Two things almost always take first-time induction range owners by surprise. First, they are really, really powerful. I mean burn-your-food-if-you-go-too-high powerful. Second, they make a lot of noise, whether that’s humming, hissing, or buzzing.
You’re here, so you probably want to find out about number two. Where are those sounds coming from? And are they something to worry about?
That humming, hissing, or buzzing sound is probably not coming from your induction cooktop but from your cookware. Heavy, single-piece cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens are less prone to being noisy than multi-ply stainless steel pans and pots.
To put it simply, this is normal for absolutely all induction ranges, and there’s no need to go into full-on panic mode.
99.9% of the time, nothing is wrong with your induction cooktop, and you don’t need to lean on the warranty and go through the hassle of getting it fixed or replaced.
It comes down to the fact that, compared to other stoves that rely on conduction, one of the four methods of heat transfer, induction stoves are very different.
And, yes, the salesperson in the store forgot to mention it. Most clerks know about this drawback very well but talk about it unless you bring it up first.
How do I know? Because I bought one, and I’ve been using one for give or take a year now. And the same thing happened to me 🙂 .
For readers who are coming across the term “conduction” for the first time, this is when you ignite a gas flame or warm an electric coil/panel so that you can transfer heat to your cooking vessel.
Conduction is considered an “indirect” heat transfer method, whereas induction is a “direct” one.
Induction cooktops are so efficient, in fact, that they don’t emit any heat whatsoever. They induce an electric charge that heats your pans and pots instead.
Induction cooktops work by running alternating current (AC) through copper coils situated under each cooking zone. By doing so, they create an oscillating magnetic field above it.
The oscillating magnetic field gets picked up by ferromagnetic pans and pots (“ferromagnetic” is just a term for pans and pots that contain enough iron), which induces them with an electric charge called eddy current.
The eddy current is so strong; it makes the particles of your cooking vessel vibrate. This creates friction, which, in turn, generates heat from the inside. And that’s how an induction range is capable of inducting heat directly into your frying pan or pasta pentola.
“That may very well be the case, Jim,” some of you may be thinking, “but where’s that God-damn noise coming from?”
Bear with me.
The hissing, humming, and buzzing noises are not coming from your cooktop but from your cookware. The higher you’ve cranked up the heat, the louder the noises will get.
That sounds strange to you at first, I know, but not when you consider that the typical 7-inch zone on an induction cooktop has 1,500 watts of power, a 9-inch zone has 2,500 watts of power, and an 11-inch zone has the whopping 3,500 watts of power when set to maximum.
When something that powerful creates an oscillating magnetic field so strong, it doesn’t take much for your cooking vessels to start singing. Now that you’ve heard what it sounds like, you also understand why we use them for cooking—and not for making music.
As a general rule of thumb, a heavy and single-piece cast iron skillet is prone to be less noisy than a multi-ply stainless steel frying pan or a multi-piece non-stick pan with an aluminum body and a bolted- or riveted-on handle.
According to GE, the only two ways to keep the noise down are to use less power and make sure the cooking zone is covered completely by the pan or pot.
In case you’re having a hard time ignoring the noise, try with different pans and pots until you find the “quietest” ones for your cooktop.
Another reason why your induction cooktop may be humming or buzzing, according to the UK support site of appliance maker AEG, could be that the cooling fan inside it is running.
The support site outlines the likely sources of several types of noise:
|Type of Noise||Likely Source|
|Crackling sound||You’ve left a ferromagnetic spatula, spoon, or fork inside your cookware—and it’s picking up the oscillating magnetic field.|
|Whistling noise||You’re using clad cookware and/or the cooking vessel is too small/too big for the cooking zone.|
|Humming noise||The cooking vessel is too small/too big for the cooking zone.|
|Clicking noise||You’re hearing the inner electronics inside the cooktop working.|
|Hissing and humming noise||You’re hearing the cooling fan inside the cooktop running.|
Though induction cooktops themselves have no heating elements, the cooking vessels you use on them can transfer a hefty amount of heat to the glass-ceramic surface.
To protect the electronics inside them, most manufacturers will place one or more cooling fans that look and work very similar to those you have in your laptop. And, just like the cooling fans on your computer, they may have to work overtime when you’re cooking on maximum heat.
Still, if you are unsure about the noise that’s coming from your cooktop, it’s a good idea to contact the manufacturer’s service center and ask for a visit by an engineer. This is one of those appliances that don’t come cheap, and there’s nothing wrong in wanting to have it checked.
We had a GE Induction range in our home for several years. There were no buzzing sounds during that time. We used Calphalon and LeCruesant cookware.
Then we moved to a retirement living facility and loved our range so much (it’s safer than electric since the stove does not get hot) we took it with us. Now it buzzed.
We had an extended warranty and GE did their best replacing the whole control system to fix it to no avail. The serviceman and I have come to the conclusion that at home we had 240 VAC and here we have 208VAC which drops to 205 or lower when the burners are on. I’m willing to bet that the buzzing is from the lower voltage, not primarily because of what pans are used. Not the sort of thing that manufacturers would broadcast. They make transformers for boosting voltage from 208 to 240 volts, but they cost $600 to $1000 and are too bulky to fit in my new location. I would love to try it to verify the buzzing cause.
Thank you for sharing!
Very interesting. We’ll look into this and cue up Jim’s article for an update if we find information on the matter. As you said, this can be tricky as not everything ends up in the product descriptions and owner’s manuals.
Dim Nikov, Editor