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induction vs electric stove top

I'm doing a kitchen reno this summer. I'm not sure I really understand what the difference between induction vs electric stove top. I'm unable to get natural gas in my area (bummer, I know). So, my choice is electric or induction.

I'm throwing my hat in the arena for some discussion and an education from those that have induction. Will I be able to use my cast iron, enameled cast iron, and heavy bottom/nonstick Scanpans? Is induction heat easier/quicker to control than electric? What are your pros/cons?

Thanks everyone!

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  1. You will be able to use anything that is magnetic. Cast iron isn't ideal, but it works with induction.

    Most clad bottom cookware has stainless bottoms that are magnetic.

    Not all stainless is created equal though. What you'll find out there is 18/0 & 18/10 stainless. 18/10 is preferred for the interior cooking surface as 18/0 pits badly. But 18/10 isn't magnetic. Therefor, the bottom/exterior should be 18/0 for use with induction. Sounds confusing, but it really isn't. Just pay attention to the pan specs. 18/0 bottom & 18/10 interior. Aluminum or copper inside the "sandwich" is fine.

    We are about to get our first induction also...and our neighborhood DOES have Natural Gas. We chose to forgo the gas range as residential ranges suck unless you spend mega bucks...plus I don't like disassembling the gas ranges every time I finish cooking to clean the things.

    14 Replies
    1. re: JayL

      I have no idea why anyone thinks that CI doesn't work as well on induction. I have two homes and two induction ranges and I use CI cookware probably daily and love it..

      This thread has loads of good info. I'm with the above poster. We do house exchanges and I feel like I've taken a huge step down when I'm 'forced' to use Wolf, Viking, etc :)

      ETA: Forgot to mention that I have a flat-bottom wok so that's no problem either.

      Additionally, a WHOLE lot of cookware manufacturers are now making induction capable stuff. Here's a link for some info I found a few months:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8811...

      And ANYONE who says that cleaning it isn't a selling point hasn't used it. It takes almost nothing.

      As you can see, I'm sold and will NEVER go back. Never :)

      1. re: c oliver

        <I have no idea why anyone thinks that CI doesn't work as well on induction.>

        I was wonder that too. Cast iron should work very well.

        1. re: c oliver

          c oliver and Chem,

          CI works with induction. I didnt say it wouldn't.

          CI isn't as magnetic as some metals...although it IS magnetic and will work. That is why it isn't "ideal". It works, but it may take a little more time to heat up.

          I have plenty of CI that will be used a great deal on induction.

          1. re: JayL

            That may be what the "books" tell you - I hadn't read that. But just the other night I fixed a couple of pieces of foie gras (25th anniversary of our 1st marriage!). It got so hot so fast that I could have wound up with a puddle of very expensive fat. I have old and new CI, skillets and DOs have nothing but praise for them with the induction. I think you're in for a pleasant surprise.

            1. re: c oliver

              Yep, can't wait. 36" top in new home...hopefully a couple months away.

              1. re: JayL

                :) I'm like a convert to a new religion! I'm 65 and thought having a freezer on the bottom, French door fridge was exciting. So this is just completely over the top. Looking forward to your reports...about everything. Congratulations.

                1. re: c oliver

                  <thought having a freezer on the bottom, French door fridge was exciting. >

                  Wow, that is an exciting design.

            2. re: JayL

              <CI isn't as magnetic as some metals.>

              Among cookware metals, cast iron is very magnetic. Yes, its magnetic permeability is not as strong as Mu metal, but that is really comparing extreme cases which are not used for most cookware applications.

              To put it in perspective, cast iron's and steel's relative permeability is about 100-200. Aluminum's and copper's are about 1.

              Now, you may still find that your cast iron cookware takes some time to heat up, but that may have more to with the fact that it is a thick construction.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Beat me to it Chem. With the induction of induction we expect instant heat but that pan will still take time to heat up.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  So after all the conversation...CI still works just fine on induction.

