What is an induction cooktop?
Induction cooktop bring to us some real convenience and ease of use. The safety feature and an efficient functioning, which they offer in comparison to traditional cooking options, give them an edge.
What is induction cooking?
Induction cooking heats the vessel through magnetic induction rather than by thermal conduction. This heats the vessel (induction cookware) directly and achieves a high temperature. These cooktops use magnetic induction for heating purpose. So, the induction cooktop needs vessels of ferromagnetic material like stainless steel or cast iron. If you want to use a non-magnetic vessels, It should be placed on a ferromagnetic disk, which works like a hotplate.
The induction cooktop has a copper wire and alternating current passed through it. This results in the creation of an oscillating magnetic field and induces magnetic flux. This magnetizes the pot and treats it as the magnetic core which is in a transformer. As a result eddy currents produced in pot due to resistance, as a result pot heats up.
While buying an induction cooktop there are some points you need to consider. There is more than just the ‘price’ factor, though that is equally important. What you would need to check for is the quality of the cooktop and the actual wattage. It is generally lower than the rated wattage of the cooktop. The quality of the top plate is very important as well. The induction coil made of copper is advisable as compared to the lower quality ones.
When buying an induction cooktop you should be aware that the cheap plastic body induction cookers usually develop cracks within the first 3 months and also these cannot take on much weight and so are not advisable. Therefore, it is better to go in for a good quality cooktop though it may be slightly more expensive. Yet, it will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Key features to look for while buying an induction cooktop
Here are some features that you should ensure are present in the induction cooktop when you purchase one:
- Safety Sensor: This detect if the pan is empty. Accordingly, the power output changes so as to prevent damage to the hob and cookware.
- Digital control readings: These can ensure the accuracy of the temperature.
- Keep warm options: This is a feature that ensures the food remains warm. Some use the residual heat for his purpose.
- Temperature and power setting: When buying a cooktop you should ensure the temperature setting intervals are as small as possible as this will help to slightly increase or decrease the temperature. This makes it more user-friendly for temperature regulation as well.
- Low Voltage Operation: When buying a cooktop in places where there is a fluctuation of voltage you need to ensure that the cooktop will work even in areas of low voltage.
- Auto Switch off: This feature prevents chances of overheating.
- Auto heat up: This feature allows the heating to be set at a higher level and then automatically to be turned down after some time.
- Power on and residual heat lights: these need to be bright and there should be one for each cooking zone.
- Protection against spills and overflows: When there is spillage, the cooktop should shut down and beep so that the spill does not overflow to the controls. After you clean the spill, the cooking can restart.
- Cleaning surface: The surface of the cooktop should be easy to clean without lips, cracks, and gaps where dirt and grime could collect.
- Pan detection: Pan detection must be there, which does not allow the cooktop to work when there is no pan placed on it. Also, when the pan is removed, the operation is stopped immediately. When pans which are unsuitable are used, this indicates it as well.
- Boosters: These are similar in function to the heat up options and the food quickly heats to the highest setting and then automatically the heat reduces to the lower setting.
- Child lock features: Even though this is not as dangerous as other conventional methods of cooking, still child lock features are desired especially in households where there are small children,
- Different cooking functions: There are cooktops which have different cooking functions/options. One can choose the functions based on the cooking needs. This is a ‘good to have’ feature in the cooktop.
I personally have found that the Phililps HD Viva 2100 watt induction cooktop is one of the best as we can use in a standard outlet and so moving this around is very convenient. This also is compact and easy to store as well as to handle. It has a digital timer which is in increments of 1 minute right up till 170 minutes. This also has a long cord of 6 feet and can handles a rough temperature range of 140 – 460 degrees Fahrenheit. There are touch control panels. It is also easy to clean and maintain as all it requires is wiping it with a damp cloth.
Please do consider our article on top 10 induction cooktops in India.
Benefits of Induction Cooktops
The key advantage of this cooktop is that there is instant heat and there is no wastage of heat at all. It is 70% more efficient than gas or electric cooktops. When children put their fingers on the cooktop they will not get burnt and as the surface is cool, the food which is on it does not get baked and so the surface easy to clean.
With it, you don’t need to buy particularly the cookware which is usable on the cooktop. You can use cast aluminium enamelled steel and iron cookware. Even you can use stainless steel with magnetic bottoms or even cast iron cookware over it.
The cons, however, are that this costs more initially than getting a traditional cooktop, though due to the efficiency, this literally pays for itself.
What are the disadvantages?
The main drawback with this, however, is in places where there is a problem with power outages. When there is no power, then you will not be able to cook at all.
The cons with regards general induction stove are that they do generate a little noise due to the high magnetic fields and in case the cookers have glass ceramic tops, these can be damaged due to impact. Also, when using aluminum foil, there are chances that this could melt and damage or crack the top. Also, in cases of these cook-tops, the manufacturer mentions maximum pan size suitable.
I suggest that you do go in for this induction cook-top. Not only is it a more efficient method of cooking, but also a safer and efficient method of cooking. The pot does not reach hazardous temperatures. This allows for better wheelchair access as the person’s legs can be below the height of the counter and the arms over it. This is possible as the cook top is more shallow as compared to the electrical or gas cooking surfaces.
In places where the temperature is very warm, these are a preferred option since they do not heat the kitchen due to a waste of heat energy like gas stoves. Thus, this further helps to reduce the utility bills ultimately.
Most induction cookers have error message systems which allow o help to diagnose the fault. Due to the warnings of low as well as high voltage, these are better for the consumers. Safety features like the unit shutting off within a minute of detecting the absence of cookware. Digital sensor touch controls as well as temperature ranges from 140–460 degrees are also very valuable to the consumers. The pans don’t gest discoloured or have burnt grease or even have burnt material on the utensil.
Induction cookers offer all the benefits of conventional cook-tops while clipping out the drawbacks. It is fast, safe, clean, cooler and cheaper than cooking on gas.