Induction cooktops – now we’re cooking!

Issue 30 Words: Sophie :iu

Going off gas can make both environmental and economic sense, as the ATA’s newly released report has found. The organisation’s Sophie Liu, who has recently made her own happy induction cooktop purchase, considers what this means in the kitchen.

If your household has already switched space heating and water heating from gas to efficient electric, adding all-electric cooking to your home could help you save further on bills and greenhouse gases. And, if you offset your emissions, buy 100 per cent accredited GreenPower, or install solar PV, you could reduce your emissions to zero.

The popularity of induction technology is on the rise, with celebrity chefs and reality TV cooking shows spruiking the flat shiny surfaces to prime time audiences. But, aside from the hip pocket and environmental impact, are induction cooktops a good product choice?

There has traditionally been a preference for gas hobs over conventional electric cooktops, particularly among the more culinary-minded. And it’s easy to see why: traditional electric stovetops are slow to respond and offer none of the subtlety needed for a risotto. That is, until induction technology, which can offer a wider range of settings, dramatically improved energy efficiency and halved cooking time when compared to conventional electric varieties.

What to look for when selecting an induction cooktop

While there is currently no energy rating system for cooktops, there are many energy efficiency features available that should be considered. Some models claim efficiency by using residual heat, but check with manufacturers, as this kind of functionality may rely more on the cook than an actual setting on the cooktop. How you cook and use your kitchen appliances impacts on your energy use – see ‘It’s heating up – Energy efficient cooking’, in ReNew 130 for more on saving energy while cooking.

  • Size – how many cooking zones do you need? Size appropriately to your cooking habits and compare the size of your cookware to the cooking zones’ shapes and areas
  • Electrical load – this may be quite high depending on the cooktop’s number and size of cooking zones (eg a 7kW four-zone cooktop will need a 30 amp connection, and larger cooktops may need up to 42 amp connection)
  • Standby power – check the rating, but remember you can turn it off at the wall if you have an isolation switch installed
  • Easy-to-use controls – does it have a separate control for each zone? If not, is it easy to switch between each zone? Touch button versus more responsive touch and slide?
  • ‘Stop & Go’ features – allow a pause when the cook is interrupted, resuming at the same power level
  • Safety features – such as child lock and auto-shutdown if a pan boils over or overheats
  • ‘Bridge’ function – to link two separate zones to allow large pans or griddles to be heated, and controlled together as one zone
  • Bevelled glass edge versus metal trim – bevelled is easier to clean but more vulnerable to damage if a pot is dropped on a corner or slid into an edge without the trim
  • Timers – improve cooking control and energy efficiency, and reduce risk of overcooking!
  • Residual heat – some models have the smarts to indicate different levels of residual heat that can be utilised after the zone is switched off.

Read the full article in Sanctuary 30 for the advantages and disadvantages of induction cooktops and an overview of the products available.


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Cover of Issue 30
You can read more about Induction cooktops – now we’re cooking! in Issue 30 of Sanctuary magazine.

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