The 10 Best Induction Cooktops
10. Tramontina 8-Piece
9. GE Profile 36-Inch
8. Cuisinart Double
7. GE Profile 30-Inch
6. Electrolux 36-Inch
5. K&H Double 3102Hx
4. NutriChef Portable
3. Bosch 500
2. Kenyon B41601 Caribbean
1. Fagor IFA80 30-Inch
Brief History Of Induction Cooktops
Though the majority of people have only recognized the term induction cooking within the last ten years, give or take, this technology comparatively dates back to 1907, when the first patent for an induction cooking device was issued.
In 1933, Frigidaire talked about induction cooking at the "Century of Progress" World's Fair, and just 20 years later in the 1950s, they went on to put their creation to demonstration. To illustrate the safety and convenience of induction cooking, they showed how they could boil a pot of water with a piece of newspaper between the pot of the induction burner, without igniting the newspaper.
Despite this impressive presentation, induction cooking did not popularize immediately. In 1970, the Research and Development division of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation developed an induction cooktop named the Cool Top Induction Range, and put it on display in Houston at the National Association of Home Builders.
The Cool Top only had one heating element, but it was enough to demonstrate the concept to home builders and consumers. They decided to make production units in an attempt to develop a market for induction cooktops and the second model in the series, which was intended for commercial sale, was named the Cool Top 2. These had four 1,600 watt elements integrated into a single burner and included a set of very high quality quadra-ply cookware, but also came with a hefty price tag of $1,500. The run was short lived as production was halted in 1975 when the Westinghouse Consumer Products Division was sold to White Consolidated Industries Inc.
In the mid 1980s, Sears manufactured an induction cooktop with four burners. Unfortunately these models had limited power and were extremely noisy, resulting in poor sales. In the following years, manufacturers in Europe, Asia, and America continued to improve the technology in the hopes of making better induction cooktops. NASA even worked on developing the technology for use in the space program.
Induction cooktops never quite caught on with American consumers and faded quickly from the marketplace, but a few companies like Luxine and Cooktek continued to work on developing commercial units. During this time in Europe and Asia, induction cooktops carved out a firm place in the consumer market. Breakthroughs in the year 2000 by European manufacturers, working closely with DuPoint, improved the technology enough that it began to catch on in the American marketplace as well.
How Induction Cooktops Work
Induction cooktops work by utilizing magnetic induction, as opposed to standard cooktops which use thermal conduction from a heat source. A copper coil is placed under the cooking surface and when an alternating current is passed through it, a powerful oscillating magnetic field is created. This produces a magnetic flux, which in turn magnetizes the cooking vessel. A large eddy of currents swirls around the pot or pan and, due to the properties of resistance, causes it to heat up. Because this process is taking place within the cooking vessel, it becomes the heat source and is the only item which produces any heat.
This is unlike a traditional range, where the heat source, either fire or a red hot coil, heats up the pot and everything else around it. Controlling the power of the magnetic field by increasing or decreasing the alternating current, allows one to precisely control the temperature of the cooking vessel.
In almost every induction cooktop model, the pot or pan must be made from or contain a large quantity of ferromagnetic metal. It is possible to use aluminum, copper, and glass cookware on an induction cooktop if a ferromagnetic disk is placed underneath it. This plate functions in a similar manner to a traditional hot plate.
Once the cooking vessel or ferromagnetic disk is removed from the induction cooktop, the heat generation stops instantly. If no compatible cooking vessel is placed on top of the induction range, it will remain cold even if turned up to the highest setting.
Benefits Of Induction Cooking
Induction cooktops offer a number of benefits over traditional ranges. First and foremost, they are considerably safer. There are no open flames or red hot burners, making it easier for users to avoid burns. This can also be a boon to any household with small children as there is no chance of them burning themselves by placing their hand on hot burner. There will also be less heat radiated out into the atmosphere surrounding the pot, making it easier to work with your food without accidentally burning your wrists from excess heat coming off of the burner.
Since there is less heat radiating out into the atmosphere, induction cooktops are also more efficient. They require less energy to heat the cooking vessel than electric stoves and won't make your kitchen as hot as gas burners.
The induction method of cooking heats up pots and pans faster than traditional stoves. Less time will be spent waiting for a cooking vessel to heat up, allowing one to start cooking quicker and spend less time in the kitchen. Experiments have shown that induction cooking also transfers heat to food quicker and can make water boil faster than traditional methods. It also allows for more precise temperature control. Whether one needs the pan to be hotter or colder, it can be accomplished quicker with an induction range.