Buying a new stove is a big decision. This article lists the benefits of induction cooking compared to other cooktops, as well as a few drawbacks.
Choosing a new major appliance is a big decision. Not only do they cost a lot of money, but the choice you make will impact your household chores every day for years to come.
Buying a new cooktop or range is no exception. There are many factors to consider, one if which is the main cooktop type: conventional electric, gas, or induction.
Several years ago when I needed a new range, I made the switch to induction and I have never regretted it. In fact, when we later moved into our current house, a new induction range was one of the first major purchases.
Keep reading to learn about the benefits of induction cooking and why I will never switch back to conventional electric or gas cooking.
How does induction cooking work?
Without getting into too much physics, induction cooking works by creating a magnetic current that heats your cookware directly.
This means that the actual stovetop doesn't need to heat up before it passes the heat to your cookware, which makes cooking faster.
It also means that the cooktop itself doesn't get as hot, other than the heat from the pots or pans transferring to the glass cooktop as they sit there.
Benefits of Induction vs. Conventional Electric Cooktop
Induction stoves look identical to the conventional smooth-top electric cooktops that are currently available. They also have the same power requirements, and typically come in the same sizes.
This means that if you currently have an electric range or cooktop that needs replacing, you will likely be able to replace it with an induction model with no renovations or re-wiring required.
Where the clear advantage of induction cooking appears is when we look at the speed of cooking. Because your cookware starts heating instantly once the cooktop is turned on, you won't have to wait as long for it to heat up, and water starts boiling much more quickly.
Induction Cooktops are Faster and more Responsive than Conventional Cooktops
When I first moved into my new house 1.5 years ago, the kitchen had a glass-top conventional range. After cooking with induction for the previous 7 years, I could not believe how long it took to cook food (particularly when boiling water was involved) on this "new" stove.
Since I knew we were planning to purchase a new induction range, I decided to conduct a little experiment. I timed boiling water on the existing conventional stove compared to how long it would take on my new induction stove.
To make sure the results were reliable, I tested how long it took to boil two different volumes of water. I did both a 2 cup test (to replicate how long it would take to make ramen for my kids), and an 8 cup test (approximately how much water I would use to boil a pot of pasta).
For each volume of water, I repeated the test 3 times on both the conventional stovetop and the induction stovetop. I then found the average of each. To ensure consistency, I started with the same temperature of water each time and used the same pot on the same burner each time.
|Conventional Electric Cooktop||Induction Cooktop|
|Small Pot (2 cups)||7 minutes, 12 seconds||2 minutes, 37 seconds|
|Large Pot (8 cups)||14 minutes, 36 seconds||4 minutes, 24 seconds|
I found the results pretty shocking. On average, my induction cooktop boiled water around 3 times faster than my conventional cooktop.
I save around 10 minutes boiling a large pot of water, and around 5 minutes boiling a small pot. Can you imagine how much time that adds up to over the years?
Induction cooktops are also more responsive than conventional cooktops. This means that when you turn the heat up or down, the heat to the pot or pan changes immediately.
Compare this to a conventional cooktop, where it takes time for the element to heat up/cool down and additional time for that heat to conduct through to the pot.
This responsiveness had saved me many boil-overs and burning food over the years.
Induction Cooktops are Easier to Clean than Conventional Cooktops
Both glass-topped conventional electric cooktops and induction cooktops have the benefit of having smooth, glass tops that are easy to wipe down.
However, induction cooktops have a major benefit when it comes to cleaning. Because the cooktop itself doesn't get hot, food that does get spilled while cooking (especially if your pot boils over), doesn't immediately burn onto the glass. If spills do happen, you can simply move the hot pot or pan, and carefully wipe the spill up.
Compare this to spills that happen on a conventional cooktop. When food is spilled onto a hot burner, it immediately burns onto the glass cooktop, making it difficult to scrape off and remove.
Induction Cooktops are Safer than Conventional Cooktops
Induction cooktops don't get hot on their own. They use magnetic currents to directly heat your cookware. Compare this to conventional electric cooktops which get extremely hot, and stay hot for a long time after the cooktop is turned off, despite minimal or no visual cues that they're hot.
