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Electric Solid Surface vs Gas range

I can't decide whether to go for a big gas range or the kind of electric stovetop with a solid pane of glass or porcelain built into the top. I've seen comparisons about how easy they are to clean, but nothing on actually cooking with them! All I've ever been able to cook on is a flat electrical coil type range.

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  1. I think many people here in this board prefer Gas and I am also one of them. ( Also, many of them like induction, too. ) but I think only a few are for electic. I am currently thinking about going to induction for my new apartment where no option for gas is available. I think you covered past threads on this board on the range selection etc, too, so I don't want repeat the argument. I would say if you have a choice, go with gas!

    1. Definitely gas. Yes, the flattops are easy to clean, but they're a pain to cook with - I have one in my current house and would convert to gas in a heartbeat if it didn't involve major (and expensive) surgery on the house.

      The halogen burners seem to act differently with different types of pans - non-stick take a long time to heat up, while cast iron gets so hot so quickly that I burned a lot of dishes before I learned NEVER to turn it up past medium-high unless I'm just boiling water.

      Plus when you turn off gas - the heat is off, immediately. Electric and halogen stay hot for quite a while, requiring you to move pots around.

      And another thing - just try charring peppers or tomatoes over an electric burner. No fun!

      1. Gas. For the simple reason that you have immediate control of the heat intensity.

        1. Just another vote for gas. Glass tops heat too slowly and cool too slowly for cooking some things. My wife and daughters like to make candy for the hilidays and this is near impossible on a glass top, they have tried and ruined several batches of English Toffy.

          1. I spent the first 30 years of my cooking life using a spiral-element resistive cooktop. Since then I've also had a radiant electric and a gas. Here's my take:

            If you're a Neatnik, go with the flat electric (or induction if you want to open that can of worms, please no flames). I'm not, and I actually get a high level of primal satisfaction out of seeing the flame and feeling its heat licking the pot. And you can adjust by watching the flame, not a dial indicator.

            Between resistive or radiant electric and gas, you do have better "immediacy" of response with gas--cooling--but gas is not perfect in the down department either, because of residual heat in the spiders (Induction isn't perfect either, for that matter). If you're the type cook who doesn't mind moving the pot off the hob, responsiveness isn't a huge deal any way you go.

            Something else to consider is whether you want a really high output hob for something like wok cooking. If so, the nod goes to gas.

            1. I've always had a coil-element electric stove, but we just bought a house with a flat ceramic top stove. I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying it, but I've had to bid farewell to a few of my beloved old wonky bottomed pans.

              I would prefer gas, if I had the option.

              11 Replies
              1. re: SherBel

                SherBel: It's too bad more folks don't have that option. Big developers don't want to incur the costs of extending the gas infrastructure. It can be a "Take-What-We-Give-You-And-Like-It" situation. Have you considered propane?

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  So much depends on what part of the country you're in as to the cost of natural gas vs propane vs electricity. We have gas, just not a gas range top, but that's what's going in when we remodel, The builder ran a gas line over to where the range top is, but put in an electirc coil range. One of the guys at work has propane, maybe jsut for heat, I don't remember if the stove is propane of not, but that can get really expensive compared to natural gas.

                  1. re: mikie

                    Mikie: "[T]hat can get really expensive compared to natural gas."

                    Really? What's the cost comparison? I heat and cook at one of my houses w/ propane, and it's $2.29/gal in small bottles and around $2 for bigger tank deliveries. What's the equivalent in gas cost you where you are?

                    I've heard that propane is 10% less efficient than gas, but I don't notice any difference.

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      This winter had a shortage of propane and prices spiked over $5/gal in parts of the country. Natural gas is low right now with an abundance due to fracking, much is wasted by flaring gas at the wellhead. Canada is looking to liquify natural gas and ship it overseas as they pay about 3x our price.
                      Also with natural gas you pay by the month. Propane you might buy once a year with a larger dollar amount hit.

                  2. re: kaleokahu

                    I've considered propane, but my hubster thinks I'll blow us to smithereens. He's flame-shy for some reason.

                    1. re: SherBel

                      A propane stove is no more dangerous than a natural gas stove...or water heater, clothes dryer or furnace for that matter.

                      I only cook on gas at our place up north (no electricity, just a generator) and would like it in our home but it would require running a gas line into the kitchen. It's do-able and maybe not even that much money, just a hassle. We have a ceramic flat top and the only problem I have with the one that came with the house in the arrangement of the burners on the stove. It's apparent than some designer/engineer made up the layout and not a cook. If I had to choose between the coil type electric and the flat top, I think we'd still choose the flat top simply for keeping it clean.

                      1. re: SherBel

                        For 3 years I lived in a house that originally had a propane-fired gas range. After four months I had enough of being freaked out about it, and converted to electric. I was always sniffing the air, convinced that I was smelling gas even when nobody else could. Having only had electric cooking before, it was just too much stress, LOL.

                        I now have a different house and knew I wanted a smoothtop for cleaning purposes. First bought a Thermador smoothtop and ended up selling it on eBay 6 months later because it took forever to boil a pot of pasta water. Then went with what I'd originally wanted but had balked at the price: a Wolf smoothtop. I love it and in fact am considering taking it with me when I eventually move, because I don't like the layout of the current models nearly as much (mine is from 2002).

                        I have no experience with natural gas cooking because I've never lived in a neighborhood where it was available (no lines in the street). Currently house-hunting and of course it's possible that I may end up with something that does have gas already there, or gas access. I guess in that case I'd try the existing setup to see whether I love it, hate it, or don't care either way.

                        The instant micro-control of the flame is tempting though. I just don't know if it could be strong enough to overcome my fear of being blown sky-high, LOL. The propane setup certainly wasn't, but that was with a bargain-basement Home Depot quality pullout stove too. Not anything high-end, though I have no idea if that makes any difference to how they function.

                        1. re: dessert_diva

                          dessert_diva: "I have no experience with natural gas cooking because I've never lived in a neighborhood where it was available (no lines in the street). Currently house-hunting and of course it's possible that I may end up with something that does have gas already there, or gas access. I guess in that case I'd try the existing setup to see whether I love it, hate it, or don't care either way. The instant micro-control of the flame is tempting though."

                          Actually, if it is instant micro-control that tempts you, then you would be better served by induction. All gas ranges/cooktops require spiders, usually made of cast metal, to hold pots and pans above the flames. Those masses of metal are heat reservoirs, and slow down the response of gas. Even after you turn gas off completely, there is a short period when the cast metal spider, which is hotter than the pan above it, continues to transfer heat to the pan.

                          With an induction cooktop, however, the ENERGY transfer from cooktop to pot or pan is by magnetism (the pot or pan need not even touch the cooktop), while whatever (minimal) HEAT transfer there is between the cooktop and pan goes in the other direction, from the pan to the Ceran surface below it. (The hot pan heats the Ceran just as any hot pan heats any surface on which it is sitting; but the Ceran generally stays cool enough that, for instance, we put a sheet of newspaper under the pot, right on top of the cooktop, while making tempura, to catch the grease splatters and make clean-up easier.)

                          The surface of an induction cooktop below the pan is receiving heat, not giving it. Therefore, when you turn down the heat on an induction cooktop, it turns down RIGHT NOW, not a few seconds from now.

                          Also, because it is all electronic, the settings on an induction unit are exactly repeatable.

                          Finally, most induction cooktops are capable at simmering a pot or pan at lower temperatures than most gas units can; most induction cooktops can simmer at levels where gas units flame out. You can melt baking chocolate in a pan on an induction cooktop where most cooks recommend a bain marie to melt chocolate on a gas unit. (Some gas-using cooks claim that they can successfully melt chocolate over gas without resorting to a bain marie, and I am not going to call them liars.)

                          1. re: Politeness

                            Thank you for finally explaining why the myth of instant responsiveness for gas cooking is -- well -- a myth. I used to boil hardboiled eggs by bringing to a boil from cold water, covering the pot and turning off the gas. Leave them for ten minutes and they are perfect -- because of the residual heat retained in the burner grates, or spiders, as others call them.

