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Pros & Cons of Induction Cooktops—Are They Worth It?

Thinking about switching to an induction cooktop? We’ve got the scoop on what’s good and what might give you pause.

Induction cooking is all the rage: if you’re in the market for a new stove, you can hardly research your options without coming across at least a few induction models.

These cooktops are lauded for being energy efficient, easy to clean, and safer compared to their gas, coil-top, and radiant-electric counterparts. The fact that they can bring a pot of water to a boil in roughly half the time it takes a conventional stove speaks plenty.

Given the heated debate about the safety of gas stoves and the rising costs of electricity across the country, it’s no wonder that induction cooktops are gaining more and more attention.

But if you’re on the fence about getting one, how can you determine if they’re the right choice for you?

We’ve written this guide to the pros and cons of induction cooktops and ranges to help you make an informed decision. We’ve consulted experts and drawn upon the firsthand experiences of our editorial team, many of whom have years of experience cooking with induction technology.

Pros of Induction Cooktops And Ranges

So, what are the advantages of opting for an induction range?

For many, the allure of induction cooking is in its efficiency, rapid response time, built-in safety features, and sleek aesthetics. Here’s everything you need to know:

Energy Efficiency: Induction cooktops offer unbeatable energy efficiency, losing just 15% of energy when transferring heat to your pans and pots. In contrast, electric cooktops lose 20-25% of energy, and gas ranges a staggering 68%.

While a 10% improvement in efficiency compared to electric cooktops may not seem like much—and induction cooktops are generally pricier to buy upfront—the savings can add up over years of daily cooking.

“We see a lot of induction in the professional and home catering world,” Terry Brumback, third-generation owner of Restaurant Equipment & Supply, tells readers of Home Cook World. “They’re highly efficient with precise temperature control and highly mobile,” he adds, referring to the portable cooktops that caterers tend to use, “able to use them almost anywhere.”

Quick, Responsive Heating: The first time you use an induction cooktop, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it heats your pots and pans. Adjusting the heat setting is equally fast, whether you’re turning it up or down.

Although this is something you do get on a gas stove, it’s practically impossible on traditional electric burners, which are slow to heat up and just as slow to cool down. As a result, you’ll do away with the hassle of having to lift your cookware off the burner during recipes that require quick temperature adjustments, like when preparing delicate sauces or cooking creamy risotto.

Configurable Cooking Zones: Higher-end induction cooktops boast flexible cooking zones, which consist of individual burners that can work in tandem to accommodate larger pots or griddles. If you enjoy indoor grilling, a cooktop with this feature can quickly and evenly heat a cast-iron griddle, enhancing your cooking experience.

Easy Cleanup (Most of the Time): One of the conveniences of induction cooktops is their flat, smooth ceramic-glass surface, which is much easier to clean compared to the nooks and crannies of a gas stove. In most cases, a quick wipe with a wet, lint-free cloth or paper towel is all you need for a clean surface.

However, it’s worth noting that stains can accumulate over time, particularly along the white lines that mark the cooking zones. For most stains, a natural cleaning solution of distilled white vinegar and water will do the trick. But be cautious: if oil spills over and reaches the hot bottom of your pans, it can bake onto the glass and polymerize. In such cases, a glass top scraper is the only effective way to remove the buildup.

More Safety: One significant edge that induction ranges have over their gas counterparts is their safety. Because they don’t require a propane bottle or natural gas hookup, the risk of catastrophic gas leaks in your home is just not there. But that’s not all.

In addition, induction burners don’t heat up in the way that electric coils or radiant electric cooktops do. They operate using electromagnetic energy, meaning they don’t emit heat themselves at all. So if you accidentally leave an induction burner on without a pot or pan on it, it won’t get hot, reducing the risk of burns or fire.

Sleek Looks, Versatile Mounting Options: Induction cooktops boast sleek, modern designs, not at all that different from radiant electric cooktops. They also have a smaller footprint compared to gas ranges or freestanding stoves.

If you’re designing or redesigning your kitchen and aesthetics matter as much to you as functionality—or if you’re working with limited space—induction cooktops offer versatile mounting options and sleek designs to complement your home’s interior design.

Cons of Induction Cooktops And Ranges

Now that we’ve gone over the advantages of induction cooking, let’s get into the main drawbacks you should be aware of.

Higher Upfront Cost: While induction cooktops offer numerous advantages and conveniences, they come with a higher purchase price compared to conventional gas or electric stoves. This can add to the overall cost of your kitchen remodeling project.