                  LoL

                  1. re: JayL

                    <CI still works just fine on induction. >

                    More than just fine. It is great.

                    Halle Berry is more than "just fine".

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Stop breaking my sentences apart! LoL

                      You're saying exactly what I'm saying but with slightly different terminology.

                      We agree! LoL

            3. re: JayL

              Cast iron is absolutely fine on induction. The reason some folks feel it is "not ideal" in practice is that cast iron pans still acts like cast iron. Takes time to pre-heat, takes time to heat evenly (as evenly as cast iron heats), but holds heat very well. Good for high heat searing applications, etc. Induction does not change any of that except that heating up may happen a bit faster.

              As for "efficiency," that's a term that gets used in a lot of different ways. Sometimes folks mean something like high mileage in cars. Induction is "higher mileage" but, as Kaleo points out, it can take quite a while to recoup the savings. (Unless you are served by a rural electric co-op for which "deregulation" has resulted in electric rates at 35 cents/kWh). There is also "efficiency" in the sense of putting most of the energy into the pan rather than waste heat into the room. DOE estimates 84% for induction, 60%-70% for coil electric, 50% for radiant electric, and 33%-40% for gas burners.

              A search here will turn up numbers of other detailed (and passionate) discussions of induction. Also, lots of useful discussion of specific models of induction stoves and cooktops in the Appliances forum at gardenweb:

              http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/appl/

            4. Hi, Page:

              From the manufacturer's website:

              "Can SCANPAN CLASSIC & PROFESSIONAL be used with induction ranges?

              No. Induction ranges use magnetic fields. SCANPAN CLASSIC & PROFESSIONAL have an aluminum core which is not magnetic.Scanpan CTX, IQ and CSX can be used with induction ranges."

              The functional difference between induction and resistive electric is that with induction, the stove turns *your pan* into the heating element, whereas with resistive, a separate element is heated, and then *that* heats your pan.

              Induction tops only come under glass, as do many resistive electric tops. If you like this feature (looks sleek, modern, "easy" to clean) you could have either. But some people hate the effort required to keep the glass looking perfect.

              IMO, induction's biggest advantage is its responsiveness, you can adjust the heat up or down and the heat delivered changes very quickly. Resistive electric is slower to respond, but if you're used to and OK with this slowness already, it wouldn't be a big deal.

              IMO, resistive electric is generally a more even heat source. There is (usually a single) loop hidden beneath the glass of the induction stove from which the magnetic field emanates, and the field drops off sharply with distance, so you may find that you get a "hot ring" effect, depending on your cookware and preparation. Electric coils tend not to suffer from this.

              Induction tends to run cooler, so if you live somewhere where a hot kitchen bothers you, that's an advantage. It's also a little safer as far as kid-safe goes.

              Induction is theoretically more energy efficient, but the difference is not as great as the sellers would have you believe. If there's a $500 difference in price, it would take you a long time to recoup your investment in energy savings.

              Finally, there is a HUGE amount of info here in other threads. I encourage you to use the Search function, and study up.

              Aloha,
              Kaleo

              3 Replies
              1. re: kaleokahu

                :: Induction tops only come under glass, as do many resistive electric tops. If you like this feature (looks sleek, modern, "easy" to clean) you could have either. But some people hate the effort required to keep the glass looking perfect. ::

                This is an area of big difference between induction and regular resistive-heat electric smoothtops: The resistive burner areas get much, much hotter (and stay hot longer) than induction burners, so that spills quickly burn and harden into hard-to-clean 'shellac'. In contrast, spills on an induction top can be cleaned up almost right away (because the glass top doesn't get that hot, or stay hot for long), and won't sizzle into 'food varnish'.

                1. re: ellabee

                  Hi, ellabee:

                  I would say it's an area of small difference. But there is a difference, so point taken.

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    Cooks who move from smoothtop electric to induction report it as a major difference. I have no experience with smoothtops, so am only passing on the reports.

