The Benefits of Switching to Induction Cooking

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels August 13, 2021
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One of the key actions in Montgomery County’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) is to require newly constructed buildings to be all-electric and to electrify all new and existing buildings by 2035. In 2018, 50% of the county’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions came from buildings, with the majority coming from processes using electricity and natural gas. Building emissions are primarily generated by using electricity for cooling, lighting, and appliances, and by using fossil fuels such as natural gas for space heating, water heating, and cooking.

As a resident of Montgomery County, one of the ways you can reduce your home’s environmental footprint and contributing towards the county’s climate goals is by switching to induction cooking in your kitchen. Induction cooking offers many environmental advantages compared to a traditional natural gas range and efficiency advantages compared to an electric cooktop. While induction cooktops are often equated with lower-performing electric cooktops, the two technologies differ drastically.

Read on to find out more about:

  • How induction cooking works
  • Different types of induction cooking options for your home and their respective costs
  • The benefits of installing an induction cooker in your home
  • How do induction cooktops compare to electric and gas cooktops
  • Additional considerations before making the switch to an induction stove

How does induction cooking work?   

Induction refers to a specific method for generating heat. A traditional electric stove uses a burner and radiant heat to cook your food. An induction cooking stove or range uses electromagnetism to cook food inside the pot or pan. With induction, there is an electromagnetic reaction between the burner and the pot or pan. Under the ceramic glass surface of the cooktop lies a coil of copper; when you turn on the power, an electric current flows through the coil and produces an invisible magnetic field. This magnetic field causes the iron molecules in your cookware to generate heat. The heated metal pan then conducts heat to the food or water inside, all while the ceramic glass surface of the induction stove remains cool. Without a pot on the induction burner, no heat will be generated. Induction essentially cuts out the intermediate step of heating a burner and then transferring that heat to your pot or pan.

Types and Cost of Induction Cooking Appliances 

Induction range: These ranges are four to six-element cooktops, usually paired with an electric convection oven. This type of induction cooking requires a 240-volt outlet, with prices ranging from under $900 to over $3,000.

Induction Cooktops: These have four to five-element cooktops installed on a kitchen countertop independent of an oven. Induction cooktops also require a 240-volt outlet or can be hardwired into the electrical system. Prices generally range from $500 to $2,000.

Portables: Portables are generally one to two-element units that can be set on a countertop anywhere and plugged into a standard 120-volt outlet. While they do not have the same power to heat as fast as induction ranges and cooktops, they still provide rapid heating with the same environmental benefits. Prices range from $50 to $500 for commercial-grade portable cooktops.

What are the benefits of using an induction cooktop?  

  • Induction cooking is fast and efficient: you can shave up to 50% off your average cook timesfor many meals due to the rapid response of the electromagnetic cycle. The fastest induction stoves can boil 6 quarts of water 2 to 4 minutes faster than traditional stovetops.
  • Induction cooking is better for the climate and eliminates harmful pollutants from your home: Gas stoves are a significant source of indoor air pollution, as they emit nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (HCHO), which can all have detrimental impacts on your health. A 2020 report from Rocky Mountain Institutefound that peak indoor air pollution from gas stoves can reach levels as much as five times higher than the legal outdoor limit. One study found that replacing a gas stove with induction or electric stove decreased NO2 concentrations by 51% in the kitchen.
  • Induction cooking uses less energy than traditional stovetop cooking: Since induction cooking is faster, it uses less energy than a traditional stovetop. It also generates less residual heat, meaning that any heat produced will be in your pot/pan and not coming from the stovetop itself.
  • Induction cooking is safer: Induction heating is safer because it has no open flame or exposed heating element, which can accidentally catch things on fire. If you accidentally turn on an induction burner with no pot on it, it will not get hot. When removing your pot from the induction stove, the heating stops.
  • Induction stoves make cleanup easy: The glass cooktop of an induction stove makes cleaning up spills relatively easy.

How do induction cooktops compare to electric and gas-powered appliances?  

Induction vs. Electric  

Electric cooking is slightly more like induction cooking than gas, but there are still many distinctions between induction stoves vs. electric. Unlike gas, most induction or electric ranges do not require any particular kind of hookup beyond a 220-240v outlet. However, induction does give a chef more direct control over the heat level than electric; when a pan is being used for induction cooking, its temperature changes the moment the current is adjusted. This is not the case for electricity, as it takes time for the pan to catch up with the temperature of the heat source.

While electric is certainly more energy-efficient than gas, induction is still the clear winner for efficiency. Stovetop or cooktop electric cooking allows only 65-70% of heat to reach food as opposed to induction’s 90%. This results in your kitchen staying cooler with induction than it does with electric cooking. While fire risk is lower with electric than with gas, the risk is still lower with induction. Since the pan is the only heat source in induction cooking, your risk of kitchen burns is also significantly decreased.

Induction vs. Gas  

A significant difference between a gas and induction stovetop is that induction is significantly more efficient than gas – food being cooked with induction will receive 90% of the heat generated instead of only 40 to 55% for gas. This keeps your kitchen much cooler and more comfortable while you prepare meals. Induction cooking also decreases the risk of burns and accidental fires, as there is no open flame and the cookware itself is the only heat source.

