Induction cooktops: an efficient electric option
Energy costs are rising tremendously, particularly natural gas prices. As a result, many homeowners are switching from gas to electric appliances, including hot water, heating, and our topic for today: kitchen ranges. Electric induction cooktops are trending up in recent years; now that prices are becoming more competitive, you may be wondering if it’s time to make the switch to induction cooking. We’ve done all the research, so read on and make the decision that’s right for you.
First of all, induction cooktops use an entirely different method to cook your food.
- Traditional ranges heat up your pan, which then heats your food
- Traditional ranges require time to heat up and cool down
But induction cooking uses a different method: electromagnetism! Yes, the cooktop is powered by electricity, but that electricity creates an electromagnetic field around your pan and the food in it. This field directly heats the food, skipping the “heating of the pan” step altogether. This means less fuel needed to cook, less time spent at the stove, and a bonus: the moment you turn off the cooktop, your food stops cooking. According to ENERGY STAR®, “induction cooking tops are roughly 5-10% more efficient than conventional electric resistance units and about three times more efficient than gas.”
- Induction cooktops don’t heat up the pan; they heat up the food!
- Induction cooktops save you time and lower energy costs
One benefit of traditional cooktops is that any type of pan can be used, from copper to aluminum to cast iron, and everything in between. This is not the case for induction cooktops, which require your pans to have the “magnetic” part of the electromagnetism we talked about earlier. You can use cast iron (enameled or not) and most stainless steel cookware. Not sure if your pan is compatible? Stick a magnet to the bottom! If it sticks well, the pan should work. Another note: induction cooktops depend on direct contact with the pan in order to create that magnetic field, so curved or warped pans are out.
- Induction cookware must be magnetic on the bottom
- Induction cookware cannot be curved or warped
Since induction cooking surfaces are glass, they’re easy to clean; and because the “burner” is creating an electromagnetic field instead of transferring heat, food is less likely to get scorched onto the surface. But, because of that field, the pan must maintain contact with the burner. If you pick it up to swirl it around or flip your omelet, it’ll immediately stop cooking. In addition, that magnetic field may wreak havoc with a digital thermometer, so you’ll need to get an older analog one instead.
- Electromagnetic fields allow for a smooth, easy-to-clean surface
- Electromagnetic fields require the pan to stay on the burner at all times
- Electromagnetic fields render digital thermometers useless
A final note: many people talk about how the cooking surface of an induction range doesn’t get hot at all and will not burn you. It’s more nuanced than that: yes, the magnetic field itself isn’t hot, but the food in the pan is, which will make the pan hot. The pan will transfer some of its heat to the surface, so while it won’t catch anything on fire or cause a searing burn, the cooktop can certainly become too hot for comfort.
- The cooking surface of an induction range can get hot!
- Always be careful around any stove
If you’re ready to upgrade your kitchen range, consider an energy-efficient, even-cooking, easy-to-clean induction cooktop. It may require a little getting used to, but its many benefits are indeed impressive.