              2. Thanks to both of you. Very informative.

                My scan pans are the IQ, so that would work. I do adore my cast iron though, so since it isn't ideal I might shy away from the induction. Although I live in AZ, so the cooler summer kitchen is attractive.

                My ideal would be gas (I have a partner who cleans the counters and stove tops :), but since I'm used to electric I think I might just stick with it!

                2 Replies
                1. re: pagesinthesun

                  Many people with cast iron use it on induction. There's no reason at all it won't work. Some worry about scratches on the glass, but that would apply equally to an electric smoothtop range.

                  But wait, there's more! Induction stays cool enough that you can place a paper towel or piece of paper (great way to recycle newspaper!) between the cast iron and the cooktop. Seriously.

                  Have you seen the new Samsung induction? The left-side cooking elements are wicked cool, and it has some kind of split shelf in the oven that bakers seem to love.

                  http://www.samsung.com/us/appliances/...

                  I'm in your camp, beginning our reno next week with tile tear-out and new island. then we're laying new tile throughout the house. Doing it ourselves, ouch! My knees will never be the same. Next year we'll replace the POS smoothtop builder's grade range.

                  1. re: pagesinthesun

                    I have IH and I use enameled cast iron frequently and it is a glorious thing. It is far superior to anything else on the IH. It gets such beautiful even heat. I don't see why cast iron would be any different I don't have any cast iron at the moment, but have only seen positive reviews on using it on IH on chowhound. There are many threads on chowhound about people loving using cast iron on their IH, I wouldn't let cast iron prevent you from getting IH.

                  2. induction is absolutely the way to go. i have a miele for about 2 years and love it. you need magnetic pans so some of your old ones may not work - they do have to be magnetic. i cook a lot and had a gas range before but induction is ahead of that. No comparison against coil electric. Induction is faster, more even and more controllable both up and down in power.

                    cast iron probably takes 5 minutes to fully heat up but it holds the heat well and is very even. try the miele gallery in scottsdale where they have unit on display. you probably can try it out as well

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: tfed

                      This is a good idea, to go into the showroom and actually be hands on with induction. I'll try out the Miele gallery. Thanks for the suggestion.

                    2. Yes, induction is wonderful. BTW, I've used both cast iron and Le Cruest and have been very pleased with the results. They worked perfectly. An added bonus-the handles don't get hot because they aren't over a gas flame or electric burner. Up til six months ago, I hand only ever cooked on gas. I now carry a small magnet with me in case I see pots or pans that I like. The only nonstick one I've found is All Clad and I didn't want to spring for that much money.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: 555732

                        Vollrath Tri-Ply non-stick is induction-friendly. About 1/2 the price of All-Clad at least where I am.

                        1. re: 555732

                          Hi 555732,

                          Just FYI, some nonstick cookware that works on induction:

                          Swiss Diamond (model numbers with an "i" at the end)
                          Scanpan CTX
                          De Buyer CHOC Induction
                          Analon Nouvelle Copper
                          Te-Fal

                        2. We are on our second induction, a Bosch unit.
                          I have cooked on induction for about 10 years and would not consider any thing else.
                          I use AlClad, old cast iron skillet, a set of Descoware enamled cast iron and a Henckles 10 " non stick available from Bed & Bath for $40.00.
                          Due to the magnetic induction heating, it is faster than any other type of conduction or radient heating. Of interest to you may be the fact that all induction energy goes into heating the pot and not into the kitchen, thus keeping it cooler.
                          Lastly, since the top is not very hot when cooking on it, nothing sticks to it. We use ScrubbyBubbles bathroom cleaner to remove grease and then a final wipe with Windex!
                          Poster tfed stating it takes 5 minutes to heat a cast iron skillet is strange to me (not challenging tfred's veracity). My 14" enamaled cast iron will go to 400* in about 50 - 60 seconds. Possible his skillet is of low magnetic quality???

