After visiting an appliance show room, and testing out both gas and induction cooktops, I decided on induction. After that, I began researching models and brands.  Naturally, the type of cooktop chosen depends on your circumstances and whether you are replacing something already there or building out a new kitchen and can design around your choice.

Our kitchen was remodeled in 2012 and we already had a 30 inch electric smooth surface cooktop in place with granite countertops.  This definitely affected the decision making process and after reading many reviews, I eventually decided on the Frigidaire 30 inch induction cooktop (FGIC3067MB).

Induction cooktops are also ceramic smooth surfaces but the technology is different.  Induction cooktops work via electromagnetic fields that transfer energy directly to the pot.  There are a bunch of pros to this type of stove:

  • Compared to electric stoves, the temperature adjustment is extremely responsive.  With electric cooktops the heat adjustments respond gradually, whereas with gas, temperature adjustments are instantaneous. Induction cooktops are just as responsive as gas.
  • They run on electricity. Every kitchen (and home) is not equipped with  a gas line but pretty much every home in the modernized world is equipped with electricity.
  • Reduced radiant heat in the room.   Both gas and electric stoves not only heat up the pots and pans, but they also heat up the kitchen.  Induction stoves produce heat only in the cooking vessel.  That means that the stove top itself is not heated up as much as either gas or electric which leads to the next pro…
  • Easier to clean.  Because the surface does not get as hot as an electric smooth surface cooktop,  the surface of induction stoves do not get that inevitable food ‘varnish’ where food or liquids are burned onto the stovetop during the cooking process.  In fact, the first thing I cooked on my new cooktop was bacon.  I covered the cooktop with paper towels before cooking and then just picked up the paper towels afterwards.   The paper towels don’t burn! You could also use newspaper to protect from splatters.

  • Safety. A friend told me of a woman who had a seizure while standing over her stove which resulted in severe facial burns.  If a pot is removed from an induction stove, the heat transfer stops and the stove will shut off. This is a nice safety feature for small children, older people, or even the clumsy (that’s me!). Additionally, there are no gas related medical issues to deal with.  I read several studies that indicate gas stovetops are not good for asthmatics (that’s me too!)

And naturally there are also a few cons to this type of cooktop as well.

  • You may need all new cookware.  In my case, none of my existing pots and pans worked on the new cooktop.   Induction stoves require ferrous pots and pans.  Some, not all, stainless steel pots will work, all cast iron pots will work,  aluminum generally does not work. It’s really easy to tell if your pots and pans will work on your induction cooktop:  does a magnet stick to the bottom of the pan?   If so, you are good to go.  If not, you will be in the same predicament I was in: on a quest for new cookware.  Do you use a wok often? Curved pots and pans without a flat surface also do not work on the induction cooktop.
  • Pacemaker.  If you have a pacemaker, you should consult with your cardiologist. Most studies show they are not affected but there could be some interference.
  • Cooking habits.   Are you a flipper?  I’m talking about flipping omelets or other food items.  If so,  an induction cooktop may not be for you because removing the pot from contact with the stovetop stops the heat transfer.   Additionally, if charring items (such as peppers) is a big part of your cooking repertoire,  that’s not possible with an induction cooktop.
  • Any color besides black is extremely rare.  I am one of the few who prefer white appliances and wanted a white cooktop but could only find one model (that was out of my price range) that offered an option in white.  So if you have a problem with black, this may not be the type of stove for you.

