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The “Dummy’s Guide” to Magnetic Induction Cooktop Technology

To many consumers, magnetic induction (MI) cooking is an advanced technology straight out of a futuristic sci-fi kitchen. But in reality, these induction cooktops date back to the ‘80s, saw a reintroduction in the ‘90s and were withdrawn or recalled shortly thereafter due to service issues. This most recent resurgence has them in kitchens to stay, though. To put it simply, this cooktop technology offers the most efficient use of energy.  Induction 1

Gas has long been regarded as the fuel of choice to fire up our cooktops, largely because of its responsiveness. In areas where natural gas is readily available, appliance dealers rarely sell electric. Likewise in electric markets, many homeowners won’t go to the expense of installing a Liquid Propane (LP) tank and plumbing the house, so electric cooking appliances are the norm (much to the chagrin of real cooks, who generally prefer gas).

Induction 2But with this latest resurgence of induction cooktops, many folks are becoming enamored with the responsiveness, efficiency and safety benefits this cooking technology offers. The only drawback has been the price. However, we’re now seeing the array of induction products expanding and the prices coming down to the tipping point for many consumers.

So, here’s the “Dummy’s Guide” to induction cooking: The element under the glass vibrates the atomic particles of the cooking vessel (sci-fi sound effects please)–throughInduction 3 magnetic energy. That means that your pot or pan must be made of ferrous (iron containing) metal. If a magnet doesn’t stick to it, it isn’t gonna work. That vibrating pan then heats the food. With other forms of electric, the burners get hot and lots of that heat goes into the air and is wasted. The same goes for gas, which is another inefficient use of energy. When expressed in efficiency percentages, MI hovers in the mid 80% range, while all other cooking techniques are about half that, sitting at about 40%. 

Now to the responsive power of MI, which makes all the difference for real cooks. Induction is faster to boil and more instantaneous to simmer once you learn the control mechanisms. Some cooks might claim that gas performs just as well, but that is undoubtedly personal bias talking. In both the demonstrations we’ve performed, real cooks who used gas and MI cooktops side by side gave the slight edge to induction.

Now tInduction 4o safety: Induction cooktops can reduce the number of kitchen fires to virtually zero. Because the element isn’t hot, nothing that falls on it burns (unless it is food that happens to fall into a ferrous metal pot or pan).

Finally, because the induction burners are set under glass, these appliances are beautiful. Folks often tell us they don’t really cook, so they wouldn’t be interested in an induction cooktop. But these are the same folks that end up buying the MI products simply because they look fantastic in their kitchen. Go check them out for yourself at a quality appliance store that will let you do a “test drive.”