Induction Cooktop FAQ

Basics

The technology behind induction cooking is electromagnetic. Electromagnetic coils under the glass cooktop surface transfer magnetic energy into the metal at the base of the cookware, which then converts the energy to heat. As a result, the cookware itself is where the heat is generated. Induction cooking requires the use of cookware with a high iron content. Non-metallic objects will not be heated even if placed on the cooktop.

Induction cooktops are a lot different.  Induction offers much faster cooking times, better control over heat levels, and greater safety than the traditional “coil-type” or “smooth-top” electric cooktops. In the traditional cooktops, heat is generated in the heating element and then transferred to the base of the cookware.

An induction cooktop is the fastest cooking technology currently available. It also provides greater temperature control and easier cleanup than cooking with natural gas. Perhaps the most important benefits of induction cooking relate to safety.  Since gas cooking involves an open flame, it represents a fire hazard, introduces pollution into your home that can be unhealthy, and also contributes more to your carbon footprint.

Yes. Only metal cookware that has a high iron content in its base will work with induction. All cast iron pots and pans work well, as does a large fraction of stainless-steel cookware. With stainless steel, the outer (bottom-most) surface of the pot or pan be made with nickel-free stainless steel. If the pot or pan is not expressly marketed as induction-ready, you can use the “magnet test”. If a magnet clings well to the outside bottom of the pot or pan, it will work with induction. If it does not, or clings only very weakly, the cookware will not work.

Economics

Prices for induction cooktops and ranges have been dropping, with some induction units selling for under $1,000. Induction cooktops still tend to cost more than other types, but the differences in performance and safety can be significant.

Induction cooktops are more efficient, with about 85% of the electrical energy converted to heat in the cookware. This can be compared to an efficiency of about 35% – 40% efficiency for a gas cooktop. However, whether they will save money depends on your local electricity and gas costs.  In general, cooking with induction will be more expensive than cooking with gas, but many households are finding that the non-economic advantages of induction outweigh the additional cost.

No. A whole set of standard pots and pans is usually under $200.

Maintenance

This involves simply wiping the surface with a cloth that won’t scratch the surface.  A cleaner suitable for ceramic or glass can be used.

Yes. It is possible for the surface of an induction cooktop to scratch or crack, but it consists of a special type of glass that is highly resistant to such problems. The material is very strong and tolerates very high temperatures and sudden temperature changes.  Care should be taken to use a non-scratch cloth while cleaning.

Environment

That depends largely on what you’re switching from.  If you currently cook with electricity, there will be a small reduction in your carbon footprint.  If you currently cook with natural gas, there’s likely to be a much larger reduction.  (The details depend on the carbon content of the electricity you are using.)

If you replace a gas cooktop with an electric cooktop (such as induction), there can be a significant reduction in toxic indoor air pollution. Though most people do not realize this, cooking with natural gas can be a major source of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and other materials that are harmful to humans.  If you still use gas for cooking, it’s advisable to run the fan in your range hood while cooking.

Steps to use

No.  Only cookware with a high iron content will work. That means cookware made of copper, aluminum, ceramic, and glass will not work. Some people use “induction disks” if they wish to continue their incompatible cookware on an induction cooktop.  These are basically large iron skillets with no sides that you put on the cooktop.  You then place your cookware on top of the disk, and as the disk heats, it transfers heat to the cookware.  This approach works, but some of induction’s advantages are reduced.  For example, both the efficiency of the cooktop and the ability to quickly adjust the cooking temperature are degraded.

Yes, integrated electric ranges of this type are available.

Induction cooktops are very safe. The electromagnetic field that induction units use is very high-frequency and has a very short range. Moreover, units do not generate any field unless they detect ferrous (high iron content) metal directly above them and virtually all of the energy is absorbed in the metal. Therefore, a cooktop shuts off automatically when the cookware is removed and never gets very hot as all the heat is generated at the base of the cookware.

Yes, pressure cookers with bottoms that are compatible with induction cooktops are widely available in all sizes.

Typically a 30A, 240V connection is needed – same as a traditional electric cooktop or range.

Incentives

Utilities, counties, Community Choice Aggregators, etc. sometimes offer rebates of various types on induction cooktops.