Induction vs Electric Cooktop: The Showdown

If you’re considering upgrading your existing kitchen stove, you might find yourself grappling with the tough decision between a classic electric cooktop or a more modern induction model.

Here in Australian household kitchens, electric cooktops have been wildly popular for many years. They boast a range of benefits that have made cooking significantly easier for budding Masterchefs young and old. However, the induction cooktop stove has taken kitchen cooking to the next level.

So, when it comes to cooktop installation, which of these kitchen appliances is ideal for your needs? To make the most informed choice possible, let’s take a look at how electric cooktops and their induction-based counterparts work, as well as the strengths and drawbacks of each.

How Do Electric Cooktops Work?

Chances are, you’ve almost certainly used one at least once while you’ve been able to cook. But do you know how electric cooktops actually work? Let’s find out!

As its name suggests, an electric cooktop features coiled metal heating elements located underneath the cooktop surface that get heated by electricity. That heat energy then transfers to the cookware (i.e. pots, pans, etc) sitting on top of the cooking surface, which in turn cooks the food.

With a simple turn of a dial or press of a button, you can effectively regulate the heat levels for each cooking zone on your electric cooktop. They are typically very user-friendly, which is no doubt why they’ve been so popular.

How Does an Induction Cooktop Work?

If you’re not quite as familiar with the induction cooktop as you are with electric or even gas burners, you’ve come to the right place!

Typically made of ceramic or glass, an induction cooktop utilises electromagnetic fields to provide heat directly to the cookware you’re using. Once you place compatible pots and pans on any of the cooking zones, the electromagnetic field triggers a current in the cookware. This current produces the necessary heat to cook your food. Unlike electric cooktops, which predominantly use a dial to control the temperature of the burner, an induction cooktop typically uses touch controls to help you set the temperature with precision.

Now that we know how each type of cooktop generates heat and cooks your food, let’s further compare the major benefits and drawbacks of both the electric cooktop and its induction equivalent.

Electric Cooktop Pros

Electric cooktops are relatively affordable – compared to induction models, the electric cooktop is by far the more affordable option at the point of purchase. For many households, particularly those who might be on a budget, it can be a relatively cost-effective option.

They’re easy to install – given that an electric cooktop doesn’t need much – if anything – in the way of special electrical wiring or major kitchen modifications, it can actually be relatively simple for a licensed electrician to install. Electric cooktops typically do not require significant kitchen renovations or upgrades for installation.

Greater range of compatible cookware – if you have an electric cooktop, you’ll likely already have an assortment of cookware in your house that is compatible and that you can use safely. Electric cooktops are suitable for any pots and pans in your cupboard made from the likes of stainless steel, cast iron, aluminium and even glass. And even if you do need to buy new kitchenware, you’ll have a vast range of high quality options on the market to choose from!

An electric cooktop gives you the feeling of familiarity – for people more accustomed to cooking on a gas stove, they will likely enjoy a more familiar cooking experience cooking on an electric stovetop. Both share the same feature of using control knobs/dials or buttons as a means of controlling the temperature of each of the cooking zones, making the entire process easier and far more comfortable.

Electric cooktops are easy to clean – thanks to their smooth and flat surfaces, free of any grates or burner elements, cleaning electric cooktops is easy! All you need is a damp cloth or sponge to wipe away any spills – just ensure that you’ve turned the cooktop off first though!

They’re highly reliable and durable too – above all, an electric cooktop is generally well-regarded for being reliable and durable. With its corrosion resistant solid hotplate, they’re typically built to endure frequent use without showing significant scratches or major signs of wear and tear. In addition to this, electric cooktops generally need little maintenance, which means they’re a highly favoured option for busy households.

To summarise, electric cooktops are:

  • Affordable to purchase
  • Easy to install
  • Compatible with an assortment of cookware
  • Easy to clean
  • Known for their durability and reliability

They are also able to offer the familiar cooking experience.

Electric Cooktop Cons

Of course, what might be right for one household isn’t always suitable for another, so here are some potential electric cooktop drawbacks that may be worth your consideration.

Heat response can be slower – compared to induction or gas cooktops, an electric cooktop will often take longer to heat up and cool down. This can potentially mean cooking times will be longer. It can also result in less precision with controlling the temperature. So, for those who do need greater temperature accuracy, going electric might not be the best choice for you.

Distribution of heat can be uneven – an electric cooktop can occasionally distribute the heat unevenly, resulting in hot and cold patches on each of the heating zones. This can then lead to the cooking being uneven, meaning some areas of your food become overcooked while others are undercooked.

They’re often not as energy efficient – compared to induction cooktops and even gas cooktops, electric stoves are not always as energy efficient. This is largely because of the slower heat response and the need for more energy to keep the burner operating at the required cooking temperature. Over time, this can lead to larger energy bills.