                            I was a complete gas nut until I bought my current house. No gas option that did not require jack-hammering through the floor and ripping up my beautiful hardwoods. The old coil eletric cooktop was really frustrating to me. I couldn't regulate it and burned simple and easy things. Once one of the burners started sparking at me, it was my excuse to remodel, and I put in a radiant heat model from GE because the Dacor with slide controls did not fit the center island cabinet I purchased. It is a pleasure to cook with, and I really only miss a very high output gas burner when I do wok cooking. I think my Dacor would have had a very high output flat burner, but this one does not. It does have adjustable burner sizes and a bridge to connect two burners, and I use those all the time. I also use the surface as an additional counter all the time, as it comes in handy when it is cool and you just want to put something down in that vicinity. You will need better pans will very flat bottoms, but that is an excuse to buy better pans that you probably want anyway.

                            So, I am no longer stuck on gas or disappointed in my cooktop. I would probably install gas if I was building from scratch because of resale appeal, but I have to tell you that I don't miss sniffing for the smell of gas or hydrocarbons when you have used paint materials in the house. It seems safer to me. If you have a choice that does not involve a huge price differential, go with gas, but don't be put off by a great ceramic or glass cooktop.

                            Finally, spend a lot of time thinking about ventilation -- almost as much as your cooktop type. I have downdraft, and it is a joke for me. My entire downstairs filled with smoke this last weekend when I was grilling a big batch of veggies on a double cast iron grill, and we had to turn on all of the ventilation fans and ceiling fans, as well as open the back door. We ended up using a large floor fan to help blow the smoky air out. I think this is the only regret I have in my current kitchen -- inadequate ventilation for the type of cooking I do.

                            1. re: RGC1982

                              RGC1982: "...the myth of instant responsiveness for gas cooking..."

                              I wouldn't say it's a myth as much as a caveat. Politeness' point is a good one. How much residual heat keeps going into your pan after the flame is out would vary, I suppose, by how heavy the spiders are, and the material of which they're made,surface area, etc. The massive-looking cast ones in vogue now (IMO a cheap trick intended to convey that the appliance is commercial grade) may indeed hold some appreciable heat.

                              That residual heat, however, is not unique to gas spiders, and is therefore a general if not universal caveat. The way I see it, all hobs--and ovens--suffer to some extent from this phenomenon. Even the Ceran surfaces overlying induction coils store heat, albeit transmitted by the pan down instead of spider (or resistive element) up. Yes, the induction stoves stay cool if all you're doing is a quick boil for tea, but part of the reason for that is the bad conduction of thin-walled ferrous pans that excel at fast boiling.

                              Our (I have one, too, and like it) radiant flattops are probably the worst of all worlds at this. A large factor in this is the surface area of hot glass that stays in contact with the pan Contrast this with the much smaller surface area of a gas spider in actual contact with the pan. But induction tops also suffer from this virtual 1:1 area contact problem.

                              Are you hardboiling your eggs in the same pan you mention having used on gas? If so, when can/must you turn off the radiant heat to achieve the (quickest) equal result? Based on my radiant cooktop, I'd expect more residual heat there going into the pan than on my gas hobs.

                              +1 on ventillation.

                              1. re: RGC1982

                                "I used to boil hardboiled eggs by bringing to a boil from cold water, covering the pot and turning off the gas. Leave them for ten minutes and they are perfect -- because of the residual heat retained in the burner grates, or spiders, as others call them."

                                Er...I'm pretty sure it's the heated-to-212-degrees water surrounding them that's cooking the eggs there, not the residual heat from the burner grates. It's not like a pan full of boiling water instantly drops back down to room temperature the second the flame goes out from underneath it.

                    2. Not to hijack the thread, but if you want electric, induction ranges are the best way to go. Technical improvements and recent introductions of affordable mainline American versions make induction the logical choice. Heat transfer is most efficient, as a magnetic field is converted to heat by the pan (the pan has to be ferro-magnetic, e.g. cast iron, many but not all stainless steel alloys).

                      The cooktop surface outside the induction element area stays cool. If you remove a pan from the "burner", the element automatically shuts off. Return the pan, and it instantly goes back on.

                      Nothing heats a pan and its contents as rapidly as induction, and gas-matching instantaneous up/down heat control is achieved. Electrical energy usage is dramatically reduced vs. conventional electric element ranges.

                      This being said, I went with gas for a few reasons.

                      Firstly, I could get 4 full-size burners. The induction ranges here seem to all have a 60's-70's design concept of one large element, generally quite powerful, and 3-4 small lower-power elements that constrain what kinds of pots and pans you can use for multiple dishes. Maybe this isn't a problem for daily meals, but it doesn't work at all for the holidays or dinner parties. This differential-size-burner concept arose in the "Betty Crocker" era (and was applied to home gas ranges as well as electrics), but I'm not a 60's housewife.

                      Secondly, I am not the lightest-handed cook in the world. It's not a good idea to slide heavy pots over glass to change burners, particularly if the bottoms have non-smooth imperfections. It's not a good idea to cavalierly "drop" heavy pots and pans onto glass. Glass doesn't work well for slide, lift and drop the pan food-tossing. Gas ranges with heavy, thick cast iron grates are made to stand up to these rough treatments.

                      Thirdly, I love round-bottom-wok stir-frying. Available wok-specific induction hobs I have seen (e.g. CookTek) could melt any pan, in theory, but they are safety-regulated to shut off at 450 or 500 degrees. That's not close to stir-fry (fast meat searing) temperature for me. I've gotten 600+ F pre-heat-the-pan temps with a 30 year old electric range, wok and wok ring. (I use a 30 kbtu stand-alone gas burner for my stir-frying, it can take the wok bottom to a 1200+ F red-orange glow if I'm distracted. ;) )

                      Then finally, I suppose I must admit I chose gas because there is a primitive fire-lust involved. My favorite cooking, like most males, is, of course, barbecuing...

                      1. Choose gas if: You don't cook regularly on cast iron, carbon steel or straight-gauge SS. And If you DO want to use a wok. You can also reasonably choose gas if you buy a commercial-grade range, but study up on the flame spreads.

                        Choose electric if you DO cook a lot in cast iron, or want the bottom of your pan evenly heated across the whole hob, or want to have cookware of all compositions.

                        Choose induction only if you want to be limited to induction-compatible pans from now on (No straight copper or aluminum). Jury's still out about how evenly cast iron is heated on induction.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          kaleokahu: "Choose induction only if you want to be limited to induction-compatible pans from now on ..."

                          Visualizing kaleokahu's father warning against getting one of them there new-fangled LP-playing turntables in 1948: "Choose a new turntable only if you want to be limited to not playing 78 rpm records from now on." Visualizing kaleokahu's older brother in 1980: "Choose a CD player only if you want to be limited to digital music in the future."

                          The fact is, a VERY high proportion of existing pots and pans work -- right now -- with induction energy sources (just as the new turntables in 1948 all offered 78 speed for backward compatibility).

                          And the advantages of a copper pan (or a pure silver pan, even better), which has better conduction of HEAT outward from a point of contact with an external heat source than a ferrous metal pan does, may be negligible (or even a DISadvantage) compared to the advantages of a good ferrous pot or pan on an induction cooktop. On an induction cooktop, the ENERGY (not in the form of heat) is radiated from the cooktop to the pot or pan as an oscillating magnetic field; and that energy then gets converted to heat internally within the pot or pan itself, right where it is needed. It is therefore much less important when the energy source is induction that heat -- which induction generates _in situ_ where the pan meets the food -- readily be conducted from one place OUTSIDE the pot or pan to a different place within the pot or pan.

                          1. re: Politeness

                            Politeness: "Visualizing kaleokahu's father warning against getting one of them there new-fangled LP-playing turntables in 1948: "Choose a new turntable only if you want to be limited to not playing 78 rpm records from now on."

                            Extremely inapt analaogy. For you, anyway. When phonograph turntables (actually phonographs) that played 33.33 rpm LPs were first mass-produced, they also played 78s. You didn't have to throw your 78s out, as you must with all your Al and Cu and some SS if you go with induction. There is no backward compatibility with induction, except in the rare induction+radiant tops. The OP, if s/he chooses induction, will end up discarding any incompatible cookware.

                            The better audio analogy would be your mom warning you not to trash the family's tube preamps and amplifiers, and you trashing them anyway for some good solid state components that are less "backward". Oops.

