The newest technology in the cooktops era brings with it a stone free, woods free, gas free and element free cooktops. And this new technology in Induction Cooktops.
Using an Induction cooktop frees you from the worries of using a stove with gas or worrying about gas when trying to get a portable stove. The only requirement that is needed to use an induction cooktop is electricity.
How does Induction Cooktop work?
It works on the principle of generating heat energy with the help of magnetism through a coil of wire into the cookware.
An alternating current flows through the coil, which creates a magnetic field. This induces a resistive electric current flowing into the cookware.
The induction cookware is made of a material which is magnetically conductive and ferromagnetic. The resistive electric current inside the cookware generates heat. This heat generated cooks the food.
Due to the drop in price and increasing awareness of its benefits, it is gaining popularity among the public.
Although they are a bit expensive but due to their high operational efficiency they are worth the investment and give great paybacks every day.
Before going into the buying guidelines, let us first discuss why should one opt for Induction cooktop.
Why Induction cooktop?
Induction cooktop gives an easy cooking experience.
You can control the temperature settings with precision. Induction cooking gives us good speed saving time. Within seconds the temperature changes from boiling to low sim.
Cooking can be done quickly in high settings or for long duration in lower settings.
If there is an electric socket, then induction cooktop requires only a 220-240V electrical outlet. It requires very little power, lesser than electric iron or water heater and is economical.
It can be easily switched on and off.
Induction cooktops are energy efficient. The heat is generated inside the cooking pot and the rest of the surface of induction remains cool. The temperature of the kitchen also remains cool. There are smart sensors embedded in cooktops that help auto shut avoiding burning of the food and cookware. It does not require a well-ventilated area.
It is easy to install. It can be fitted in higher or lower heights. This makes it extremely easy for handicapped or wheelchair-bound people who wish to cook or heat food.
It is highly portable and can be carried anywhere in the house. When it is fixed, it does not need more than 2-inch thickness vertically below the countertop surface. All it requires is an electrical socket of a 220-240V electrical outlet.
Related: Best Portable Induction Cooktops
It is quite easy to clean. There are no indents which are difficult to clean and require removal. Gentle damp with a wet cloth followed by the dry cloth is sufficient. For inductions which become dirty, use a scraper and a specialized induction cleansing cream.
There is no fear of burning of food on the cooktop due to lack of flame. And since rest of the induction remains cool, there is no fear of baking up of spilled food.
The magnetic field produced gets projected to 2-3 cms which do not harm users. Some induction cooktops have anti-magnetic walls that ensure safety for users from the magnetic radiations.
If you’re interested in learning, I have created this in-depth guide on how to use an induction cooktop.
Factors to consider before buying an Induction Cooktop
If you’re planning to buy an induction cooktop, here are some factors you should keep in mind.
If one is good at multitasking, it is a good idea to go for two zones that can cook at the same time.
An induction cooktop can have 1,2,3,4 or 5 induction zones. Two zones are most common in hong kong, three are most common in Japan and 4 zones are most common in the USA and Europe.
Small stand-alone portable inductions are little inexpensive and common in South Asian countries like India. It depends upon personal choice and size of the kitchen, counter top to go for built-in, over the countertop or portable.
The most economical are countertop model inductions and some portable model inductions. Prices for built-in inductions and some high end branded counter top and portables are influenced by the style and features in the cooktop.
It is a good option to purchase an induction with big body size. This way there is efficient air- circulation inside to cool the PCB. It leads to longer life of the induction.
Remember if many zones are placed near to each other the cooking space becomes quite cramped especially regarding access to the controls. And cooking multiple dishes on one cooktop can make the controls greasy and then they will not respond to touch.
For four zones, 70-75 cms cooktop is enough. 90 cms can accommodate five zones comfortably. If you are comfortable with cooking one dish at a time then a compact portable induction is a great option.
Large cooking zones usually have a diameter larger than 21cms for efficient handling of larger cookware.
Cooking zones in most cooktops are defined and have clear guidance for the size of cookware suitable for particular zones. Choose an induction cooktop with an extra large, flexible and small cooking zone.
These are better matched to a variety of cookware sizes.
This is the place where all setting options for cooking are available.
There are primarily three types of control panels available for induction cookers. There is rotating knob control, press button control, and touch sensor controls.
