A magnetic induction stove: It's a cooktop that cooks twice as fast - but won't burn the kids' fingers
Magnetic induction may just be the best technology to hit the kitchen since the microwave oven. In the past few years this style of cooktop, which turns magnetic energy into heat, has proved itself a worthy competitor to the traditional choices - gas and electric.
And while induction has only recently joined the list of options, some experts already predict it will soon become an essential value-adding addition for kitchen remodels.
After all, it's faster, safer and more efficient than anything before, says Francisco Migoya, an assistant professor at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. He cooks with it; maybe you should too.
An induction cooktop looks a lot like an electric smooth top, but what goes on beneath the surface is very different. Instead of an electric element, an induction stove is centered around a powerful magnetic copper coil, which creates a high-frequency electromagnetic field when electricity is turned on.
Put a pot made of a magnetic material - like iron or steel - onto that field and the energy gets transferred to it in the form of heat. Nothing else gets hot, only the pot, and you can adjust the field and the heat with the knob, just as with your old stove.
Where it came from
Even the greatest technologies take a while to catch on - though induction has probably taken longer than most. The science behind it was actually discovered back in 1831 by physicist Michael Faraday. It would be more than a century, however, before companies started using induction for anything other than industrial applications. (The same technology is used in generators and transformers.)
By the 1970s, manufacturers in Europe and Asia finally began experimenting with cooking uses, and the technology took off quickly on those continents. But American firms weren't as successful at marketing what was then an almost prohibitively expensive product. By 2000 all the induction stoves of that generation had been pulled off the U.S. market
In the past two years, induction manufacturers have returned full-press with a different approach. "They seem to realize that the way to present the product is to the upper-market segment, rather than to storm the walls of the slide-in 30-inch ranges," says Walker.
This time, induction is here to stay.
What's so hot about it
Induction offers several advantages over gas and electric:
It's faster and more precise. Because the unit heats up instantaneously and uses more of the energy, you can boil a quart of water on an induction cooktop in just over two minutes.
It's safer. Since the heat goes straight into the pot without escaping to the cooking surface, you can touch the element even when it's on, a nice safeguard for those with small children at home
It's easier to clean. A common frustration with electric smooth tops is that bits of food become stubborn blemishes once they cook on. Because the induction unit stays cool, drips wipe right up.
What's not so hot
You need certain pots and pans. Only cookware that's ferrous - a fancy word for magnetic - conducts the energy. That means iron, steel and some types of stainless steel (a high nickel content will render it nonmagnetic);
The best test: If a magnet sticks to your pan, it's good. But if you're a ceramic cookware buff or you're wedded to your clear Pyrex saucepan, induction cooking is not for you.
How to shop
Think you're ready to be converted? First step, visit the website, or write the email or call to us to ask what you want to know more details.
Then determine what you'll want. The first choice is built-in or freestanding. If you already have a separate cooktop, you may be able to easily replace it with a built-in model; standard sizes for induction.
Next, as with any stove installation, you must figure out what kind of wattage your wiring can support. (Though induction is more efficient, it uses the same energy input as a normal stove to achieve higher cooking power output.)
Finally, if you want to embrace the new technology but aren't ready to buy in all the way, consider a hybrid model - a cooktop that offers a combination of radiant electric elements and induction elements. Just contact us to enjoy your good ideas.