                            "It is therefore much less important when the energy source is induction that heat...readily be conducted from one place OUTSIDE the pot or pan to a different place within the pot or pan."

                            No, it's still important that the heat gets to foods evenly, regardless of whether the heat is generated at a hob or 2mm higher at the very bottom of an induced pan. Induction + poorly conductive pans = uneven heat delivery. Certainly at the pan walls, and we'll soon see at the pan bottoms.

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              kaleokahu: "... regardless of whether the heat is generated at a hob or 2mm higher at the very bottom of an induced pan."

                              But its is not just "at the very bottom"; that is the point. The induction energy source excites all magnetic material that is within the magnetic field, causing it to heat up.

                              As you are aware, and are fond of pointing out, heat conducts slowly through cast iron, so when you put your parchment paper on top of a cast iron pan and a gas flame below the cast iron pan, you have to wait, first, for the heat to make its way through the thickness of the cast iron, then for it to work its way sidewards toward the perimeter of the pan. Conversely, when I put a cast iron skillet on our induction cooktop and turn the cooktop on, the TOP (cooking surface) of the skillet (which is within the magnetic field) instantaneously begins to heat up at the same time that the bottom part (near the surface of the cooktop) does; the top receives its energy at the speed of propagation of a magnetic field, no waiting for heat conduction through the thickness of the skillet.

                              As you did not like my previous analogy, I will reach down in my Santa bag of Christmas goodies to get you a better one. When Bonnie and Clyde robbed a bank and jumped into their Ford, the troopers gave chase in their automobiles, and Bonnie and Clyde often won the race to the state border and the limits of the state's jurisdiction. In 2010, instead of giving chase, the troopers would get on their radios; and Bonnie and Clyde would be intercepted before they reached the border by troopers who had been positioned closer to the border when they received the radio call. Your gas heat source is the automobile slowly working its way through the metal by conduction while my induction energy source radios ahead to the destination and starts the heating there while you are just getting started.

                              1. re: Politeness

                                Politeness: "Your gas heat source is the automobile slowly working its way through the metal by conduction while my induction energy source radios ahead to the destination and starts the heating there while you are just getting started."

                                This is getting pretty silly. Are you actually recommending to people like the OP that they buy expensive induction ranges because they--initially, and for an instant--heat a pan's food interface FASTER?

                                Pick an induction-friendly pan (one with a thick sandwich bottom so it won't scorch right away, not the salad bowl you use to boil ware as a trick). Your induction element is only going to heat the first half mm of that pan, and then the heat does what? I think we know--at that point the heat is "just getting started" through the aluminum and copper and then has to fight its way through another layer of SS.

                                Heat "...slowly working its way through metal by conduction"? Shirley, you can't be serious.

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  kaleokahu: "Your induction element is only going to heat the first half mm of that pan ..."

                                  No.

                                  You are simply incorrect.

                                  The magnetic field of the inverter extends much farther than your "half mm." Unlike heat conduction, magnetic induction is not a contact sport. When we put our Nambutetsu footed "tempura pot" on the burner, the inside of its bottom is situated at least a centimeter (ten millimeters) above the top of the induction inverter (which is under the Ceran cooktop), and the inside starts to heat IMMEDIATELY as soon as we turn on the burner.

                                  1. re: Politeness

                                    Politeness: Induction certainly WILL heat only the first 1/2mm if that's the thickness of the ferrous bottom and there's no other ferro-magnetic metal within the pan. For fully clad, it's not so simple. The field intensity drops off very fast over short distances, but is measurable at least 4 inches off the deck.

                                    I took a poster at his/her word awhile back:

                                    "As to the magnetic watch question, when our first induction cooktop was new in 1999, as an educational exercise, I placed a floppy disk containing data inside a pan and turned on the induction burner, taking the disk out before it got hot enough to melt. The disk was readable after the exercise." Sound familiar?

                                    You also missed my point. The SS bottom bread of lots of induction-compatible, fully clad sandwich-ware is about that thin, and the top is, too. In between there are usually non-magnetic layers. Whatever heat is converted to kinetic energy in the bottom layer--to get into the pan--still has to be conducted through the layers above.

                                    As to the amp question, you would be doing a disservice to anyone considering an induction appliance that requires a 50-amp service, if their range circuit is a 40-amp, as many still are. This can double the true price of the purchase.

                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      kaleohau: "The SS bottom bread of lots of induction-compatible, fully clad sandwich-ware is about that thin, and the top is, too. In between there are usually non-magnetic layers."

                                      In the sandwich construction with nonmagnetic layers between two layers of magnetic steel, the layer closest to the food (inside the pot, but on the outside of the clad "sandwich") is energized directly by the oscillating magnetic field; it is heated independently of (but cumulatively with) the heating of the layer on the outside of the pot or pan, and the process of heating begins before any heat is conducted to it through the nonmagnetic middle layer of the clad construction.

                                      " Whatever heat is converted to kinetic energy in the bottom layer--to get into the pan--still has to be conducted through the layers above."

                                      It is magnetic energy that is converted into heat; the motion (kinetic) is limited to the molecular level. In general, apart from the convection of liquids within the confines of pots and the human action with spoons and spatulas, we try to keep kinetic energy on our cooktop to a minimum.

                                      1. re: Politeness

                                        Politeness: I never said both layers of stainless in fully clad weren't heating, although I could see how one might seize on such an interpretation for purposes of polemics. But the heat from the bottom layer still has to make its way north (Bonnie & Clyde/backward/78 style) to make it to the food. And the top layer, being further out in the field, is not heating as much as the bottom layer.

                                        While we're at it, if the effective-for-cooking magnetic field extends 1cm
                                        above the surface as you claim, why the requirement of having ferro-magnetic bottoms AT ALL? 2.5mm SS-lined copper should work just fine on induction, provided the liners stick a magnet. But, oops, that's not always a good test, is it? That way the cops could radio direct to the liner!

                                        Kinetic energy--this is really silly now. OF COURSE it's kinetic energy at the molecular level, but it is still kinetic energy. The magnetic field excites the molecules in the ferrous metal. This kinetic energy creates (virtually all of) the heat. There is a little from hysteresis losses, as well.

                                        So by all means, keep trying hard to avoid having kinetic energy heat your pans and cook your food on induction.

                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                          kaleokahu: "Kinetic energy--this is really silly now. OF COURSE it's kinetic energy at the molecular level, but it is still kinetic energy. The magnetic field excites the molecules in the ferrous metal. This kinetic energy creates (virtually all of) the heat."

                                          We have a definitional problem here. Kinetic energy does not "create" heat in any kind of range or cooktop. The definition -- denotation -- of the word "heat" IS the kinetic energy of molecules (or in pure elements, atoms). The phrase "kinetic energy," on the other hand, usually arises in discussions of kinetic vs. potential energy (such as water pumped into hilltop reservoirs for release later for electrical generation).

                                          But what you had written (previous message 7:49 pm) to which I was replying was:

                                          "Whatever heat is converted to kinetic energy in the bottom layer ..."

                                          In cooking, heat is the desired end-product; having obtained the end-product, there is no purpose to be served by converting it into another form of energy. Heat gets converted into kinetic energy in steam locomotives, or in coal- or nuclear-fired electric generators. In cooking, when heat gets converted into kinetic energy, for instance in the explosion of a pressure cooker, it usually is a disaster.

                        2. Main benefit of gas: You can change heat faster. On an electric, you can just move the pot to a different burner or completely off the stove.

                          Main benefit of electric: More power. My Electrolux flat-top gets WAY hotter than any gas stove I've used. Also, more of the heat produced goes into the pan; my Phoenix kitchens have become uncomfortably hot during the summer while using a gas stove, while electric-equipped kitchens stay comfortable.

                          And do take a look at induction. It's the quick-change heat of gas with even more efficiency than electric. Drawbacks are that while the price has come down considerably in recent years, they're still very expensive, and that not all pots will work on them.

