Induction Cooktops, The Pros and Cons

Induction cooktops are becoming all the rage in a new kitchen. While many people are adopting induction cooktops into their kitchen designs, many people are also uncertain about all the hype. Here we will go through what they are, what they do, the benefits of induction and popular ones currently available in Australia.

What Are Induction Cooktops?

Traditional methods used to generate heat to cook food include gas and ceramic.

Gas cooktops burn gas to heat a pot or pan. The pan distributes the heat and cooks the food. Ceramic cooktops heat an element via electrical currents, which then heats the pan and cooks the food.

Induction cooktops stand apart from these familiar heating methods. Induction Cooktops use electromagnetic energy to cook food. The heat is not transferred from gas or an element. The cooking vessel (pot, pan, etc.) itself becomes the original generator of the cooking heat.

How Does Induction Work?

  1. A copper coil sits invisibly underneath the surface of the cooktop. When the cooktop is in use, low current electricity flows through the coil.
  2. The electric flow is alternates, producing both a strong current and a magnetic field.
  3. The pot used for cooking must be made out of electrically conductive materials such as magnetic-grade stainless steel or iron.
  4. The pot used for cooking must be made out of electrically conductive materials such as magnetic-grade stainless steel or iron.
  5. Once the pot has been detected, the magnetic field induces an electric current with-in the pot, heating the pot and its’ contents.

Induction cooktops can detect whether a pot is present (or if it’s contents are boiled dry) as it is generated by an electric current that can monitor power absorption. The surface is made from ceramic/glass material which is a poor conductor of heat, so it often remains cool to touch once the pot has been removed. Less heat transference also makes it more energy efficient.

Induction cooktops, however, are often more expensive than gas or ceramic tops. In time, we expect prices to come down and the technology to advance. We should start to see more flexinduction (flexible induction cooking zones) cooktop models available at reasonable prices.

The Pros and Cons

Thinking of transferring over from gas or electric to an induction cooktop? We compiled a list of pros and cons to help you decide.

The Pros

  • Instant temperature changes. Change is reflected instantly when you change the temperature, similar to gas.
  • Safety. The surface doesn’t heat up and only gets as hot as the pot does. In most cases it is safe to touch shortly after you remove the pot.
  • Easy to clean. The flat ceramic surface can be wiped easily. Spilled food does not burn, as the surface does not heat up.
  • Energy efficient. A low current of electricity is needed and there is little transfer heat lost.

The Cons

  • Buzzing sound. There may be a small buzzing noise associated with the magnetic field when in use.
  • Pricey. Although the prices are coming down for induction cooktops, they are still more expensive than ceramic or gas cooktops.
  • Inflexibility of cookware. You will probably need to invest in a set of new cookware, as induction cooktops cannot use aluminium, glass, pyrex or copper. High grade stainless steel and iron are good heat conductors.
  • Undefined cooking zone. The cooking zone on some models are not clearly defined, so you have to watch where you place your pots.
  • Susceptible to damage. The glass ceramic cooktop can get damaged by sliding pans and high impact. Aluminium foil can melt on the top and cause permanent damage.

Popular Induction Cooktops

BUDGET: Omega Induction Cooktop O164BB

Features include:
Automatic pan size recognition
LED touch controls
Child safety lock
Residual heat indicators
Cooling fans
To find out more or purchase online visit Appliances Online.

MID-RANGE: Electrolux Induction Cooktop EHD68210p

Features include:
4 large induction zones
Auto warm-up function
9 heat settings and boost on all zones
Stop and go function
Child safety device
To find out more or purchase online visit Appliances Online.

HIGH END: Neff Flexinduction Cooktop T44T97N0

Features include:
Two Flexinduction zones and five induction zones
Central 32cm triple zone
Removable magnetic central control
Residual heat indicator, LED display and timer
Power boost on all zones
To find out more visit Neff.

Induction cooktops are fast, energy efficient, and easy-to-clean. The ability to control heat instantly, and it’s appealing safety features make induction cooktops a great choice of appliance. The initial cost may be higher than traditional cooktops, but the benefits will pay off if you love cooking.

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21 Comments

  • Charlene says:

    The induction cooktop sounds like it would be a great idea if you have children around. No worries about them reaching up and touching a hot stove once you’ve walked away from it, since the stove doesn’t stay hot. I also love the idea of being able to cook so much faster. I hate waiting for water to boil! I do have one question though, how does the electro-magnetic current effect the food that it cooks and does it affect anything else around it?

    • nadiah says:

      Hi Charlene

      Induction cooktops are great if you have kids around. As far as I know, the magnetic currents don’t affect the food, however they are best avoided if one has any internal electronic devises installed, such as pacemakers etc.

