Until a few years ago, the widespread belief among chefs was that cooking on a gas stove was better than on any electric stove because open flames facilitated better control of cooking temperatures. Now, however, with their higher energy efficiency and faster cooking times, induction cooktops are making cooks reconsider electric.
Deciding which is best for a home kitchen depends on several factors, but ultimately comes down to cook preferences and budget.
Power Sources: Is Induction Cooking Better Than Gas?
Gas stovetops and ranges cook with open flame. Because they burn natural gas or propane, these stovetops must be hooked up to a natural gas or propane line/source. If such a line is not already present in the home, having a professional connect one will be an additional cost.
Gas cooktops also require an appropriately powerful hood vent to remove toxic fumes generated by burning natural gas. A noted benefit of gas stoves, however, is that they still work during power outages.
Induction ranges and stovetops use electricity, which means they can be placed in any home. It also means that during power outages, induction stovetops won’t work.
Deciding what your preferences are depends a bit on what fuel sources are currently available to you, and whether you want to be able to cook with your stove in the event of power service being cut off. There are other pros and cons of cooking with both gas and electricity, which we will review in a moment.
How Does An Induction Cooktop Work?
Induction stovetops have been popular in Europe for years and are now gaining popularity in the United States as an alternative to both gas cooking and less advanced traditional electric stovetops, which work by a coil heating up and radiating that heat to pots and pans. These electric coil stovetops retain their heat well after they have been turned off, remaining hot to the touch.
Instead of heating up a coil, induction stovetops send electromagnetic pulses through copper coils. The heat will only transfer from these coils to pots and pans made of ferromagnetic material, such as iron or steel. Any pot or pan to which a magnet will stick will work on induction stoves. With induction, only the pot or pan gets hot. The stovetop surface never does.
Advantages of Induction Cooking
Traditional electric and gas stovetops can waste a lot of energy because much of the heat they generate is not focused on the pot or pan, and is lost heating up areas around the cookware even after the stove is turned off. In contrast, induction stovetops transfer up to 90% of their energy directly to the pot or pan, making induction stoves the most efficient cooking appliances by far.
Gas burners used to be the fastest for boiling water, taking about six to eight minutes to boil six cups of water. Induction stovetops can boil that same water in only three minutes. This increased efficiency means less time cooking, which also saves energy.
Let’s face it, the worst part of meal preparation is cleaning up afterward. Here, induction cooking clearly has the upper hand.
Cooking always involves spills or boiling over of liquid onto the cooktop. When this happens on a gas stove, spillage gets cooked onto the hot burners, which can’t be cleaned until they have cooled completely. Cleaning cooked-on mess is no easy task.
However, when spills happen on an induction surface, they don’t get cooked onto that surface because the cooktop is never hot. Spills can be wiped up even while the pot is boiling!
Gas and traditional electric stovetops are the cause of many burns and house fires. Gas stoves are especially dangerous because of their open flames. However, induction stovetops are safer because the surface never gets hot. This means that a mislaid dishtowel or curious child’s hand would not get burned by an induction stove unless they touched an active cooking vessel.
Induction Cooking Drawbacks
Gas and electric stoves will heat up almost any pot or pan no matter their material. However, induction stovetops will only transfer heat to pots and pans made of steel or iron. This type of cookware is generally more expensive than all other cookware. No longer being able to use your aluminum, ceramic, or glass cookware and having to purchase new, more expensive cookware seems to be one reason consumers hesitate to make the switch to induction.
Induction stoves create an electromagnetic field that causes the electrons in the steel or iron cookware to heat up. Those same electromagnetic fields will also interfere with a pacemaker and digital thermometer operation. Anyone with a pacemaker should exercise extreme caution around an induction stovetop when it is in operation.
Because induction stoves cook food faster and more efficiently, cooks will require a little time adjusting to be able to gauge new cooking times and temperatures for their favorite recipes.
Despite the many advantages of induction cooking, gas stoves remain the best at rapid temperature adjustments during cooking and at being able to char food.
Which Cooktop is Best for Your Budget?
Generally, induction stovetops cost more than gas stovetops. However, there are extra costs for both. As previously mentioned, gas stoves require a gas line to the house and a powerful exhaust hood.
While induction stovetops do not require nearly as much ventilation as gas stoves, they do require specific and expensive cookware. Repairs to induction stoves are also more costly than for gas stoves because the technology they use requires technicians to have specialized training and tools.
Ultimately, the type of stove that is best is the one that meets a cook’s culinary and budgetary needs. To learn more about different types of stovetops and ranges for any size kitchen or wallet, visit Gochnauer’s Appliance showroom today.