Living ge cooktop for induction cooking

Published on July 25th, 2014 | by Guest Author

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How Energy Efficient is Induction Cooking?

ge cooktop for induction cooking

Induction cooking is the hottest new technology in the kitchen. With grand claims of offering the best of both worlds — the responsiveness and control of gas and the heating power of electricity — induction is poised to become the standard in cooking (once demand helps push that pesky thousand-dollar price tag down a bit).

Induction cooking generates a great deal of heat in a short time, but it can also heat incredibly slowly or at very low temperatures, so you can cook and boil faster, and also simmer with more precision (meaning less burnt Béarnaise). Electric ranges have notoriously slow temperature changes, whereas with induction, when you turn it off, the pan starts to cool instantly, as with gas.

From a sustainability standpoint however, do its claims to be the most energy efficient method of cooking hold up? Let’s take a look.

Speed

The primary advantage of induction cooking is speed. It works by transferring energy straight to the metal of the pan, rather than heating up an element and then transferring that heat to the pan. By essentially cutting out the middleman, induction ranges can boil two quarts of water in less than 5 minutes (and less, with the use of a power boost available on higher-end models). A gas stove will take just over 8 minutes to do the same and an electric ring just under 10 minutes. This saved time results in real energy savings over long-term use.

Efficiency

There are no Energy Star® certifications for ranges, but research by the U.S. Department of Energy indicates an induction cooker is 84% efficient at energy transfer, versus 74% for a smooth-top electric unit, giving it a heating performance comparable to a gas element. More significantly, induction is 90% efficient with its power use, using 2.8 kW to deliver 2.52 kW. This is a substantial improvement over electric coils, which use 2.0 kW to deliver 1.1 kW (a 55% efficiency), and over gas, which uses 3.5 kW to generate 1.75 kW (a 50% efficiency). (Source: http://www.bestinductioncooktopguide.com).

chocolate melting on induction cooktop

Solid chocolate sits on an induction element, illustrating how only the pan is heated and not the element itself, resulting in less wasted energy during the cooking process.

Less Waste

The lack of excess heat is one of induction cooking’s lesser-known eco-friendly attributes. Traditional gas and electric ranges heat up the air around the pan, losing up to half their heat to the surrounding environment. In warm climates or hot places, such as a restaurant kitchen, this means having to crank up the air conditioning when you’re cooking — not so with induction, where all the heat is transferred to the pot and very little ambient heat is generated.

Sustainable Smarts

Smart technology incorporated into many induction cookers also helps earn sustainability points. Some models feature sensors that detect if a pan is there or not, and if the pan is not put back in a set time frame, the element turns off. Higher-end models such as Samsung’s NE595N0 have a “Boil Alert,” which detects vibration from hot liquids and automatically reduces heat to a preset level, preventing boil-over accidents and wasted energy. The same sensors can also detect the boiling points of liquids such as soups, oils, and milk — and beep to alert the chef.

Durability

Induction cooktops are made of an eco-friendly glass ceramic material. A poor heat conductor, the cooktop ensures only a little heat is lost through the bottom of the pot and leaves the cooking surface cool to the touch. You can actually place your hand on the cooking area after lifting up the hot pot. This means no dried, burnt food or melted pots with the potential to destroy the range’s surface. The downside, however, is that glass-ceramic is more prone to scratching and breaking, leaving its long-term durability in question.

cheese on an induction cooktop

Burnt-on food destroying your smooth cooktop is not an issue with the fine-focused heat of induction cooking.

Conclusion: How Sustainable is Induction Cooking?

From a sustainability standpoint, induction ranges stand up well in comparison to gas, especially when you take into account the lack of wasted heat. However, induction cooktops can only be used with certain cookware that must be made of a ferromagnetic metal such as cast iron or stainless steel, meaning people often have to purchase new pots and pans. It also require the chef to change his or her cooking habits — no more setting a pan of oil to heat up while chopping the onions, as the oil will be hot in seconds, or picking up the pan to flip the food around, which may damage the surface or shut the element off. This learning curve may reduce efficiency, at least initially. Ultimately however, induction cooking is a promising technology for those seeking sustainability in the kitchen, and is clearly a better choice over standard electric or the expense and carbon footprint of installing a gas line.

Jennifer Tuohy writes about home appliances, including kitchen ranges, for Home Depot. Jennifer provides tips to homeowners on the energy efficiency of new technologies, including induction ranges. A selection of induction ranges available at Home Depot, including styles discussed by Jennifer, can be found on the company’s website.


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  • We just got an induction stove in our new place. Love it. But you do have to think differently about how you use the stove and how you plan your preparations.

  • R Neff

    The “Less Waste” section is the important part of this. Whenever you have the A/C on it’s INSANE to use gas or electric indoors compared with induction. We use Duxtop portables indoors and out depending on the weather.

    Under “Durability” don’t try the “hand on the cook surface” test at home – it will definitely burn you since the glass is hot for a while (much less than electric) after cooking. As to scratching, etc., well it’s glass folks so unless you cook with a lot of diamonds on or hammer it when you mess up, it’s pretty much OK.

    • Nancy

      Your comment about the hand on the cook-top surface makes me wonder if the induction offered here in the US is different from the induction thats been in Europe for so long. I put my hand on the burner right after boiling water was removed from it. Was just warm, not at all hot. That was in Germany.

  • Nancy

    Its not new! Maybe to the U.S. where we are about 20 years behind the rest of the civilized world. My family in Germany have had it for at least 20 years.

    • Anthony

      Nancy, I think you may be happier in Germany. Tough loss for us ugly Americans.

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  • Ian Murphy

    Some ones numbers are off. Not sure whether to take your word. Or the word of the US DE.

  • Nice article. I have also written an article for improving energy efficiency while cooking. Just take a look, it will be surely helpful for you – vswitchusave.co.uk/blog/easy-guide-improve-energy-efficiency-cooking

  • Shorty20122012 .

    The article says that only stainless steel and iron cookware can be used on induction stoves, but what other kind of cookware exists that wouldn’t work?

    Also, what about carbon steel pans and woks? Would those work?

  • Rodger Kram

    worst case for induction cooking = burn coal to make electricity (X% efficiency), x transmission line losses (X% efficiency) x induction cooking efficiency.
    not very efficient when you multiply 0.7 x 0.7 x 0.8

    vs. with a gas stove, the “waste heat” heats my house (no A/C here) so my propane boiler burns less gas, no transmission losses and no fancy technology to break and need repairs/replacement. i think gas is more eco-friendly at least here in a cold, mountain climate where i have house heating on from Nov 1 til May 15 and cool summers. plus, when the electricity goes out, i can still cook.

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