                          1. I still maintain that I love using my enameled cast iron on my induction. I only have a fairy cheap portable induction unit, it is only 1300 watts which is tiny, but it is my only cooking source. I just cooked the best steak I have ever had in my life, including at high end steak houses. I used my induction unit and a Le Creuset enameled cast iron grill pan. I put it on medium heat and went outside to hang my laundry for 5-10 minutes. I don't usually leave it sitting there that long and it probably doesn't need it, but it was smoking hot by the time I got to it.

                            It probably helps that my steak was real wagyu and that it was a filet which I enjoy, but the crust I got on it was great. So crunchy and salty and peppery. I know, I know, I should have let it rest another 2 minutes, and I assure you it was more red then it looks in the pictures, it was a beautiful medium rare.

                            I am almost considering going back to the store for another.

                             
                             
                             
                             
                            1. You might want to look into hybrid stove tops (radiant & induction). That might be a good compromise and let you use your old pots, as well as give you an excuse to buy some new ones.

                              1. If a magnet will stick to the bottom of the pot, you can use it for induction. So iron is fine.

                                Induction is the way to go.

                                1. pagesinthesun, you don't say whether you've any experience on electric. If you decide to go with electric, I'd suggest a coil model. They offer some advantages over smoothtop units.

                                  Coils heat faster than radiant. I recall an old CR test in which a coil unit boiled water faster than gas, and much faster than a smoothtop. They also cool down faster than smoothtops, so heat is more controllable. Of course, they're still slower to respond than gas and induction. A warped pan will work better on a coil unit than a smoothtop, pretty comparable to gas.

                                  Smoothtops are easier to clean, and look prettier, but that's it for advantages. Pans must be dead flat to work properly. Unless they're flat, you're guaranteed uneven heating, in addition to having liquids and oils concentrated on the downhill side of the pan.

                                  That said, THIS gas-happy cook can't wait to switch out my smoothtop for induction. I've got to replace all my stainless steel cookware, but I don't care. Well, I care a bit, because mine is old Calphalon tri-ply that was made in the USA and the new stuff made in China feels a bit lighter weight to me. Also, mine is in perfect condition, with nary a chip, warp or deep scratch. But I crave the instant response I loved for so long with gas. Nothing else is as important to me. So, induction.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                    <Coils heat faster than radiant. I recall an old CR test in which a coil unit boiled water faster than gas, and much faster than a smoothtop. They also cool down faster than smoothtops, so heat is more controllable. Of course, they're still slower to respond than gas and induction. A warped pan will work better on a coil unit than a smoothtop, pretty comparable to gas.>

                                    Excellent points. Condense and to the point.

                                  2. We replaced our old electric range in NZ last year -- I'd been determined to get gas (which where we lived would have been propane, as there was no gas laid on). But after shopping around I went with induction. I LOVE induction. In fact, this year, we're on leave, renting a place with a small kitchen with a gas range, and I really hate how hot it is. Plus it's very hard to clean. So, I am a convert.

                                    I used my cast iron and my enamelled cast iron with no problem on the induction. I sanded down the bottom of the cast iron skillet just to smooth out a couple of rough bits so it wouldn't scratch.

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: grubstreet

                                      <renting a place with a small kitchen with a gas range, and I really hate how hot it is.>

                                      Thanks for your rw experience, grubstreet. I break a sweat within 20 minutes standing over my smoothtop electric. I don't expect miracles from induction, but it's nice to know the difference is noticeable.

                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                        It is indeed magical if you don't like the heat.

                                        When I first moved from electric coil to induction a few years ago, I was too busy with adjusting the schedules, ie when to start preheating the pan, how long to expect water to boil etc. I don't remember appreciating the fact that my face didn't get roasted anymore.

                                        Fast forward to several months ago I stayed at a place equipped with an electric smooth top. OMG if I had extra money I would gift an induction range to the unit owner. I was either burning everything or starving while waiting for water to boil. The heat was also VERY memorable. We ended up eating a lot of salad.

                                        1. re: cutipie721

                                          Really? Your face got roasted and you starved waiting an extra 30 seconds? LOL!

