How Do Induction Cooktops Work?

Learn the Ins and Outs of How Induction Cooktops Work

When it comes to ranges and cooktops, Americans have always had two choices: gas or electric. However, induction cooktops, which have been popular in Europe for years, are now gaining a foothold in America and have become an attractive third option. But exactly how do induction cooktops work? At Reno's Appliance we are cooktop experts and wanted to explain the simple, but fascinating science behind induction cooktops.

How do induction cooktops work?

An induction burner consists of a ceramic plate with an electromagnetic coil beneath it. When you turn on the burner, an electric current runs through the coil, generating a fluctuating magnetic field, but no heat on the burner itself. However, once you set an iron or stainless-steel pan on the burner, the magnetic field causes many smaller electric currents in the pan's metal.

Iron is a poor conductor of electricity, so as all these small currents run through the iron pan, much of the energy is converted to heat. Thus, on an induction cooktop, the heat is coming not from the burner, but the pan itself. And, since it's the pan that’s providing the heat, very little heat is lost, making induction cooking more efficient. In fact, a pot of water will come to a boil on an induction stove twice as fast as it would on a standard gas stove.

Is an induction burner as powerful as gas or electric?

"Burner" is a bit of a misnomer with induction cooktops as it’s not actually the ceramic plate that's heating up. However, the short answer is yes, in general, induction burners are just as powerful as gas or electric burners. Induction burners are also quite responsive to adjustments in heat. They can achieve very high temperatures and reach the lowest temperatures of the three types of stoves for more precise cooking.

Are induction cooktops safe?

Induction cooktops are incredibly safe. After all, there's no open flame required. Plus, the cooktop itself never heats up. Once you remove the pan, an induction cooktop cools off faster than a conventional burner. So once you remove the pan, the cooktop will be safe to touch within a few seconds. You can't say the same about an electric burner.

Speaking of a cooler cooktop, another benefit is easier cleanup. Spills don't get cooked onto an induction cooktop’s quick-cooling surface. You can simply wipe them down with a damp cloth or use the same spray as you do everywhere else in your kitchen.

Is there a certain type of pan required?

Pans need to contain iron in order to work with an induction cooktop. For example, cast-iron, enameled cast iron, and some stainless-steel pans with magnetic-grade bases are ideal. Copper and anodized-aluminum pans won't work. How do you know if a pan will work with your induction cooktop? Here's a simple test: If a refrigerator magnet adheres to the bottom of the pan, the pan will work on an induction cooktop.

Are there any drawbacks to induction cooktops?

The main downside to induction cooktops is cost. They are the most expensive of the three options. Also, as stated above, you need to have pots and pans that contain iron for an induction cooktop to work. So be sure to include the price of a new set of cookware in your budget.

Now you know the answer to the question, "how do induction cooktops work?" If you're ready to take a closer look at induction cooktops, then stop by Reno's Appliance in Paterson, NJ to view our large selection of cooktops and range tops from top-name brands like Bosch, Jenn-Air, Whirlpool, and more.