The Pros and Cons of this Not-So-New Technology
What Exactly Is An Induction Range?
Induction ranges are becoming more popular among both restaurant chefs and home cooks. Already common in Europe, induction ranges are increasingly being used in the U.S. due to their faster cooking speeds, temperature precision, safety, efficiency and the zero pollutants they produce. Basically, they do all the same things as a gas range, but better, so it’s no surprise that they’re trending.
Induction ranges look much like electric ranges since they both have a glass top equipped with heaters. Unlike gas and electric, the heating coils underneath the glass use electromagnetic energy to directly heat the iron in your cookware. This technology means that your cookware actually becomes the heat source, not the cooktop.
Let’s take a look at several of the important pros and cons of cooking with induction.
Pros of an Induction Range
Here are some of the benefits both restaurant chefs and home cooks have found when cooking with induction:
Speedier Cooking: Induction technology means faster cooking than both gas and electric offer. This is because induction directly heats your cookware, and skips the step of needing to heat the heat element. Not only does it cook more quickly when you turn up the heat, but it also responds faster when you turn it down.
Precise Temperature Control: The ability to program the exact temperature you need makes induction cooking far more precise than both gas and electric. Precise control means there is much less risk of your food overcooking or boiling over, and simmering is made much easier.
Energy Efficiency: Induction cooking is also far more energy efficient than cooking with either gas or electric. The heat being transferred directly to the cookware means less wasted energy. With induction, 90 percent of the energy goes directly to heating food. In the case of electric, 74 percent goes to cooking food, and when it comes to gas, only 40 percent goes to cooking food while the rest just goes into the air around your cookware. Between this and faster cooking times, you’ll be enjoying lower energy bills. Your kitchen also stays cooler since excess heat isn’t put out into the air!
Air Quality: Like electric, an induction range produces zero pollutants. Gas stoves are another story as they emit harmful chemicals into your home, especially if your range isn’t well ventilated. Gas stoves even pollute when turned off. Of particular concern is Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), which can cause respiratory illnesses. A 2022 study found 12.7 percent of childhood asthma cases in the U.S. are due to gas stoves. With these findings in mind, we encourage you to at least consider switching from gas to electric, if you’re not ready for induction.
Safety: The chances of burning yourself on an induction cooktop is basically none. Since only the cookware gets hot, the cooktop always stays cool. Further, as soon as a pan is removed, the stove automatically turns off. More importantly, without the open flames of a gas stove, your home’s protection against a fire occurring goes way up. No more worrying about errant clothing or dishtowels catching on fire!
Lessen Your Carbon Footprint: An induction (or electric) range is vastly better for the planet. Gas stoves use nonrenewable fossil fuels that pollute the air.
The Cons of an Induction Range
Let’s look at the flipside.
Cost: Right now, induction ranges are more expensive than electric and gas models. As they become increasingly common in the U.S., the price will inevitably decrease. On the plus side, due to better energy efficiency, you will see savings in your electric bill. There are also opportunities for rebates.
Converting: There are specific electrical needs for induction. If you currently have a gas stove, to convert to induction you’ll need to have a licensed electrician do the installation for you. The electrician will first check to see that you have enough amperage available on your electrical panel, and then bring the circuit up from your panel to behind your new range.
Cookware: Another potential cost is new cookware, but check your pots and pans before you buy anything. Induction requires cookware that contains iron, so cast iron, stainless steel and ceramic over metal are options. An easy way to check your current stash of pots and pans is to simply see if a magnet attaches strongly to the bottom. When shopping, look for cookware that says “induction compatible” and bring a magnet along!
Learning Curve: Of course, there is a learning curve as you get used to something new. Adapting to the pace of speedier cooking and to the fact that the cooktop turns off as soon as you remove a pan is something that may be challenging in the beginning, but will quickly become a habit.
Induction is the wave of the future when it comes to kitchen technology. The pros of faster cooking, precise temperature control, improved energy efficiency, removing indoor air pollution, better safety features and lessening your carbon footprint outweigh any cons. If you’re interested in installing an induction cooktop or range into your home or business, contact a licensed electrician to get you started!