Induction cooking has been widely used to prepare food in Europe and Asia for decades. However, the concept never garnered much interest in the United States until a few years ago. Now consumers are curious enough to research this type of heat source for cooking. Once they understand how they work and their benefits, savvy consumers want to know if it is smart to use an induction cooktop instead of a gas or electric stove. In a previous article, we compared induction and gas cooking. Here we discuss the advantages of both induction and electric cookers.
What is an Induction Cooker?
An induction cooktop heats cookware in a different manner than electric or gas stoves. These cookers produce an electromagnetic field underneath the glass/ceramic cooktop surface that transfers electric currents to the induction compatible cookware which then heats up.
The surface of an induction cooker gets hot when an induction compatible pan is placed on it. Part of the cooktop does get hot because heat transfers from the pot or pan to the glass. However, when the pan is removed, it cools faster than any other conventional burner.
There are three categories of induction cooking appliances: 1) portable, 2) built-in units and 3) full-size induction ranges.
There is a large selection of single or double burner portable cookers available. Some manufacturers devote time and money to the research and development of induction cooktops. They continuously improve their existing product line by offering upgraded models.
The portable cooktops usually either a tablet-like surface or a flat surface with a slanted display. The advantage of an angled interface is twofold: 1) lessens the chance of settings being changed and 2) liquid/food won't be as likely to spill over onto the display panel. The features to consider are: safety functions, child lock, temperature and power ranges, settings and increments, timer and one-touch settings, and whether the unit is ETL approved and FCC Part 18 compliant.
Built-in induction cooktops have between 2 and 5 burners. The size of the burners vary according to model. Full-size freestanding ranges are generally either 30" or 36" and either have a single or double oven.
Prior to investing in a full-size induction stove or range, some consumers purchase a portable induction cooktop to use for awhile. After seeing the benefits it provides, they made decide to use it as an extra burner or food warmer in addition to their gas or electric stove. Others choose to use a portable unit as their sole cooking appliance or elect to purchase a built-in cooktop or a full size induction oven.
Advantages of an Induction Cooker
- There is no wasted heat when using an induction cooker as the energy is directly supplied to the cooking vessel and transferred to the pan or pot.
- The stovetop often stays cool, which is helpful when it comes to preventing dangerous accidents from happening in your kitchen. The surface will only heat up when a pan or pot is placed on it.
- The power and temperature settings can be controlled more accurately and responds quickly to temperature changes.
- Food can be heated and cooked quickly.
- They are very easy to clean.
- Portable cooktops are versatile in that they can be taken to social or catering events or used in an RV, boat or cabin. They are also convenient for those who do not have access to or the floor space for a full-size stove.
Advantages of an Electric Cooker
- Electric stoves are less expensive than full-size induction stoves.
- Any pot or pan can be used. However, a lot of cookware now is induction ready. If a magnet securely sticks to the bottom of the cooking vessel it can be used on an induction cooktop. Many people can use some of the cookware pieces they have on hand. Cast iron pots and pans are induction compatible.
- Consumers have commented that electric stoves are more powerful than induction stoves.
- Electric stoves don't make the humming or buzzing sound induction cooktops tend to make when cooking at higher settings.
- Digital and analog thermometers can both be used. The magnetic field may interfere with the readings on a digital thermometer.