                          1. Another thought: To avoid the possibility of rude surprises, you might want to check electrical code requirements in your area if you're considering induction. You may be required to hire an electrician to install a new, dedicated, heavier circuit in your home than would be required for conventional electric. I remember somesuch tale of woe told here about the consumer first learning this lesson from the installer at time of delivery, and if I remember right, the electrician's work added about $2K to the cost of the range. If you have to extend a gas line, that can be pricey, too.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              This has become a really fascinating discussion! I never gave an induction range any thought before, but as a result of the comments above I am seriously considering it for my next kitchen regardless of whether gas is available or not. Although the cost of electricity is high in our area, I know my comfort level about having gas would just not be there.... (and no I've never had gas heat either, LOL)

                              Running a dedicated circuit to the cooktop is something that I would do regardless of type, by the way. I needed it for my current Wolf in any case, according to the specs vs what was here when I bought this 50+ - year-old house. But it's always been automatic for me to make sure that both the microwave and any high-power-pulling major appliance are on their own lines.

                              I only have 3 pieces of cast-iron cookware; gave the rest to my daughter a few years ago when I messed up my wrist and could no longer handle most of the Le Creuset. All my cookware now is either Scanpan Classic (from about 10 years ago but it does have the heavy stainless bottom), and the heavier Farberware Classic (stockpots and so on). A few random other pieces of good 18/10 stainless as the need arose; and a Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker which I do use a lot. So other than the 3 Le Creuset, all of my pots have flat stainless bottoms; it would be great if all could work on an induction cooktop.

                              Guess the logical thing to do would be to contact the manufacturers and ask? Unless there is a quick on-the-spot test that can be done with a magnet???

                              1. re: dessert_diva

                                dessert_diva: "... Unless there is a quick on-the-spot test that can be done with a magnet???"

                                Bingo. The tool that you need probably is holding a note to your refrigerator door right now.

                                (When we switched to induction more than a decade ago, all but one of our old stainless pots and pans, some of them decades old hand-me-downs, switched right along with us.)

                                1. re: Politeness

                                  DD: The magnet test doesn't always work. See. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7534....

                                  Unless someone with decades of experience says differently.

                              2. re: kaleokahu

                                kaleokahu: "To avoid the possibility of rude surprises, you might want to check electrical code requirements in your area if you're considering induction."

                                It is probably a good idea to check electrical code requirements before purchasing ANY appliance, even a countertop appliance like a pop-up toaster, an electric drip coffeemaker, or a waffle maker.

                                However, anybody who already has an electric range has nothing to fear from switching to induction per se, as the amperage and wattage draw of induction units generally will be lower than for equivalent output resistive electric ranges and cooktops. The needed amps and watts of many models are conveniently listed in tabular form here: http://theinductionsite.com/north-ame... Of course, if you are replacing a four-burner resistive electric range with an eight burner induction range, one assumes that there would be times that you would want to use all eight burners at once; at those times the electrical draw could be high. But if it is a four-burner for four-burner swap, the chances are high that induction will make a reduced load on the wiring compared to the old electric range.

                                1. re: Politeness

                                  Politeness: "anybody who already has an electric range has nothing to fear from switching to induction per se, as the amperage and wattage draw of induction units generally will be lower than for equivalent output resistive electric ranges and cooktops. The needed amps and watts of many models are conveniently listed in tabular form here: http://theinductionsite.com/north-ame..."

                                  22 of 64 of the models listed there require MORE than 40 amps--more than a third. Are you recommending that folks wing it and hope for the best?

                                  Even if they are tempted, they might not get the chance. I recall reading the account of a new purchase of an induction range (I think on the competition's board). The old 40-amp electric range had already been carted off, and the dealer's installer (rightly--consider the liability/indemnity ramifications) refused to connect the 50-amp induction replacement. $2K surprise!

                              3. Just to clear up a few of the comments regarding heat retention in the cooktop/gas spiders. Depending on your cookware, as much heat is kept in the metal of the pot/pan that you're using as in the rangetop/spider. If you're boiling water (as was mentioned, by bringing eggs to a boil from cold and letting sit in the water for 10 minutes), the water holds more heat than either your cookware or your cooking surface. (It all has to do with heat capacity.) Something to keep in mind, not so much for which range to buy, but for controlling heat transfer during cooking. (FWIW, the egg cooking mentioned above really is the best way to get them just perfect.)

                                1. I grew up on gas but have been using a flat top electric since 1995. Gas wins. One thing that was touched on briefly was surface contact between the pan and heat source. Gas can always reach the pan but when you have a flat top a lot of older pans may not have the necessary contact. I have pans that I can look and see the gap between the pan and the flat top burner. The pans don't look warped, they weren't brutalized but they don't benefit at all from a flat top.

                                  As for easy clean up I tend to say it isn't a plus. Let's take a spill for example that you want to clean up immediately. On gas you can turn off the flame, move the spider or grate and begin cleaning with care. Flat top you must wait till it cools to a point where you can clean up the spill without burning yourself. If you want to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for care then you will be spending a lot of time keeping it pristine as to not damage or wear the surface over time. You don't have to be a slob, just normal cooking will throw enough around that you technically you should be cleaning before you can complete an entire meal.

                                  If you do go with a flat top try to find one that can be leveled by the owner after the house has settled or a slight tremor. Since there are no wells to catch any boil over or spills the liquids follow gravity.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: SanityRemoved

                                    SanityRemoved: "Flat top you must wait till it cools to a point where you can clean up the spill without burning yourself. "

                                    Unless the flat top is an induction burner, which never got hot in the first place. We simply move the pot aside, wipe the spill, move the pot back onto the burner, and proceed.

                                    1. re: Politeness

                                      On mine I've tried it, in the interest of safety I'd never recommend it.

                                  2. Have never used induction, but I've used natural gas, electric coils, and electric glass top. My current house has propane. I vote for gas, either natural or propane. It goes on quickly and can be adjusted up and down quickly. I also like being able to see the flame and I like the whoosh sound it makes when I turn it on.

                                    1. Let me amend my "Buy Induction if.. post of yesterday. It should have read:

                                      Choose induction only if you (a) want to be limited to induction-compatible pans from now on (No straight copper or aluminum, and no Le Creuset on Viking); (b) keep your kitchen foil away from an active element (it will bond); (c) don't care if the "magnet test" for compatibility will work or not (see, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7534...); and (d) don't mind replacing the appliance within 3-6 years. Jury's still out on how evenly cast iron is heated on induction.

                                      17 Replies
                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        kaleokahu: "... keep your kitchen foil away from an active element (it will bond) ..."

                                        Now, THAT's out of left field! Where on earth did you get that idea?

                                        We have used aluminum foil here for all the years we have had an induction cooktop, and undoubtedly we have had some lying around on the cooktop (which we also use as a work surface) when the cooktop was active and in operation. We have witnessed no greater frequency of foil bonding to the cooktop than we have had instances of unicorns bonding to the surface. (My understanding is that bonded unicorns could cause a real mess in the kitchen.) I am curious as to what physical phenomenon you imagine would be at work to cause aluminum foil to bond to an induction cooktop.

                                        "... don't mind replacing the appliance within 3-6 years."

                                        There is no evidence, and no reason to believe, that a induction cooktop made in 2010 will experience any higher rates of repair, or will need to be replaced sooner, than a gas or resistive electric cooktop manufactured in 2010. If Consumer Reports is to be believed, the frequency of repair of home refrigerators has increased, and the longevity has decreased, greatly in recent years, and other appliances (such as gas and resistive electric ranges) also have experienced shorter life cycles; the "engineer it just well enough to sell without pricing it out of the commodity marketplace" philosophy is a part of the throwaway mentality of modern globalized commerce, and (with few exceptions, such as Miele), appears to be practiced across the board. Because induction sales in the United States have been a small proportion of the market until very recently, the database is still small, and the database of second- and third-generation induction cooktops is smaller yet. At this time, I think it is premature to make any conclusions or even predictions about relative frequency of repair or longevity of induction vis à vis resistive electric or gas.

                                        "Jury's still out on how evenly cast iron is heated on induction."

                                        That all depends on the jury selection process. For those jurors who have actual and extensive experience cooking on or in cast iron cookware with gas and resistive electric and induction, all three, the jury has come back with a verdict that cast iron heats at least as evenly on induction as it does with either of the other two energy sources, and the cooking surface comes up to heat more quickly on induction also -- except for the sides of cast iron woks used on flat induction hobs.

