There are many pros to buying an induction cooktop, but there are also some cons. If you’re wondering what an induction cooker is and if it’s right for your home, we’ve written a guide to make the process a bit easier.
Induction cooktops provide faster and more energy-efficient results because they distribute the heat directly to your cookware, instead of via a burner that then heats up your pot or pan. The heating element or burner on an induction cooktop is an electromagnet, and when a magnetic metal such as your cookware is on it, it creates an electric current, which results in heat. This allows heat to be directly transferred to the cookware and its contents.
Buying an induction cooktop: Pros
Induction cooktops are significantly safer than other models because the cooktop surface doesn’t heat up as much. This means there’s less residual heat left when you turn off the cooktop and the burners lose heat quickly. Another major safety advantage is that your cooktop won’t heat up if you switch it on by mistake because there’s no pan to transfer heat to. Some induction cooktops even switch off automatically when they detect you’ve removed a pan, which is both energy efficient and a great safety feature.
An induction cooktop uses electromagnetic coils to heat your pans directly, which is different from how a regular electric cooktop works. Instead of heating the surface of a glass cooktop which then heats up a pan, electromagnetic induction transfers heat directly to your pan and leaves less radiant heat on your cooktop surface.
With regular ranges, your entire burner will heat up even if the base of your pan is smaller. With induction cooktops, only the base of your pan will be heated due to the electromagnetic current. This means there’s no heat lost around the sides of your pan, and by heating your pan directly as opposed to through a traditional cooktop surface, you ensure that most of your energy is going into heating up your pan. According to CDA, “Energy transfer with induction hobs is around 84 percent compared to around 74 percent for gas or ceramic electric, so there are good energy savings.”
Easier to clean
We’ve all been in a situation where our cooking has spilled or boiled over, leading to tiresome scrubbing of the range to remove cooked-on stains. Induction cooktops will save you that effort because any food which escapes from your pan will no longer be heated by the cooktop and therefore won’t cook on. You can wipe off spills easily and quickly, but be careful to not scratch the surface of the cooktop, and these glass tops scratch easily.
There are numerous benefits to this type of technology, but one great advantage is how quickly it heats up food and water in your cooking vessels. With an electric stove, for example, the electric coil must first heat up, and heat is then transferred to the pot. With induction cooktops, you don't have to heat up any coil – the heat is directly transferred to the pot. This makes these cooktops much more energy-efficient compared to its gas and electric counterparts. Furthermore, this allows you to quickly adjust the temperature of the element without waiting for the coil to heat up or cool down. The CDA says: “a pan of water will boil in nearly half the time that it would on a normal gas hob.”
Buying an induction cooktop: Cons
One drawback to this cooktop technology is that these products are known to be much louder than electric or gas stovetops. They can make a loud hum due to the magnetic currents, and the frequency of the sound varies depending on several factors, including the setting and the material and quality of the cookware you use.
Not suitable for all cookware
Induction cooktops require special cookware. Copper, aluminum, and ceramic wares don’t work. To use this advanced technology, you must be able to create an electronic current for the cooking vessel to heat up. Induction cooktops only work with cookware made with magnetic materials, such as stainless steel or cast iron.
To ensure your cookware works on the cooktop, you can perform a magnet test. If a magnet sticks to the bottom of your cooking vessel, it's most likely to work well with your induction cooktop. If a magnet does not stick, you may need to invest in new cookware made from different materials in order to use the cooktop.
However, if you are determined to use stainless steel cookware with your induction cooktop, remember that not all stainless steel is created the same. Some work better than others on an induction cooktop. It is important to use the magnet test before making any purchases to ensure the cookware will work. If you already have a lot of ceramic cookware, investing in an induction cooktop may mean buying a lot of new pots and pans, which can be off-putting for some.
Induction cooktops have become less expensive over time. Some can be bought for well under $1,000, but they’re still more expensive on average than gas and electric cooktops.
Health and safety
If you have a pacemaker, or live with someone who does, do not buy an induction cooktop. Pacemakers are small electrical devices which help to regulate your heart. The electromagnetic field in an induction cooktop could disrupt this, so it's not worth the risk.
Should you buy an induction cooktop?
In short, we think induction cooktops are underrated pieces of kitchen technology. They're safe, energy efficient, and will probably work with your existing selection of kitchenware. If you do have a large amount of ceramic or copper cookware though, it might be best to go for an electric or gas cooktop model.