Need for Magnetic Cookware: If you’re about to transition from a gas or electric stove to induction, you may need to invest in new cookware, depending on whether your existing collection is made up of magnetic pans and pots.

Induction stoves create an electromagnetic field above their cooking zones (a more accurate term than “burners,” since they don’t actually emit heat). For your cookware to heat up, it must be ferromagnetic, meaning it needs to contain enough iron to strongly attract a magnet.

This is good news if you already own cookware made of cast iron, carbon steel, or certain types of stainless steel, as their iron content makes them naturally compatible with induction cooktops. However, it’s less encouraging if you have cheaper, non-magnetic aluminum cookware or higher-end copper pieces—these won’t work on an induction stove.

The best way to check if your existing cookware is induction-friendly is to test whether a magnet sticks to the bottom. If yes, your cookware is likely to work well on an induction range. If not, then you’ll probably need to buy induction cookware.

There are workarounds. You could use an induction converter plate, a thin disc made of induction-compatible metal that sits between the cooktop and your non-compatible cookware. (Even though one could say that having to revert to this hack defeats the purpose of upgrading to induction in the first place.)

Continuous Cycling On/Off: For those used to gas cooking, it’s important to know that an induction top regulates heat differently than a gas cooktop, which in turn creates a different cooking experience.

Unlike the constant stream of heat you get from a gas flame, induction burners cycle on and off to maintain a set temperature range. This is similar to how electric coil and radiant burners work, and could require some adjustment if you’re used to the continuous heat control offered by a gas range.

Noise Level: To work efficiently, an induction stovetop needs to stay cool. This requires it to have a ventilation system, which vents heat into a kitchen drawer beneath the cooktop. Depending on your cooking temperature and the heat retention of your cookware, the ventilation system can get noisy during operation; more so than first-time owners often expect.

Additionally, induction cooktops can cause your cookware to emit a buzzing or humming noise. The volume of this noise can vary based on several factors, such as the type of metal and the construction of the cookware. Some people liken it to the sound a passenger plane makes at cruising altitude, giving you an idea of its potential loudness.

Susceptibility to Scratches: Manufacturers of cooktops and of cookware alike may not emphasize this, but it’s important to know that induction cooktops, like all ceramic-glass surfaces, are prone to scratching. This is especially true if you’re not cautious about how you clean and handle your cookware on them.

For instance, using abrasive detergents or the rough side of a sponge can easily scratch the cooktop’s surface. Moreover, pans and pots made of cast iron—enameled or bare—and carbon steel have rough, porous surfaces. Moving these back and forth while cooking can also lead to scratches on the glass top.

Of course, you’ll likely be extra cautious after paying up for an induction range. However, mistakes do happen, especially when other family members are using the kitchen. So it’s critical to keep this drawback in mind when researching your purchase.

Potential for Interference with Other Devices: The electromagnetic field generated by an induction burner can sometimes interfere with other electronic devices. For example, some users have reported difficulties using digital instant-read thermometers when searing steak on their induction burners.

Moreover, a study published in the 2006 issue of the Europace journal raised concerns about the safety of induction ranges for individuals with unipolar pacemakers. While further research is needed, this is an important consideration for individuals with certain heart conditions.

How Induction Cooking Works

Induction stoves heat your pans and pots without generating heat themselves.

Induction appliances use magnetism to generate heat directly in your cookware without getting hot themselves. When you turn on an induction cooktop, electric current runs through copper coils located beneath the ceramic-glass surface, creating a magnetic field.

This magnetic field induces the metal particles in ferromagnetic cookware to vibrate rapidly, creating friction. This friction, in turn, causes the cookware to generate its own heat. As a result, your pot or pan heats up and cooks your food, while the cooktop stays cool to the touch.

The technology is akin to the wireless chargers we use these days to charge our phones.

Are Induction Cooktops Worth It?

So, what’s the final verdict? Is an induction cooktop worth the extra money, or would you be better off going with a traditional gas or electric stove?

When to Buy One: If you’re leaning toward electric cooking and are in search of a modern, energy-efficient option, then an induction cooktop could be the ideal choice for you. Not only will it heat your pots and pans more quickly than an electric cooktop, but it will also do so using 10% less electricity. Plus, it offers a sleek design and versatile mounting options.

When Not To: However, induction cooktops do have their quirks and may not be the right fit for every homeowner. If you prefer the tactile experience of cooking with gas or have an extensive collection of pricey, non-magnetic copper cookware, your best bet might be sticking with a gas range.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.