Induction cooking has become the new era cooktop with millions of people opening up their homes to it. It is also called as modern cooking technology.
Apart from its numerous benefits over traditional cooktops, one which stands out uniquely is its superiority regarding energy efficiency.
It is widely applauded for the fast heating as well as precision in achieving exact temperatures. An induction cooktop cooks food through directly inducing resistive electric current in the cooking vessels causing all of the heat to be used up for cooking.
While other cooktops like gas and electric transfer energy through thermal conduction, an induction cooktop generates an oscillating magnetic field which induces current directly inside the cookware.
Let us look at how energy efficient is induction cooking. But before that, let me quickly tell you how induction cooking works.
Induction Cooking – Mechanism of Action
The word induction is a short form of electromagnetic induction. In induction cooking, heat is generated using magnetism.
The element that rests beneath the ceramic or glass surface is a coil of copper. Due to an alternating current passing through it, it creates a powerful magnetic field around and above it.
So when cookware is placed above the induction cooktop, the magnetic field penetrates the metal of the pan. And that makes the electric current flow through the pan too. So this swirling eddy current dissipates energy in the pan.
This makes the pan get hot and heat up the food inside through convection and conduction.
Related article: How to Use an Induction Cooktop
Factors that determine Energy Efficiency in Induction Cooking
There are multiple factors in play when it comes to energy usage while cooking with induction cooktops.
According to popular mechanics, around 90 % of the electricity consumed by an induction stove is used for cooking food. There is no heat energy escaping into the atmosphere.
On average, electrical cooktop uses 320 watt-hours of electricity to boil 2 liters of water compared to 225-watt-hours for induction cooktop. If we look at the loss of energy of electricity, then Induction cooktop wins in terms of economy.
Related Article: Does an Induction Cooktop Use More Electricity?
A small thing to remember is that electricity is the secondary source of energy. Which means that, by the time electricity reaches our homes, a lot of energy is already lost. In the case of gas cooktops, the heat of the flames is lost into the atmosphere and also some extra gas fumes.
In the case of induction, there is less wastage while cooking.
Induction has better temperature control when compared to electric cooktop.
This is the reason why even though the temperature in the electric stove can reach the lowest (92. Degree Fahrenheit), due to precise temperature control induction can be used to cook in low temperatures (on simmer) for a longer time and it won’t burn.
The temperature change is instant from boil to simmer and from maximum to minimum. The exact temperature works wonderfully for gourmet cooking.
Almost all induction cooktops provide a range of temperatures with options to increase and decrease as per the wish of the chef.
Speed of Cooking
The amazing heat control makes induction cooktops cool down within seconds. The speed of heat control is unparallel and makes it endearingly energy efficient.
Since the speed is instant, it makes cooking more energy efficient.
The high operational efficiency saves a lot of time to do other chores during and after cooking as it leaves one free to do other chores.
Induction cooking does not require a lot of power.
A standard socket of 220V-240V makes it ready to cook. There is also voltage display, electrical consumption display in the control panel of many inductions for ease of the user.
This can make them aware of exactly how much power is being used. There are low range power option inductions also available in the market. Due to high wattage, in some inductions, power is shared among the burners in the same zone. So maximum power setting can only be used on one burner.
There is something called power controllers within the induction which cycle the element on and off to keep the power steady and stable.
The residual heat in minimal in case of induction which quickly dissipates.
This keeps the kitchen cool.
Since the surface is made up of glass, it acts as a poor conductor of heat leaving the rest of the surface except the heating element area cool to touch.
You can actually put your hand on the induction cooktop surface right after cooking and you will find it cool.
Inbuilt features + Auto Switch Offs
Having prompting features like inbuilt timer comes in handy when you want to simply heat or boil. You can set the amount of time you want a particular food to be on the induction cooktop.
After the time is over, the induction cooktop will automatically shut down. Ideally, the cooktops come with a built-in cooktop digital timer with one-minute increments that range up to 170 mins. After the pre-set time, the cooktop turns off automatically and stops using power and saves energy and prevents accidents making it energy efficient.
Inductions also come with auto switch-offs. This automatically turns the element down or off in the event of overheating or when one removes cookware.
Many inductions come with preset cooking menus. They are set for defined heat and time for each food. The cooking menus include a grill, stir, boil, fry, milk, etc. These come in handy and are user-friendly features which save time by selecting settings of cooking faster.
Otherwise one has to adjust the heat and power for each food differently each time. The preset menus make it energy and time efficient by automatically switching off once the time is over.
Induction cooktops also offer automatic pan detection feature which ensures heating is turned off as soon as the cookware is removed from the cooktop. Most of the induction cooktops automatically shut off ensuring less energy wastage after 60 seconds when the pan is removed from the cooktop.
In some models when the cookware is removed, the operation is stopped and a symbol appears. when the cookware is kept back on the heating zone cooking continues with the power levels set before.
There is also sleep mode in induction which makes it inactive after the food being cooked. The sleep mode ensures less wastage of energy and during this mode, the induction process uses minimum energy.
Some Inductions come with antimagnetic walls to reduce EMF exposure. They use up less energy.
Tips to make cooking more energy efficient
Efficiency is not only about what you use to cook food (i.e, gas or electric or induction cooktops), but also how we use it.
Below are some tips to make sure your cooking with induction cooktops is a lot more energy efficient:
- Keep the same size pots as the heating element to increase energy efficiency.
- The vessels should have a flat base to ease the induction process helping generate as much amount of eddy currents as the oscillating magnetic field. Make sure the base is smooth and undented.
- Keep the cookware clean. Blackened or smudged surfaces may hinder the induction process of cooking making it less efficient.
- Give some time for the food to be cooked in its own steam switching off a few minutes before the desired time. This is will help save energy.
- If possible, avoid long cooking techniques. Choose faster cooking methods (such as stir fry, boiled veggies) on induction to make it more energy efficient.
- Use the timer and preset menus often to make your cooking an efficient energy conservation experience.
- Always keep the cookware and then switch on the cooktop. This will ensure less wastage of power. Keep all ingredients ready and cut to save time.
- Always use induction friendly cookware. Some people recommend the use of interface disk between non-induction vessels and induction cooktops. It is a magnetic plate kept in between the two for cooking. The downside of using interface disk is that the cooking will take place slowly as the heat has to be transferred from the cooktop to disc and from disc to the vessel. Heat loss is more and it lowers the energy efficiency. Also, the disc heats up to a high degree in an effort to transfer heat which can damage the cooktop underneath. So unless there is no other way, I would not recommend you to risk using an interface disk.
- Use a good quality of cast iron, iron, stainless steel, and enameled cast iron and stainless steel.
Looking at the features and high operational efficiency of the induction, there is no doubt that induction cooking is the most energy efficient method of cooking.
The secret in making it energy efficient also lies in the way the induction is used while cooking. You also need to work on changing your cooking habits like chopping all the veggies, making the ingredient ready to be cooked beforehand.
A slight change in cooking techniques also makes induction cooking a super saver on energy. Saute, boil, steam and stir fry instead of opting for methods which take a longer time. Use the preset option, timer option for a great cooking experience. Its time to say goodbye to the conventional cooking techniques on gas and electric which waste a lot of energy and time.
You may also like the following articles:
- Is Induction Cooking Safe?
- Best Portable Induction Cooktops
- Does Cast Iron work on Induction Cooktops?
- Induction Cooktop Buying Guide
- Induction Cooking – Pros & Cons
- Induction Cooktop Vs Electric Cooktop
- Induction Cooktop Vs Gas Cooktop
- Advantages of Cooking with Induction Cooktops
- How to Check if Cookware is Induction Ready