Induction cooktops are becoming more and more popular as more people are learning about their benefits. They really are great and provide many benefits however there are some issues that some people may not be aware of until after they’ve made a big purchase on a new cooktop. Let’s go over induction cooktop advantages and disadvantages that will get you informed to make that big decision.
Advantages of Induction Cooktops
Most people already know most of the benefits of an induction cooktop before buying one. These are selling points and everyone that’s trying to sell one from web sites to the salesperson at your local store will quickly sing these praises. We’ll go over them anyway incase you missed one:
One of the main benefits of induction cooktops is energy efficiency. While you probably aren’t going to notice a big difference in your electric bill when switching, what you will notice is how quickly you can boil a pot of water. Unlike gas or traditional electric burners, induction cooktops convert the actual pan or pot into the heating element. This makes the transfer of energy that goes toward cooking your food extremely efficient. An electric burner or gas burner wastes a lot of heat that goes into the air around the pot or pan. This means that you can boil water in 2 minutes versus 10 or more on more traditional burners. You can even place a piece of paper between the induction element and the pan and it won’t burn while water is boiling. This speed translates to more than boiling water, but this is a good benchmark that easily helps you understand just how powerful and fast and induction cooktop is at cooking.
Safety, Safety, Safety
With no flame and no gas, some big concerns about stove tops are eliminated. No more worrying about leaving the gas on or having a gas leak (assuming you don’t have anything else using gas in the house). Even traditional electric burners are much less safe than induction. If something flammable touches an electric burner it is going to catch fire easily and quickly. With an induction burner, you can remove the pot or pan and before even turning the burner off your child could place their hand immediately on the burner and not get burned. It will definitely feel warm, it may even hurt a little, but this is only because of the heat that radiated from the pan back to the cooktop surface. The induction burner itself does not get hot. Only the pan or pot gets hot and it isn’t going to get red hot and ignite things.
Some have concerns about the health effects of induction cooktops and their strong magnetic field. The potential health concerns are pretty minimal but Livestrong.com covers the concerns fairly well if you’d like to read more.
Adjustability and Responsiveness
With electric or gas burners you frequently can’t get a very low heating setting. Gas in particular seems to at a minimum come on at medium heat. It’s really difficult to cook proper scrambled eggs for instance on gas and requires frequently removing the pan from the flame regularly. Just ask Gordon Ramsey. Electric burners can be slow to respond. Gas can crank the heat up quickly but it can be more difficult to fine tune the temperature. Induction is very responsive as well and very precise.
Solid surface electric burners were touted as the solution to difficult to clean stove tops. They certainly did improve the situation but you still have to deal with burnt on crud. Induction doesn’t have this problem since the cooktop itself is not the heat source. The area immediately adjacent to the pan can even be somewhat cool to the touch compared to it’s electric counterpart which would burn you quickly and obviously burn on anything spilling over the rim of your pan.
Disadvantages of Induction Cooktops
Now it’s time to cover the dirty little secrets of induction cooktops. Nothing is perfect and neither is induction. Don’t get me wrong, I believe induction cooktops are a big step forward but there are a few issues you need to be at least prepared to deal with:
Induction Cooktop Costs
While the cooktop itself is currently pretty darn pricey in comparison to the alternatives those prices are falling as they gain popularity. One area where the cost may be a surprise is installation. Induction cooktops require more electricity than a traditional electric stove top. What this means is that you’re not going to be installing this yourself and you may end up spending a large amount of money having an electrician do some upgrades just to support the horsepower of this cooking beast. Owners of older homes will have the most potential downside since their electrical box may not support the necessary power requirements. If this is the case you may end up spending more upgrading your homes electrical than you spend on the cooktop itself.
Requires Induction Compatible Cookware
This is probably the most well known downside of induction cooking. There’s a good chance that a lot if not all of your current cookware won’t work with your new induction cooktop. Some good news to report here is that you don’t have to toss all of your old cookware immediately. You’ll probably want to buy some new induction ready cookware along with your new cooktop but you can still use some of your old cookware by using something called an induction interface disk. Essentially this is a metal plate that sits between the induction surface and your pot or pan and acts like a heating element. You’ll loose some of the benefits of induction cooking going this route but it can be a great way to buy you some time before having to drop too much money all at once on all new cookware. Be sure and check out our article outlining what we think is the best induction compatible non stick cookware.
Buzzing and Humming Noises
Many new owners become a bit perturbed to find that after spending so much money their new cooktop makes some annoying sounds. Buzzing or humming sounds are fairly normal at low temperatures with thinner cookware. Repositioning the pan or pot may help. Heavier cookware tends to significantly reduce this effect. You may want to keep his in mind when choosing new cookware. Cast iron could be a great option if you think this is going to drive you crazy and want to do all you can to minimize the noise.
Metal Cooking Utensils
Since induction works via magnetism and heats up magnetic items within the small field just above the element, you’ll want to avoid using metal cooking utensils. Even non magnetic ones can still generate heat at higher settings. The safest bet is to use wood or plastic utensils. I prefer bamboo utensils myself. Whatever you do, stay away from metal to be safe.
Induction Cooktop Pros And Cons
Hopefully the induction cooktop cons don’t outweigh the pros for you. With a little planning, patience, and acceptance none of these problems should be deal breakers for most people. It’s much better to go into a large purchase such as this one as well informed as possible. Spending a huge amount of money only to be caught off guard by some previously unknown surprises can really drag you down. If you know the issues going into it you’ll be far less likely to be disappointed.
If you’re in the market and need some new induction compatible cookware, be sure and check out our article Best Non Stick Induction Cookware. Good luck and happy cooking!