What Is Induction Cooking System?

What Is Induction Cooking System?

Gas BurnerIf you’re like most people, every time you turn on a burner, you give a thought to the effect on your utility bill and the environmental impact. Cooking doesn’t have to put such in dent in either one.

You may have seen the NuWave infomercials on TV. Perhaps you’ve seen the induction cooktops or portable induction burners in a store or in someone else’s home. While the benefits of an induction cooking system are many, it is not the same as your present electric, gas or propane system.

Before you plunge in head first, find out how an induction cooking system differs from what you are using now. Read the pros and cons. Learn what is induction cooking system and whether it is right for you.

How Induction Cooking Works

Gas burners use an open flame to generate heat. Electric burners use an electrical coil to heat the pan or other vessel place on the burner. You’ll often see the term “hob,” which refers to the rings of the burners that create heat.

An induction burner works differently. Under its cooking surface is a coil of copper wire. An alternating electric current creates a magnetic flux, which magnetizes the pot (if it is made from induction ready cookware). The base of the cooking vessel acts as a transformer. The pan base gets heated up, remarkably fast if the burner works properly.

The  surface  of an induction burner does not heat up. Heat is transferred to the pot. Heat may be transferred from the pot to the cooking surface, but the single quality setting it most apart from other stove tops is the ability to cool down immediately after a pot is removed.

This short video by GE Appliances explains the system:

What Makes Induction Cooking Green?

Good induction hobs use low wattage and energy efficient features. Induction burners can heat or boil food faster, while using a fraction of the energy it would take a gas or electric burner to accomplish the same thing. Some induction cooking system manufacturers claim energy efficiency of 70% to 90% compared to between 40% and 60% efficiency of conventional gas or electric cooking systems.

Depending on how much you cook, there can be a drastic drop in monthly electricity or gas bills. And of course, a corresponding environmental savings.

Pros & Cons

9 Benefits Of Induction Cooking Systems

Environmental preservation and savings on your utility bill are not the only reasons to get a cooktop or portable induction burner. Consider these 8 benefits of induction cooking:

  1. Safety around small children may top the list of benefits. Do you remember being told not to touch the hot stove when you were a child? Have your children ever burned themselves on a hot stove? You can touch the surface of an induction burner while it’s turned on high and not feel any heat other than transfer heat from a pot.
  2. Safety in small areas, such as a recreational vehicle (especially the smaller conversion vans), comes a close second to preserving the skin of young children.
  3. Safety features such as automatic shutoff mechanisms prevent the burners from staying on after a pot is removed.
  4. No combustible pollutants filling the kitchen.
  5. Portable induction burners make travel easy. They are safe to use in hotel rooms during long stays, and a favorite of college students living in dorm rooms.
  6. Saves time – Since water boils faster, making tea or coffee, boiling pasta or potatoes is a snap when you’re on a schedule. An induction burner can cook in as little as half the time as an electric burner.
  7. Energy efficiency helps save the planet – you only heat the pan, not the entire kitchen.
  8. Saves money on utility bills. Less energy wasted by the induction burner results in less power consumption.
  9. Alternative to gas or propane stoves in more remote regions where the fuel supply is not consistent. Induction burners up to 1300W can usually operate off converted electricity from batteries powered by solar panels, or an engine in the case of RV installation. Most generators can power the 1800W models when your power goes out. So, you literally can have an electric powered cooktop when you are off the grid.

Potential Disadvantages

Of course, there are some disadvantages and cautions for induction cooking systems as well.

  • Induction Compatible Cookware – The biggest complaint is people can’t use their old pots and pans. Induction compatible cookware is made of or includes an adequate amount of a ferromagnetic metal such as cast iron or magnetized stainless steel. (Not all stainless steel pots will work.) Test your pans for compatibility with a magnet – if a magnet sticks to the bottom of the pan, it will induct heat from the burner. If the magnet does not stick, it won’t work.
  • Learning curve – Food cooks a little differently on induction burners than either gas or electric. Some people take right to it, others have to experiment more until they find the technique that works best for them.
  • Lack of control over temperature settings in lower quality models frustrates some cooks. This is easily overcome by investing a few more dollars, especially in the portable induction burner category.

Summary

Overall, the efficiency and usefulness of modern induction cooking systems heralds a whole new era of safety, savings and efficiency. We predict that gas and electric burners will be phased out within a couple of decades. Before leaping straight in to a full induction stove top, we recommend experimenting with a portable induction burner first.

Our next article will explain why we chose the NuWave PIC Pro (and love it).

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