APPLIANCE GUIDES, HOBS (COOKTOPS)

Pros And Cons Of Induction Hobs (Cooktops)

A question I always enjoy asking my clients is ‘What type of hob/cooktop would you like?’ It’s amazing how this simple choice completely divides people. This often leads to a question back to me, what are the pros and cons of induction hobs?

Most clients are familiar with gas hobs. Gas hobs have been around for a long time and are often coined the chef’s hob of choice.

Where confusion creeps in with induction hobs is the thinking that they are the same as ceramic hobs.

However, induction hobs are very different from ceramic hobs and, in my opinion, far superior. I honestly don’t know why someone would pick a ceramic hob these days. 😂

In this post, I’ll go over the pros, cons and everything you need to know about induction hobs. So you can find out if they’re the right choice for you and your kitchen.

Let’s get into it!

Prefer video? Watch mine below:

What Is An Induction Hob?

An induction hob (cooktop) is a cooking appliance with a smooth, flat surface, typically made of heat-resistant ceramic glass.

It cooks food using electromagnetic fields created by coils beneath the surface, which directly heat pots and pans.

The hob only heats the cookware, leaving the surface cool to the touch for added safety. This direct heating method is more energy-efficient than traditional gas or electric stovetops, as it reduces heat loss and speeds up cooking.

Control is typically via a touch-button interface (you can get knobs or twist pads on some models), and precise power levels can be selected for consistent cooking results.

Induction hobs pros cons
Induction hob with silver-coloured glass top

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Pros and cons of induction hobs

Advantages Of Induction Hobs

  • Energy Efficiency: Induction hobs convert up to 90% of their energy into heat, directly heating the cookware, leading to less wasted energy, lower operational costs, and reduced fossil fuel dependency, making them eco-friendly.

  • Ease of Cleaning: The flat, smooth surface is simple to clean, resisting spills and splatters, and leaving fewer places for dirt to accumulate.

  • Aesthetics: Modern and stylish, they offer a sleek, contemporary look that complements current kitchen designs, with a flush fit that can provide additional counter space when not in use.

  • Intelligent Heat Management: Many induction hobs come with auto-sizing elements that detect and adapt to the size of your cookware, providing efficient energy use and even heat distribution.

  • Rapid Heating: Quick to heat with options for a power boost function, induction hobs can boil water faster than gas or traditional electric hobs, featuring immediate temperature adjustments for expedited cooking.

  • Precise Temperature Control: They allow for highly accurate cooking temperatures, which is especially beneficial for delicate dishes, ensuring consistency and precision.

  • Safety Features: The surface remains cool outside of the cooking zones, making it child-friendly and reducing burn risks. Many models also include child safety locks.

  • Advanced Technology: Touch controls, programmable settings, and the potential for smart device connectivity to modernize the cooking experience. Automatic pan recognition ensures the hob only activates with suitable cookware, enhancing safety and conserving energy.

  • Independence from Gas: These hobs are an excellent alternative for homes lacking a gas line, requiring only an electrical connection.

  • Kitchen Comfort: With less residual heat emitted, the kitchen stays cooler, enhancing the comfort of the cooking environment.

Disadvantages Of Induction Hobs

  • Higher Initial Cost: Induction hobs tend to be more expensive upfront compared to gas or ceramic models.

  • Transition Costs: Switching from a gas to an induction hob can be a complex and costly process. It often means hiring a certified electrician to ensure your home’s electrical system can accommodate the new appliance and extensive (costly) electrical modifications may be required. Additionally, a plumber might be needed to safely cap or terminate the existing gas line.

  • Cooking Technique Limitations: The lack of an open flame means techniques like charring cannot be directly achieved on the hob.

  • Learning Curve: Transitioning to an induction hob may mean you’ll need to adapt your cooking techniques which can differ from gas or electric hobs. Additionally, becoming familiar with digital controls instead of traditional knobs may require some practice, although some models still offer knob controls for a more intuitive experience.

  • Cookware Compatibility: They require magnetic pans, potentially leading to additional expenses if new cookware is needed.

  • Operational Noise: Some models emit a humming noise at higher settings, which can be louder than other types of hobs.

  • Electrical Dependence: They are inoperative during power outages and may necessitate electrical system upgrades for proper installation.

  • Increased Operational Expenses: Despite their energy efficiency induction hobs tend to have higher running costs compared to gas hobs. The primary reason for this is the higher cost of electricity relative to gas, which means that even though induction hobs use less energy, the energy they do use can be more costly.

  • Electromagnetic Field Concerns: The electromagnetic field generated can interfere with certain medical devices, so it’s advised to consult with a doctor if this is relevant.

  • Design Restrictions: They typically require flat-bottomed pans, and while there are induction-compatible woks, traditional wok cooking is not as effective.

  • Sensitivity to Spills: Spills can cause the hob to shut off or malfunction, though this is part of its safety features to prevent damage or accidents.

  • Control Response: While digital controls offer precision, they may not respond as quickly as mechanical controls in certain situations, such as with wet fingers or if the surface is dirty.

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Are induction hobs worth it?

In my opinion, yes! 😀

As a fan of induction hobs myself, I can understand why they are becoming more and more popular and will continue to do so.

As the world moves away from unsustainable fossil fuels, such as gas, towards more renewable sources like wind/solar electricity, having an induction hob that can be powered by these renewable sources and still be an efficient way of cooking is only going to get more popular in the future.

There will always be a place for the gas hob. Most restaurants prefer cooking with gas and it’s dubbed the chef’s choice, after all. However, for the average home cook, induction may be the way to go.


FAQs

Do Induction Hobs Need Special Saucepans?

Yes, induction hobs require saucepans with a ferrous (magnetic) base to function.

If you want to learn more, check out my post What Pans Work On Induction Hobs?

Do Induction Hobs Get Hot?

A little bit. Although it won’t be anywhere near as hot as a ceramic hob and will cool down much, much quicker.

An induction hob will be hot because of the residual heat trapped in the glass left over from where the pan was in contact with the hob.

Most induction hobs will display an H symbol to indicate a zone is still a little warm to the touch. This will cool very quickly, making it much safer than ceramic.

Do Induction Hobs Glow Red?

No. Induction hobs do not glow red.

Even if you are using a zone or while it’s ‘cooling down’. Induction hobs do not have heating elements underneath the glass surface that heat up and glow red. If your hob glows red during use then it is most likely a ceramic hob, not an induction hob.

Can You Simmer On An Induction Hob?

Yes – you can simmer on an induction hob.

Just like gas hobs, you can easily control induction hobs and set them to different cooking levels. In fact, they can be controlled with far more precision than gas or ceramic.

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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.