Induction Stoves Electric Stoves Gas Stoves
Pros Safe

They are safe as the heating element emits no radiant heat except through appropriate metals, but transient heat will still culminate around the cooking area. The residual heat is little to none and will dissipate quickly (though it is never recommended to place your hands, limbs, or bodily parts near any heat-generating source).

Cooler Kitchen

Same as its traditional electric counterpart, induction elements produce no heat at all unless through the transference of magnetic metals, so they are exceptional at maintaining a cooler room temperature

 

No Wasted Heat

Induction cooking wastes no heat and will operate more economically even compared to traditional electric heating elements

 

Pollutant Free/ Climate Friendly

Induction stoves do not emit any toxic gases into your house. Induction stoves use clean electricity and emit far less CO2 emissions than a gas-powered stove

 

Easy to Clean

The convenience of a smooth top electric range/cooktop is easy to clean with no indents or crevices present.

 

Cool Kitchen

Electric heating elements do not generate much ambient heat and will maintain a cooler kitchen.

 

Inexpensive

Electric ranges/cooktops are also considerably less expensive compared to gas counterparts

Versatility

Gas ranges/cooktops will work in the event of an electrical outage by using a match or lighter to ignite the gas flow

 

Precision

Gas output is a little more precise in control as the flame output is quickly and easily adjusted in real-time

 

Fast

Gas heat is immediate and powerful from the ignition, but electricity tends to heat food faster in comparison in some cases

Cons Depends on Electricity

Like an electric range, induction also relies on electricity to work. If there is no electricity being supplied to your home, induction ranges/cooktops will not work.

 

Expensive

Induction ranges and cooktops are typically a little more expensive to purchase compared to the other options.

 

Requires Conductive Cookware

Induction cooking requires appropriate cookware, typically anything containing iron. It will not work on anything else, including aluminum, glass, or copper.

Depends on Electricity

In the event of an electrical outage, electric ranges/cooktops will not work.

 

Retains Heat after Shutoff

Electric elements can get hot and will retain high heat levels even after they are turned off. They cannot cool down as quickly as gas burners.

 

 

Easy to Damage

Although a smooth top electric range/cooktop is easier to clean, it requires routine maintenance. Smooth tops are susceptible to scratches, and ceramic can crack if cold water touches it while hot.

Hard to Clean

Cleaning requires a bit more effort as there are grooves and crevices around the burners. Including the removal of burner grates, cleaning can be an ordeal.

 

Hot Kitchen

Gas hookup ranges/cooktops emit much radiant heat and will emanate throughout the kitchen, which could be uncomfortable for small kitchens.

 

 

Cost

Gas operational costs are more expensive as a fuel source compared to electricity. Especially true if the gas range is a pilot light model, which requires a constant gas flow.

 

Emissions and Pollution

Gas stoves are a significant source of indoor air pollution, emitting nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (HCHO) into your home, all of which can have adverse health effects and exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma

Additional considerations with induction stoves  

  • You need the right cookware: Look for pots and pans marked “induction-compatible.” A quick way to check your pans at home to see if they will work on an induction stove is to use a magnet. If it sticks to the bottom of your pots, it will work with an induction burner. Cookware made from aluminum, copper, or glass is not compatible. Cast iron pots, enameled cast iron cookware, some non-stick cookware, and magnetic, stainless-steel pots work well with induction stoves.
  • You may hear a buzzing noise with your induction stove: This is common while using your induction stove, as an internal cooling fan generates a small amount of noise. Heavy, flat-bottomed pans can help reduce the vibrations that cause this buzz while cooking.
  • You may need to consider alternative cooking options for when the power goes out: Since induction cooktops rely on electricity to work, your induction range/cooktop will not work in the event of a power outage.

Conclusion 

What’s not to like about induction cooking? Induction offers a safer, faster, more efficient, and climate-friendly way to cook your food than electric and gas-powered cooking. Switching to induction cooking is a great way to lower levels of harmful pollutants in your home, lower your carbon footprint, and contribute towards fighting climate change.

For more ideas on making sustainable choices in your home that are good for the climate, visit My Green Montgomery’s Projects & Incentives page.   

Written by Matthew Stovall and Cheng Guo, Montgomery County Climate Planning Team Interns, Summer 2021. 

 



3 comments on "The Benefits of Switching to Induction Cooking"

  1. Joyce B. says:

    This is important information for homeowners, remodeling contractors & builders.
    Also, with household battery backup, induction cooking will still work – so it’s a ‘conditional con’ or better yet a ‘conditional pro’ for induction vs gas.

    Would love to share but link appears to be broken?

  2. Joyce B. says:

    Disregard share issues… need to use http: vs https:

  3. StephenB says:

    As I understand it, induction cookers work on the same principle as toothbrush/modern phone chargers.. That is, you want pan and induction coil to be close to each other because the strength of the magnetic fields falls off (inverse square) with distance. But does pan actually need to be touching the hob?

    A friend has an induction top and the hob itself gets very hot. Is that heat coming back from the heated pan – by conduction? If so, could the unwanted heating of the hob be avoided by having a layer of thermal insulation between hob and pan – perhaps air or silicone mat? Use of a mat would also help avoid scratching the glass hob with the bottom of cast iron pans.

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