What are induction stoves? Some might argue that they’re the best thing since sliced bread, myself included.
Induction burners (also known as induction hobs in the UK) use a magnetic coil to excite electrons in any magnetic pot or pan, which leads to heating food quickly, efficiently, and with a great deal of digital control.
What’s so great about induction stoves? What do you need to know before you start using one? Here are 12 things I’ve learned after using them (and loving them) for over a year.
1. What are the benefits of an induction stove?
Induction stoves are very efficient at heating food. Almost all energy going through an induction hob goes directly to heating the pan. With a regular electric coil or gas stove, a lot of energy escapes and unintentionally heats the air around the pan. This is a big deal if you live in a hot place like Texas, where A/C bills can reach hundreds of dollars. Efficient induction stoves make for lower electricity bills, less waste, and less time waiting for your food to cook.
Safety is another big benefit of using an induction burner. Even when one is on, no heat is transferred unless a magnetic pan is on the cooking surface… and almost all of the heat goes to the pan. This means that it’s harder for kids to turn the stove on and burn themselves by touching the stove, and you’re less likely to hurt yourself because the stove itself is cool to the touch even when running..
2. Just how efficient is induction cooking?
Manufacturer estimates claim that induction burners are 2-3 times more efficient than traditional stoves. According to the manual for my Duxtop 1800 Watt Induction Cooktop, induction cooking is 83% efficient compared to a 30-35% efficiency for gas… that means 2/3rds of the energy on a traditional gas stove is wasted. Also according to the manual, an induction burner costs 12 cents an hour to operate vs $1.65 per hour for gas (13x cheaper!)
3. How powerful are induction stoves?
With induction, pots and pans get really hot… FAST. That means you can boil water very quickly or bring a pot to heat very rapidly. According to the manual for my Duxtop Induction Cooktop, my 1800-watt unit is 50% more powerful than a gas stove. In my own testing, brought 2 cups of cold water to a rolling boil in 2.5 minutes, compared to around 5.5 minutes to get a slow boil on a gas range. You can also make a cast iron skillet scorching hot in about a minute and keep it at a very high temperature even after you throw the meat on, which is perfect for searing steaks.
Here’s my semi-scientific video comparing gas and induction:
4. Can you use an induction stove outside the kitchen?
Yes. Portable induction cooktops work anywhere there’s an electrical outlet, making it very easy to cook on a countertop, at the dining table, outside on the porch… really anywhere. This can be a godsend if you are preparing a lot of dishes and you don’t want too many cooks fighting over the few burners on your stove (like at Thanksgiving where I cooked half of the sides on the kitchen island). Note: some homes have built-in induction ranges that aren’t portable… I’m referring to the smaller single burner units that cost between $60-$80.
5. Is it easy to toss / flip food in the pan on an induction stove?
If you like flipping foods in your pan often, you can still do it, but realize that every time you pick up the pan, it stops heating for a second or two. Reason? Your pan has to be in contact with the glass plate for the magnets / induction heating to work. Also, because you’re cooking on glass, you need to be careful not to slam the pan back down on the stove after you flip. Some induction stoves like to beep loudly if a pan loses contact (like the Rosewill induction unit I used to have), but my current Duxtop unit doesn’t.
6. Are induction stoves easy to clean?
Induction stoves are very easy to clean as they have a smooth glass top. There are no crevices for food to fall into and no heating element that will get dirty over time. No actual flame touches your pots or pans either, so your cookware should hold up well over time too.
7. Is it easy to adjust heat coming from an induction burner?
Yes, induction burners are typically controlled digitally and are easy to adjust using buttons on the front of the unit. On my Duxtop cooktop you can set a specific temperature or adjust the power on a scale of 1 to 10. And once you turn off the burner, the pan cools down immediately (which could take some getting used to). At lower heat settings, induction burners will sometimes pulse the heat every second or so (vs a steady, low heat) so that might present a challenge for some, but it hasn’t bothered me. Most induction burners also come with a timer as a safety feature, so you can more accurately cook foods without having to worry about burning the pot.
8. Do you need special pots to cook with induction?
Any pot or pan that has a flat, magnetic base will work with an induction stove. That means that stainless steel and cast iron are sure to work, but copper, glass, and standard aluminum pans won’t. When I bought an induction hob, about half of my old pans worked (like my T-Fal Stainless steel set). Non-stick pans for induction burners are a little harder to come by, but I really like the low-cost, non-toxic T-fal Precision line. There are induction heat diffusers you can use to cook with non-induction-compatible pots, but I wouldn’t recommend using these, because you’ll missing out on the main efficiency benefits of induction cooking, and you might as well just buy an induction pot for about the same price.
This non-stick T-fal set works with induction and is non-toxic
9. Are induction stoves durable?
Yes, I’ve been using induction stoves for over a year now with no issues. The main components of the stove are solid. The units are pretty heavy though, so you do need to be careful when moving the portable units around because the surface is made of glass. If you drop your burner, you could shatter the top (I’ve seen it happen).
10. Are induction induction stoves quiet?
Because induction stoves require a fan to cool down the magnetic coils, they do make a noise that’s about as loud as a desktop computer fan or a stove hood fan on the lowest setting… so not totally silent but not that loud either. The units often beep when you press buttons, like on a microwave oven, but that’s not very loud either. At higher power settings, induction stoves do make a faint, slightly high pitched metallic sound, but it doesn’t bother me or my dog (watch the video at the beginning of this post to hear it).
11. What are the biggest challenges with induction burners?
You do need to get familiar with the heat settings and characteristics of the burner. If you’ve been cooking a dish for years on a gas range, it may take a while for you to figure out what settings give you just the right amount of heat. Also, finding just the right pots might take some time.
12. Can induction burners be used for Chinese hotpot?
Yes! That’s why I bought mine in the first place. The burner brings water to a boil faster than a gas range or butane stove, and the fine level of control lets you more precisely control the boil on your pot. In fact, there are many induction-compatible Chinese hotpot vessels available for purchase. The Rosewill induction burner actually comes with one for free!
Is an induction burner worth it? In my personal opinion, 100% yes. Because of the speed, efficiency, accuracy, and ability to make my food hot while keeping the room temperature cool, the induction burner is now my cooking surface of choice. I’ll still use the gas range if I need to cook 2 dishes simultaneously or if I don’t have the right pot on hand. But in our house now, it’s induction burner first… especially if all we need to do is boil some water quickly.
If you liked this review, check out the induction burners on sale on Amazon and read more reviews from induction burner users.
Happy tasting, hope you enjoy induction cooking!