Those looking to get a new gas range will have already seen BTUs mentioned on various specification tables and lists. This measurement unit is used to describe the power of burners and ovens.

What is BTU?

BTU (British Thermal Unit) is the international measurement unit for energy. Without getting into more complicated explanations, it refers to how much energy needs to be spent in order to increase the temperature of 1lb of water by 1°F.

While it comes to the burners of gas ranges, higher values are usually better. However, even this depends on use.

Flexibility is important

You may have seen that professional gas ranges come with burners that can go up to 18,000BTU. This basically means that they can heat and cook food extremely fast, but power is not everything when it comes to cooking.

  • High BTU – You need a powerful burner to cook food fast or to be able to cook properly using very large pots;
  • Low BTU – Lower powered burners are ideal for boiling water or simmering sauces. There are gas range models that have burners that can go as low as 650 BTU, making ideal for this purpose;
  • Oven burners – The oven burners should always be as powerful as possible. The higher the BTU, the faster the food will bake or cook;

In other words, for a gas range to be truly useful, it should have at least one powerful burner and one that can go as low as possible. Most manufacturers include three or four types of burners of different power in order to give the owner all the flexibility needed to cook any kind of food.

How many BTUs are needed for your cooking style

As with other features, the power of the burners should be chosen depending on what and how you cook. Those who only cook occasionally will probably be just fine with a mid-range gas range that has somewhere around 3,000 and 7,000BTU burners. This is usually enough for general purpose cooking and is perfect for both small families and passionate individuals.

However, if you have a big family, cook a lot of food at the same time, or want to experiment with new recipes on a regular basis, you will need more powerful burners. For example, Asian cuisine calls for food to be prepared in larger pans called Woks. These require a more powerful burner due to their increased size.

A matter of design

All professional gas stove models have at least two powerful burners, but some also come with a central, elongated burner that is more powerful than the others. This is designed in order to accommodate larger pans and pots.

In the end, determining how many BTUs your gas range’s burners should have is a matter of what kind of pots and pans you use to cook. The bigger the cookware, the more power is needed to heat the pan or pot evenly and cook the food.

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