Electic Cooking: Induction Cooktop vs Electric CooktopFebruary 7th, 2021 | by Matt Hoots | #Electric Cooktop, #Induction Cooktop, #Infrared Cooktop
I created a video demonstrating how an induction cooktop works and shared it on LinkedIn, and the feedback was great. However, most of the comments had indicated that they had never heard of induction cooktops before. When I mention induction cooktops, most of my clients assume that I am talking about electric cooktops. While both of them look similar and use electricity as the power source, they are very different.
Electic Cooktops vs. Induction Cooktops by Category
The best way to compare these cooktops is to look at each of them in several different categories. Just because both use electricity to heat your food eventually, the technology is very different. I’ll also compare each of them based on price (MSRP), time to bring water to a full boil, safety, and energy efficiency.
Quick Heat Transfer Science Lesson
How Electric Cooktops Heat
Now that we got that lesson out of the way, let’s see how radiation and conduction work with common electric cooktops.
Coil Electric Cooktop
There are several types of electric cooktops on the market. The entry-level electric cooktop has exposed coils that heat up, and the cookware sits directly on it. These are called Coil Electric Cooktops. The coil heats up through resistance created as electricity flows through it. These types are not as popular since they don’t look nice and are not easy to clean. However, they do have a few pros that I will discuss later. Here is a sample of what a coil electric cooktop can look like. This one is black so that it will coordinate nicely with darker countertops. This model can come in white as well, while others may offer stainless steel.
Infrared Electric Cooktop
The upgrade to the exposed coil cooktop is an electric infrared cooktop. These cooktops warm from below the surface. Electricity runs through the coil and heats it due to the coil’s resistance, which creates radiant heat. Typically, a surface is glass or ceramic that receives this radiant heat and converts it to conductive heat. This conductive heat transfers to the pot or pan that is sitting on the surface. The radiant heat can heat more evening than the coil electric cooktop. They are also easier to clean than coiled tops since the surface is smooth.
How Induction Cooktops Heat
It is much easier to explain how standard electric cooktops work than induction models. Most of us can relate to radiation or conduction since we experience it every day. So here is how induction works:
MAGIC… (actually) MAGIC MAGNETS!
I wish it was that easy and I have been guilty of using magic to explain how HVAC and Heat Pumps work. I am not looking forward to that blog post…
Induction Cooktops use electromagnetism to turn the cooking pot or pan into the cooker. Unlike applying heat using conduction from the cooktop to the pan, the magnets cause the pan to heat up from inside instead. In the video demonstration above, we placed a paper towel between the cooktop and the pot to show that the surface was not hot. On an infrared cooktop, the paper would have burned!
After the water boiled, the surface was touch with a raw hand to demonstrate that the surface did not heat up at all. All of the energy was in the pot only, which is extremely efficient, leaving very little waste.
Boiling Water: Electric vs. Induction
The benefit of gas cooktops is that they apply a heat source immediately; however, they take longer to heat the water than electric cooktops if both give the same amount of BTU’s. The amount of energy wasted in gas is greater than electric as well. Most of the heat from the surface is transferred to the pot, unlike gas.
However, the real comparison should be between electric cooktop and induction starting from zero and no preheat. This video demonstrates that induction can bring 2 cups of water to a full boil in less than 3 minutes! Gas and electric cooktops take more than twice that amount of time.
Winner: Induction (we are still waiting for 2nd place to complete the challenge)
Safety: Electric vs. Induction
Electric Coils and Electric Infrared both transfer the heat from the surface to the pot. What happens when you, or even worse, when your child touches this surface? It could be a 2nd or 3rd-degree burn if your reaction time is not fast enough!
Induction cooktops do NOT heat from the surface, so if it is on and your child put their toy or hand on the surface, nothing will happen. If they touch the pot on the stove, they will get burned; however, that is the same for all cooktops.
Price: Electric vs. Induction
The demonstration model can only be purchased through an appliance showroom, so I used Home Depot to compare equivalent models. To be somewhat scientific, I only looked at models with 4 to 5-star ratings and enough reviews to make the sample size look reasonable. I have links to each of these through the Home Depot site; however, I have not used any of these and am relying on verified buyers’ reviews.
GASLAND Chef 30 in. Built-in Modular Electric Induction Hob, Drop-In Induction Cooktop in Black with 5 Elements, Sensor Touch Control 314037595
The first induction cooktop that I could find with a 5-star rating (only 2 so not sure about the sample size):
Here is the first one that I found with a 4.5 rating (132 verified users, so probably more accurate than the first one- plus was on sale at the time of this post):
Finally, here is the most expensive one that had ratings on their site:
Frigidaire 30 in. Radiant Electric Cooktop in Stainless Steel with 4 Elements including Quick Boil Element, Silver 308849651
Here is the first electric cooktop that I could with 4+ Stars:
Profile 36 in. Induction Electric Cooktop in Black Stainless Steel with 5-Elements and Exact Fit, Fingerprint Resistant Black Stainless Steel 306531990
Here is the most expensive one that I could find that had a good rating:
I expected the entry-level prices to have a sharp difference, and I did not see much of a difference. I did not look at features, only user reviews for similar models. At the upper end of the models, the induction was more expensive.
Winner: Electric (not by much though)
Energy Efficiency: Electric vs. Induction
Gas is clearly the loser even though they did not even enter into this competition. The majority of the heat produced from gas moves around the pot and goes through the exhaust. Electric cooktops are better than gas with regards to efficiency. However, induction has very little wasted energy since there no heat transfer from the surface to the pot.
Like gas, induction instantly can create heat, where you have to wait for electric resistance heaters to “warm-up.”
If you choose a cooking source solely on potential energy savings, then induction will help you keep the most money in your wallet.
Energy Savings Winner: Induction
Pots and Pans : Electric vs. Induction
Induction cannot be the clear winner for all of the competitions. The one major con to induction cooktops is the limited types that actually work with induction. Induction heat with electromagnetism, so they have to be magnetic. Your expensive copper pot and pan collection will NOT work with induction.
However, if you are undergoing a major renovation and your pots and pans are “tired,” you may want to buy all new ones anyway. If they are warped and beaten up, they will not even work on electric cooktops since the bottom is not making solid contact with the burners. This decreases the efficiency when you need conduction to be maximized.
Pots and Pans Winner: Electric (only if you have nice pots and pans that you do not want to replace.
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