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Induction vs. Electric

Thanks all for the advice so far on my "tiny kitchen" post. I'm moving on to picking appliances now, and am pondering the merits of induction vs. electric.

I visited several kitchen supply stores and shopped on line. I'm either going to go with a slide-in electric range, or an induction cooktop + electric oven below.

-I can use all my existing pots and pans on electric

-I really don't have that many pots and pans that don't work with it, and all the ones that don't work are my cheap old aluminum pans anyway
-I could pick different brands of cooktop and oven if I learn different brands excel in different areas
-I could have a hybrid with both electric and induction burners
-I could have a 36" cooktop instead of only a 30" option

Is the cooking on an induction oven truly superior to that on an electric? I've used portable induction cookers before, but never a full range. I do cook a lot, and am already disappointed that my new kitchen cannot have a gas cooktop. I do a lot of Asian cooking, and have always thought gas = better. But induction cooktops are popular in Japan, right?

It's all very confusing. Any thoughts? The brands I'm looking at include GE, Electrolux, Thermador, and I would consider Jenn-Air but did not see any today.

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  1. Three additional reasons to go with induction in a small kitchen:

    1. Less waste heat released into the room. (Small rooms heat up fast.)
    2. No risk of fire, less chance of burns. (You would be working closer to the cooktop in a tiny kitchen.)
    3. The smooth glass top can be used as additional counter space.

    7 Replies
    1. re: tanuki soup

      Less burns is a great incentive!

      With either, how much do I have to worry about scratching the surface with the bottoms of my cookware, or with my cleaning products? I know I won't be shaking pans or tossing woks like I would on a gas stove, but how easily do electric vs. induction cooktops acquire damage?

      Another plus of induction that I just thought of: since the surface doesn't heat up, other than a little latent heat from the hot pot, I can safely put ladles or pot lids down on it while I'm cooking (I do this a lot, bad habit).

      1. re: Pei

        I've had my induction cooktop for 3 years or so now. No scratching problems at all with stainless steel pots and pans, carbon steel pans, Lodge Signature cast iron frying pans, or Le Creuset enameled cast iron cookware. For cleanup, I use special induction cooktop cleaner or just use that gentle liquid cleanser stuff.

        Speaking of scratching and cleanup, I almost always lay a folded sheet of old newspaper over the entire cooktop (with the pots and pans sitting directly on the newspaper) when I cook. It avoids scratching, and cleanup is a snap - remove the pots, crumple up the newspaper, polish the cooktop with the crumpled newspaper, and then chuck the newspaper.

        I was initially kind of skeptical when I read about this trick on the web, but it works great! Even after searing a bunch of spare ribs or cooking up a batch of porkchops in a HOT cast iron skillet, the newspaper is only slightly browned directly under the pan.

        1. re: tanuki soup

          That is fascinating. Now I want an induction cooktop just so I can dazzle my friends with that trick. But how do you know where the burners are if you put paper over them?

          1. re: Pei

            On my cooktop, there is an LED bar graph under the glass immediately below each burner to indicate the temperature setting. The LEDs are bright enough to be visible through two layers of newspaper. Also, since a burner won't operate unless a pot is properly positioned over it, you could just eyeball it.

            1. re: tanuki soup

              May I ask which brand you're using? I'm hearing good things about Kenmore Elite and Eletrolux Icon. There is also a Bosch that I saw, but it's a little too thick to be installed over an oven.

              1. re: Pei

                My cooktop is a Panasonic. However, sorry to say, I don't think that Panasonic sells its induction cooktops outside of Japan (where I live). Here in Japan, many of the major electronics companies (Toshiba, Hitachi, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, etc.) sell induction cooktops, but it seems they are intended only for the domestic market. Based on what I've read, most folks in the US buy European induction cooktops like Electrolux.

                For what's available in the US, you might want to check out "The Induction Site" at http://theinductionsite.com/. Good luck - I suspect you will be very happy when you switch to an induction cooktop!

