Tell me what's so great about induction hobs/burners

I’m going to need to get my termonology right here, because I’m talking about cooker hobs, and get the feeling Americans call them something different (stovetops? Burners?) - you know, the thing you put your pots and pans on.

So, I grew up with electric/ceramic, then got turned on to gas, which was a revelation (so controllable, so HOT), and have stuck with it ever since.

I’ve just had a holiday in France, staying in two very nice, newly decorated villas/farmhouses, with spanking new kitchens.

They both had induction hobs/stovetops.

Well, aside from the fact it took me about an hour to work out how to switch off the child lock, I just generally found them a pain to use. Slow to heat up (one was much faster than the other, to be fair), turned themselves off when I didn’t ask them to, and what’s with those pans with detachable handles?

My German friend tells me it’s basically all anyone wants from a new kitchen, but I just don’t get it. Teach me the way!

I’ve never used one, but if you were having problems with being locked out of it and it was slow to heat, I’m guessing you weren’t using the right pans.

Here’s a Consumer Reports overview:

The money quote: “Home cooks have been warming to induction because it cooks faster and responds much faster when you dial back the temperature.”

I have no experience with them myself but I have a friend who likes spending lots of money on stuff. A while ago he bought a very expensive set of cookware. Then he bought a very expensive induction stove, only to find that the former was incompatible with the latter (induction stovetops require the cookware to be magnetic).

I’d be interested to see if anyone feels that induction really has strong advantages. The bit about responding faster when you dial back the temperature is a plus, but is also true for gas, the traditional chef’s choice.

I think this is half of it. My read is that with cooking becoming sexy and interesting over the last 20 years or so, all of a sudden people are realizing what absolute CRAP a traditional coil electric range is. But the costs (because I looked into it) of refitting a house in the US with a gas range/stovetop/etc is prohibitive, since you’ve having to add the infrastructure to support it. But with an induction range, you can improve the performance, without having to run a gas line. [ not to mention, anyone who is halfway handy can swap out different electric ranges, but getting a professional to do the gas install is neither fast or cheap, and DIY work on flammable gas is NOT a good idea ] So it’s the ‘quick fix’ that isn’t going to make anyone fully happy, but is still an improvement.

This may be a regional thing, but around here every house I’ve ever owned has had gas service and a gas furnace and water heater, but not a single one has ever had a gas pipe up to the kitchen. Every one has had a 220V outlet for an electric stove. The current house actually has the gas furnace and water heater almost directly below the kitchen, so running gas up there would have been trivial. There seems to be an aversion to gas stoves, perhaps because of perceived safety issues.

I think that just depends on the house. Both of the houses I grew up in (including the one my parents still live in) have electric ovens/stoves and no gas pipes in that spot (though they’re very nearby since the water heater and furnace is essentially directly below them). My house, OTOH, when I moved in had a gas pipe behind the stove but only a regular 120v 15a outlet. I got a duel fuel oven so I ran 240 to it. Even though I have duel fuel, I (or a future owner) have the option of going all electric or all gas with no problems.

As far as running a new gas pipe to your stove. I don’t know that it would be all that expensive. Many plumbers can do it (depending, I’m sure, on your jurisdiction). But my suggestions is always to watch the big box stores for ‘free installation’ deals and see if the free installation will cover running a new gas line.
When I got cable (for phones) installed at my business, the free installation covered running a new cable line from the pole, under about 75 feet of parking lot and into the building. I assume Time Warner paid a few thousand dollars to have that done.

Maybe that’s the crux of it then - If you’re used to electric, induction seems amazing. If you’re used to gas, you can’t see what the fuss is about.

But can anyone explain the separate handle-thing? I understand that induction requires special pans, but when I discovered the separate handle in the first house (yeah, that took me a while too), I figured it must be some quirk of the range they had bought. But the second house had the same thing (if you’re not sure what I mean, it’s this - the handle clips on the side and has a release button so you have one handle for many pans).

@SanVito, Marketing a higher end product by differentiation. I just bought a 3 set of pans&lids from IKEA (with attached handles) for <$20 that work great on our induction stove. I’ve only ever seen the detachable handles in passing- we have one for our stuff pizza pan though.

