WHAT IS AN INDUCTION COOKTOP?
[Authored by someone who has cooked by induction for many years]
- Gas and electric stoves work by THERMAL conduction. The gas flame or electric coil, transfers heat to a burner which then heats the pot or pan. In this process, with gas cooking, up to 35% of the heat energy is lost to the surrounding air – not so good if you have asthma sufferers in the house or people with any lung complaints! [see ‘The Big Switch’, Saul Griffiths 2022]
- INDUCTION cooking uses a completely different process to heat and cook.
- Induction is a process of using energy from an electromagnetic field.
So how does it work?
- When a pot or pan with an IRON base [a pot/pan that is able to be a magnet] is placed anywhere on the cooktop in the electromagnetic field that is being created below the cooktop it begins to heat and cook.
- And the only part of the stovetop that heats up is the area where a pot has been placed!
- The rest of the stovetop remains unheated!
What are the advantages of an Induction Cooktop? There are many!
- EFFICIENCY -Induction cooking is far more efficient than gas or electric cooking – 90% of the energy goes into the cooking: only the pot and what’s in it -is heated.
- SPEED – Induction cooking is 25-50% faster! Half the time to boil a pot of water!
- ENERGY COSTS – Because induction cooking is faster and more efficient AND cooking happens at lower temperatures - it costs less on your power bills!
- ACCURACY – Induction cooking provides very accurate cooking temperatures AND cooking temperatures are changed very quickly.
- SAFETY – Because the only part of the stovetop that is heated is the area under the pot/pan there is minimal risk of anyone being burnt by touching the stovetop or its surrounds.
- CLEANING – Induction cooktops are much easier to clean and keep clean – there is only one glass surface with no protruding knobs or gas rings/jets! – just a wipe over after cooking with a damp cloth!
- PORTABILITY – Induction cooktops come in all sizes – even portable ones!
Because of all these advantages many of the world’s top chefs cook with Induction!
What are the disadvantages? – Very few!
- COST – The main disadvantage currently is the cost of an induction cooktop - $1300.00 to $2000.00. Cost depends on brand and the number of cooking areas you choose – 2,3, or 4 in household sizes.
- Costs will reduce as demand increases. [For accurate information regarding brands, price and performance see ‘Choice’ magazine or website reports]
- SUBSIDIES- Subsidies to buy an induction cooktop are available. Check Australian Conservation Council ‘Make the Switch’; Australian, NSW and local council ‘Net Zero’ websites and electricity supply companies websites.
- The other cost is the installation – usually the cost of an electrician – and with gas, a plumber.
- BUT savings on power bills are significant- over time these offset much of the initial cost.
- Also worth considering is lowering the cost by a bulk buy – organize with neighbors!
- DAMAGE – Because the cooktop is glass be careful of dropping anything on to it! – especially from any height. This cook had a jar of herbs drop from a cupboard above! Cracked glass meant replacement cooktop! Jars were belatedly moved to a different cupboard! However, home insurance sometimes covers cost of replacement.
In sum, from my experience using an induction cooktop over a number of years, apart from the initial costs of purchase and installation, induction cooking is superior in every way, for every type of cooking and all foods. All of the claimed advantages above I can testify, are true.
When we downsized to an apartment, I lost my induction cooktop – I still feel it’s loss today -but plans are underway to replace my gas cooker for an induction cooktop ASAP!
[David Smith for ‘Electrifying Bradfield’]
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