What Is Flex Induction? – (And Is It Worth Paying Extra For)
As induction cooking becomes increasingly popular, a common question I seem to get asked a lot is, what is flex induction and is it worth it?
Induction hobs (cooktops) can come with lots of great features and functions but flex induction is one I recommend all the time!
In this post, I’ll explain what exactly flex induction is, discuss its pros and cons and tell you whether I think this particular induction cooking feature is worth it.
Let’s get into it!
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In a hurry? Here’s my key takeaway:
🍳 Flex induction offers adaptable cooking areas and the ability to bridge zones, giving greater versatility and convenience. Justifying their higher cost for those who value advanced cooking technology. (In my opinion 👍)
Read on to learn more…
What Is Flex Induction?
Flex induction (also known as flexi zones or dual zones) is a feature in some induction hobs/cooktops that allows you to place your cookware anywhere on the cooktop, rather than being limited to specific zones.
It automatically detects the size and position of the pots and pans, heating them wherever they are placed on the surface within the ‘flexi’ zone.
This offers greater flexibility (pun intended 😂) and convenience in cooking.
How does Flex Induction work?
Flex induction cooktops create this flexible cooking zone using multiple overlapping induction coils beneath the cooktop surface.
Unlike traditional induction cooktops with fixed coil positions, these overlapping coils can be activated independently or in combination.
When you place a pot or pan on the cooktop, sensors detect its size and location, and only the coils directly underneath the cookware are activated.
This system allows for a larger, more flexible cooking area, adapting to various sizes and shapes of cookware.
There are typically two ways to achieve flexi zones:
- Dedicated Flex Induction Area: Some cooktops come with a specially designed flex induction area. This area is usually a large, rectangular zone equipped with multiple overlapping induction coils. This zone is already setup and fixed as a large flex area.
- Bridging Two Smaller Zones: The other way is the ability to “bridge” two adjacent, smaller cooking zones to create one larger cooking area. This is particularly useful when using larger or oddly shaped cookware that wouldn’t fit in a single zone.
In bridging mode, the two zones combine their heating capabilities to evenly heat the larger cookware. This feature essentially turns two smaller, standard zones into one flexible, larger zone.
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- Adaptability and Versatility with Cookware Sizes: Flex zones adapt to various cookware sizes and shapes, from small saucepans to large griddles. This versatility eliminates the need for multiple burners of different sizes and allows you to bridge two smaller zones into one larger zone, accommodating oversized or elongated cookware.
- Simultaneous Cooking and Enhanced Capacity: The flex zones enable the use of multiple pots and pans of different sizes at the same time, optimizing the cooking space. This feature not only allows for the preparation of various dishes simultaneously but also maximizes the cooktop’s surface area, making it ideal for cooking larger meals or entertaining.
- Intuitive Cooking Experience: Flex induction cooktops often feature intuitive controls and displays that adjust to the cookware layout, simplifying the management of multiple dishes. Some are equipped with a ‘chef mode’ that automatically makes the power higher at one end of the zone and lower at the other. So you can just slide your pan up and down to change the heat level.
- Space Efficient: Flex zones are particularly beneficial in compact kitchens, as they maximize the utility of the cooktop space, eliminating the need for larger or additional cooktops.
- Higher Cost: Flex induction hobs are generally more expensive than standard induction or traditional cooktops. The advanced technology and additional features that allow for flexible cooking zones contribute to a higher price point.
- Complexity in Use: For some users, the advanced features and controls of flex induction can be more complex to understand and use compared to traditional cooktops. The learning curve might be steep for those not familiar with smart or tech-enhanced kitchen appliances.
- Potential for Uneven Heating with Improper Usage: If cookware is not properly aligned or if the wrong size is used for the flex zone, there can be issues with uneven heating. This might mean you need to be more attentive to how you place your cookware on the hob.
- Limited Repair Options and Higher Repair Costs: Due to their advanced technology, flex induction cooktops may have limited repair options and higher repair costs. If a component of the flex zone fails, it might be more complex and costly to fix compared to standard cooktops.
What is the difference between induction and flex induction?
Standard induction cooktops have fixed zones for placing pots and pans, each working independently and requiring cookware to match their size for efficient heating.
Flex induction cooktops, on the other hand, offer flexible cooking areas where you can place cookware anywhere, and the cooktop adapts to its size and shape.
Additionally, flex induction often allows you to combine two zones into one large area. This can accommodate larger or unusually shaped cookware and offer more versatility in cooking.
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Is Flex Induction worth it?
Absolutely! In my opinion, flex induction is totally worth it.
I really like induction cooking, and it’s becoming more popular all the time. Because of this, the price for advanced features like flex induction is getting lower, and there are more models available now that offer this feature.
Yes, it’s true that an induction hob with a flexi zone feature typically comes at a higher price point. However, the benefits it offers are, in my opinion, more than worth the extra expense.
You may not use the feature everyday but for those times you do, you’ll be glad you opted for it!
That said, I understand that not everyone might be in a position to opt for this technology.
If you’re working with a very tight budget, concerned about long-term durability and repair costs or you simply don’t foresee yourself using the flexi zone feature extensively, then opting for a standard hob with fixed zones could be a more sensible decision.
But honestly, if you can find one with at least one flexi ‘bridging’ zone for a small amount more. Just go for it! 😃
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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.