The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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« Reusing Kitchen Cabinetry? | Main | Designing Green Kitchens 101 »

Induction Cooktops - Cooking Green

Continuing this green series, let's talk about induction cooktops! I went to a cooking demonstration today at the Bosch showroom in beautiful DUMBO in Brooklyn. The showroom is just under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and it's a stunning area.

The event was centered around induction cooking. I know something about induction cooking. I seriously considered it when I redesigned my kitchen in the mid 80s, yes, induction cooking was around at that time!  I couldn't get past the pots I had to use, that was my issue at the time, so I went with gas.

IMG_0753.jpgI wish I could remember the name of the company who made the induction cooktop (tiles) I almost went with. I can see it now. It was so sexy. They were so far ahead of their time, this manufacturer, there were these wonderful separate, square, induction tiles, I can see them now. And, if I remember correctly, I believe, somehow, they fit flush within the countertop for a very sleek look. Funny how these old memories are coming back.

Fast forward to today, a beautiful October day in 2007. Induction is SO here, so NOW. I'm glad I went to this event, because I didn't realize something very cool (or hot!) about induction cooktops. What I learned, is that induction heat is more powerful, which means it also heats hotter and faster than either gas or electric. Besides all of the other positive properties, this feature really makes me pay attention!

To review, here are the good properties of induction cooktops:

  • instant heat adjustment (just like gas)
  • 50% more efficient than gas or electric (heat only reacts with the cooking vessel)
  • the cooktop is safe to touch when the cooking vessel is removed-paper or other items will not burn
  • no gas fuel risks, i.e. leaks
  • anyone can install it, unlike gas, unavailable in some areas
  • clean cooking method
  • no noise
  • spills do not burn on the cooktop - it's easy cleaning

Downsides? It's pricey! Another, could be electricity failures. I don't see any other compelling negative issues.

Bosch has a few cool features such as auto pot detection. The cooktop recognizes the size of the pot. The cooktops also have a power boost function, helpful to get those pots of water boiling quickly.

I also would like to mention the brand new GE induction cooktop, in 30 and 36" sizes. GE says, a 3700-watt element offers the most powerful induction element in the industry and provides heat across 19 different cooking settings.

It's time to take induction cooking seriously. I sure will be. The major cookware manufacturers have also brought out new cookware just for induction cooking. Finding great cookware is no longer an issue for induction cooking.


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Reader Comments (24)

There's also that portable induction cooker from Viking. If you live in an apartment or don't know if you'll like induction, you could buy it and try it for a few years. It's $550 so it is pricey.

October 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Yes, there are quite a few more, but about the Viking, that's a very clever idea they came up with. I think it could serve a very good purpose, just remembering that it will not have a vent available for it. Otherwise, portability is a good thing in a pinch. Adds a whole other cooking station wherever you want.

October 17, 2007 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Induction is the most efficient way of cooking when you just look at the amount of energy you put into the cooker and its output (ie how fast the water boils).

But when you take the efficiency of generating and transporting electricity in account then cooking on natural gas is about 15% more efficient (source: Dutch consumer magazine). Maybe the situation in the USA is different though. Here in the Netherlands most homes are connected to the national gas grid (no need for propane cylinders near your home).

Anyway, induction cooktops rock (I own one), except for stir frying with a wok. I'd recommend a cooktop with builtin timers that will switch off the heat when done, very convenient! Induction cooktops have very little residual heat so the food will not continue to cook (or burn!) after the power was cut.

October 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Very interesting, Peter, thanks very much for your contribution. There are always other levels of detail to look at, and I appreciate you bringing it to forefront. I'm going to keep my eyes open on this.

October 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I like that Viking Portable Induction Cook top. If you have an outdoor patio and barbque set up, how great is this to take outside for an additional burner for sauces or whatever to complement the b-b-q. Don't forget to put away when done.
Susan, what did the Bosch people say about the cookware. What can't you use on an induction cooktop? I fear placing a heavy Le Crueset frying pan on it for fear of dropping it and cracking my cook top!
Also, how do they ware over time? I visited a client's kitchen and noticed her glass cook top surface was discolored and ...kind of crusty looking, maybe burn marks. I wanted to ask her what happened there but alas we were side tracked with other things!

October 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

De Dietrich will be coming out with a true zoneless induction hob soon, one that detects any pot irregardless of size placed on the glass surface.

I love the induction hob. Will definitely incorporate it in my next kitchen.

October 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterblackcadillac73

Laurie, the chef mentioned a particular brand of cookware. I recorded the event, so I have to go back and listen to what he said. It may have been this one:


All Clad is also making cookware for induction. Le Cruset works too, as far as I'm aware.