                                            1. re: cutipie721

                                              Wow. It took 30 minutes longer to boil water on that electric glasstop than it does on your induction? That's as amazing as it roasting your face! Did you burn any of that water?

                                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                                As a matter of fact, water burned LOL! It boiled over and the starch from pasta burned right on top of the stove. It wasn't the most difficult thing to scrub off anyway, there were worse, so no biggie.

                                                So the next time I got "smarter" by not turning it all the way to high heat. 30-mins or not, I don't remember. All I remember was I started boiling water before doing mise en place and watched some TV before the water boiled. At least I had less cleanup afterwards.

                                                I did feel like a total idiot in front of that stove. Food was sticking to the pan, burning, boiling over... GARGH. For the amount of time I was going to stay there, I didn't feel the need to relearn cooking habits. Kudos to those who have mastered cooking on smooth top stoves!

                                                1. re: cutipie721

                                                  Hi, cutiepie:

                                                  Sorry, I'm a slow learner...So the problem was that the electric boiled water so fast it boiled over, and so you turned it down, and THAT wasn't fast enough compared to your induction unit on high?

                                                  I think you may have been visited by the spirit of Lucy Ricardo. If you'd like to feel better about electric smoothtops, you should come over and try cooking on my "new" wood/coal stove... ...there's mise all over en place!

                                                  Aloha,
                                                  Kaleo

                                                  1. re: cutipie721

                                                    One of the secondary reason I love my induction(s) so much is that I frequently forget to start the pasta water early enough. Now with the boost feature, it's no biggie. Love it.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      Hi, c oliver:

                                                      Now *that* makes some sense. What I do when I forget is tap off a pot full of hot water from the reservoir on the side of the stove, and after a minute or two on top, it's boiling.

                                                      I was afraid someone was going to say that their induction hob boils water in a *negative* period of time, so by the time anyone remembers they forgot, their water is already boiling. ;)

                                                      Aloha,
                                                      Kaleo

                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                        Now that sounds like a product that would sell. All we need to do is invent a time machine that can read minds first, and the rest is easy. ;-)

                                      2. I am sure you know about electric stove tops, especially the heating coil ones. Induction cooktops, unlike others, directly heat the cookware through an alternating magnetic field. The heating elements are the hottest components for every other heating cooktops. The hottest component for gas cooking is the flame. The hottest component for electric coil stovetop is the coils. For induction cooking, the hottest component is the cookware. This makes it a very efficient (energy transfer) and very responsive cooking method.

                                        It has several drawbacks. Most induction cooktop only works for ferromagnetic cookware, which means cast iron, carbon steel will work for sure, some stainless steel can, but some cannot. Aluminum based cookware like your Scapans will not work.

                                        Yes, induction heat easier and quicker than electric.

                                        An induction cooktop, on the other hand, can be loud due to the fan. It is also advised against people who has certain implants such as a pace maker. It also cannot be used for non-flat cookware, such as a Chinese wok or Indian kadhi. Ok, technically you can, but you have to find a specially design curved induction cooktop.

                                        1. In a nutshell, most people who like to cook prefer induction over electric due to the many pluses discussed previously. Induction is more expansive than electric. If I was buying a new stove I would go with induction in the blink of an eye.

                                          1. I have a coil stove and induction hotplate. I use the hotplate more than half of the time. Its big plus is responsiveness - a pan gets hot within 30 seconds.

                                            Mostly I use induction compatible stainless (Berndes is a favorite brand), and induction compatible nonstick aluminum. Enameled steel also works fine for simple things like boiling water.

                                            Speaking of efficiency, the 'pan' that boils water fastest is a stainless steel mixing bowl, which isn't very magnetic.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: paulj

                                              The mixing bowl is most likely 18/8. Plenty magnetic for induction I would think.

                                              1. re: JayL

                                                The printing on the bottom is Tramontina 18/10, but ...

                                                I don't normally use it (or other steel bowls) on the induction burner, but occasionally it's a convenient way of warming something (instead of a microwave or double boiler).