With regard to wolfpup’s question about advantages of induction, a lot of it for me is in reproducibility. Pancakes = 6 in every pan/griddle I own. Things like chocolate melting or meringue making don’t require double boiler as 1/2 are gentle and even across the pan. I can pop popcorn on the stove from start to finish in <90 seconds.

As stated above, one advantage is near instant increase/reduction of heat. I’ve switched from using my electric range to only using my portable single induction burner. Pot boiling over? No need to remove it from the heat, just turn down the temp and it immediately stops. Heat increase takes a while longer.

Another thing I love is that since I can precisely control the temp, scorching long cook things like stews is much less likely. Instead of guessing what a simmer is, I can input a temp below 212 degrees and my stew will never boil and is less likely to scorch.

As for the removable handles, it makes it easier to put the pan/pot into the oven and is a space saver if you want to put multiple in at the same time. Another plus is that unattached, it never gets too hot to touch. Finally, if it’s a set of pots/pans, there’s probably a cost savings by only have one handle. How often have you ever had to handle two pots/pans at once?

From your link:

“This set of four combines Tefal’s premium-quality stainless steel Emotion cookware range with the innovative, space-saving Ingenio range’s removable handle that attaches in one simple click. When the handle is detached, the saucepans can nest together for easy storage.”

So it’s just for storage/space issues, nothing to do with induction. Probably just coincidence both places you stayed had them. Or were they owned by the same entity?

Isn’t one of the advantages of the induction cooktops that they don’t stay as hot after the pots are removed? I do like the handleless pots, just for the space saving.

noticed my home warranty does not cover induction tops. Which is OK since I don’t have one.

The pots with removable handles would also make it possible to put them in the oven, if need be. I know you can put all metal pots and pans in the oven, but with this, the handle wouldn’t be hot afterwards.

When it comes to saving space, the best thing I did was install a pot rack on my ceiling. What was a full cabinet and bottom drawer of the oven stuffed with pots and pans all fit very comfortably hanging from the ceiling.

Yeah, the product page San Vito linked to lists all the reasons why you’d want these pans - saves space because they nest together, don’t have to worry about the handle melting in the oven, no hot handles if you do put them in the oven … but I cannot think of any time that I needed to put a saucepan in the oven. Skillets/frying pans, yes. And I have to wonder how strong/stable these handles are, never having seen any myself.

That said, I do have a portable induction burner to use outside on the patio if I want to saute something while I am grilling meat and don’t want to run between the house and patio. My only experience with an actual range was on vacation in Belgium a few years ago and my trouble with that was there seemed to be no way to figure out which burner was “live” - no diagram on the range or anything. And of course it doesn’t get hot until you put a pan on it, so there was some guesswork in figuring out which burner to use to hard boil my eggs!

Amen to that, I build a hanging pot rack as well, and it is the single best improvement I’ve ever made in my kitchen.

We use a portable induction cooktop outside if we’re frying lots of food (a few hundred crispy gao gee - pork or shrimp mix) or fish. Doesn’t stink up the inside of the house.

Very few neighborhoods have gas service in Hawaii.

And, incidentally, it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as one would imagine when you walk into it in the middle of the night.
I have since placed a kitchen cart under it so I stop doing that, but it’s more ‘WTF was that’ than ‘wow, that hurt’.

Also, if you’re tall enough (or keep a step stool in your kitchen), you get some additional storage on top of it. I keep pizza racks and extra KitchenAid mixer bowl up there.

Another trick I learned one day (I think I saw it at Williams Sonoma), is to slide the handle for the lid over the pot handle and hang it like that. Then all the lids are out of the way as well. It’s hard to see in this picture, but this is what I’m talking about. Here’s a clearer picture (just not on a traditional pot rack).
That many fewer things in the cabinet (or above the rack) and no clever ‘life hacks’ repurposing file holders or multiple adhesive back hooks to organize them.

Edit: There is a very minor downside to having a pot rack. Pots and pans that don’t get used often will get dirty/greasy/dusty over time. Nothing that a quick rinse won’t fix, you just have to remember to do it.

This is brilliant! One of those things where once you see it, you are embarrassed that you never thought to do it on your own…