Laurie, was the glass cooktop electric or induction? That could make a difference. But, then there is always the scratching problem too, you're right about "time" on glass cooktops. At the demonstration, the chef put a town underneath a frying pan, which could work well for iron cookware I suppose. Some of them are so powerful, I don't think the towel underneath would make a difference, just turn it up higher to compensate.

October 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

blackc, THAT sounds amazing. I have to see if they're in the U.S.

Yeah, I'll tell you, I'm thinking more and more of induction for my next cooktop too. I just have to feel comfortable with the "wearing" of it. I think that's an issue for many people.

October 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I could be very much in error, but reading quite a variety of consumer reports, induction cooktops have lots of "bugs", very pricey, break and cost an arm and a leg to get fixed. I really haven't read one decent independent review on any of them.....this from consumer reports and others....gas cooktops are still rated the best generally....but maybe things have changed in the last year or so....

March 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterreview hound

Well, I will shortly be a guinea pig. I think I'm going to get an induction cooktop very soon when I redo my kitchen. That will be one person's opinion...Thanks for your comment, it's good to hear other opinions. Basically, I'm an optimist, and have not heard issues of breaking.

March 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Love my Bosch induction cooktop!

June 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBoschMom

I need to replace my induction cooktop and came across this site while researching. I am replacing a Kenmore, which I have had for a little over a year and really love it. The only reason I am replacing it is that I pulled my huge cast iron skillet out of the cupboard and in the process of placing it on the cooktop it slipped out of my hand and nicked the edge of the glass cooktop (the surface is raised about 1/4" above my countertop.) The nick has now spread into a crack extending all the way across the cooktop. I may replace it with a new Kenmore model, as I had no other problems with it, but first I'm looking to see if there is a model available with a protective stainless frame around the outside edge.

I wanted to respond to "review hound" and say that cooking with induction is really, really wonderful. Cooking is my hobby and I love the way my induction cooktop responds to temperature adjustments. The heat transmits instantly so that cooking begins immediately. And if a pot begins to boil over there is no need to remove it from the element, as a simple touch on the controls brings the temperature down immediately. And because the only heat on the cooktop is that which is transmitted from the cooking utensil, any food spills are not a problem because they don't have a chance to cook on. I live in a woodland setting and do not have natural gas available, so it's electric or induction. I'll take induction over electric any day!

July 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRiverwoman

Regarding induction; will I still get the nice carmelization (browned bits) at the bottom of the pan? Since microwave ovens do not 'brown' food, I was curious if induction cooking had the same draw back. Thanks for your help!

August 2, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrun_annie

To run_annie: Yes you still get all the benefits of cooking with gas. The only difference is that only the pot is heated so when you lower the heating setting, the change in temperature is almost instantaneouos. In fact, if your not careful, it is much easier to burn something since the heating is so fast.I own an induction cooktop and love it.

August 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Induction cooktops are stylish and modern...cook tops heat up quickly, and stays cool to the touch making it ideal for any kitchen.

October 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterI Luv Cooktops!

Asian cooking relies on woks. (Asia is also booming and people are living western middle-class lifestyles.) Any way that these can be used for round-bottomed woks?


December 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTWu

TWu, yes and no.

Induction cooktops are basically ceramic glass tops with magnetic induction coils beneath it (instead of heating elements that turn red, as on standard electric smooth tops).

So for most flat induction cooktops, the answer is No, a round bottomed wok will not work/heat well.

However, there are specialized wok induction units that Diva and several other induction cooktop manufacturers make which are concave and do accept a round bottomed wok. They are expensive but do work.

However, there is an alternative cookware to try on a flat induction unit. Look at the Le Creuset "cast iron wok"--it has a flat bottom that rests on the induction cooktop (so it will heat well), but the cooking surface is rounded like a traditional wok. It is expensive but has a great design and cooks well ---if you preheat it before cooking.

The LeCreuset wok with its rounded cooking surface is probably better at recreating traditional wok cooking than the flat bottomed All Clad stainless steel wok.

Both LeCreuset cast iron wok and the All Clad stainless steel wok will work on the induction cooktop. Woks made of aluminum will NOT work/heatup on an induction cooktop. I don't think carbon steel will work on an induction cooktop, but check with others about this detail.

January 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpfd

Fissler is coming out with a wok that can be used on flat induction ranges. Check out www.fisslerusa.com. If it's not on there now, it will be soon.

January 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCharles

I've been using an induction cooktop - 36" Kitchenaid - for a over a year and I LOVE it! I always used gas previously for the infinite control available on temp - but it runs a far second to induction. While I had to buy new pots and pans (old ones for the "outside" BBQ kitchen and kids as they move out), it was not too bad. I started with a basic set of Kirkland SS from Costco and added other pieces as prices and money allowed. I'd never willingly go back to gas when I can use induction. I am cooking more, and enjoying it more also. The cleanup is a breeze, something I really appreciate. My gas cooktop looked like something the health board would close down with my boys and husband cooking, but not cleaning. Even they can't make a mess now. I highly recommend induction.

