“What is the difference between induction and electric cooktops? Which one should I choose?”
This post will explore the differences between these two cooking methods, as well as give some pros and cons of each.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes them different and see which option may be best for you!
Induction Cooktops Overview
An induction cooktop is a type of electric stove that uses electromagnetic fields to heat an electrically conducting pan or vessel, rather than having exposed burners. This allows the temperature of the induction cooker to be controlled by adjusting the power supplied to it.
It also makes for more efficient use of electricity as only the vessel has to get hot, not the cooking surface itself. For this reason, induction cookers are particularly popular in places where heating an entire room with gas would be costly compared with using electricity under the same conditions.
An induction cooktop works by creating a magnetic field that penetrates into the metal pan that it is heating directly, rather than through heat transfer from another surface like flames or electricity (although there will still usually be some heat transfer between these surfaces).
Because only suitably equipped vessels are heated, there is little danger of fires being caused by electrical overheating. It is also safer to have an induction cooker in a place where children may be present as there is less risk of them accidentally touching the hot surface.
The heat given off by cooking vessels can make working close to them difficult, particularly when oil or other chemicals are involved, but this problem does not exist with induction cooking because no heat transfers from the pan itself; only electromagnetic waves do this. Learn more about how do induction stoves work.
Because of these features and its high efficiency, induction stoves and cookers are gaining popularity slowly around the world. However, they remain prohibitively expensive for many people and it will likely take time before their cost falls far enough that they become common in kitchens everywhere.
Induction Cooker Pros and Cons
While induction cooking has many advantages, it also has a few disadvantages.
The most notable of these is that not all vessels can be used on an induction cooker because they will not be able to pick up the electromagnetic waves and so remain unheated.
If this happens, it is usually possible to put a smaller metal pan inside the larger vessel in such a way that it does receive the waves and becomes hot enough to cook with.
Some vessels that work well when heated with other methods can become less efficient when switched over to induction cooking because the intensity of the magnetic field varies across the bottom of the vessel and only part of its surface heats up.
Other problems include noise from fans and control units safety concerns where liquid containing sugars (such as milk) boil over and are heated by the induction unit.
Electric Cooktops Overview
An electric cooktop is a modern stove with different heating elements to create heat for cooking. These are usually attached to one of the cook top’s surfaces, either by being embedded in it or placed on it.
The appliances are heated indirectly by another piece of equipment that transfers its own heat into the appliance through conduction or convection. This indirect heating allows for better control over the temperature because the surface itself never gets hot, only warm enough to transfer heat into the dish being cooked through conduction.
Electric stoves are safer than traditional ones because they have automatic cut-off features that shut down the cooker when there is no pan present and shut off if anything else goes wrong with them. They also do not need much space around them for fumes to escape and so can be placed closer to cupboards, walls, and other pieces of furniture.
Because the elements are always on, liquids that boil over onto them will cause damage to the stove itself but not start a fire that could burn down the house like might happen with other types of stoves.
Electric cookers also use less energy than other kinds do because they only heat up when pans are present; this is particularly relevant if cooking areas are left running overnight or when no one is at home.
Electric Cooktops Pros and Cons
While electric cooktops have no electromagnetic waves, this is not always considered a disadvantage because they are easier to use with certain types of vessels, including iron ones.
This means that an electric cooker can be used in many places where an induction cooker cannot be used because it would work less well or even damage some vessels.
Electric stoves also tend to be cheaper than induction stoves in spite of requiring energy input (although because of safety concerns, appliances which use electricity come with increased maintenance costs).
The lack of electromagnetic waves also reduces the risk to people in the area when liquids boil over onto the stove’s surface. When water boils it produces a large amount of steam and this can cause dangerous burns if it is allowed to contact human skin.
With electric cooktops, the heat from the surface is conducted into the vessel gradually; this reduces these burns by causing boiling water to cool more slowly and prevents as much steam from being produced.
