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  • Writer's pictureJoani Stewart

What is the Difference between Induction and Electric Cooktops and Why Do You Care?

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Induction cooktops vs. Traditional electric cooktops


Many people don’t know that there is a new kid (cooktop/stove) on the market. Induction is not that new, but unless you have been shopping for appliances lately, you may not know about it. Induction cooktops look very similar to traditional electric but there is a big difference.

Induction cooking takes place on a flat glass surface equipped with heaters. It may look very much like your traditional cooktop, but the difference is that the heating coils are powered by electromagnetic energy that's only activated by the iron in cookware. (The cookware needs to be magnetic and there are many on the market, main brands as well.) When the iron in the cookware contacts the active heaters, the iron particles agitate causing the pan to heat up quickly.

This is different from an electric cooktop because the cookware heats up while the cooktop remains cool – and safe to touch. The heat is transferred only if there is a piece of magnetic metal sitting on top of the glass. When the pot or pan is removed, no heat is transferred. It is possible to put your hand on top of one of the burners and feel little or no heat, even when the burners are turned on. This is especially important if there are children in the home. They can touch the stove without getting burned and there is also a lock so that children cannot turn on the cooktop by themselves.

Pros of induction cooking:

1.The entire cooktop is touch oriented; there are no knobs or buttons. The heat is raised and lowered with a slide that you move with your finger.

2. Induction stoves and cooktops offer precise temperature control. The heat can be set very low, below simmer to just heat, unlike gas or electric, or set to high. The slide is from 1-9, so the heat can go from very low to very high and everything in between with the touch of your finger. Electric cooktops take a lot of time to heat up and cool down, and it's difficult to hit a precise temperature with gas ranges. But with induction, you're afforded super precise temperature control which allows for more controlled cooking. When you turn the burner off, heat transfer stops immediately, so there's less of a chance of foods boiling over or overcooking

3. Induction stoves and cooktops heat faster than electric. That's because with induction, you don’t have to wait for the heating element to transfer to the pan. Instead, the pan heats up directly and super quickly —Induction cooktops can boil in a fraction of the time of electric.

4. Induction stoves and cooktops are more energy efficient than electric or gas because heat isn’t lost in the transferring process. With gas and electric ranges, a lot of energy is lost to the air around the pots and pans. With induction, only the cookware heats, which ultimately translates to energy- and cost-savings (and, of course, faster cooking times). And you don’t get a lot of odor from the foods being cooked

5. Induction stoves offer a safer way to cook than electric or gas. It doesn't emit gas into the air, and it won't catch objects, like dishcloths, on fire because it only heats items with iron particles in it. It also turns off when the cookware is removed from the heating element so there's little risk of accidentally leaving it on when you're done cooking.

Cons of induction cooking:

1. Induction stoves are traditionally more expensive than their electric and gas counterparts. An induction model uses 10% less energy than a smooth-top electric range. Plus, as induction becomes more mainstream, the cost is starting to decrease.

2. Induction stoves and cooktops require specific cookware. While most cookware, especially stainless steel cookware is compatible with induction, your older cookware may need to be replaced if you're going with induction. Induction-safe cookware contains iron particles, which activate and create heat when they interact with induction heaters. Make sure new pots and pans are marked “induction safe.” If you’re unsure about older ones, do the magnet test: If a magnet sticks to the bottom, it can be used with induction.

3. There is a learning curve to induction, mainly because it heats everything so quickly, you might end up burning your first few dishes or overboil the water for your eggs or your pasta. Also once you take the pan off the burner, the heat stops and the cooktop may beep to let you know. You can take the pan off the cooktop and forget to turn it off and it will go off on its own. So it is much safer than electric, which keeps burning until you turn it off.

Even though induction takes some getting used to, you will love the unbeatable temperature control induction cooktops offer. In comparison to electric, induction cooktops cook food more quickly, adjust better to temperature changes, and take no time at all to cool down. Induction cooktops are also very easy to clean and are indisputably safer than gas and electric.

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