Induction Cooking: Everything You Need to Know
The Whirlpool brand offers induction cooktops but does not currently offer induction ranges. Whirlpool ranges are available in gas and electric fuel types
If you’re shopping for or replacing your cooking appliance, you will have to make several decisions, including whether to buy a cooktop or a range or stove.
If you choose an electric range or cooktop, there are three options: radiant, induction and coil. Induction ranges or cooktops have been growing in popularity because they are considered to be highly efficient, offer easy cleanup and can reach a boil or drop in temperature quickly. The result is faster cooking, especially in pots, with water coming to a boil sooner.
This guide will walk you through what induction is, how induction cooking works, induction cookware, the benefits of induction cooking and more.
What is Induction Cooking?
There are a few types of induction appliances, including cooktops and stoves or ranges. The first thing to know about induction cooktops or ranges is that they are powered by electricity.
Induction ranges or cooktops are one of the most efficient cooking technologies on the market. This efficiency comes from their ability to directly heat the cookware, not the cooking surface, as is the case with other electric ranges or cooktops. This transforms the cookware into the heat source, allowing you to effectively cook at either a high or low heat, depending on what you’re cooking.
An example of efficiency is that, when boiling water, the Whirlpool® induction cooktop, compared to its radiant and gas cooktops, generally had:
- Reduced energy consumption (defined as the total energy consumed to boil water) of 285Wh vs 402 Wh for radiant.
- A 25% savings of time vs radiant , and 45-52% with respect to gas units.
- Improved energy efficiency (defined as the percentage of energy effectively used to boil water) of 75% vs 57% for radiant and 36% for gas.
Other electric ranges or cooktops (open coil-type cooking tops and smooth cooking tops, for instance) are less efficient with respect to heat transfer. This is due to the heat first being transferred to the cooking surface and from there to the cooking vessel.
Although induction cooktops or ranges use electricity, they only generate heat through electromagnets. This makes them a safer option and allows for these benefits:
- An increase in cooking speed
- Greater temperature control
- Considered to be easier to clean than gas or electric cooktops or ranges
Induction cooking requires either an induction rangetop or an induction cooktop.
Induction Cooktop and How They Work
An induction cooktop or range uses a copper coil under the cooktop to generate electromagnetic energy. This magnetic energy then interacts with compatible cookware to heat it.
By removing the need to heat the cooktop, food can cook more quickly and evenly. Another benefit of this technology is that it also allows the cooktop to quickly cool down once the pan is removed.
Remember to closely watch what you’re cooking the first few times you are cooking on a new induction range or cooktop. This will help you adjust to this cooking method’s speed.
Cooktops Vs. Ranges
Induction ranges and cooktops are powered by electricity. Cooktops can be installed in the countertop with the controls positioned on its horizontal plane. Induction ranges or stoves have an induction stovetop or rangetop built right into it, and offer the exact same benefits as an induction cooktop.
Induction Cookware: Which Pots and Pans Work Best?
Generally, what is vital with cookware is the number of layers that the cookware is made of. Typically, one layer will be made of aluminum to help uniformly spread the heat. This, in addition to other factors, can impact the cookware’s performance with respect to:
- Heat uniformity
- Ability to reach maximum power
- Pan detection
- Heating retention
- Heating spread
Pots are an important part of the induction system, as they dictate the electrical response. One drawback to induction cooktops or ranges, though, is that they are only compatible with a specific type of cookware.
Induction cooking needs magnetic or ferromagnetic cookware. This type of cookware is made with a layer of a stainless steel magnetic material. This comes in contact with the cooktop glass and directly transforms the cookware into the heat source.
Non-magnetic and non-ferromagnetic cookware will not heat up on an induction range or cooktop. The burner will be unable to detect the cookware and, in turn, the cookware will not interact with the electromagnetic energy that the burner generates.
Compatible induction cookware materials:
- Enameled steel
- Cast iron
- Stainless steel designed for induction cooking.
Non-compatible induction cookware materials:
- Certain copper or aluminum pans.
The ply-type (number of layers) of cookware does not affect the efficiency of an induction cooktop. They do affect the ability of the cookware to evenly distribute heat. This means you may experience better performances with 5-ply rather than 3-ply.
How to Test if Your Cookware Is Induction Compatible
For optimal heat conduction, use cookware with a flat bottom and ensure that it is roughly the same size as the surface area of the burner. This will allow for direct contact with the range or cooktop.
