Induction Cooktop Vs An Electric Cooktop Vs Gas?

CRYSTAL H.  |   |   Updated
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What’s good about an induction cooktop vs the traditional types? If you’re in the market for a new or replacement cooktop, you might be wondering whether or not to get an induction cooktop. Here I compare induction with electric and gas stove tops for factors including safety, energy savings, and cleaning.

setting heat level on induction cooktop
Induction cooktop controls

Induction cooking has a number of advantages, as given in my article covering the pros and cons of induction cooking. But here’s what sets it apart from traditional stovetops…

How induction differs from electric and gas

The advantages of owning an induction cooktop vs electric (or gas) include safety and energy savings. Unlike standard electric cooktops (or gas), induction cookers heat only the cooking pans and the area that contacts the pan, the surrounding surface remains cool (safety).

Controls and settings of induction cooktop

The controls and settings between conventional electric, gas, and induction cooktops differ. Compared to most standard stovetops, induction cookers can have temperature settings numbering to double digits. This means finer adjustment of the heating, especially compared to gas cooktops.

Type of cookware to use with induction

You need special cookware for induction cooktops. I give examples in my article on ceramic induction cookware. While you can use this special cookware on electric and gas cooktops as well, the thing is…except for cast iron cookware, everyday pots and pans won’t work. Iron is magnetic, hence pots and pans with iron, including enameled cast iron should work on an induction cooktop.

Energy efficiency of induction cooking

Induction heating uses less energy to cook than traditional stovetops. Induction is more efficient in transferring heat for cooking, according to EnergyStar–compare 85% efficiency in heat transfer for induction cooker with about 32% for gas and 75-80% for traditional electric stoves.

Induction cooktop efficiency vs electric: 85% for induction vs 75-80% for electric. Induction uses electricity, but with induction, heating of the pan is internal and confined. A traditional cooktop uses heat that radiates off the hot plate to heat the exterior surfaces and air and thus some of the heat transfer is wasted.

Induction cooktop efficiency vs gas: 85% for inducton vs ~32% for gas. Though cooking with gas heats the pot faster than the standard electric stoves, the open flames of a gas burner generally result in the heating of surfaces beyond that of the cook pot. This heat transfer is energy wasted as it is consumed without contributing to the goal of cooking.

Safety in using an induction stove top

In my article on using an induction cooktop I mention how induction cooktops are considered safe because the cooktop remains cool to touch and only work when an induction ready cookware is placed on it. Whereas the other cooktops are capable of causing burns if they are inadvertently turned on when no pot or pan is on the surface. 

Also, only the area in contact with the pans gets hot.

The reduced area and timing of hear lowers the risk of prying little fingers getting burned. A gas or electric range (radiant heat) will remain hot enough to cause burns for a considerable time after it is turned off.

Cleaning an induction cooktop

Induction glass or ceramic tops are easy to clean and keep clean, especially compared to gas cooktops and the older electric types. A clean cooktop helps in caring for your cookware, keeping the base grime free and the cooktop performing its best, while minimising the likelihood of scratches to the surface.

keeping induction cooktop clean, helps care for the best ceramic pan for induction
Keeping an induction cooktop clean helps care for the cookware for induction

Induction vs radiant cooktop

A gas or electric range is a radiant cooktop and will remain hot enough to cause burns for a considerable time after it is turned off. An induction cooktop uses an electromagnetic coil to create a magnetic field and generate heat when an induction ready pot or pan is place on it.

induction vs electric cooktop, radiant coil on an electric stovetop
Electric glass cooktops have glowing coils. image: © Milkovasa

It’s hard to miss a gas range burner when it is active, but since the cooking surface doesn’t get glowing hot, it’s hard to know it is still hot when the cooking is through. An electrical range and has glowing coils and warning lights to let people know there is a hot surface.

Induction cooktops also have warning lights, but you probably wonder why it does, if the surface isn’t supposed to get hot. It’s to warn of residual heat transference–which I wrote about elsewhere.

How do induction and electric cooktops differ?

The main difference between induction and electric cooktops is in how each generates heat for cooking. An induction cooktop relies on a magnetic field for heat generation whereas electric cooktops (and gas types) rely on radiant heat.

Final thoughts

If you’re wanting a compact induction cooker, check out my guide to choosing a portable induction cooktop, where you’ll also find more info on this type of cooking system. These can differ in that they have both power settings and temperature settings that offer separate functions.

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