Induction cooktops have been relatively common overseas for years, but they’re only just beginning to make a dent in the market here in Australia compared to the more common gas and electric options.
An induction cooktop looks fairly similar to an electric ceramic cooktop, what is different is the way they work. Each ‘element’ on the cooktop generates a magnetic field that induces heat in steel cookware placed on top of it. In essence the saucepan or pot becomes the element, so the cooktop surface doesn't get as hot as other cooktops.
Because most of the heat and energy are produced directly in the saucepan, the heat response is quicker and more efficient. With more conventional electrical cooking, the heat first has to be transferred from the element, then to the saucepan and then to its contents.
The performance of an induction cooktop is far superior to other forms of electric cooktops and about comparable to gas. Where they stand out is in their energy efficiency. An induction cooktop is around 85–90% energy efficient compared to 65–85% for other electric cooktops and about 40% for gas. A significant downside at the moment is the cost, they typically cost around $3,000 each!
What this now creates is a very difficult environmental decision for anyone choosing a cooktop. Should you choose the greenhouse friendly but inefficient gas or the less greenhouse friendly but more efficient induction cooktops?