          2. re: tanuki soup

            I don't think newspaper under a very hot surface is such an good idea. If you let your pan burn dry, it could get hot enough to ignite the newspaper. The other concern is toxic fumes. Since newspaper is not designed to be exposed under high temperature in household environment, you run the risk of releasing dioxins while heating it. Your particular newspaper could be safe. But it is your family's safety we talking about, any risk is unacceptable.

      2. Pei,

        Induction cooking has a lot of advantages, but since you must have heard of all the advantages, I will point to its weakness. Not sure what you means by Asian cooking, since Indian cooking is Asian and so is Mongolian cooking. There are way too many different styles of Asian cooking.

        Induction cooking is popular in Japan, but Japanese do not usually use a wok. Many people consider a round bottom wok is better than a flat bottom wok and most induction range cannot take care a round bottom wok. Even those really expensive curved induction range do not do a good job on round woks. In addition, manys induction range do not generate enough thermal power to do hot stir fry. Induction by itself do not create heat, so you can not use a flame to heat your foods. Let's say you want to use flame to lightly toast your already cooked kabob. Well, no can't do.

        Finally, I want to point to the biggest "untruth" of induction. It is NOT greener. A lot of people claim induction cooking is greener because >90% of electric power go directly to your pan, so it is more energy efficient than gas cooking, where only 40% of heat go to pan and 60% go to the surrounding. Well, I am a bit unhappy when I heard about these half-truth misleading advertisements. If you sit down and think about it, it makes no sense. To use induction cooking, you need electricity. Electricity does not come from nowhere. We generate our electricity from power plants which mostly use coal and gas. Yet, the energy conversion from today power plants is about 40% at best, so there are plenty energy waste upstream, just not at your home.

        Sorry, I guess I am a scientist, so it saddens me when I see other people buy into false ideas so easily, like induction cooking is green or green pans are green....

        By the way, I am not against induction cooking at all. Induction cooking heats up pans faster than gas and electric cooking. This is its biggest advantage.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Since this is an apartment, don't forget to check with the board/association to see if the apartment currently has wiring that can handle induction or if you're permitted to upgrade it. If you need to upgrade the electric, you'll want to check out the cost before committing to induction.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            In terms of efficiency, the original poster was asking about induction vs. conventional electric cooktops. All of your points concerning the inefficiencies of electrical power generation and transmission apply equally to both. If an induction cooktop is more efficient than an electric cooktop *in your home*, the difference will be directly reflected in your electricity consumption and your power bill.

            I don't really know how induction and gas compare in terms of overall energy efficiency. It is true that "electricity does not come from nowhere", but neither does gas - exploration, drilling, pumping, transport, etc. In addition, induction does at least have the potential to run on electricity generated by solar, wind, or tidal power plants.

            1. re: tanuki soup

              The reality is that the US produces half of its electricity by burning coal, and natural gas and nuclear each account for around one-fifth. Everything else -- hydro, solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, tidal -- accounts for less than 10 % altogether.

              Another reality is that the fastest growing producer of electricity in this country is natural gas (90% of new power plants being built in the US in the next 20 years will at least have the ability to run off of natural gas).

              Finally, one-third of the power generated is consumed between the plant and your home.

              The environment takes it on the kisser either way. Forget about trying to "go green" -- choose a stove that you will enjoy cooking on.

              1. re: MikeB3542

                Thanks for the interesting information. The figures are rather different for Japan (where I live). 27.8% nuclear, 27.4% coal, 23.3% gas, 11.1% oil, and 7.9% hydroelectric in 2006. I agree with you, though - "choose a stove that you will enjoy cooking on". Finally, I suspect that cooking at home on *any* kind of cooktop is "greener" than driving to a restaurant to eat dinner!

                PS. Just for general interest, I've attached a chart of electricity sources for various countries.