  • Kathy says:

    Hi Nadia,
    I like the idea of instant, controllable heat without gas, but I wonder about the safety of induction cooktops. What if I leave an iron pan on the stove to answer the phone, and forget it for a few minutes? Would the pan get red-hot, like an electric element? What prevents the cookware from becoming dangerously electrified?

    • nadiah says:

      Hi Kathy

      Similar to gas or ceramic tops, if you leave your pan unattended the food will probably burn. The cookware doesn’t become electrified, they just become a vessel for generating heat via the magnetic current.

  • I have an induction cooktop stove, and I would never even consider going back to electric or gas. One of the things I like is that you can leave your hot pad or a serving plate right on the stove, and they will not get heated or burn. The model we bought was the GE Cafe, which falls into mid-range price. I do not see much difference in the price ranges of different induction cooktops, in other words I think a cheaper model would do the same trick. I am doing some research on induction cooktops for my mother, so can you tell me some benefits that may come from a higher end model, because I do not see major differences.

    • nadiah says:

      Hi Keith
      There are no major differences between induction cooktops, they all do the same thing, but the more expensive models have a few more options. Also, different brands sit at different price categories, and many people seem to align themselves with brands they feel comfortable with based on service, quality etc. It comes down to personal choice in the end.

  • Jacqueline says:

    I love the idea that spilled food won’t burn onto the element. We have a ceramic electric stove and it is so hard to clean if anything spills on it, even water. It sounds like these would be pretty easy to keep clean then. Would they require any special equipment or cleaners for general cleaning?

    • nadiah says:

      Hi Jacqueline

      Induction cooktops work are similar to ceramic cooktops in regards to cleaning…..avoid abrasive cleaners. There are cleaners especially for ceramic tops available at supermarkets, also your induction cooktop should come with a scraper to scrape off burnt food, although there are not many places the spilled food could adhere to as the element itself doesn’t get hot.

  • joanne says:

    Am currently thinking of changing to Induction and have realised that four of my pans will not be suitable for this type of cooking. Is it worth buying the ‘plate’ to continue to use them, or this is not effective ? Also, as a fan of slow cooking in winter, can I really achieve a very low heat just to keep the food cooking with induction ?

    • nadiah says:

      Hi Joanne
      I would probably invest in new cookware rather than buy the ‘plate’, however I don’t have direct experience with them so they may be ok. Yes you can achieve low temperature cooking with induction cooking, some brands have display showrooms where you can go to and test them out, then eat the meal afterwards. Check out the Smeg showroom in Botany 🙂

  • betty ann says:

    I am thinking about changing from electric to induction. My husbands splatters oil/grease everywhere. Would an induction top be practical? Can I just use dish detergent to clean it?
    From what you say I guess Teflon pans are out.

    • nadiah says:

      Hi Betty, yes induction cooktops are easy to keep clean as they are a flat surface. It’s best to check with the specific manufacturers what they recommend to clean the surface with. Sme non-stick brands, such as Scanpan, have cookware that you can use with induction, but they can be pricey.

  • Bronwyn says:

    I have the electrolux induction with three connected zones, so in theory you can put one big pan across all three. It took me a little while to get used to using it. The sensitivity is just like gas, although you can cook on a much lower heat than with gas, which is great. It took a little while to change my style of cooking though, as with gas you get in the habit of slamming pots down and shaking the food around them. With induction you have to be a lot more gentle.

    I wouldn’t go back to gas though, very happy with my choice. I am starting to play with slow cooking in big cast iron pots, it should work just as well as a slow cooker.

  • Lesley says:

    Hi, we’ve been checking out the induction cooktops this afternoon. After we came home we tested a magnet on our Amway cookware. Delighted that it stuck really hard against the sauspans, so they should be suitable when we purchase ours. However the magnet didn’t stick to the Amway frypan.

    • nadiah says:

      Hi Lesley
      Thanks for touching base with us. Unfortunately I do not know enough information about Amway cookware- perhaps you may find your answers from contacting them directly about their products 🙂

  • Judy says:

    Have been contemplating getting induction cooktop have looked at many think the euro appliance or the kleenmaid may do the job in the mid range. Getting excited have used a portable one and am sold on the concept.

  • pam says:

    hi
    i believe induction stove use more electricity than the normal electric stove.
    We cook everyday and i would like to be sure of how more electricity woyld be consumed.
    thanks parkap21@gmail.com

    • nadiah says:

      Hi Pam, I think they do use more electricity, but the cooking time on them is going to be less as they are faster. I am not sure exactly how much more electricity they use…thanks Nadia

  • Wendy Ockerby says:

    I have an induction cooktop and am loving it. A word of warning though. It can get hot. This morning I managed to mark the glass when I left the coffee percolator and it boiled dry. The bottom of the coffee pot was glowing red hot, and now the cooktop surface is forever marked.

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