Features to Look for When Shopping for a New RV Cooktop
What's the best RV cooktop for your camper? This can be a loaded question and one that will often be based on your unique needs. But to get you started, there are a few things you should look for, and questions you should ask, in order to make the best purchase decision for your needs and RV setup.
RV cooktops provide users the capability to cook in their camper just like they would at home. They create a compact cooking surface that secures atop or between other cabinets.
Key Features to Look for
Due to space restraints, you may choose to opt for a cooktop, or your needs just might not call for a full-size range. Either way, an RV cooktop is a much more affordable option and can provide just as good, if not better, cooking efficiency than a range. Just keep in mind that a cooktop may require some additional custom fitting to get it into its allotted space.
When shopping for your new cooktop, you'll find that you have a lot of options and features to choose from. It can often be confusing trying to decipher what you need for your camper and what you don't. Keep the following must-have features in mind.
1. Multiple Burners With Variable BTU
A major selling feature of an RV cooktop is the fact that it allows you to have burners with variable BTUs. While a single-burner RV cooktop is an option, a model with multiple burner sizes and variable BTUs allows you more flexibility when cooking.
Smaller burners with lower BTUs work best for simmering, while larger burners with higher BTUs are perfect for cooking meats since they provide a more powerful cooking process. If you're getting a cooktop with multiple burners, be sure that you're also getting variable BTUs.
2. Easy-to-use Controls
While this doesn't seem like a major feature, easy-to-use controls are a must. You want to be able to quickly and easily use your cooktop without a lot of fuss. Typically, an RV propane cooktop will have turn-dial knobs to control the flames, whereas an RV electric cooktop will feature a touchpad or push-button controls. Some cooktops even have a lockout feature to prevent unintended use. This comes in handy if small children will be in your RV or if it's time to clean your cooktop.
3. Low Maintenance
When you have an RV or camper, the last thing you want to be doing is cleaning. So, make sure your cooktop is low maintenance and easy to clean. Look for an RV cooktop that doesn't have a lot of grooves or crevices. If ease of cleaning is your No. 1 priority, an RV electric cooktop is the clear choice due to its smooth surface.
4. Reliable Ventilation
As a safety measure, your cooktop should have proper ventilation measures in place. Some cooktops come with an internal downdraft fan that is either in the cooktop itself, behind the burners, on the side or in the center. This is a great option if you're not working with a lot of space. If you have a little more room to play with, opt to install an overhead hood instead. This will help to efficiently draw heat and smoke during the cooking process.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Now that you know the four key features your new RV cooktop should have, you can start to consider some personal preferences. From ignition type to finish, there are some product specifications that you'll need to nail down. Ask yourself the following questions to determine the ideal cooktop model for your needs.
Do You Want a Drop-in or Slide-in?
When shopping for your new RV cooktop, you have two options to contemplate when it comes to the configuration: a drop-in or a slide-in. Whether you're considering a Dometic drop-in cooktop or a slide-in Atwood cooktop, the cost difference will typically fall within the size of the cooktop, the number of burners and the material it's made of.
- A drop-in cooktop is a horizontal surface that is surrounded on all four sides by the countertop.
- A slide-in cooktop is a little more expensive but it can more easily be inserted into an empty space between countertops. This option also has a horizontal surface but includes a front-facing vertical surface where the controls are located.
Do You Want Piezo Ignition or Match Lit?
If you're opting for an RV induction cooktop or an RV electric cooktop, you typically have an electric panel to operate your burners. But, if you're opting for an RV propane cooktop, you'll have two ignitor types to choose from.
The first is piezo ignition. This type of ignition uses the principle of piezoelectricity, or more simply, an electric charge that accumulates in some materials in response to high pressure. It utilizes a spring-loaded hammer to create a high voltage. The subsequent electrical discharge then ignites the gas. These systems are typically operated by a lever, button or built into a control knob.
The second ignitor type, and arguably the more common type, is match lit. With this system, you'll first turn on the propane running to the cooktop. Next, you'll lift the stove top and look for the pilot light. Then, simply push the pilot light control in while holding a lit match or lighter over the pilot light hole. Once the pilot light is lit, keep the control button held for at least 30 seconds to ensure the pilot light remains on.
Do You Prefer Stainless Steel or Metal?
This question is all about preference, aesthetics and upkeep. Stainless steel RV cooktops are typically durable, easy-to-clean, germ-resistant and stylish with nearly any decor. But keep in mind that stainless steel can be easily damaged with improper cleaning materials and fingerprints tend to remain on the surface.
Black metal cooktops are durable, energy-efficient and hide stains easier than stainless steel models. However, this type of cooktop is often more prone to damage and stains.
Do You Want a Stove and Sink Combination Unit?
If you have a more compact RV, you may want to consider a stove and sink combination unit. While obviously conserving valuable space inside of your camper, this type of cooktop has additional benefits. First of all, you only need one cut-out hole in your countertop. Second, many of these units come with a lid and collapsible faucet, meaning you get more counter space when the RV cooktop or sink isn't in use.
Keep in mind, with this type of cooktop, you're typically limited to one or two burners. In addition to this, the sink can be on the small side and the unique shape can make it a little tricky when it comes to cutting the hole in your countertop.
Popular Cooktop Options
Now that you have a good grasp on what kind of RV cooktop you need in your camper, you can begin to shop around to find the best RV cooktop for your camper.
If you're looking for an affordable cooktop that delivers serious cooking power while fitting nicely into tight spaces, the Atwood (Dometic) Vision Cooktop line is for you. Both utilize match-light ignition, as well as a 7,200 BTU burner and two 5,200 BTU burners that can go from simmering to boiling quickly and efficiently. Choose from the two-burner, stainless steel Atwood 56494 and the three-burner, black Atwood 56471.
If you plan to utilize your RV propane cooktop a lot or simply want a more high-end cooktop, you'll want to check out the Atwood (Dometic) Wedgewood Vision Cooktop series. Both feature three burners, piezo ignition systems and a 9,000 BTU burner and two 6,500 BTU burners that can simmer or boil quickly and efficiently. Choose from the black Atwood 52756 and the stainless steel Atwood 52757.
Don't forget your cover! The Atwood 54102 Stainless Steel Cover expands your counter space when in use and features a latching mechanism to remain in an upright position when open. When open and folded back, the cover also acts as a backsplash to protect your camper's interior walls from food and grease splatter.
Shop Boat & RV Accessories for the Best RV Cooktops
We work hard to provide our customers with the best quality products at the lowest prices. At Boat & RV Accessories, we carry only new, top-of-the-line products designed to be safe, durable and reliable — every time. Shop our selection of camper stoves today to find the right cooktop for your unique needs. Have a question or need additional information about our line of products? Reach out today.