                1. re: tanuki soup


                  I believe the original post also mentioned "and have always thought gas = better". As for the logic of electricity is not coming from nowhere, I believe you are missing the point. Sure, gas does not come from nowhere, but that is not the point. Electricity is not a raw energy source. Coal is. We can mine coal and gas, but we cannot mine electricity. Electricity requires additional energy ON TOP of whatever you spend on the raw energy. Let's say your electricity comes from a gas power plant, ok? (For ease of explanation). So the electricity requires all the effort of obtaining natural gas and then pays the energy lost from converting gas thermal energy to electricity, whereas a gas stove only pays for the effort of obtaining natural gas, not the energy lost in a power plant.

                  I hope I am not being confusing, but basically in my example:

                  induction stove = energy for obtaining gas + energy lost from converting gas to electricity.

                  This is exactly what I mean mislaeding advertisements.

            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

              When I need a flame, I use a table top butane burner, the type that is quite popular in Japan and Korea.

            3. I have gas and induction. If I had to choose, it would b induction, hands-down.

              1. Thanks everyone. I'm definitely leaning toward induction now. Does anyone have a preferred brand?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Pei

                  I have a Kenmore Elite (rebadged Electrolux) 4-element induction cooktop that I've had for about 2 years now, no complaints. At the time it was one of the least expensive induction cooktops available (about $1500 on sale).

                  And to add my vote to everyone else's: yes, you should get induction. I was cooking a big meal on gas over the weekend for the first time in quite a while and couldn't believe how irritating it all was compared to induction. Mainly, so much waste heat is generated from 4 gas burners that I couldn't touch the handles on several pots without using potholders. That rarely happens on my induction cooktop.

                  The only disadvantage it has compared to regular electric is the up-front price, and maybe the cost of repairs if it breaks down. But your electric bill will be cheaper.

                2. Pei, we are coming to this discussion late, so this lucky 13th reply will mostly reinforce the previous twelve replies.

                  We have had induction as the primary surface cooking method in our kitchen for over a decade now. Until last December, we had a hybrid Jenn-Air (two 1400 watt induction burners; two ribbon radiant burners, one 1300 watt and one 3000 watt). We found that we used the induction side almost all of the time, even for the big pots where one might think we would have gone for the 3000 watt radiant first. Only when we needed three or four burners to be going all at once did we use the radiant side. Induction seduces one that way.

                  You made a passing reference to Jenn-Air: after Whirlpool Corporation acquired Maytag a few years back, it completely and thoroughly orphaned all legacy Maytag and Jenn-Air appliances in the field; it not only did not maintain a warehouse stock of repair parts, but it did not even maintain a list of model numbers, so far did it distance itself from the Maytag history. Prior to the acquisition, the Jenn-Air brand had been a direct competitor of Whirlpool's KitchenAid brand, and Whirlpool has been expanding and promoting KitchenAid of late -- you can purchase KitrchenAid spatulas now. Do not expect to see Jenn-Air to be re-ascendant in our lifetimes. Therefore, when our Jenn-Air cooktop needed a repair (to its induction side) that required a Jenn-Air-specific part, our only course last December was to replace the cooktop; it could not be repaired, period.

                  After much research, we purchased the LG induction cooktop (LG has only one model of induction cooktop for North America, so it is "the" LG). As a _product_, the LG is very satisfactory; it does almost/* everything very well, and we are quite happy with it as a _product_. (/* It does have one very strange quirk: when power to the cooktop is OFF, placing a conductive material (pot or pan) atop the controls for the bridge unit on the left side for more than a couple of seconds makes the cooktop go crazy, and it is necessary to turn the power to the cooktop ON, then OFF, to stop the bells and whistles.) The power of the largest "burner" on the LG, 3200 watts, is not as great as the big guns on some other cooktops, but I cannot imagine needing anything more -- it provides more energy to the pot than any other burner on any gas or (resistive) electric range burner that we ever have had in our home. And by holding the maximum power down, the LG is a bit more tolerant of home wiring amperage than any of its competitors. (However, if your wiring has sufficient capacity for a resistive electric cooking surface, it almost certainly has capacity for even the most power-hungry induction cooktop.)