Possible safety concerns – due to electric cooktops taking a while to cool down after being turned off, they do have the potential to become a burn risk. Particularly for children and just others in the house who might not be aware that it was only recently used. Unlike an induction cooktop, electric models don’t have quite the same level of safety features.

In short, the key disadvantages of electric cooktops are that they:

  • Can be slow to heat up and cool down any cooking zones you’ve used
  • Can be uneven with heating distribution when cooking
  • Are not as energy efficient as other alternatives
  • Pose potential safety concerns

All points well worth considering.

Induction Cooktop Pros

We’ve looked at some of the pros and cons of the electric stovetop. Now we’ll weigh up the same for the new(er) kid on the block, the induction cooktop.

An induction cooktop is highly energy efficient – if energy efficiency is of significant importance to you when it comes to your cooking appliances, then it’s hard to look past the induction cooktop. Given that it heats only the cookware and not the air surrounding it, an induction cooktop gets the job done faster than gas or electric. This means they require less energy, making them more efficient and more cost-effective to run.

Greater precision with temperature control – compared to electric and gas cooktops, both of which use control knobs or buttons for setting the temperature, induction cooktops use touch controls instead. This gives the user the ability to set the heat levels for each burner with greater accuracy and precision. For people who really get into delicate cooking techniques, this can be a big win.

Quick heat-up times – as we mentioned earlier, one of the biggest drawbacks of an electric cooktop is how slow it can be to reach your desired cooking temperature. However, with an induction cooktop, that’s not a problem. They’re renowned for their fast heat-up times as they heat the cookware directly. How much faster are they? Consumer website Choice suggests you could save up to one third of your heating time. And as any kitchen whiz knows, every minute counts when you’re cooking!

They’re safe to use – the induction cooktop typically comes with a raft of safety features that make them a preferred option for many households. In addition to the lack of open flame that you’d get with a gas cooktop, or the slow cooling times of the electric cooktop, induction models also come with overheating protection and automatic shut-off when you remove the cookware from the surface. For families with young children, or elderly people living in the house, this can be particularly beneficial.

They’re easy to clean – much like the electric cooktop, the smooth, flat surface of an induction stove means that they’re very easy to clean.

Stylish, contemporary design – given that it’s among the newest types of kitchen stove, it comes as no surprise that the induction cooktop offers not just optimal performance but sleek and stylish design as well. They come available in a broad range of sizes and contemporary styles, ensuring you’ll find one that perfectly suits your kitchen space.

To reiterate, induction stovetops:

  • Offer high energy efficiency
  • Offer superior temperature control precision
  • Heat up and cool down quickly
  • Are safe to use
  • Are easy to clean

They also come in a variety of stylish, contemporary designs to suit just about any kitchen.

Disadvantages of Induction Cooktops

And just as we did with the electric cooktop, we’ll explore the possible drawbacks of the induction cooktop as well.

Induction cooktops can be expensive to purchase – compared to gas and electric stoves, an induction cooktop can be on the pricey side at the time of purchase. Though their greater energy efficiency may mean you eventually pay less with your energy bills, be prepared to initially pay more to actually buy the cooktop in the first place.

They require a very specific type of cookware – are your kitchen cupboards filled with various pots and pans that you’ve collected over the years? Be prepared to possibly throw them out or donate them to family or friends. Due to the unique nature of induction cooking technology, in that it uses electromagnetic fields to heat up the cookware, it needs to be compatible or it will not work. If you have cookware that is made of magnetic materials like cast iron or stainless steel, they should work. However, if your pots and pans are not magnetic, you’ll have some kitchenware shopping to do.

Induction cooktops require electricity – though an induction cooktop doesn’t use electricity to heat your cookware, it still needs electricity just to function. This means that you will not be able to cook on the stove if you have a loss of power at home.

They can produce noise – some induction cooktop models have a tendency to generate a persistent humming noise while you’re using it. For some people, this might become a significant nuisance.

You may need to have it specially installed – if you’re upgrading from a gas or electric cooktop to an induction model, it may require special installation. A professional electrician might note the need to install special wiring or ventilation. This can add to installation costs.

To run through the possible drawbacks again, induction cooktops:

  • Are expensive to purchase
  • Work with only specific types of kitchenware
  • Will not work if you lose power to your home
  • Can produce a humming noise that may be a nuisance to some
  • May need specialist installation

So … Which is the Best Cooktop?

So, now that we’ve covered these points of consideration in mind, which is the ideal option to choose?

Well in the end, that’s up to you.

It comes down to a bunch of factors. You’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of each and consider things like your budget, your preferred cooking style, and even the design and layout of your kitchen. You’ll need to determine whether the potential drawbacks outweigh the benefits, or whether they’re not the deal breakers that they could be for others. Ultimately, you’ll come to the right decision based on your personal preferences and needs in the kitchen. Happy cooking!

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.

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