Induction And Electric Cooktop Comparison
Electric stovetops use conventional electric coils to generate heat. Induction stovetops instead use a copper coil and an alternating current in order to produce a magnetic field that penetrates cookware through electromagnetic induction, generating heat in the cookware itself.
Verdict: Heat generated by induction is transferred from the cookware to the cooking vessel, resulting in much lower surface temperatures. In addition, since there are no open flames or red-hot elements involved with induction technology, it greatly reduces accidental contact injuries.
Cooktop Temperature Control
Both types of stovetops have knobs for temperature control but they function quite differently. Electric coils on electric stoves can be turned up or down in order to increase or decrease heating power but, since it is a purely resistive heat source (by which the heat generated in the coil increases in proportion to voltage), the temperature cannot be accurately controlled. Induction stoves work by having electronic components in the cooktop detect changes in current in the electromagnetic field and adjust power accordingly. Heat is generated in proportion to how quickly alternating current “cycles up and down” (changes direction).
Verdict: Induction stovetops are often more precise than electric ones when it comes to maintaining extremely low or high cooking temperatures because of this ability to sense changes.
Electric stoves heat up food much more slowly than induction stovetops. On electric stovetops, heat transfer is based on conduction, meaning that it takes time for the heat to transfer from the coil into the cookware (which then transfers to the food). Induction cooking uses electromagnetic fields which allow for faster cooking because energy is transferred directly to the cookware.
Verdict: Induction stovetops heat up extremely quickly. Compared to electric stovetops, induction cooktops heat up 40% faster. Induction cooking also wastes less energy because there is no need to preheat the cookware itself. Much of the energy goes directly into the cooking vessel and it usually takes only seconds for them to reach their desired temperature.
Cookware is essential when using induction. Induction stovetops are only compatible with ferrous metal cookware, meaning that it must be made of iron or steel. Dishes containing aluminum are incompatible with induction cooking. This restriction is due to the fact that non-ferrous metals cannot be detected by the sensors in an induction stovetop and therefore they will not heat up.
Verdict: Electric stovetops can work just fine with any cookware available on the market, however there may be undesirable results if one uses very thin pots or pans. This is because electric coils in electric stoves heat up at their center most point so using small diameter cookware may result in uneven heating which leads to undesired cooking results.
Electric coils on an electric stovetop might take several minutes to reduce the surface temperature of a pan after it’s removed from heat, while induction must be deactivated immediately when the pan is lifted because it quickly reduces the magnetic field.
However, if the cookware isn’t removed in time, there can still be enough residual heat to cause injury. Electric cooktops are also prone to causing fires due to electrical shorts or malfunctioning heating elements, although with modern thermal cutoffs this is becoming less common.
Verdict: The biggest difference between induction and electric stovetops is safety. Compared to electric cooktops, induction cooktops are safer. Induction cooktops are also curbed by a built-in system that automatically detects if cookware has been left on the stovetop and shuts down if it remains stationary for 30 seconds
Both induction and electric stovetops create dirty cookware. The surfaces of electric stovetops become dirty because the cookware itself gets dirty, while induction stovetops can accumulate dirt if not cared for properly. Check this post to learn about how to clean induction cooktop.
Verdict: Electric stovetops require users to clean the surfaces regularly to keep them looking nice. They also demand certain cleaning products that cannot scratch or damage the surface. Induction cooking, by contrast, doesn’t involve any heat transfer through the actual cooking vessel so there is no risk of damage from scratching or chemicals.
The price of an induction cooktop is typically more expensive than a conventional electric cooktop. However, the cost to operate an induction stove is significantly less. With lower operating costs and no open flames or red-hot elements, there are major safety benefits with induction stoves
Electric cooktops are a good choice if you’re on a budget, don’t need precise temperature control and can use your existing kitchenware.
Induction is better for those who want the best of both worlds – speed and precision.
What will work best for your kitchen? Let us know! Our team would be happy to help you choose the perfect electric or induction cooktop that suits all of your needs.