                  Another advantage of the LG is that it is incredibly thin, needing less than two inches of depth below the cooking surface and -- just as importantly -- very little additional clearance between the bottom of the cook top and surfaces below. We have a drawer of spatulas, wooden spoons, and pot lids immediately under the cooktop -- the Jenn-Air was relatively thin, also, though not _this_ thin -- and we are glad we did not have to abandon that drawer to install a replacement cooktop. Had we replaced the Jenn_Air with some other currently available cooktops -- the Electrolux hybrid is an extreme example -- we would have had to reconfigure the entire cabinet area under the cooktop. Unusually, the LG's cooling vent exhausts above the counter in which it is installed, in thin horizontally oriented vents in the stainless trim at the rear. (The Jenn-Air had exhausted into the drawer under the cooktop.) We find the above-counter rear vent ideal, but depending on your kitchen layout, you may wish to consider the implications for liquid spills.

                  We emphasized above that the LG _product_ is good. Between the date of purchase and the date that the cooktop that we had purchased was installed, we got a foretaste of LG's customer service, and it was very, very ugly, probably the most customer-hostile (non)service of any company we have ever dealt with, ever. Had we known of it before purchase, we might have sought out other brands. As we near the anniversary of our purchase, we are getting letters almost weekly from LG urging us to purchase an extended warranty from LG; that is of some concern. Also, we registered our warranty online for the LG cooktop, using a unique email address that we have never used for any other purpose; we have since received hundreds of UCEs (unsolicited commercial emails -- spam) addressed to that address. Apparently LG sells its customer information. Be forewarned.

                  One final note: Demeyere makes a wok especially for flat-top induction cooktops. We do not own one, and we have not tried it; we are just aware that there is such a beast out there.

                  1. Just wanted to put this out there: there's a lot on the web about a new Samsung slide-in induction range. That's a 30" cooktop with four burners, PLUS a convection oven below, for $2000MSRP. An amazing deal, though I know nothing about the quality of Samsung appliances. I'll be doing some more research, but it seems like some Best Buy started selling the unit in September, and people on the web have gotten the whole thing for under $1500 on sale.

                    Considering that GE, Kenmore, and Bosch all retail their cooktops for between $1500-2000, that Samsung seems like a fantastic deal. It's like getting a free oven!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Pei

                      $2000 for a induction range is a jaw-dropping price. I've heard of many raves on Samsung appliances, so it should be fine. However, read the specifications carefully. They're not all the same.

                      Most of the cooktops sold today have 2 elements and 4 burners with different power output from each burner. The element is the thing that generates the magnetic stuff. Each element controls 2 burners on each side, left or right. For example, if the specification says (I made up all these numbers)

                      Burner 1 = 2.5k, 2.8k with boost
                      Burner 2 = 1.5k, 1.8k with boost

                      Burner 3 = 2k, 2.3k with boost
                      Burner 4 = 1.8k, 2.2k with boost

                      That means the max output for the right element is 2.5+1.5 = 4k, and 3.8k for the left one.

                      The "boost" feature is available in almost all these cooktops. What it does is it temporary draws more power to one of the burners. Since the max output for each heating element stays constant, you may experience less power from the neighboring one. For example, if I turn on boost for burner1, then I'll only get 1.2kW on burner2 max.

                      Knowing how these things are related are crucial when picking an induction cooktop. I briefly checked out the specs of the Samsung and am not too happy with it. No user manual is available online yet, probably because it's so new.


                      It only mentions the boost power. What about normal power output for each burner?

                      How many elements does it have? I hate to think that it only has 1, but if it turns out to be true, that means all 4 burners are going to share a grand total of 3.7kW, which, well, should be enough to cook for 2 people I guess...

                      Kenmore Elite also has an induction range for $2200 now. I would be more comfortable with going with the Kenmore just because the specs are not as vague. Don't be discouraged by me though. I'd definitely make sure I get all these questions answered before making the final decision.

                      I have just finished my 5th night of induction cooking experience so I don't have much to tell. I like it so far.

                      Good luck.