Touch panels are slightly more expensive than press buttons. The control panel displays different power settings, temperature settings and preset settings depending on different models.
The controls should not be placed too close to the element.
Power/ Temperature settings
While buying an induction, please take into consideration the temperature/power interval settings.
It is easy to cook if temperature or power settings intervals are less. Slight increasing or decreasing can be regulated effectively making it user-friendly.
Also, make sure the induction starts with low temperature/power settings by default. For best results, it is better to get temperature controllable cooktops that are adjustable from 140-430 degree Fahrenheit.
Some Portable inductions have higher maximum powers (2100 w). Some inductions have low maximum powers (maximum 1500W or 1700W) but these inductions provide almost same temperature output of a regular 2000W or a 2100W powered cooktop.
Low power options are preferred by some for lower power bills. In the long run, however, if we use low power for a long duration or a high power for a short duration result will be the same.
The induction cookers come with different power levels that allow one to set the amount of heat needed for a particular food. Most of the inductions come with different power levels that can be adjusted while cooking. For example, 1800W induction comes with 10 different power levels that range from 200 to 1800 watts to preset while cooking.
Due to high wattage, some of the cooking zones have a power management system that divides the power between two cooking zones in a pair. In such cases, maximum power function can only be set for one cooking zone.
The second cooking zone can only be set to a lower power level. If we want to cook two dishes with maximum powers together, then they need to be in opposite zones.
Design of the Induction Cooktop
Regarding designs, it depends on the personal choice of style.
Keep in mind that framed designs can be more prone to build up of dirt and grime in the frame crevices. One good thing is that frames can help to contain spills.
Edgeless designs are prone to cracks and breaks if one was to accidentally drop something heavy on the edge. Edgeless designs are however simple to wipe clean.
Portable Vs. Non Portable
Portable inductions can be carried anywhere and the only requirement needed being an electrical socket makes it a favorite among people not wanting to follow procedures.
Also, it is ideal for working men/women and those living away from home in hostels/ as paying guests, etc as it is super comfortable, does not require any fuss and cooks speedily.
Useful Features in Induction Cooktops
As cooktops have become more popular, there are many useful features that have been added to induction cooktops.
Here are some features that are something to look out for. You may not find all the features in a single induction cooktop, and you need to asses which ones are really important for you.
Many inductions have timer features. It comes in handy when you want to simply heat or boil. You can set the amount of time one wants a particular food to be on the induction cooktop.
After the time is over it will automatically shut down immediately. Ideally, the cooktops come with a built-in cooktop digital timer with one-minute increments that range up to 170 mins.
After the preset time, the cooktop turns off automatically and stops using power and saves energy and prevents accidents
Preset Cooking Menus
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.
Voltage display & electrical consumption display
There is also voltage display, electrical consumption display and child lock on the control panel for ease of the user.
This can make them aware of exactly how much power is being used.
Places in the US where there are voltage problems can opt for inductions that can work on low voltage
Automatic Pan detection feature
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.
Some inductions have safety sensors which monitor the temperature of the bottom of the cookware.
This helps in case of empty cookware left on the heating zone with power on. It adjusts the power output to avoid damage to the cooktop and cookware.
Nowadays many induction cooktop temperatures are WIFI or smart device controlled.
Auto switch offs
Another safety feature to look out for are auto switch-offs. This automatically turns the element down or off in the event of overheating or when one removes cookware.
Many inductions have this safety feature.
If unsuitable cookware is used, a symbol indicates this and after a short period of time the cooking zone switches itself off. In some models, beep sound can be heard and in some display flashes on and off.
To completely switch off one may need to press the switch off.
Small item detection
Regarding small item detection, if a small item is placed on the heating area of the induction like fork, spoon, ring, etc, it is not detected as cookware.
In such cases display flashes and there will be no power output.
Most of the induction cooktops have a child lock safety feature embedded. It can lock the induction cooktop during use. It can be locked for cleaning or during cooking as well.
In cases of it being locked during cooking, any operation that is present and underway will continue.
The displayed settings will remain active and locked and all the features, functions will be locked as well. For safety reasons, only the power off button will be usable.
This is a sigh of relief as it can avoid bigger mishappenings incase reopening of locking feature gets stuck or jammed due to an error.
Safety cut off feature
Almost all inductions have a safety cut off feature. If the cooking zone is switched on for an extended period of time without the temperature being altered, it will cut off or switch off automatically.
