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Community and Q&A

Induction vs. Radiant Cooktop

artisanfarms | Posted in General Questions on

It seems the most recent articles about this topic are a few years old.

What makes the most sense in an all electric house from a cooking quality and energy efficiency perspective:
1) Radiant cook top
2) Induction cook top
3) Radiant cook top with an additional one or two burner portable induction set up.

I’d appreciate real world experience as opposed to google search results.  I’ve already spent some time googling.

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  1. Trevor_Lambert | | #1

    We went from having conventional electric cooktops for many years to an induction cooktop a few years ago. The induction is better in every way. Faster heating, cooler cooking surface, no burned food on the cooking surface. I'd recommend one with "smart" cooking zones that expand or contract to match the pot size and shape.

  2. Expert Member
    Akos | | #2

    Same here. Induction is better in every way except for one: touch controls. These are the bane of modern appliances.

    Touch controls are hard to operate with wet fingers and will randomly turn off if the pot is slid too close to the controls. A unit with actual knobs or with the removable magnetic ones would be better option.

    1. woobagoobaa | | #9

      Touch controls are also a problem for aging in place applications. Near impossible to find moderately priced, modern appliances with simple control knobs for on/off/temperature control.

  3. charlie_sullivan | | #3

    One more vote for induction. Really no contest. Radiant is slower than gas; induction is faster than gas. Even old coil-style electrics are faster than radiant.

    Since you asked for personal experience, I grew up with gas in my parents' house, have coil electric at home, lived with induction for four months in a rental, but have only used radiant for shorter periods, in vacation rentals and visiting relatives' houses.

  4. onslow | | #4

    Definitely induction. Grew up with old coil type electric, discovered gas in college and stayed with that for 40 years despite the atrocious clean up problems from spills, sealed burners not withstanding. Moved to the mountains where only propane was available and decided to go all electric. Going induction meant no fumes, easy cleanup, and top efficiency. The hit on heat output from gas as one goes up in altitude can be large. If you are nearer sea level, the speed and control over heating things is still a match or better than gas. Only short coming is wok cooking. I have not seen a pot that can be used on induction that will perform like one on a gas stove. A propane powered cook ring for woks is available, but for outdoor use. Induction wok units exist, but are very, very, spendy.

    The one cook top that advertises "open field" pot placement is a bit curious. Under the hood are a field of small coils that activate in response to the presence of pots above. My only concern beyond the enormous cost was the total energy available per coil rating left me wondering how concentrated the energy would actually be. The big pot spot in many units has two concentric coils that when active together put out serious energy. Some advertise the feature as Turbo this or that.

    The flat part of the pots used have to match the under spot coil sizes to extract the highest output. A five inch pan will work on a bigger spot, but the field put out by the coil will be utilized less effectively. The area past the pan bottom will not be able to affect the pan. A similar effect is seen in our stainless fry pans with very wide low slope sides. The ferro magnetic steel core is much smaller than the pan diameter, so the sides remain much cooler since they are stainless - non inductive and poorer conductivity.

    Don't get put off by the induction ready cookware issue. Many more choices now and growing. We picked up an entire set at Penny's for under $200. Not classy, but they work fine. You can spend a thousand or more if you like, but it's not necessary. When looking at induction tops, be sure to really think about how and what you cook. We went with a 36" wide unit with five burners -two that can be linked for griddles. The layouts vary a lot and many of the highest cost ones proved to have very poor space utilization. Consider handle positions and where the controls are. The fineness of control varies widely. Check for how far the first burner positions are from the counter edge once installed. I found some brands placed burners well away from where you are standing, which makes it awkward to peek in a pot on the back burner or lift a large stew pot.

    Our basic GE Profile from HD allows 10 output levels, which can be a bit annoying if trying to simmer things. The jumps between levels are, of course, not the same across burners as the highest output burner has bigger steps. A newer version has finer controls. One brand that I can't recall had dial spots that allowed you (seemingly) infinite adjustment just by swiping your finger around the spot edge. Others have linear swipe behavior. It is true that greasy fingers often prevent the touch feature from working. The cleaner we spray will also activate the top if not locked.

    More important is to never leave pots on the cook top, especially if you are not locking the controls religiously. The pot sensing feature ensures that even if one forgets to lock the controls, so cats or toddlers can't do any real harm. Our cats have gotten up and activated the top by stepping on the touch spots. A tea kettle was left on the top and allowed the top to activate. Fortunately, we caught it right away, but if we had been out, the water would have boiled off and then all hell would break loose. Leaving a pot in position on an unlocked top is what creates opportunity for disaster. Of course when we had gas stoves the cats burned their fur, which is another issue. Toddlers were easier to educate.

    A few tips and cheats. Closely check the bottoms of any cookware you do buy for absolute smoothness. The glass is scratch-able and grit or burrs on the bottom of pots will leave marks. (Ask me how I know) Cast iron pans and griddle will work with induction, but you must put a protective sheet under them. I have found the Teflon grill sheets perfect and safe even under a hot pan or griddle. I also use them under a large saucepan to make popcorn, which requires shaking back and forth to keep the un-popped kernels near the bottom. The air poppers don't work well at 8,000'. I can't recommend the metal discs that supposedly allow you to use regular cookware. Trying to deal with a hot slug of metal on a glass top is an invitation to disaster. Leaving them there to cool down is also an invitation to an emergency vet visit. Cats are invariably going to jump up exactly where it is. And no, we haven't done that yet.

    1. Trevor_Lambert | | #11

      I'm sure there are several models with "smart", "open field" or "flex " zones. The one I have works well. A small pot maxes out at a lower power, as you would expect on any cooktop. The amount of heat you can get into it is limited by the bottom surface area, regardless of heat source. I can put that small pot anywhere on the cooktop, whereas you couldn't put it on one of the big circles on a more typical induction top (nor can you put it on the vast unused space on a typical cooktop). My 24" cooktop (Fisher & Paykel CI244) has as much or more cooking area than any 30" cooktops I've seen. A big pot allows a pretty massive amount of heat. I measured it once, but I can't recall the exact numbers.

      Seems like most of your issues can be solved by just not having a cat. :)

  5. j_prescott | | #5

    Another big upvote for induction. I've used/owned all types and can't imagine going back to gas or another type of electric cooktop. Induction performs better across the board: faster, more precise control, safer, more efficient, you can melt chocolate without a double boiler :), etc.

    One potential downside, induction can make humming noises and odd sounds, somewhat like a Jetson's cartoon car noise. Individuals with tinnitus might be sensitive to this. We used a GE induction range for years with individuals with tinnitus who are sensitive to noises like this with no issues, but a cheap no-name induction hot pad was a problem. Some products may also have cooling fan noises.

  6. Jon_Lawrence | | #6

    All I have to add to what has been said already is +1.

  7. AC200 | | #7

    +1 on induction, but as Akos said, the touch controls are awful on models like Bosch, Kitchen Aid and Jenn-Air. Very few have knobs, I believe Samsung and LG do as does GE Cafe. Family members have Bosch (hate the touch controls) other family bought the GE Cafe for the knobs and love it.

    1. tim_dilletante | | #8

      Ditto on the +1.
      Bertazzoni induction ranges also have physical knobs (and not much else!), we bought one mainly for that reason.

  8. joenorm | | #10

    +1 on Induction. I switched from gas and prefer the induction. I bought the LG mainly because of the knobs. And it seemed to be one of the more reasonably priced at the time.

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