                      1. re: cutipie721

                        That's great info. Thanks! I called a few places, and it looks like the Samsung induction range won't even be on the market (at least not in Northern California) until early next year. Too long for me to wait, so I'll be looking at Kenmore, or GE most likely. I'm still also deciding between a slide-in range and a separate cooktop + wall in oven. Will report back once I start cooking, though at this rate it could be months...

                    2. Adding more to this already excellent thread:


                      They aren't messing around with that price tag, but the Diva really does seem to have the highest power output of any induction cooktop I've seen available in the US.

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: Pei


                        You don't use a wok, do you? If you do, you actually need to look into curved induction range, like this one:


                        25kW (not 2.5kW). 25kW is what you want, don't you?

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          25kW! At 380V that thing is pulling nearly 70 amps...there goes your Enerrgy Star rating!

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Saw the curved induction range. It's nice, but not practical for me. I do use a wok half the time, but the other half of the time that curved range would be useless. I'd rather get some kind of flat bottomed wok, which is what I've used in all my years of renting anyway. And my apartment will definitely not support 70W! I wish...

                            1. re: Pei


                              I know. But it will be awesome.


                              I know there are ranges that have two flat one curve. Like this video at 00:10 time mark.


                              I am sure you can do your google.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                I know, but those units tend to cost more, and it would annoy me to no end to have one curved surface that could not accommodate anything other than a wok. I would rather wait until someone comes up with some kind of converter panel that allows a flat surface to hold a round wok. I know they currently have adapter plates that allow an induction cook top to accommodate non-magnetic cookware, so it's only a matter of time.

                                I take that back. Someone already thought of it. This photo is from Gaggenau


                                1. re: Pei


                                  Actually I heard those "stands" do not work well, and it wouldn't if you think about it. Bascially, you are lifting your wok up above from the induction field. If you remember, the power of a magnetic field strength decreases rapidly with increasing distance. In fact, you will concentrate so much magnetic field on the very bottom of the wok that you will be basically heating just very bottom. If you don't believe me, try this. Heat your flat pan on an induction range as you would normally. Then heat the same pan by lifing it up two inch above the same range. You will notice a huge difference. Now, you will be doing this to your wok. The very bottom will get a lot more magnetic field then the rest. I think you will be putting too much heat stress compare to a gas range or an electric range.

                                  I know a curve surface will not work well with your other cookware. If you will be using a wok only 10% of time, I would not recommand you to consider it, but since you are using it half of the time. Why not think about it? I mean if you are going spend the money to get induction range, why not get it correct? My understanding is that even a flat bottom wok works better on a gas/electric range than an flat surface induction range. You can read about this of course, but there is a chance that you could be "downgrading" your wok performance on an induction range, which I wrote to you on a much earlier post.

                                  1. re: Pei

                                    Does anyone have any comments on the Summit brand? They sell induction cook tops at a really great price.

                                2. re: Pei

                                  I've found that a large carbon steel evasee works well for stir frying on my (flat) induction cooktop. I suppose it's not all that different from using a flat-bottomed wok.

                                  1. re: tanuki soup

                                    Hi Tanuki,

                                    I think you may be correct. However, I read there are two concerns. First, a flat bottom wok has a very small contact surface with the induction range, and unlike gas/electricity range, induction do not heat the curved up area well. Second, it depends what you mean by stir-fry. If you are simply pushing the foods in a wok, you can easily do that better in a flatter frying pan. If you are considering the stir-fry which requires higher temperature and tossing foods in the pan (the one I use), then it may not work well for induction range. A lot of induction range has auto detection which will shut off when the cookware leave the cooking area, so if a person lifts up his/her wok and tosses the food for a few seconds... the range will shut off.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Hi CK,

                                      Yeah, I agree that a flat induction cooktop isn't really ideal. I think that my carbon steel evasee has a wider bottom than a flat-bottom wok, which is maybe better for heating on an induction burner. I usually just slap and push the food around with a bamboo paddle. Tossing the food is a bit of a challenge for the reason you mention, but at least my cooktop turns back on automatically (at the same temperature setting) if you put the pan back down on the burner within a certain period of time.