                                        1. re: Politeness

                                          Politeness: Re: aluminum foil bonding "Now, THAT's out of left field! Where on earth did you get that idea? "

                                          That would be the "Handbook of Induction Heating" by Valery Rudnow. How do you think many food producers get the foil to stick to the plastic/cardboard closure gaskets and the gasket to the container? Then there's also: "Caution must be used to keep some common household items, like aluminum foil, out of contact with induction cooktops. The foil will bond to the surface." http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-In...; see to the same effect: www.byoh.com/cookinggreen.htm, articles.manualsonline.com/induction-cooktops-cool-to-the-touch.html; www.green-energy-efficient-homes.com/..., inductioncooktop.us/docs/miele_km5753_owners.pdf

                                          "There is no evidence, and no reason to believe, that a[n] induction cooktop made in 2010 will experience any higher rates of repair, or will need to be replaced sooner, than a gas or resistive electric cooktop manufactured in 2010."

                                          LOL! Where's the stock market gonna be in 3-5 years, Politeness? Has CR already tested 2010 models for 5 years? Can you predict the future with your cooktop? The evidence is there, you just have to look at what has failed in the last five years. 3-5 years is the typical longevity represented to me by guys who sell this stuff; one toney dealer would not even offer extended warranties. Gas and electric have proven track records and fewer electronics. Cato failures occur all the time with induction appliances, rarely in gas and electric. Sensible and informed shoppers for induction have to be willing to take the risk that the next 3-5 years will be different from the last 3-5.

                                          "...cast iron heats at least as evenly on induction as it does with either of the other two (gas and electric) energy sources."

                                          No. Induction may--generally in home models--heat cast iron as evenly as a lousy single-ring gas hob. But it is unlikely to heat CI as evenly as electric, unless the induction coil is uniform under the pan, as electric hobs effectively are. A single-ring induction hob--like the all-powerful Oz behind his Ceran curtain--is going to be fraught with the same hotspotting on CI as a single ring gas hob (Unless it's one of those CI pans that just doesn't work at all, e.g., Le Creuset on some Vikings).

                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                            kaleokahu alleges that he got the off-the-wall idea about aluminum foil bonding to induction cooktops from Rudnow's Handbook of Induction Heating.

                                            Rudnow was discussing small mini-furnaces that actually melt aluminum locally on the spot. See section 2.3.11: "... a small layer of aluminum foil is placed on the top of a container that has been filled and inspected .... The container with the foil is passed under an induction coil, WHICH HEATS THE FOIL to a SUFFICIENT TEMPERATURE to bond it to the container." There you have it: the authority that you cite states that the foil is bonded by h-e-a-t. Heat, such as what is generated by any gas burner, heat, such as is generated by any electric coil, heat, such as is generated by any halogen or ribbon radiant element. But wait: the surfaces of induction cooktops stay much cooler than the surface of gas burners or the surface of electric coils or the surface of Ceran-topped electric ranges or cooktops. So it is therefore less likely that foil will bond to an induction cooktp than it is that foil will bond to a gas or resistive electric cooktop.

                                            As you are well aware, aluminum is nonmagnetic, so the heat cannot be generated in the aluminum itself, but rather comes from a a very local induction heating element that melts the foil. The melting point of aluminum (aluminum foil is about 97 percent aluminum, and about 3 percent aluminum oxide that forms on the surface of the foil from contact with air) is 1220.58 °F., or about 900 degrees Fahrenheit (500 degrees Celsius) above the surface temperatures that any induction cooktop ever sees. Aluminum foil will not melt at 300° F. You are grasping at fantastical straws.

                                            "Gas and electric have proven track records and fewer electronics. Cato failures occur all the time with induction appliances, ..."

                                            Cato failures occur all the time in all consumer products; I repeat: there is no evidence whatsoever -- none -- that such failures occur more frequently with current production models of induction cooking appliances than they do with current production models of gas or resistive electric or radiant (halogen or ribbon) electric appliances.

                                            "... rarely in gas and electric."

                                            Oh, yeah: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/729659
                                            http://forums.consumerreports.org/n/p...

                                            "Induction may--generally in home models--heat cast iron as evenly as a lousy single-ring gas hob. But it is unlikely to heat CI as evenly as electric, unless the induction coil is uniform under the pan, as electric hobs effectively are."

                                            kaleokahu, you are writing from (an admitted) complete lack of experience with induction; but those of us who have decades of experience using cast iron on gas rangetops and decades of experience using cast iron on electric rangetops and years (eleven, in my case) of using cast iron on induction cooktops can say with the authority of experience that CAST IRON HEATS AT LEAST AS EVENLY ON INDUCTION AS IT DOES WITH ANY OF THE OTHER (gas and resistive or radiant electric) ENERGY SOURCES.

                                        2. re: kaleokahu

                                          "Jury's still out on how evenly cast iron is heated on induction."

                                          I don't get it. DIdn't you just do a test on gas which shows that you got a 3" burnt mark with a 3" flame / heat source? Granted I don't have the time or the interest to read everything on that thread. The biggest burner on my cooktop is 11" and the smallest one being 7". If I were doing your experiment with my 9" skillet, I suspect I'm going to see a 7" burnt mark if I use the 7" ring, or it heats "evenly" on my 11" ring. Maybe not exactly "evenly", I'd probably see blotches all over the place, but definitely not one concentrated 3" hot spot like what you had on gas.

                                          1. re: cutipie721

                                            cutiepie: Yes, I recently ran a test of CI on gas to assess hotspotting.

                                            You don't say what kind of hobs you have, so it's not easy for me to follow your reasoning very well. Let's assume you have a glass cooktop, be it induction or electric. Those usually have circular lines or speckles painted/fused onto the glass to indicate burner location and size, and are frequently nearly opaque. The element that underlies that glass, while it is CENTERED below that painted-on indication, is not necessarily coextensive with it. In other words, you could easily have a 7-inch-diameter circle that has beneath it a 4-inch element. The sizes of these circle-indicators are roughly proportional to the elements' OUTPUT, but tell us very little else about how much of an area--and where--within the circle is actually being heated/induced. This is less likely to be the case with radiant and resistive elements which tend to cover large areas (and you can typically SEE the former winking on and off), and more likely to be the case with induction elements, which remain completely hidden. A single-ring induction element will therefore tend to hotspot under CI more like a gas hob does, rather than as a conventional electric would.

                                            So, if your top is induction, and if it is a 3" single ring, yes, you probably WOULD see the same 3" hotspot with CI as I did with it on gas. However, as my (and Athanasius's) tests proved, gas is not going to show hot spots with straight copper or aluminum, which you can't use on induction in any event.

                                            While I have not yet run the parchment test on induction, this is more than theoretical surmise. I do recall seeing a flour "scorchprint" done on induction by a real food writer (perhaps Harold McGee?), that clearly showed a scorched ring that corresponded exactly with the size and shape of the underlying induction coil. I want to have an IR gun before I ask someone to let me borrow their induction top, but it will happen.

                                            Hope that helps explain my thinking.

                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                              I have an induction *gulp*. I read your other thread further and I could understand where you came from. I had a little time to spare during lunch so I ran a test.

                                              I don't have white parchment, only brown, so I used a paper napkin instead.

                                              I don't have a pot that has a wide 11" bottom, the biggest one is my lodge griddle. http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-L9OG3-Pre...

                                              I forgot to measure the factual diameter at the base. Now it's too late / too hot to measure it properly.

                                              I don't have pie weights like you do. So I put the paper towel UNDER the griddle. Turn the stove on. Went to the bathroom for maybe for 2 mins? Came back and saw a light smoke. Let it go on for another min and it really started smoking. Lifted the pan off and got this picture.

                                              Mind you, there's actually a light brown ring around the circle. I assume the brown ring was caused by the small groove around the pan. Like this:
                                              http://www.chinesegrandma.com/wp-cont...

                                              If you ask me, it's as big as the pan.

                                              What I should have done is to do the test on the 7" ring, and see if I get a full 7" out of it. I want to know if i got duped too!!

                                              And I think I know which test you were seeing. This:
                                              http://www.cookingissues.com/2010/02/...