If the pan is too small for the element, the burner will not be able to detect the pan and it will not generate heat. Incidentally, if the pan is too big, heat will only generate where the burner makes direct contact with the pan. This will result in undesirable uneven cooking.
Here are two ways to test if cookware is induction compatible:
- Get a magnet and follow these steps: turn the pan over, hold a magnet to the bottom, and see if it sticks or not. If the magnet does stick to the bottom, then it is ferromagnetic and can be used for induction cooking.
- Check the bottom of your cookware. If you see a stamped coiled spring symbol this means it is induction compatible.
How to Clean Induction Cooking Surface
Induction ranges or cooktops are easy to clean because the cooktop doesn’t heat up. Messes caused by spilled food, boiled-over pots and common splatters are less likely to burn onto the cooktop surface. This means they can be wiped away once you’re done cooking.
Before cleaning your ceramic glass range or cooktop:
- Turn off all controls.
- Always follow label instructions on cleaning products.
- Do not use steel wool, abrasive powder cleansers, chlorine bleach, rust remover or ammonia. These may damage cooktops.
Follow these steps to remove burned on soil from the ceramic glass range or cooktop surface.
Remember to always follow the instructions in your appliance product use and care guide. This is your primary source of information.
Remove food and/or residue with a scraper that is specifically designed for ceramic glass ranges or cooktops.
- For best results, clean while the range or cooktop is warm, but not hot to the touch. It’s best to do this while wearing an oven mitt.
- Hold the scraper at about a 45° angle against the glass surface and apply enough pressure to scrape the residue.
- Allow the range or cooktop to cool before moving onto the next step.
Apply a few dime-sized drops of a ceramic glass cooktop or range cleaner such as affresh® cooktop cleaner, to the areas you want to clean.
- Rub the cleaner onto the cooktop or range surface with a cooktop scrubbing pad. Apply just the right amount of pressure to remove stubborn stains.
- Let the cleaner dry before starting the next step.
Polish with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel.
- Repeat the Steps 1 – 3 as needed for stubborn or burned on stains.
Watch this video to see how easy it is to clean an induction cooktop.
Ambient heat from your cookware may heat your induction range or cooktop. We recommend waiting for the surface to cool before you start cleaning.
Induction or Gas or Electric?
Comparing induction with either gas or other electric cooking appliances really comes down to the cooking needs and style of the owner.
Induction vs. Gas
Gas cooktops or ranges are fueled by either natural gas or propane for convenient quick heating and precise burner control. Gas can achieve a nice sear or simmer and is also great for wok cooking.
Induction ranges or cooktops are typically easier to clean than gas cooktops or ranges. Because gas ranges or cooktops have grates and burner caps, they need to be removed or cleaned around whereas induction ranges or cooktops have a smooth surface to easily clean or wipe away messes.
Induction vs. Radiant vs. Coil Cooktops
Radiant ranges or cooktops have metal coils that heat fast for the purposes of boiling and simmering. They can work with any type of cookware and are designed with expanding and contracting burners in an attempt to better match your pot sizes. Select models come with easy-to-clean ceramic cooking surfaces and a protective coating to help mitigate scratching.
Typically, coil cooktops or ranges are less expensive than radiant and induction ranges or cooktops. Keep in mind that they are considered to be more difficult to clean. You need to decide what is important to you.
Another thing to know about induction ranges or cooktops is that they sometimes produce a small hum or buzzing sound caused by slight vibrations that occur when in operation. If you think this would disturb you then gas or electric cooktops may be a better option.
What Are the Benefits of Induction Cooktops?
Here is a summary of the benefits associated with induction cooking:
- Improved temperature control and more desirable cooking results
- Heats up and cooks faster
- Easy to clean
- According to the Department of Energy, induction ranges or cooktops can be up to 85% more efficient in energy transfer. 85% of the energy goes directly to the cookware, creating a highly efficient system1
- A safe option as the pot gets hot but the rangetop or cooktop doesn’t
- Releases less hot air into the kitchen. You should still use a hood vent for things like grease and smoke
1) Energy.gov, last visited Oct 17, 2019.
Induction technology has proven to be an effective and efficient method to cook meals. With its popularity continuing to grow, maybe it’s time that you consider an induction cooktop or rangetop for your kitchen.
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