Induction hob purchasing advice: how to choose the right product
- What you need to know
- An induction stove is a combination of an oven and an induction hob.
- Cooking with induction is particularly time and energy-saving.
- The hob itself is not heated, only the cookware.
- Not all pots and pans are suitable for induction.
Energy-saving, efficient, user-friendly
State-of-the-art induction stoves are increasingly outstripping classic electric and gas stoves — and for good reason: induction stoves not only save a lot of energy, they are also extremely safe and user-friendly. In this article we will detail more information about the advantages of induction stoves and the criteria to consider when buying one.
How does an induction stove work and what are its advantages?
Electric stoves heat cookware in an indirect way: there are heating coils under the hob that heat the cooking plates. These then transfer the heat to the pot or pan. Cooking with an electric stove therefore takes a lot of time because the hob has to heat up first. During this process, a lot of energy is also radiated into the environment, which means it is lost.
Induction stoves work on a completely different principle: there is no heating coil under the hob, but a coil through which alternating current flows. This creates a magnetic field that only heats the (magnetic) cookware, but not the hob itself. The cooktop does not get hot, it only has some residual heat from the cookware after use. This offers the invaluable advantage that splashes of sauces and soups don’t burn onto the stove. In addition, the hob can be touched immediately after cooking, so there is no risk of burns.
Owners of an induction stove benefit from very short cooking times, because the heat is conducted into the bottom of the pot or pan in a particularly efficient way. A conventional electric stove, for example, needs an average of ten minutes to bring a quart (1L) of water to the boil. With a 1400 watt induction stove, this process takes only four minutes; more powerful models are even faster. Induction stoves also enable precise cooking: this means that after the stove is switched off, no more heat is conducted into the cookware. For example, once your pasta has reached the perfect cooking point, a single push of a button is all it takes for the water to stop boiling.
Here is an overview of the most important advantages of induction hobs:
- Easy to clean, as nothing can burn
- High energy savings
- Saves time when cooking
- Less risk of burns because the hob does not get hot
- Stove only starts when pot or pan is placed on the plate
- Automatic switch-off when there is no cookware on the plate
- Long life
Does an induction stove have any disadvantages?
The magnet trick
There is a simple trick to find out whether cookware is suitable for induction: To do this, hold a magnet to the bottom of the pot or pan. If it sticks, the cookware is suitable for induction stoves.
In addition to all the advantages, induction stoves also have one or two disadvantages. For example, they are more expensive than classic electric and gas stoves. However, the investment pays off within a few years thanks to the lower energy costs. Nevertheless, repairs to a defective induction stove are usually very expensive due to the complex technology involved; it is therefore worth investing in quality and purchasing an appliance with a long warranty period.
It should also be noted that not all cookware is suitable for use on an induction stove: the bottoms of pots and pans must be ferromagnetic, as is the case with stainless steel, for example.
Electric, gas, or induction?
In most households, electric, gas and induction stoves are the most common types of stoves. But what is the difference between the various types?
Electric stoves: inexpensive, but time-consuming and energy-intensive
To operate an electric stove, you need a stove socket with high-voltage current; however, this is available in almost every kitchen. The electric stove should always be connected by an electrician. If a layman connects the stove and a fire breaks out, the damage is usually not covered by insurance and the owner of the stove can be held fully liable. Induction stoves are also operated via the mains socket, so an electrician is also essential here.
Cooking on an electric stove is very time-consuming because the stove needs to heat up first. This then transfers the heat to the cookware, which results in a considerable loss of energy. The cost of operating an electric stove is therefore very high compared to gas and induction stoves. It is advisable to cook with foresight and turn hotplates down or off early: with the residual heat, food can usually be cooked completely without any problems.
- Low purchase price
- Can be used in every household
- High power consumption
- Time-consuming cooking
Gas stoves: no residual heat, but risk of burns
If you want to use a gas stove in your kitchen, you need a gas socket or, alternatively, a gas bottle with liquid gas such as propane or butane – the latter is, however, only common at campsites. Gas stoves are also visually different from other stove variants. There is a stainless steel grid above the hob on which the pots and pans are placed; below it are the gas flames.
You can regulate the heat output from gas stoves very well, which makes them popular with professional and amateur cooks alike. Moreover, there is no residual heat. Gas stoves are characterized by low energy consumption, because gas from the tap is very cheap. However, gas stoves are not faster than induction stoves.