                                      Attached is a photo of a 26-cm carbon steel evasee that I seasoned this weekend. For stir frying, I usually use the 32-cm version of the same pan (which I don't happen to have a picture of to share). Its sides are a bit more flared.

                                      1. re: tanuki soup

                                        Oh nice. Your pan is very nicely seasoned. Very beautiful.

                                        Did you oven season your pan? The reason I guess you did an oven seasoning instead of the cooktop seasoning is that the pan is so uniformly black. My pan is black at the bottom and graduatlly lighten up to brown at the edge.

                                        You are probably right. I guess if the induction range can turn back on when you put the pan down, then it is not a big problem. I toss my foods often. As you know, meats often stick to heating surface and slowly release themselves as they cooked. I toss the pan to allow the meats to naturally move. If I push the meat, then I may tear the meat from the cooking surface. Sounds like you have a great induction range.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Thanks, CK. Actually, I seasoned the pan on my induction cooktop pretty much according to Ching He Huang's video showing how to season a carbon steel wok. I used lard and paper towels and slowly rolled the edges of the pan over the induction burner to get the sides hot and smoking. The picture shows the result after three such treatments.

                                          1. re: tanuki soup

                                            Yeah. I think Ching He Huang's video on seasoning carbon-steel wok is certainly one of the best on youtube. This was my wok. (attached file). I have recently re-seasoning it, so it look slightly darker now. Nonetheless, my sides are lighter than my bottom as you can see.

                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        The match between the burner and flat bottom wok may depend on the burner's diameter. My tabletop induction burner has just one coil, about 6" in diameter. That is plenty for my flat bottom wok. But this is only a 1300w unit. It sounds as though the more expensive induction burners sense the pot size, and use larger diameter coils if appropriate.

                                        My table top unit is a Tatung , and the controls are labeled (in English) for things like stir fry, cook rice, hot pot, porridge. The pot that came with it might be called a flat bottom wok, though hot pot would be more accurate (curved sides, but relatively wide and deep).

                                        One of the biggest differences between a conventional burner and the induction one, is the business about tossing the food. In practice I've used my induction burner more for boiling water and braising, than for frying.

                                        That has changed a bit since I bought a Berndes fry pan, which is induction ready cast aluminum (steel dots in the base). One of the first differences I noticed with the Berndes is that the base of the handle was getting hot - the aluminum was conducting heat from the base to handle much better than steel.

                              2. REPORTING BACK:

                                Decision made! I went with a 30" GE Profile. I kept wavering between Kenmore and GE, but bit the bullet because the unit was on sale for $1,437 and the store had a compatible floor model wall oven that they were selling for a song. So there you go, I now have an induction cook top on hold until my kitchen is ready for it.

                                Thanks all! This was a great thread; from what I'm hearing at all stores induction cooktops and ranges are the next big thing. More units and better pricing is a year or two away; too bad I can't wait that long!

                                1. I just saw where you can get New Induction Interface Disk for your induction stove top, so you can use any pot or pan on it. I'm glad I saw this because I was thinking about getting a hybrid. But it doesn't make sense to get the hybrid now. I would much rather have 4 burners with induction heat!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: mkhansen

                                    I looked into those induction interface disks a while ago, but ran across quite a few negative reviews. It seems that they aren't as effective as one would hope. If there is some new technology, I'd be interested to hear about it, but I'd suggest that you research the interface disks very carefully before making a decision. BTW, I should mention that I've been using an induction cooktop for several years now, and have absolutely no regrets.

                                    1. re: tanuki soup

                                      tanuki soup, my assessment is identical to yours. What I have wondered, though, is why nobody yet has made an adapter to enable wok cooking on flat induction cooktops (hobs) or ranges. Such an adapter would comprise a ferrous disk (at the bottom) fused to a copper block that is dished (on top) like the dedicated dished induction units made for woks. The adapter would be placed with the ferrous disk on the flat induction cooktop, and the heat generated in the disk wold be conducted to the dished copper block in which a wok could nestle. Why has no clever entrepreneur made such a product yet?