                                                1. re: paulj

                                                  18/10 stainless is not magnetic........BUT I have heard that when cold formed (bending into shapes like your mixing bowl) it generates a small amount of magnetism. That must be what you are experiencing.

                                                  1. re: JayL

                                                    That is possible, but more than likely, the "18/10" stamped on the Tramontina cookware only refers to the interior stainless steel (cooking surface).

                                                    Read:

                                                    "The Tramontina 18/10 Stainless Steel 8-Piece Cookware Set is manufactured with full-clad tri-ply construction (18/10 Stainless Steel Aluminum Core Magnetic Stainless Steel). "

                                                    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Tramontina-...

                                                    18/10 stainless steel is still a good selling keyword.

                                                    The induction magnetic field will only heat up the exterior stainless steel, and not the the interior -- which is exactly what is best.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      Though I'm talking about a mixing bowl that shows no sign of being tri-ply (or bi). Changes in crystal structure during forming might well be the explanation.

                                                      http://www.tramontina-usa.com/Product...

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        Opps. Sorry. I didn't know you two were talking about a mixing bowl. Thanks. In which case, you are correct.

                                                  2. re: paulj

                                                    This is brilliant! One of my mixing bowls is really the double boiler insert from my mother's Revereware; I figured it the most likely of my stainless bowls to work on induction, and it does. It's a more deep, vertical shape than my real mixing bowls, This is going to be very handy for prep, warming up all kinds of liquids and goos that are then beaten: the insert is sturdy and deep and has easy-to-grip tab handles (how it sat on the saucepan, long ago).

                                                    Here's the thing, though: it's only barely, barely magnetic. Thanks for the tip, paulj. Might never have tried it, given its lack of magnetism.

                                              2. Another convert from smoothtop electric to induction here. The differences in cooking are night and day - once you've gotten used to the near-instant responsiveness of induction with most appropriate cookware (you can go from a raging boil to a low simmer in literally two seconds) you'll never want to cook on electric again.

                                                As for the cast iron question, I have a good number of Le Creuset enameled CI that I acquired back in the '80s. They heat faster on induction than they ever did on electric - not as instantly responsive as stainless or hybrids, due to the sheer mass of metal and the heat-retaining characteristics of CI, but they work perfectly well.

                                                One of the (admittedly minor) advantages of induction over either electric or gas is the fact that because the cooking surface itself does not get hot (except for the heat transferred to it by the pan), pans tend to stay new-looking much longer. I have a bunch of pans I bought when I first got my new range to replace my older non-ferrous items, and they look just as clean and shiny as the day I bought them.

                                                1. Just so you know, I bought a Samsung RANGE, not just a cooktop, with convection oven, warming drawer etc.at Home Depot for about $1600. So no need to pay really big bucks anymore. As I mentioned, I like my first one so much that when we remodeled a second home last year, I bought the exact same range.

                                                  1. I went from an electric stove to an induction cooktop in 2005.
                                                    I loved it. Recently I moved into a house that has a gas stove. The gas stove takes much longer to boil a pot of water compared to induction. I also liked that with induction, I could get a very, very low temperature. Plus it is extremely easy to clean.

                                                    I just bought cheap pans to use. I never noticed the cooktop being nosiy, although there was a slight buzz when it was on the highest setting.

                                                    As someone said, it is safer. My husband is a doctor and has seen several children who have been burned on an electric stove. Safety was the main reason I got one, but after having an induction cooktop for 7 years, I wouldn't choose anything else.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: krisz

                                                      I forgot that safety issue. I've told our daughters, who have under two year olds, about the safety features. Thanks for the reminder. It's not why I got it but it's a benefit for sure. And, hey, I'm 65, so it may become more important to me over the coming years :)

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Yes, the safety is a big issue. My mother lives in a retirement community in a small cottage with her own kitchen. I was telling her that the complex should use induction for safety reasons. Less chance of getting burned, the burners switch off if pots boil over or if left to boil dry, &c.