An Induction cooktop is considered the most energy efficient cooking technology available and can be used to prepare any type of food.
Induction cooking is the only cooking method that relies on certain types of pots and pans as part of the cooking system, it is important to choose the right cookware. The bottom of the pans must have iron content. The best way to determine if a pan will work is with a magnet. If the magnet sticks to the bottom, it will work with an induction cooktop.
An induction coil or ‘element’ is basically a powerful, high frequency electromagnet. When switched on, it creates a magnetic field spreading over a few centimetres. Place anything made of magnetic material (such as a cast iron pan) inside this field and it will heat up. That’s because the field induces (or transfers) energy to the metal and the energy turns into heat.
This means the heat is created INSIDE the pan, as opposed to under it (as with gas or standard hobs), which is why the system is so efficient. Nothing outside the pan is affected by the induction electromagnetic field. And as soon as the pan is removed from the hob, or if the element is switched off, heat generation (and energy consumption) stops.
An induction cooker is faster and more energy-efficient than a traditional electric cooking surface. It allows instant control of cooking energy similar to gas burners. Other cooking methods use flames or red-hot heating elements; induction heating only heats the pot. The induction effect does not heat the air around the vessel, resulting in further energy efficiencies. Cooling air is blown through the electronics but emerges only a little warmer than ambient temperature.
Because it is so fast there’s no need to preheat or have the ‘burner’ switched on – it delivers instant heat. And even if you DO leave the element switched on, if there’s no pan on the hob then it will only consume approximately .38 watts of power per hour – virtually nothing. Because induction only heats the pan, there’s less waste heat released, which means the kitchen is cooler and the ventilation won’t need to work so hard.
Professionals and amateurs alike will tell you the best thing about induction cooktops is that you can adjust the cooking heat instantly and with great precision. Before induction, good cooks overwhelmingly preferred gas to all other forms of electric cooking for one reason: when you adjust the heat, the energy flow adjusts instantly.
With induction cooking the heat level adjustment is virtually instantaneous and more precise than with gas. Induction elements can be adjusted to increments as fine as the manufacturer cares to supply, even to incredibly low levels for gentle simmering – something most gas cookers can’t manage.
Induction cooktop basics
Induction cooking has been with us a long time – the ‘miracle of cool heating’ was put on display at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 – but use of the technology has only grown modestly over the years. Until now.
So what’s changed? Firstly, a whole new generation of induction cooking equipment has been launched in recent years. At the same time, costs to produce the technology have dropped. Thirdly, and critically, energy costs have rocketed, making induction cooking an even more attractive proposition.
In a nutshell, the equipment is better, it costs less to buy and it saves more on running costs. So it’s no surprise that induction cooking is rapidly gaining in popularity.
Electromagnetic energy is around us every day in the form of AM and FM radio, cell phones, wireless laptops, microwave ovens, infrared, and visible light.
The second part of induction cooking is the pan. The coil below the ceramic surface does not heat and will not glow red because the electromagnetic energy passes through the cooktop into the pan.
This causes iron molecules to vibrate 20,000 – 50,000 times per second and the friction between those molecules creates heat. All of the heat is produced within the bottom of the pan.
The bottom of the pan must have some iron content. The easiest way to tell if a pan has an iron-based core is to place a magnet on the bottom of the pan; if the magnet sticks to the bottom, the pan will work on an induction cooktop. In most cases you wont need to buy seperate cookware specifically designed for induction cooking.
Even stainless steel pans (labelled 18/10, 18/8 and 18/0) will work. And, as long as its has a magnetic base, non-stick cockware can also easily be used on induction cooktops.
- Speed - It heats much quicker than electric or gas cooktops to boil water in next to no time
- Precise control - You can change temperature instantly and accurately to a fraction of a degree
- Energy efficiency - It uses significantly less power than a standard gas or electric hob
- Cost saving - It requires lower running costs than gas or electric hobs and wastes less energy
- Safety - It’s safer than a standard hob
- Hygiene - The flat surface is easy to wipe clean
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