The period of time required to prompt the safety cut off depends on the heat settings of the cooktop at that time. The lower the settings, the longer the cooking zone will remain on.
For example, certain food varieties require very low sim for many hours. So on very low heat settings, some cooktops will remain on for up to 10 hours. On the other hand, cooktops using the maximum highest settings will automatically switch off after one to one and a half hours.
If your cooking habits require continuous cooking for a long period of time, opt for a cooktop with longer safety cut out periods.
Auto heat up
Another feature to look for is auto heat up. Auto heat up allows the cooking zone to heat to a higher setting. Then it automatically turns down to a preset setting after a certain amount of time.
Example while boiling rice, we first bring to boil and then put on a sim.
Booster feature is similar to auto heat up.
The cooking zone heats up food or liquid quickly at the highest setting, and then automatically reduces the heat to a preselected lower setting.
In case of overflowed liquid or food spills onto the controls, the induction will beep and shut down.
This feature is embedded for the protection against overflows. In such cases clean the spill and then begin cooking again.
Power on / residual heat light
A good feature shall be a bright power On light or we can say residual heat light. Some amount of heat around the cooktop which dissipates quickly is called residual heat light.
A feature displaying that residual heat is still there or Power is still On should be bright enough for one to notice.
Pause button feature
Some inductions come with a pause button feature.
It locks all settings just like all buttons are locked during child lock. One can wipe down the controls and then press the button for resuming the cooking.
To keep the food warm and not cook it, there is a feature which is simmering setting which can be used.
Some also use the residual heat for the purpose of keeping the food warm.
Some high-end costly inductions also have a special indented area for wok cooking. A wok is around bottom cooking vessel originally from China. They are used for different Chinese foods like stir-frying, steaming, pan frying, smoking, stewing and roasting nuts.
A less costly alternative is to buy an induction compatible wok and use it on any inductions for making Chinese foods.
For a feel of flame, new model induction features LED flames to give a visual idea to the cook about the intensity of heat.
Induction cooktops are ideal and superior cooktops available in the market. It gives good value for money and payback are unlimited. Maintaining a cool kitchen temperature and the cooktop itself remaining cool is a win-win situation for bachelors, families, handicapped people and those having small children.
Induction Cooktops Need Induction Ready Cookware
Not every pot/pan can work on the induction cooktop.
Cooking vessels should be flat, smooth and magnetic. To check whether cookware is compatible with induction cooktop, place a magnet on the bottom of the cookware. If it sticks, it is compatible with Induction.
Stainless steel, cast iron and enameled cast iron work on induction cooktops. Aluminum, glass and copper cookware do not work on inductions. However, if you purchase an all-metal induction which uses iron plates called converter on high frequencies, then you can use cookware of all materials. Converters fit between the cookware bottom and the cooktop.
Some More Important Points about Induction Cooktops
Sometimes you may hear some noises on higher settings due to a fan being switched on inside or lids of the cookware vibrating. At times ticking sound can be heard due to power controllers cycling the element on and off to keep the power stable. You should not worry about such sounds as they are completely normal.
Food cannot be charred on induction. For those wanting to roast peppers or marshmallows, this is a setback.
In some units, very small pots and pans will not be detected. The minimum base size is 4-5 inches depending on the particular unit. On the other hand, bases with 12-14 inches also create issues. To overcome this some inductions have a feature like an element bridging.
Another thing to keep in mind is that usually cast iron and stainless steel will rapidly and evenly spread the heat throughout the cooking area. For bigger families or those who use unusually large cookware, there are zoneless units which will take the shape or size of any vessel you put on the cooktop.
Induction cooking may not safe for patients on pacemakers or similar medical device which is sensitive to electromagnetic induction.
The magnetic field of an induction cooktop can interfere with a digital meat thermometer. It is a good idea to use old fashioned analog thermometers.
A cost-cutting technique employed in some cases of an induction cooktop is to mix copper wire with a cheap material to keep the manufacturing costs low. What happens as a result is that induced magnetic induction will not be strong to cook speedily or evenly. Make sure they have certified pure copper wire.
Now that we have covered all areas for you to know about, all that’s left is to step in with the latest technology and open your kitchen doors to the most superior cooktop technology present today.
Make a wise decision and choose the Induction keeping in mind all the points above.
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