Initial Impressions From An Induction Newbie

Like many California homes, my house has a gas stove 🙁 … one that I have been reluctant to use ever since I measured its emissions (see Gas Stoves and Air Quality video

Getting tired of microwave meals, I finally bit the bullet. Plus, the burgeoning popularity of induction cooking has spurred competition and prices have really come down. With a bit of searching, the cooktop/wok combo in the photos below cost under $65 including CA tax. That’s well worth it to be free of the CO, CO2, NOx, PM2.5, HCHO, TVCO and excess heat from old-fashioned stoves.

Being a self-confessed geek, my first use was not to cook but to compare induction vs. gas. I timed how long it took to boil one cup of water using the same wok:

The results:

Induction: 75 sec <– over 60% faster

Gas: 121 sec

It’s common belief that gas is quicker but that was not the case here. A permanently-installed 240V induction cooktop will be even faster.

During this test my cooktop used 1.66KW so if you’re curious, boiling one cup used 0.035 KWH. Even at SDG&E’s generous rates, that cost about $0.01 in electricity.

If you’re really nerdy: to heat 250 ml of water from 20°C to 100°C takes 20000 calories or 83680 Joules. The induction cooktop used 0.035 KWH which is 126000 Joules. That means that for heating water, the cooktop was 66% efficient which is very impressive.

I can’t compare the efficiency of the gas stove because I don’t know how many therms it used. However, most of the heat from the gas flame doesn’t go to the pot but escapes to the surrounding air (that’s why professional kitchens are so hot).

Nerd stuff done, it was time to try cooking. Even if it’s just frying an egg, it still counts:

My induction cooktop has temperature controls (most of them do). I guessed at 350°F, which seemed to work well for stir-frying.

But even if it wasn’t, it’s really easy to press the +/- keys to turn it up or down. The response is almost instant: faster than turning a gas stove up or down because induction sidesteps the heat transfer from the flame to the pot. Plus, the induction controls are much more precise than the uncalibrated knob on the gas stove (it has two dial indicators: “Off” and “Hi”).

I sat on the fence for quite a while about getting an induction cooktop but now I wonder why I waited so long. If you’re still thinking about it, your wait should be over: just do it!