Many professional chefs swear by induction stovetops and grills. However, to the home cook, high-tech induction cooktops may seem too advanced to replace the traditional electric or gas stove. American Home Shield® is here to help you learn more about induction cooking, how a surface can cook without emitting heat, and the advantages and disadvantages of induction cooktops. Then, you can decide whether an induction cooktop is right for you.
What is an Induction Cooktop?
Induction cooktops work by using the power of magnets. Rather than using flames or electricity, induction cooking heats your pot or pan through electromagnetic energy. When you turn on an induction stove zone, it sends an alternating electric current through a copper induction coil that sits just below the cooktop’s smooth glass–ceramic surface. This alternating electric current causes an oscillating magnetic field to form over the zone. Although it may seem like something that belongs in a science fiction novel, an induction cooktop is quite easy to use and is a great alternative to electric and gas stoves.
It may come as a surprise that the key to induction cooking lies in your cookware. Because of the unique way that induction cooking uses electromagnetic energy, you need to use special iron cookware in order for it to work. Cookware that contains enough iron makes the pot or pan magnetic. In response to a magnetic field being created, the iron molecules in your cookware will start moving around in what we can only picture as a mini mosh pit. This allows energy to be transferred in the form of heat from the induction stove to the pot or pan.
Induction Cooktop Pros and Cons
What do induction cooktops have to offer that traditional cooktops lack? Here are the benefits of an induction cooktop:
Precision. Since an induction stove heats your cookware directly, you can employ an extensive range of cooking temperatures and styles, including simmering, melting, boiling, searing, and sauteing. The precise temperature control of induction cooking is a huge perk for fancy foodies and amateur cooks alike.
Fast heating. No more waiting around to see if a watched pot ever boils. One of the greatest benefits of an induction cooktop is its speed. On average, an induction stovetop can boil water two to four minutes faster than a traditional stovetop.
Energy-efficient. Induction cooktops cook food faster while using less energy than traditional stovetops. According to ENERGY STAR, residential induction cooktops are 5 to 10 percent more efficient than electric stoves and three times more efficient than gas stoves.
Safety. An induction cooktop doesn’t get as hot as conventional cooktops because they only heat the surface that is on top of it—the rest of the cooktop stays cool during induction cooking. This can be a fantastic safety feature, especially for households with young children. Keep in mind that if you’re using multiple zones simultaneously, you may find that many parts of the surface will be warm. Another safety benefit is induction cooktops do not emit as many harmful pollutants as gas stoves, making them much better for your home’s indoor air quality.
Easy to clean. Since the only part of the induction cooktop to truly heat up is covered by your cookware, most spills won’t have the chance to cook onto the surface. All you’ll need to do is wipe up any spills or splatters with a damp sponge or cloth—no special cleaning solution required.
Although the pros of induction cooking might make you want to buy one right away, there are some potential downsides to making the switch to induction cooking:
Higher cost. An electric induction cooktop with the typical four zones will usually cost you at least $1000 and can get up to around $5,000; however, the price varies depending on the size, model, and features. There is often a price difference between induction ranges vs. cooktops. If you find yourself balking at the cost, you can always try a significantly cheaper portable induction cooktop before going all-in with your investment.
Cookware requirements. Since induction cooktops require that you use iron pots and pans, you may need to invest in cookware specifically designed for induction cooking.
Learning curve. If you grew up using a traditional gas or electric cooktop, it could feel strange trying to get the hang of induction cooking. With induction cooking’s fast, precise heating process, you may need to spend some time figuring out exactly how to control the heat levels. Additionally, if you’re used to multitasking while food is on the stove, you may find that you no longer have time for many of your standard cooking practices, such as chopping onions while waiting for oil to heat in a pan.
Should You Get an Induction Cooktop?
The way you make food is highly personal and often depends on how you grew up around cooking, how comfortable you are in the kitchen, and even how often you cook. Although some people choose to switch to induction cooking due to climate or safety concerns, others may not want to go through the rigamarole of changing their cooking techniques. If you decide to take the leap of culinary faith, remember to first research the best induction cooktop for your specific needs.
Check out our American Home Shield® Home Matters blog to learn more about choosing a stove, gas vs. electric stoves, and how to replace a gas stove.
Whether you keep your gas or electric stove or usher in a new era with an induction cooktop, you should learn about a home warranty to see how you can protect your budget. A home warranty plan that includes a cooktop warranty means that when parts of your appliance break down due to normal wear and tear, your budget and peace of mind will be protected. Explore affordable plans from American Home Shield today.
AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.