Because of the open flame, pot and pan handles get very hot very quickly and the risk of burns and fire is generally quite high. Caution is therefore advisable, especially in households with children.
- Natural gas is very cheap
- No residual heat
- Increased risk of burns and fires
- Handles heat up quickly
The most important purchase criteria
If you want to purchase an induction stove, you should first consider what your individual requirements are for the new stove. Above all, you need to consider the following criteria when buying.
Induction stove are available in two different designs: as freestanding or integrated stoves. If you already have a kitchen and only need a new stove that should not or cannot be integrated into your kitchen units, a freestanding induction stove is the right choice. However, this must also be placed near a power socket. It should be noted that freestanding stoves are always combined appliances. The hob and oven cannot be separated from each other.
With an integrated stove, on the other hand, the parts are usually stand-alone. This makes it possible, for example, to replace a defective oven and keep the hob. If you wish, you can also install the oven at a back-friendly height in the kitchen. In any case, an integrated oven is permanently installed in the kitchen unit. This variant is therefore particularly suitable if you want to buy a new kitchen. Since the dimensions of most ovens are standard, installation in an existing kitchen unit should not be a problem. However, integrated stoves are usually more expensive than freestanding appliances.
Number and quality of cooking zones
How many cooking zones your induction stove should have depends on your own cooking habits. Single and two-person households usually only need a few cooking zones and at most a single large zone. For families where large pots and pans are often used, on the other hand, an induction hob with several zones for large cookware is recommended. Alternatively, so-called dual-circuit zones are suitable, where the heat range can be increased or reduced at the touch of a button. A casserole zone that can be switched on is also extremely practical and therefore comes as standard with many manufacturers. In models from the top price segment, the entire hob is a single zone: pots and pans can therefore be placed anywhere.
The type of oven
Even if it has an induction hob on top, the oven part of induction stove does not work via conduction. When buying a complete induction stove, therefore, the main thing to consider is which oven functions are desired. Most modern appliances not only have the classic top and bottom grill, but also a fan and/or convection function. If you often prepare pizzas, it is best to choose a model with a so-called pizza mode, which ensures that the pizza is baked until it is nice and crispy.
Capacity also plays a major role when purchasing an induction stove. For multi-person households, an oven capacity of at least 2.3 to 2.5 cubic feet (65 to 70L) is recommended. For single households, on the other hand, a capacity of 2 ft³ (55L) is usually sufficient. The following applies here: the capacity of integrated ovens is usually larger than the capacity of freestanding appliances.
Induction ovens are rare
Ovens that work using induction are still very rare. Right now, induction is used almost exclusively for frying and boiling. For this reason, the ovens that come with induction hobs are always classic electric ovens. Bauknecht is one of the few brands that has induction ovens in its range.
Manufacturers specify the power of induction hobs in watts. In addition, the operating instructions contain information on the actual power consumption in kilowatt hours. This value always refers to the consumption when all cooking zones are switched on. A low wattage may give the impression that the power consumption is particularly low, but in this case the cooking process is also more time-consuming. If the appliance has a very high wattage, on the other hand, it is advisable to consult an electrician first, because the domestic wiring is not always designed for the operation of such powerful appliances.
Operating an induction stove is usually very straightforward. The majority of appliances are equipped with a user-friendly touch display that can be used to adjust the temperature quickly. Nevertheless, it is always advisable to familiarize yourself with all the functions first in order to be able to use the induction stove best.
The sophisticated technology alone makes an induction stove much safer than an electric or gas stove. For example, the stove only works if suitable cookware is placed on the hob. Kitchen fires due to hobs that have not been switched off are therefore effectively prevented. Even if a pot of water has been left on the stove and the water has boiled away completely, the appliance registers the increase in heat and switches off automatically. This is not possible with any other type of stove. Furthermore, many models have a child safety lock that prevents unauthorized switching on.
Some manufacturers equip their induction stoves with various extras. Whether these are actually needed depends on your own cooking preferences and habits. An automatic timer, for example, ensures that the hob or oven switches off automatically after a preset time. If the induction stove has a power boost function, it can be temporarily set to maximum temperature at the touch of a button, for example to sear meat. Temperature sensors detect when a certain maximum temperature is exceeded and deactivate the power boost function again to prevent the pot from overheating.