                                               
                                              1. re: cutipie721

                                                Cutiepie: Interesting! Thanks for doing that. In my prior tests, a lot of folks picked nits over my methodology, so I'm not going to do that. Is the photo your test or the previously-posted photo (And I'm sure this photo is not the one I've seen, BTW--there wasn't a ruler in it)? Can you "open the hood" and post a photo of what your the actual coil for that burner looks like?

                                                Putting the paper UNDER the pan and the ring might be a partial explanation of the pattern's broadness.

                                                Three minutes of inattention and the paper was really smoking, huh? Kinda puts the lie to "cool" and "safe for little fingers" arguments for induction cooktops! Residual heat, anyone?

                                                Thanks again. There should be prints of every single gas, electric, and induction hob posted somewhere, so people can see what they're getting BEFORE they buy.

                                                Edit: YES! That is where I saw it (actually 'them'; there are four stark photos of CI on induction). It was Dave Arnold. Any CI afficianado considering buying induction should look at Arnold's pictures here: http://www.cookingissues.com/2010/02/... From Arnold's photos, it looks to me like the hot-spotting on induction was actually WORSE on induction than gas!

                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  That's MY picture!!! COPYRIGHT COPYRIGHT ;-)

                                                  And it's not a lie that it's safe. Try doing my experiment (paper under pot) on your radiant or gas cooktop and leave it there for 5 seconds..

                                                  When I go home tonight I'll work on the 7"

                                                  And no, I'm not going to open the hood unless you're willing to pay for a technician if I can't put it back together.

                                                  1. re: cutipie721

                                                    Cutiepie: Just so we don't misunderstand each other, I'm NOT saying that putting paper under your pan on induction is safe, but it is obviously safeER, at least over a short period of time, than just igniting it over an open flame. You might never get actual ignition on induction.

                                                    Many people here have posted about induction that NO heat remains in the glass, the downward heat response is instant, the glass CAN'T burn flesh, etc. Your post and photo confirms my theory that the glass gets hot. It will hold heat, and it will burn flesh.

                                                    I don't blame you for not opening the hood. I have a colleague who bought a new Audi, and I asked him to pop the hood. He did, but there was a COVER over the whole engine compartment and a big yellow sticker reading: WARNING!--Tapering with this cover voids your warranty!"

                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                      "Many people here have posted about induction that NO heat remains in the glass, the downward heat response is instant, the glass CAN'T burn flesh, etc. Your post and photo confirms my theory that the glass gets hot. It will hold heat, and it will burn flesh.

                                                      1. The heat came from the pan, that is true.
                                                      2. The paper burnt because of the heat of the pan, that is true.
                                                      3. The glass will get hot that it will be dangerous... That's kinda...

                                                      Let's just say there are always people who exaggerate things. I always have a cloth kitchen towel on my cooktop. When I cook, I put my pan on top of the towel so that I don't have to worry about clean up afterwards. Now, after a couple of experiments myself, I'm sensible enough to not keep the towel underneath when I'm cooking things that don't have a lot of water moisture. My house is still intact.

                                                      When I was done with the experiment in the afternoon, I put the cloth towel right back onto the burner without even thinking that it could potentially catch a fire.

                                                      Will there be people believing that residual heat is not dangerous? Yes.
                                                      Is the residue heat on induction as high as that on radiant or gas? NO.
                                                      Can I put a towel on the induction burner right after cooking to prevent children accidents? Yes.
                                                      Can you do the same for radiant or gas? You tell me.

                                                      As far as I know, I don't think I ever cooked anything that requires over 400F on the stove.

                                                      But again, I'm not famous. You don't have to believe me.

                                                      1. re: cutipie721

                                                        cutiepie: "Let's just say there will always people who will exaggerate things."

                                                        Yes, of course you're right. I just get tired of hearing them when the things they say are wrong. Le Creuset keeps misleading people about slow, even heat in CI; theinductionsite.com spreads this kind of pap, too. In both cases, to sell stuff. As this thread shows, when it gets repeated often enough (and enough money is spent in reliance) nothing can convince a lot of even smart people d to change their minds.

                                                        I appreciate your objectivity, though. Good work. Do some more tests.

                                                      2. re: kaleokahu

                                                        kaleokahu: "Many people here have posted about induction that NO heat remains in the glass, the downward heat response is instant, the glass CAN'T burn flesh, etc."

                                                        You apparently have read posts from "many people here" whose posts have been invisible to me.

                                                        1. Never have I seen anyone allege, ever, that no heat remains in the glass.

                                                        2. The downward heat response is instantaneous; that is true. Let us be clear what "downward heat response" is. If you are traveling in a car, and you apply the brakes, if your tires have traction on a dry surface, you will start decelerating instantaneously. That is what happens when you turn down an induction cooktop. One hope that when you apply the brakes in a car, you do not stop in the manner of hitting a rock cliff head-on; that is not the manner in which heat response occurs instantaneously when you turn down an induction cooktop. However, with a gas burner, for which there is a heat reservoir hotter than the pot (the spider or grate that holds the pot above the flame) in contact with the pot, the effect of turning down the burner is to continue for a few seconds to hold the foot on the accelerator, then applying the brake. Turn-down is quicker with induction than it is with gas (unless you physically remove the pot from the gas burner).

                                                        3. Never have I seen anyone allege, ever, that "the glass CAN'T burn flesh." However, the Ceran beneath the pot on a Ceran top gas or radiant cooktop always is hotter than the pot that sits on it, while the Ceran beneath the pot on an induction cooktop always is cooler than the pot that sits on it. The temperature difference is significant.

                                                        1. re: Politeness

                                                          You are utterly and completely right on everything, as usual.

                                                    2. re: kaleokahu

                                                      Replying to your Edit and your response to Politeness

                                                      So I take it that you don't want to believe my results because I'm not famous? I'm hurt, and I wasted a paper napkin too... My experiment shows that I have a 9" bottomed pan sitting on a 11" burner and heated up beautifully. Arnold's goal was not to compare cooktops, but rather to show that the same metal displays the same characteristics regardless of what heating method you use.

                                                      And he's using a "cheapie" portable one too.
                                                      http://www.cookingissues.com/2010/02/...

                                                      If you want to talk about cast iron on induction, my result shows that it's as beautiful as aluminum on gas.

                                                      I'm not going to waste any more paper napkins and my time on this. If you want, there are tons of pictures and videos of people using induction for boiling water, and they all show evenly spread bubbles across the full diameter of the pot. Or better yet, get Consumer Reports to do it.

                                                      1. re: cutipie721

                                                        cutiepie: "So I take it that you don't want to believe my results because I'm not famous?" No, not at all! I think your napkin showed a pretty even pattern overall. I apologize if I gave offense to you.

                                                        "Arnold's goal was not to compare cooktops, but rather to show that the same metal displays the same characteristics regardless of what heating method you use." His data show greater unevenness in CI on induction that the other methods. We can quibble about whether there is something unique about HIS test on HIS hob, or what his intentions were, but the photos speak pretty eloquently.

                                                        Please, I encourage you to do a test like his (or mine) on your own stove. You need the pie weights anyway. :)

                                                    3. re: cutipie721

                                                      Hi cuipie721.

                                                      I was surprised to see the paper towel so thoroughly scorched after just a couple of minutes in your experiment. Did you set the burner to max under an empty cast iron griddle?

                                                      Like you, I almost always put something under my pots and pans when I use my induction cooktop -- in my case, two layers of old newspaper. When I'm done cooking, I just crumple up the newspaper and use it to give the glass surface a quick polish. Cleanup is a snap!

                                                      Even when I've used my cast iron grill pan to grill a thick steak or used a big cast iron skillet to sear a big batch of spare ribs before putting them in the oven, the newspaper has never been so scorched that I was worried that it might have caught on fire. The most scorching I have ever seen is slight browning under the skillet after cooking three skillets full of spare ribs one after the other.

                                                      PS. Of course, I always exercise due care when using newspaper. I don't leave my pots and pans unattended and don't let them boil dry. I also have a fire extinguisher in my kitchen, which I think is a good idea whatever kind of cooktop you use. IMO, the risk of the newspaper catching fire with an induction cooktop is much lower than the risk of an oil fire with a gas cooktop.

                                                      1. re: tanuki soup

                                                        "Did you set the burner to max under an empty cast iron griddle?"

