APPLIANCE GUIDES, HOBS (COOKTOPS)

Ceramic vs Induction Hob – What’s The Difference & Which Is Best?

I often have clients ask me this question: what is the difference between a ceramic and an induction hob? And I can see why – they look almost the same. It’s easy to get confused between the two and not know the main differences.

In this post, I’ll talk about the similarities and differences between ceramic and induction hobs, the pros and cons of each and ultimately which one I think is best.

Armed with this information, you’ll know which type of hob is right for you!

First things first, quick and simple, what are ceramic and induction hobs?

What Is A Ceramic Hob?

A ceramic hob is a cooker with a glass-topped heating element powered by electricity. It operates by heating through the glass and pot or pans that you are using, transferring heat into your food. 

ceramic or induction hob
Ceramic hob with a glowing red heating element

What Is An Induction Hob?

An induction hob is more complicated than a ceramic hob, using electromagnetism rather than gas or an electric heating element to heat up and cook food.

A high-frequency alternating magnetic field is used to cook your food, activated through a tightly wound copper coil that is activated when electricity is turned on.

Rather than transferring heat directly, the current is what is passed to your pan for heating. This is then the heat that cooks your food. 

Induction vs gas hob
Induction hob

For more information on induction hobs read 
Pros and Cons of Induction Hobs

The Similarities Between Ceramic And Induction Hobs

It’s the similarities between ceramic and induction hobs that cause the most confusion. Many similarities can make the two seem almost the same. But they’re definitely not!

Appearance:

Ceramic and induction hobs can look almost identical.

They both have smooth, flat surfaces that are often made from toughened glass. 

On this surface, there are usually circular zones marked out with a white line. These show the areas you can place your pans to heat them. 

Control:

Ceramic and induction hobs are most often controlled with touch controls on the front edge of the appliance. 

Most models of both hobs will also come with a lock and heat indicator features as well. 

The lock is a child-safe feature which means the hob can’t be operated without first unlocking it. 

The heat indicator is an alert that shows if a particular zone is still hot after use. This is so you know not to put anything on it – including hands!

Power

Both ceramic and induction hobs are powered by electricity.  Most models of both hobs will need a larger dedicated power supply in order for them to work.

However, if an additional power supply isn’t an option for you, there are a few ‘plug and play’ 13 amp options if you need them.

If you want to find out more about 13 amp induction hobs, then check out my post Can You Get A 13 Amp Induction Hob?

Induction hob in modern kitchen
Modern kitchen with induction hob

The Differences Between Ceramic And Induction Hobs

Now we know what they have in common, it’s time to look at the important differences between ceramic and induction hobs.

Heating:

As ceramic hobs work by having a heating element underneath each zone, the whole area is heated. This means that heat is lost and wasted, making them less energy efficient than induction. 

Due to this heat loss and the method of heating with an element, ceramic hobs are also slow to heat up and slow to cool down.

This makes temperature adjustments a challenge. It’s like with coals in a barbecue: once they’re hot, they’re hot for a long time. 

On the other hand, induction hobs only heat the part of the surface that comes into contact with your pot or pan. It is much faster – even faster than gas. 

This also means that induction is very safe. Because there is no heat leakage, you can put your hand next to a pan and you wouldn’t burn yourself.  

Induction hobs also cool down much faster, as it is only the residual heat trapped in the glass that needs to cool, rather than an entire heating element.

Think of it like putting a hot pan down on your countertop – even after you move the pan, the countertop remains a little warm where the pan was. That same kind of residual heat will remain on your induction hob surface. 

Features:

Ceramic hobs are rapidly becoming, if they aren’t already, a thing of the past. As such, the features you find on ceramic hobs are minimal. 

Induction hobs, on the other hand, are always being developed, with new features available on a regular basis.

From flexi or bridging zones to having a full-colour built-in display, if you’re looking for tech, induction’s the best bet. 

Below are some of the more common features you can get with induction hobs.

Flexi-zone – The hob can combine two or more zones to create a larger cooking zone for bigger pans, baking dishes or griddles. 