Tips for cleaning induction hobs
Although cleaning an induction stove is quite straightforward, there are a few tips to bear in mind.
Cleaning the hob
The hob of an induction stove is very easy to clean because it doesn’t get hot, so food residues cannot burn in. Therefore, it is usually sufficient to wipe the hob with a damp cloth after use. In addition, you can use a little washing-up liquid or glass cleaner to give the glass ceramic a nice shine. If your hob does become stubbornly dirty, we recommend using ceramic hob cleaner, lemon juice or a mixture of water and baking soda. Never use steel wool, as this will scratch the glass.
Cleaning the oven
Household remedies are usually sufficient for cleaning the oven. Chemicals, which often emit an unpleasant odor and damage the material in the long term, are not needed. To easily remove burnt-on grease, owners of an induction stove can, for example, use lemon juice: simply mix lemon juice with water in a 1:1 ratio, pour the liquid onto a baking tray and set the oven to a temperature of 120 degrees. The liquid evaporates and settles on the surfaces in the oven. You can then gently remove grease and food residue using a damp cloth.
A word of advice
You can prevent the bottom of your oven from being contaminated by dripping grease or liquids by lining the bottom with aluminium foil,
If you only need to remove a few stubborn stains, it is advisable to use a paste of baking soda and water, which should soak for half an hour. The dirt is absorbed into the paste and can then be removed very easily.
Maintaining an induction stove is not very time-consuming. However, if the glass-ceramic does become heavily soiled, it is advisable to buy a hob scraper. With the help of the scraper, you can remove encrusted dirt without damaging the hob.
Hob covers create a harmonious overall look in the kitchen. These are available in many different designs and can therefore be selected to match your kitchen fronts. Hob covers fulfil several functions at once:
- They are visually appealing
- They protect the hob from damage
- When the hob is not in use, they provide an additional storage and work surface
Frequently asked questions
Below are the most important questions and answers about induction stoves:
How do I find suitable cookware for my induction stove?
As more and more people decide to buy induction stoves, the range of induction-suitable cookware continues to grow. Pots and pans are marked accordingly with an induction coil. It is not always necessary to replace old cookware with new: as long as the base is magnetic, it can still be used without any problems.
However, it is important to ensure that the base is even. If it is not, there will be a gap between the pot and the hob. The magnetic field is therefore interrupted and the desired heat is not generated.
Can an induction stove have a negative effect on pacemakers?
People with pacemakers often fear that an induction stoves could have a negative effect on the function of their pacemaker. This concern is not entirely unfounded, because pacemakers are able to receive electromagnetic impulses from the induction stove. The pacemaker could therefore mistakenly assume that the impulses come from the heart. However, several things have to come together: for example, there is only a danger if the pot is not placed correctly on the cooking zone and the cook uses a metal cooking spoon. Nevertheless, people with pacemakers should always talk to their doctor before buying an induction stove. In addition, the manufacturer’s instructions for use should be followed. If the instructions for use do not contain any information about pacemakers, it is advisable to contact the manufacturer directly.
What is the difference between an induction hob and a ceramic stove?
Induction stoves also have a glass-ceramic hob. The difference between a classic glass-ceramic hob and an induction hob is in the way the heat is generated: under glass-ceramic hobs there are heating coils that first transmit the heat to the hob and then to the cookware. Induction hobs work on a completely different principle, because here it is not the plate that is heated, but only the pot or pan. The glass-ceramic plate is therefore literally skipped by the electromagnetic alternating fields and remains cold or at most absorbs some residual heat from the pot.
My induction stove is making noises when I cook. Is that normal?
In contrast to classic electric and gas stoves, induction stoves make noises when cooking. This is perfectly normal. The noise comes from the electromagnetic alternating field. Moreover, induction technology is complicated and very sensitive to heat. Pots and pans radiate some heat, which could affect the electronics. As a result, every induction stove has a fan that comes on automatically when the induction hob is started. The noise can increase over time. Mainly due to the inevitable wear of the fan’s bearings. However, the following applies: high-quality appliances are usually somewhat quieter in operation than models from the lower price segment. They also don’t wear out as quickly, so it is well worth spending a little more money on an induction stove.
Image 1: © Ralf Geithe / stock.adobe.com | Image 2: © zephyr_p / stock.adobe.com | Image 3: © Jennewein Photo / stock.adobe.com