                                                        Yes, the pan was empty, and the burner was set to max. I don't think I turned on boost though. The paper napkin played a part too, I think. It's thinner than parchment, the fibre was quite loose, and was so flimsy that I felt it is probably one of the first things to catch fire in the house.

                                              2. I moved to an all electric house 25 years ago. I've switched electric cooktops twice. I have had a smooth top cooktop for around 10 years, and frankly I like the way it cooks. I've had someone mention that it boiled water very fast, faster than his fabulous gas range. I've learned to cook most things on med heat, and I get generally good results. A family member has a smooth top, and I didn't like it as well. The heat was not held constant, and med heat was more like med low, I thought. So, there are good and bad smooth tops, but I haven't a clue how to know which is which.

                                                One thing I do know is that there isn't enough room between burners on my cooktop. Pans bump into one another if I use more than one.

                                                I find keeping it clean to be the easiest of the all the cooktops I've ever had. The second easiest was an old chrome gas cooktop I used in the seventies. I despise the old fashioned exposed element electric cooktops. Hard to keep clean and ugly to look at.

                                                20 Replies
                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                  I definitely know there's a wide variation in performance quality between smoothtops, having at first thought that Thermador would be "better" than say GE-level, only to find that it was more frustrating heatwise than my previous coil ranges. That's when I upgraded to the Wolf and the difference in performance was like night and day IMHO.

                                                  FYI, I magnet-tested all my cookware earlier today, and ironically the most expensive ones were the ones that failed the test! Namely, all the Scanpan Classic. The Farberware ones all passed with flying colors (as did the Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker, thankfully), as did the three Le Creuset of course, and the Emeril stainless dual-lipped open saucier that cost a whopping $19.99 at Macy's, LOL.

                                                  I'm really irked that none of the Scanpans are induction-compatible, not only because there are seven of them, but because four of are among the pans that I use the most. They are the 6" covered saucepan, the 8" covered saute pan, the 3+ qt covered stockpot, the 6 1/2 qt covered stockpot, the 8" frypan, the 10 1/2" frypan, and and 10"x10" flat square frypan which I use for crepes and pancakes. Grrrrrr. According to Scanpan, the only pans they make that are induction compatible is their new CTX line, and they don't even MAKE a 6" covered saucepan and 8" covered saute pan in that line. Those of course have been the workhorses of my kitchen for 10 years. I don't even like the design of the CTX line either.

                                                  I can easily do without nonstick but I am super fussy about the handles on my saucepans (hate the shape of most of the current brands including AllClad, Calphalon and yes even DeMeyere) and I love having a glass lid, which the Scanpan Classics do have but most other brands do not. (Don't cookware designers think that we'd like to be able to monitor what the food is doing WITHOUT having to lift the lid????)

                                                  Also ironically, I have two pieces of Scanpan Steel (all stainless) and those did pass the magnet test. A la Murphy's Law, Scanpan discontinued that line several years ago. OF COURSE. They were beautiful pans and I'm kicking myself now for not buying more of them when they were still available.

                                                  1. re: dessert_diva

                                                    dessert_diva: "I can easily do without nonstick but I am super fussy about the handles on my saucepans (hate the shape of most of the current brands including AllClad, Calphalon and yes even DeMeyere) and I love having a glass lid, which the Scanpan Classics do have but most other brands do not."

                                                    It sounds as if what you want is Chantal Copper Fusion. It is not cheap, but it is a lot less expensive than many of the "premium" brands. It is as close to nonstick as you can find in a non-PTFE surface, and it can go into the oven or the dishwasher. It has see-through lids, too.

                                                    1. re: Politeness

                                                      You should definitely take Politeness' advice. On everything.

                                                      1. re: Politeness

                                                        The Chantal looks interesting! I would have passed them by, thinking they were nonstick, due to the color of the interior.

                                                        I wish their store locator had a retailer in my area, because I'd really like to see one in person, since the handle comfort is a big deal for me. I suppose I could order one from Amazon and then just bite the bullet for the return shipping if the handle is a no-go. I noticed a couple of reviewers on Amazon saying the pans are extremely heavy and am wondering about that as well, because as previously mentioned I gave away all but a few small Le Creuset pieces because their weight doesn't play nicely with my wonky wrist. Frustrating when you can't actually see a piece of cookware in person before buying. Apparantly W-S and Sur la Table only carry Chantal's kettle and that's it. There are no other independent cookware shops in my area anymore, more's the pity; guess places like Bed Bath & Beyond drove them out of business.

                                                        1. re: dessert_diva

                                                          DD: Copper Fusion has been exceedingly unpopular, some would say a commercial failure. But the Authority likes it, which makes it wonderful.

                                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                                            Interesting.... I wonder why it bombed so badly? I see they also make an Enamel on Steel line, which seems somewhat less expensive although not what I'd consider a decision-making difference. Perhaps the Copper Fusion simply wasn't a functional improvement over the EOS?

                                                            Apologies to the OP for further derailing the post from cooktop to cookware. Ooopsy. :-(

                                                            1. re: dessert_diva

                                                              DD: I'd give you my answer, except I'd probably get argued with. And we know what happens then, right? ;)

                                                              If you want new cookware just for the sake of new, get it. But it sounds like you have an extensive collection of Scanpan you will need to replace if you replace your Wolf with induction. Is there anything you're dissatisfied with about cooking in Scanpan on your Wolf?

                                                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                Actually I'm very happy with the Scanpan Classic; the cookware digression occurred because when I tested all of my current cookware (of various makes) with a magnet in order to see which of them would work if I were to choose an induction cooktop in my next kitchen, those were the only ones that "failed".

                                                                Therefore, I would have to weigh the functional advantages of an induction cooktop against the cost of having to replace 7 regularly-used Scanpan Classics with similar pans in some brand of new induction-friendly cookware (which I doubt I would like, in terms of lids and/or handles, nearly as much as I do my old faithful Scanpans).

                                                                The things that appeal to me about the induction, from what I'm reading here, are the instant micro-adjustment of heat, no gas-jitters, and also the ability to use paper to protect the cooktop from constant spatter-cleanups. Disadvantages are the considerably higher cost of course, and as has been mentioned, it seems a matter of argument as to whether the repair history of the inductions is long enough to compare accurately with that of the high-end electric smoothtops. Not to mention the added cost of having to replace 7 pieces of perfectly good favorite cookware for absolutely no other reason than the fact that they and the cooktop wouldn't play nicely together.

                                                                1. re: dessert_diva

                                                                  DD: "I would have to weigh the functional advantages of an induction cooktop against the cost of having to replace 7 regularly[happily]-used Scanpan Classics."

                                                                  Yes, and you should not take one person's word for that functionality. ;) ;)

                                                                  Are you unhappy with your Wolf?

                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                    I adore the Wolf. So much so, that I was planning to take it with me when I move -- because the odds of me NOT wanting to renovate, in whole or in part, the next house's kitchen ... even if it's only the countertops, because having learned from my mistakes I am fixated on engineered quartz for next time ....are somewhere between slim and none.

                                                                    If I can't find a lower-end replacement for the space my Wolf now occupies, I figured I'd have to just put a new current Wolf model (even though I like mine better, LOL) into the new place's kitchen. I wasn't considering induction at all until I read this thread. If the new house has gas (which my current one doesn't), then I was planning on deciding between sticking with the smoothtop Wolf or taking a flyer on gas (which I'm ambivalent about).

                                                                    1. re: dessert_diva

                                                                      DD: So you'll be remodeling anyway, right?

                                                                      It sounded from your earlier posts that you have some fears concerning gas. Actually quite safe; inquire about the safety valve features that prevent leaks.

                                                                      Re: Copper Fusion... (1) I couldn't quickly find the thickness of the copper layer, but if it is not more than 1mm thick, you should be wary. (2) All but one of their saucepan and frypan sizes has a large helper handle--a good feature for your wonky wrist, but sometimes awkward/crowded if you have multiple pans going.

                                                                      1. re: dessert_diva

                                                                        DD: As I cautioned earlier, one should not take a particular poster's word for this line. There are as many negative posts about CCF as positive.

                                                                        Interestingly enough, the Authority has him/herself stated here that Chantal Copper Fusion has never really caught on with CH's. At least he/she is now arguing with him/herself.