My observations:

  • Cooking time is reduced!   I was used to turning on the heat, putting the bacon in the pan and walking away for a few minutes before the bacon started to sizzle.   With induction,  I walked away for the same amount of time and the bacon burned!
  • Water boils faster on the induction stove (with power boost) than in my microwave, 15 seconds.
  • You have to get used to minor differences: timing,  as mentioned above, making sure the right size pot is placed on the right sized burner (if not, the burner will not heat) so there is a small learning curve when it comes to cooking on your new induction cooktop.
  • Most models seem to have the basic features: knobless, push button controls with burners that sense the cooking vessel. Certain manufacturers will have advanced features like one push button touch to go from high to low.   The model I chose has to be pressed each time to go from say level 5 to level 9. That’s six times total because there are half settings between 2-7.  You have to decide what features are absolutely necessary for you and this affects price.
  • The Frigidaire model I chose is made by Electrolux and has the same internal parts as Electrolux models. At the time I ordered it (Sept 2014) it was in high demand and delivery ran 4-6 weeks from order placement.
  • I picked up two induction ready pots the day I got it, one fry pan from Bed Bath & Beyond, and one 5 QT sauce pot from Marshall’s. I’m still shopping for replacement cookware but I’ve noticed they are readily available at most stores (Macy’s, TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning, etc).
  • Installation was pretty simple.  We had an electrician come to remove the old cooktop and connect the 3 wires for the new one. It took about 30 minutes total.

We have had this cooktop for a few weeks and I am enjoying it so far.  I’m amazed at the timing differences  in cooking and with how responsive it is.   Now, I’m working on collecting the right set of pots and pans.
-J

P.S.  If you are interested in learning more, I have found the Induction Site to be extremely helpful!

 

Sadly,  at the start of summer, a crack appeared in our ceramic smooth surface electric stove.   I found the stove on Craigslist 7 years ago and it was a great deal to replace the original coil burner stove that was installed when the house was built.    When we remodeled the kitchen two years ago it was one of three appliances we kept (along with oven and refrigerator) as we only replaced the dishwasher for the remodel.

Of course, the crack started out small over the largest burner and gradually got bigger.   I googled the issue and found scary stuff like “if you use the cracked burner, your stove could explode”.  I don’t know if that’s true, but I didn’t chance it, so we stopped using that burner and only used the other three.   Two of the three are tiny and pretty much useless for any medium to large sized pots.

I started researching the possibility of replacing it with a gas stove.  Our kitchen does not have a gas line so installing a gas stove would mean hiring someone to run the gas line to the stove.  As I did research, I learned more about induction stoves as an option.   Although they look similar to the electric smooth surface cooktop we had before, induction stoves work using completely different technology.  They do not heat up an element that transfers heat from stove to pot.    They use electromagnetism to transfer (induce) energy to the pot itself. That energy heats up the pot to cook the food.

I decided to go to a store that allows you to test both types out:  the Sub Zero appliance show room.   Sub Zero manufactures cooktops under the Wolf name.

My visit to the store started by calling first to set an appointment.   The store layout had an entrance on the first floor with stairs leading you up to the main showroom.   The showroom consisted of aisles of cooktops (and other appliances i.e. refrigerators, ovens) on  one side with a full working demonstration kitchen on the other side of the floor.

I looked at both gas cooktops and induction cooktops and even combinations of the two.  I really liked the option of being able to combine one 24 inch burner with a 12 inch burner into one 36 inch cooktop.   You can have the best of both worlds: induction and gas!

After looking at different models and styles (I also loved the cooktops that are even flush with the counter, instead of being set atop the counter with a small lip) I did the water boil test.

I set two small pots of water to boil on both a gas burner and an induction burner at the same time.  Once they were both boiling I adjusted heat settings to test the response time.   Interestingly, the induction boiled water the fastest and it was just as responsive to temperature adjustments as the gas burner.

The visit to the store was fun but most importantly, pretty useful in making a decision.   I appreciated being able to actually use the cooktops to get a feel for the controls.

After the visit,  I called plumbers for estimates on running a gas line from the basement to the kitchen.  Once I had that price in hand (quoted $400) I set a stove budget.   The cost of induction came out to be about the same price as a mid-range gas cooktop + gas line installation.   An induction cooktop would not require any additional work, in our case, since our current wiring and space allowed for dropping in another 30 inch electric hardwired cooktop. Once I decided to go with induction,  I began researching specific brands and models.

Speaking of researching models – what did we do before the internet?  Consumer Reports?  Word of mouth? There’s just so much information out there now!
-J

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