and installation cost. Using information from Appliances Online, the price range you should usually expect for stove ovens and cooktops are as follows:
- Electric: $528 – $4,582
- Gas: $626 – $4,392
- Electric: $308 – $1,319
- Gas: $244 – $2,472
What’s the price of installation?
Installing a gas stove oven or cooktop will usually be more expensive than installing electric models. Again to illustrate, installing an electric oven or cooktop through Appliances Online’s partners ‘Handy Crew’ will cost you $250, while for a gas model it will cost $280. While this seems like a small difference, it assumes your home or business already has mains gas installed and fitted. If you don’t have a fixed gas line, you will need to factor in the cost of LPG gas or the installation of mains gas (which can be over a thousand dollars).
Have you considered gas rates?
Gas usage rates are considerably cheaper than electricity on most networks. The amount you can save may not be all that impressive in the short run, however, the savings will certainly add up over time – possibly justifying the expense of purchasing a slightly more expensive gas unit in the first place.
The standing offer electricity price for a Sydney home on its first block of usage is 24.167c per kilowatt Hour (kWh), while the price of gas on its first block of usage is only 3.861c per megajoule (MJ). As a rough measurement, a single kWh produces the same amount of energy as 3.6 megajoules, meaning gas will cost 13.899c to produce a kWh worth of energy to cook with. This is still over 10c cheaper than electricity.
Using the Energy Use Calculator, we see that if this hypothetical household used a 1500 watt (medium power) electric stove top for 30 minutes each day at a price of 24.167c/kWh, it will cost $66.16 per year.
Now making the same assumptions, but using the gas rate of 13.899c/kWh, it will only cost $38.05 per year – a saving of $28.11 every 12 months. While it’s not a hugely significant amount, this is not including any savings from gas ovens or other gas appliances.
Whether or not what you save on gas rates justifies the purchase of a slightly more expensive gas unit will depend on how much you tend to cook, as well as the size of your stove or cooktop. The more cooking you do, the more you stand to save with a gas appliance.
Summary of pros and cons of cooking with gas
So what’s the verdict?
The answer is… it depends. If you’re a small business operating a restaurant or café, then it might be in your best interests to use gas ovens and cooktops, as it will be more likely to pay for itself with the savings on your gas rates. For a standard home, the difference between cooking with electricity or gas is unlikely to have any noticeable impact on your food quality, but choosing gas will save you money on your energy bills over time.
It’s all simply a matter of preference. If you don’t have a mains gas connection already, it’s difficult to justify the expense. If your heart is set on it though, consider also switching your hot water system as well as other appliances for further future savings.