                                                                2. re: dessert_diva

                                                                  dessert_dive, concerning Chantal Copper Fusion: "Interesting.... I wonder why it bombed so badly?"

                                                                  Short answer: it did not bomb and is a smashing success for Chantal.

                                                                  For many folk, if an item is not sold at Wal-Mart, on the Home Shopping Channel, or at Bed Bath & Beyond, or perhaps at Target, it does not exist. Chantal is a smaller company than Groupe SEB (which is the parent of All-Clad, Krups, Rowenta, T-fal, and other brands) or Newell Rubbermaid (parent of Calphalon), and Chantal chooses to market through distribution channels that do not include Wal-Mart or the Home Shopping Channel. Therefore, for the same reason you are less liekly to hear about Mazdas than Toyotas or are less likely to hear about Inax toilets than Kohler toilets, you are less likely to hear about Chantal than about All-Clad or Calphalon -- and gross sales beget gross sales.

                                                                  If you want to read about actual Chowhounders' experiences with Chantal Copper Fusion in the real world, see:

                                                                  Candy: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5587...

                                                                  gulfcoastgal: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6005...

                                                                  And an entire thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/421187 that contains contributions from:

                                                                  ckone1: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4211...

                                                                  rexsreine: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4211...

                                                                  gulfcoastgal (again): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4211...

                                                                  grewan68: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4211...

                                                                  kariface: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4211...

                                                                  1. re: dessert_diva

                                                                    DD: I did a little checking for you today on Chantal Copper Fusion. The CCF site is silent about the thickness of the copper layer in the "sandwich". So I emailed Chantal and asked. Then I looked up on Chantal's CCF website retailer locator sellers in my area (Seattle). There is only one near Seattle, and only 6 in the entire state. I called all of them. NONE of them had any information on copper thickness. However, two told me that they no longer carry it, and one was honest enough to share the reason: too many returns related to sticking problems. Of the four remaining retailers in the state, three had any in their stores, one having sold so few CCF that it is now special-order-only for them. Only two of the four were enthusiastic about this line. All were somewhat surprised that I was even asking about CCF.

                                                                    Then I looked for reviews on Amazon. There are a total of 6, but two of those are by the same reviewer. See, http://www.amazon.com/Chantal-Copper-.... There are essentially 5, with 3 5-star ratings and 2 1-star. For such a smashingly successful line, I was surprised there were not more reviews. Perhaps they will come rolling in after the Holidays when HSN and Wallyworld start carrying the stuff.

                                                                    So far no response from Chantal. One retailer (one of the two enthusiasts) was going to try a back-channel phone number to try to get a direct answer from Chantal on the thickness as well as the overall thickness (which would give us a decent answer about whether you would be buying more cheap steel or more expensive, conductive copper).

                                                                    If we were talking about cars, this stuff would be more like a Zil limosine.

                                                                    I'll update you if I learn anything more.

                                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                      Wow, thank you so much :-) . I too am a "research junkie", especially about things that either represent a more than paltry investment of $$ or have anything to do with my health. (doctors hate me, LOL)

                                                                      Not 100% sure about the Zil analogy though :-p , simply because in that case the Chantal Fusion pricepoint would need to be right up there with Mauviel, nyet? ;-)

                                                                      1. re: dessert_diva

                                                                        DD: You're welcome. My analogy to a Zil was more to do with familiarity and desirability, although CCF IS pretty expensive for 3-layer clad, even if it is enameled. Prices are apparently dropping, though, judging by Amazon. Maybe a Lada would have been a better car analogy, da?

                                                                        I don't know much about the Mauviel sandwich-ware. How do their prices compare? I bet someone here knows...

                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                          Hm, you're right, the comparison of the Chantal enamel/carbon steel/copper combo vs. the Mauviel copper exterior/stainless interior isn't really apples to apples -- because the Mauviel isn't a sandwich really. Well, I guess you could call it an open-face sandwich? ;-)

                                                                          Price comparisons, FWIW, is the Copper Fusion 3-qt covered saute pan is $120 on the Chantal website; the Mauviel M150 3.2 qt covered saute pan in copper/stainless is $350 at Sur la T.

                                                                          1. re: dessert_diva

                                                                            DD: Sorry for being flippant--I caused you to misunderstand my meaning. By sandwich-ware, I meant the Mauviel lines that have no exposed copper at all, e.g., the M'Cook and Inductinox (or however it's spelled) lines.

                                                                            The Mauviel bimetal, SS-liner copper is a different animal. BTW, STAY AWAY from the M150 line--it's very light gauge--1.5mm--and only advisable for table service. $350? Hahahaha, that's ludicrously overpriced.

                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                              No problem, I am totally clueless about copper/mostly-copper cookware (as I'm sure you've guessed!) and I know that is your area of expertise. :-)

                                                                              How, er, creative of Chantal to name the line after the gauge of the pots; it must have taken long hours of thought and corporate discussion to come up with that one, LOL.

                                                                              Here's a question: I just noticed that, on another current thread, you mention a "converter disc" that would allow a nonmagnetic pot to be used on an induction cooktop. Can you explain how those work, and whether they would mayhap allow my old fave Scanpan Classics to work, should I begin to consider induction?

                                                                              Btw, a confession: I did not disclose quite ALL of the reasons that the induction info here piqued my interest: The one that really grabbed my attention was the claim of being able to melt chocolate directly in a pan on the cooktop, rather than in a bain-marie. I do work with chocolate a LOT.... ;-)

                                                                              1. re: dessert_diva

                                                                                DD: Yes, there are converter discs that can help make pans work on induction that otherwise wouldn't. As I don't have induction, I have not played with these (yet), but the principle is straightforward. That is, the induction coil's magnetic field causes the DISC to act as the transducer, rather than the pan bottom, and the heat is generated there, rather than in the pan. Basically, you would be back to conducting the heat through the pan bottom--like it's been done successfully now for about 7,500 years. Like the bottom of an induction-capable pan, the disc must also be compatible for this to work. The discs I've seen offered by the cookware manufacturers are absurdly expensive--$65 or more each. A piece of carbon- (or the right kind of SS-) steel scrap cut in a flat circle to match your induction hob should work and cost practically nothing except a call to a metal fabrication business.

                                                                                I have a friend who is prototyping his own steel discs that will be optimized to work--and be sold--with copper. He thinks they can be sold at retail for far less than the $65-$100 prices now being asked. He also thinks that they are priced prohibitively now to sell more sandwichware and dissuade consumers from buying Al and Cu pans. He may be right.

                                                                                Yes, I would expect these to make your Scanpans work. However, some loss of energy efficiency (how much no one has actually tested yet with copper on induction+disc) would result, and they would also negate some of induction's other claimed benefits, like "cool" cooktop, and the alleged "cool kitchen". On the other hand, by virtue of being able to use Cu and Al pans, the heat would be more even, even up the pans' sidewalls. I view that as a good thing, but others vehemently differ. ;) ;)

                                                                                I am no chocolatier. But it seems to me that the "very low" lowest heat settings induction makes possible would be made even lower with these discs. Possibly too low to melt chocolate. But then you'd just goose it a bit, I think.

                                                        2. I used to drool over gas stoves but let me say this and maybe I'll get some advice: I hardly ever burn food with my glass top, but now and then I'll cook at work on the gas burners and unless I stand there and watch (beans) it burns on the bottom... what do you gas proponents say about that?

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: mrockett

                                                            I'd rather use a flame tamer when needed on gas than deal with the nightmare cleaning and quirks of glass top.

                                                            I've had both. I have no idea where the idea that glass tops are easier to keep clean come from. Enamel finish gas stoves wipe right off whereas my glass top required a special cleaner, you have to be careful not to scratch it and risk future cracking of the glass and even then I could never get as pristine clean as my enamel gas stove.

                                                            1. re: rasputina

                                                              I am finding that induction glass-top is indeed the easiest cooking surface I've ever had to clean. I had a regular glass/smooth-top for a number of years. If I was regular, cleaning it was not hard. And yes you do use special cleaner, but doing so does not make it hard to do.

                                                              The problems come when the user does not clean it well between uses.

                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                That's all well and good if you're the only person doing the cooking but that isn't the case in my house.