Hob to hood – Some induction hob models can pair with the same brand cooker hood and talk to one another. When you start cooking, the hood will automatically turn on and will adjust its power setting depending on how many zones are running and at what power level. Very cool. 

Powerslide – This function creates different power settings across two zones of the hob. A higher (hotter) zone at one end which then gradually turns into a low (cooler) zone at the other, with a medium section in between. This is perfect for more nuanced cooking that requires precise temperatures. 

PowerSlide – Youtube

Pans:

With induction hobs, you need to use a magnetic pan to generate the electromagnetic reaction that will cook the food. 

Pans that are made of or with ferrous metals, such as cast iron or magnetic stainless steel, will work. Any pans that don’t have this simply won’t work. 

In contrast, any pan will work on a ceramic hob. So, if you have a lovely expensive set of pans that aren’t induction friendly, it can feel like a waste and be a costly exercise to replace them. 

Price:

On the whole, induction hobs are more expensive than ceramic hobs. The additional features, economic design and built-in safety elements all make induction hobs a hot ticket item.

In contrast, ceramic hobs are on the out and often at the lower end of the market. 

The price will, of course, depend on the brand and model/spec of the hob you buy. 

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Induction Hobs

PROS

  • More energy efficient/eco-friendly
  • Easy to clean
  • Modern and stylish
  • Quick to heat up
  • Easy to control
  • Offers a boost function
  • Safe to touch (child-friendly)
  • Additional techy features
  • No gas supply needed                  

CONS

  • More expensive than ceramic
  • Need magnetic pans
  • Can create a buzzing/humming noise

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Ceramic Hobs

PROS

  • Cheap to buy
  • Sleek design
  • Easy to clean
  • No special pans needed

CONS

  • Slow to heat and change the cooking temperature 
  • Not as safe as induction – risk of you or your family sustaining burns
  • Not very precise temperature control
  • Uses more energy than gas or Induction

You May Also Like:
How To Protect An Induction Hob (Cooktop) – A Handy Guide

Which is cheaper to run, induction or ceramic hob?

Induction hobs are cheaper and more cost effective to run than ceramic hobs.

Induction hobs use magnetic fields to heat the pots and pans directly, whereas ceramic hobs heat the glass surface, which in turn heats the pot or pan. This indirect heating method makes ceramic hobs less energy efficient because more heat is lost to the surroundings.

On the other hand, induction hobs heat the cookware directly and almost no energy is wasted. This makes them more energy efficient, which could lead to cost savings over time.

However, induction hobs are generally more expensive to purchase than ceramic hobs. Also, not all cookware is compatible with induction hobs; only ferrous materials (those that a magnet will stick to) work. So, there may be additional costs if you need to replace your existing cookware.

So, while the initial purchase and setup costs for an induction hob might be higher, the lower operating costs can make it the more economical choice in the long run.

Which is better: induction or ceramic hobs?

Personally, induction wins hands down for me! 😀

Induction hobs are quicker, more controllable, more energy efficient and overall safer to use than ceramic hobs.

Sure, ceramic hobs might be slightly cheaper to purchase and you don’t need magnetic pots and pans but the price of induction hobs has come right down and there are so many great induction hobs on the market at competitive prices.

Plus, if you’re getting a new kitchen or hob and you need some new induction-compatible pans, treat yourself!

Final Thoughts…

As you can see, induction hobs tend to have more pros than their ceramic counterpart. It’s a newer product with better technology, which manufacturers are focusing on developing more these days.

So, should you never buy a ceramic hob? If you can, you should always go for induction over ceramic. However, if you are looking for a cheap hob that gets the job done, then a ceramic hob is an option.

Remember, induction is here to stay and will continue developing. This will help to bring the price down further over time.

If you would like to learn more about ‘plug and play’ 13 amp induction hobs, then check out my post Can You Get A 13 Amp Induction Hob? This will explain what a 13 amp induction hob is and gives some good examples of the best ones to buy.

If you would like to learn more about what other types of hob are available, then check out my post The Different Types Of Hob For Your Kitchen. In this post, I guide you through the five most common types of hob and consider the pros and cons of each.

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Author

Michael from Kitchinsider.com

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.