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSandi

does anyone have a kenmore slide in induction range...thinking of getting one but would like some feedback. thanks

March 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjenny

Before purchasing GE Profile 30in Induction cooktop I used for several months a single inexpensive induction burner Berghoff (http://reviews.overstock.com/9876/2013888/reviews.htm) An amazing versatile portable stove that can be used and stored away and also ideal for apartment living. It has multiple safety protection functions, built in safety sensor and auto power off while not in use or timed out. The best feature is auto power-off, that will switch the burner off after set time. You can go on with your things, do gardening, and not worry to burn pots while away. I wish all manufactures of cooking appliances should take a note and provide automatic switch off for at leas one burner on build-in cooktops. Couple of months now we use GE Profile Induction build in cooktop, I realty expected to have auto switch-off on this cooktop. Yes, it has a timer but this is not of much help if you walk out of kitchen and your pots will burn if you forget to watch. I am happy with GE Profile induction cooking but would be happier if it would have auto switch-off!!! I gave away all aluminum ware. The hardest part was to find pressure cooker that was magnetic, not all stainless steel pots are. I was walking around with a magnet for testing and finally I found it in a German delicatessen store, a pressure cooker made in France and specified for Induction cooking. Induction cooking is fantastic, however in Canada still far too expensive!!!

November 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermaria

Am happy to hear the reviews on induction! I'm purchasing a GE Profile for my kitchen remodel. Currently searching for a 30" wall mount range hood. I cook a lot so I want a good one but can't go over about $1,000. GE Profile has two in their line, that are OK looking but I wanted to see if you have any suggestions based on your travels and reviews. Thanks!

April 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

Very stylish...

August 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercatherine

I've used induction cooking for about 4 years when we purchased a DeDietrich 30" cooktop. As they weren't yet available in the US I purchased it from a British dealer and had it shipped. The warranty was not available by this method but I took the chance because it cost about 30% less than the better models available in the US at the time. I LOVE induction cooking! The responsiveness of the controls from hot to low cooking, the stability of the heat--when it is low heat, it stays low heat. When I have a spillover (even something very sticky like oatmeal) it justs wipes up with a cloth. I even wipe up my spills while in the middle of cooking--just lift the pan up, wipe the unit and surrounding spill area --since its not terribly hot there--and continue cooking.
End of the day cleaning is a breeze. Wipe with a sponge and spraying with an all purpose cleaning spray helps to remove any residual grease or soap residue and creates a pretty shine, taking only a minute or so. Several times a month I may use a good ceramic glass cleaner. My cooktop still looks brand new--no scratches, nicks, white circles where the pans sit, etc.
My unit has timers for each unit--set it for 20 minutes and in 20 minutes the unit turns off. Great for it I get caught up in another activity.
There is a child lock so that none of the units can be accidentally turned on.
If I leave something on the stove and forget about it and the pan begins to burn the unit is supposed to turn off automatically when the pan gets too hot--haven't tried this out. :)
Some of my original pans worked on the unit including a very old wok I received as a wedding gift 35+ years ago. I have had to purchase other induction-capable pans but I wanted new ones anyway. A full 10 piece set can be found for less than $150 (KithcenAid has one on AMazon). Of course cast iron works but be careful about scratching or dropping it onto the glass.
My unit is very shallow (about 2") and when we installed it we were able to add a 30" wide cutlery drawer immediately underneath the cooktop. How convenient is that! All my tools are right where I cook AND it freed up a lot of drawer space and I don't have to have a lazy susan holder on my counter.
I have stir fried with this unit very succesfully. Any stir frying I had done in the past on a regular electric cooktop was more like stir steaming. Now I have to make sure all the ingredients for my dish are ready to go when I start cooking. The pan stays hot enough for every part of the stir fry and I get wonderful carmelization when I do the meats.
I have melted chocolate meltys directly on the cooktop because the low temp is truly low. Took about 20 minutes for a cup or so of the meltys. I was able to continue the low heat while I dipped my candies and when I was through had about a 2 inch "coin" of chocoate remaining and the inside of the pan had no chocolate sticking to it. And I didn't have to deal with the steam from heating the chocolate in a double boiler set up.
I love to show my unit off. Friends are impressed but not enough to get one. I have also given my name and contact information to salespeople at the big box stores and appliance stores who sell but don't display these units so that I could demonstrate induction cooking to an interested buyer. Have never had a referral yet. Can't figure it out.
As far as cost, if you compare to the higher gas units like Wolf or Viking, I think the costs are comparable. They are certainly more expensive than lower end gas or electric cooktops.

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCec

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