Because of this, induction cooktops pose a lower risk for burns. This may be an important factor to consider if your household has young, curious children.
This is an especially important factor if your range has front controls, and could result in cooktops accidentally being turned on.
If this were to happen on an induction cooktop that doesn't have anything on the top of it, the stove will simply beep an error warning, and turn itself back off, with no risk of overheating or burns.
Benefits of Induction vs. Gas Cooktops
Cooking on a gas stove has long been preferred over cooking on an electric stove by chefs due to the ability of gas to heat up pans more quickly and to change the heat of cookware more quickly than electric stoves.
Compared to gas stoves, induction cooking does both of those things just as well. Let's take a look at what induction cooking does better than gas cooking.
Induction Cooktops are Safer than Gas Cooktops
Gas stoves can be a safety concern for households with young children, especially when the controls are easy to reach on the front of the stove.
This could potentially lead to burners accidentally being turned on by little hands, and possibly leading to burns or even fires. This risk is eliminated with induction stoves that don't get hot when no cookware is present.
Induction Cooktops are more Environmentally Friendly than Gas Cooktops
Of course, anywhere we can cut back on fossil fuel usage is beneficial to our planet as a whole. In fact, some municipalities are even banning the use of gas cooking appliances in new residential builds.
But gas stoves also pose a risk to your immediate environment and the air quality in your home.
Burning natural gas produces harmful by-products, one of which is NO2, which is often not properly vented and can build up in the air when gas stoves are used. NO2 can be especially problematic for kids, and can cause coughing, wheezing, and an increased risk of asthma.
Some Drawbacks of Induction Cooktops
You Might have to get New Cookware
Because induction cooktops use magnetic currents to heat up your cookware, that means your cookware needs to be magnetic. Spoiler alert - not all cookware is.
To find out if your current cookware will work with a new induction cooktop, simply take a magnet to the bottom surface. If it sticks, great! That means your current cookware will work. This was the case for me when I switched to induction, and I have been using the same stainless steel set for almost 20 years!
If not, you will need to buy new cookware to work with an induction stove, which can be a significant investment. But, depending on how you feel about your current cookware, maybe it's an additional benefit!
What kind of cookware can I use with induction?
Any cookware in which a magnet will stick to the bottom is compatible with induction.
This includes some (but not all) stainless steel pots and pans. If you're unsure, take a magnet with you when you're shopping to double-check. If you're shopping online, most cookware will tell you if it's compatible with induction or not.
Cast iron also works well with induction. I use cast iron skillets, and dutch ovens (both enamel-coated and plain) on a regular basis. Be careful to avoid sliding rough cast iron cookware on your cooktop to avoid scratching.
Carbon steel pans are also compatible and can be an affordable option. However, because they're very conductive and the metal is thinner, I've had issues with mine overheating.
Some non-stick pans are also an option, but these can be more difficult to find. Look for a label that says specifically states a pan is induction compatible, or rely on your trusty magnet when shopping for non-stick.
Any pans that have an aluminum bottom will not work, as aluminum is not magnetic.
Induction Cooktops can be Noisy
When induction cooktops are turned on, they make a faint buzzing or humming sound, which can be louder the higher the heat is turned up.
They also typically run a fan to prevent overheating, which may remain running even after the cooktop is turned off (especially if the hot pot or pan remains sitting on the cooktop).
They can also cause your cookware to make "popping" noises as they warm up (this causes no harm to the cookware). While none of these sounds are particularly loud, some people may find them annoying.
However, all appliances are different, and my old induction stove was much louder than my current one. If you're concerned about noise when you're shopping, try to get an appliance store to demonstrate boiling a pot of water so you can see what sounds it makes.
Induction Cooktops are more Expensive
Induction stoves are a newer technology than conventional electric stoves and are more expensive. However, the cost has come down, so the gap between the two is now lower.
Get Cooking with your Induction Cooktop
Any food that you cooked on an electric or gas cooktop can be cooked on an induction cooktop. Here are some ideas to get you started.