Gas, electric. Yep, heard of those. Induction? Heard of it, but what is it all about?
Induction cooking is faster and more energy efficient than traditional electric cooking. It allows instant control of cooking energy similar to gas burners. The surface of the cook top is only heated from contact with the vessel. There are no flames or red-hot electric heating elements as found in traditional cooking equipment.
How it Works: A coil of copper wire is placed underneath the cooking pot. An alternating electric current flows through the coil, which produces an oscillating magnetic field. This field induces an electric current in the pot. Current flowing in the metal pot produces resistive heating which heats the food. While the current is large, it is produced by a low voltage. So unlike other forms of cooking, heat is generated directly in the pot or pan as opposed to being generated in the stovetop by electrical coils or burning gas.
- Flame-less cooking– In situations in which a hotplate would typically be dangerous or illegal, an induction plate is ideal, as it creates no heat itself.
- High Efficiency- an induction element has heating performance comparable to a typical consumer-type gas element, even though the gas burner would have a much higher power input.
- Easy to Clean- the cooking surface is flat and smooth, even though it may have several heating zones. Since the cooking surface is not directly heated, spilled food does not burn on the surface.
- Control- Since heat is being generated by an induced electric current, the unit can detect whether cookware is present (or whether its contents have boiled dry) by monitoring how much power is being absorbed. That allows such functions as keeping a pot at minimal boil or automatically turning an element off when cookware is removed from it.
- Compatible Cookware
- Glass and ceramics are unusable, as are solid copper or solid aluminum cookware.
- Cookware must have a flat bottom since the magnetic field drops rapidly with distance from the surface.
- Generally, if a magnet sticks to the bottom, it will work on an induction cooker
- Price. Although a Viking induction range can top out at $6,000, some models now cost a little over $1,500. LG recently introduced a cooktop hybrid with two induction and two electric elements for $800.
- Not everyone is sold. Controlling it and understanding which setting will provide the right amount of heat is difficult. Also, once the pan is removed from the heat, the heat goes away. That makes techniques like stir-frying difficult as well.
Jason, J Carsten Homes