Launch Slideshow

Advanced Cooking

11 induction cooktops boast efficiency and cooking control.

Advanced Cooking

11 induction cooktops boast efficiency and cooking control.

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    Bosch. The company’s 800 Series of induction cooktops features AutoChef, a sensor that measures the temperature of the bottom of the pan and applies the right amount of energy to the element to deliver precise cooking, the company says. The appliance includes an 11-inch, 4,400-watt element, SteelTouch flush touch controls, PreciseSelect for choosing the exact temperature with one touch, and pre-programmed meal options. CleanLock controls allow for complete shutdown in case of a spill. 800.944.2904. www.bosch-home.com/us.
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    Diva. The 365 36-inch induction range integrates a 9,600-watt induction cooktop and a 5,900-watt convection oven. The cooktop’s five burners include a center 11-inch, 3,600-watt element; two 6-inch, 2,200-watt elements; and two 9-inch 2,800-watt elements. The 6-inch and 9-inch elements utilize power-sharing technology. The unit features touch controls. 888.852. 8604. www.divainduction.com.
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    Electrolux. Icon drop-in induction cooktops come in 30- and 36-inch sizes with 6-, 7-, 8-, and 10-inch elements. The units’ Infinite cooking system creates heat only after sensing a pan on the surface, the firm says, and the surface responds only to the diameter of the vessel. Other features include Power-Assist, which provides a 25% increase in power to bring large pots to boil faster, and 15 preset touch settings for digital heat control. 877.435.3287. www.electroluxicon.com.
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    Fagor America. The company’s latest induction introductions include a 12-inch model with two elements, a 30-inch four-burner model, and a 36-inch five-burner model. A seven-point safety system includes low-voltage detection, overflow protection, and anti-overheat protection. Other details include 12 cooking settings and three quick-launch commands. 201.804.3900. www.fagoramerica.com.
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    GE. Thirty- and 36-inch cooktops are available in the company’s induction line, as well as a new induction range (shown). The cooktops include a 3,700-watt element, electronic touch controls, a true simmer level, and safety lock. 800.626.2005. www.geappliances.com.
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    Jenn-Air. Available in 30- and 36-inch sizes, the company’s induction cooktops feature touch-activated LED control of 17 heat settings. An 11-inch/7-inch Dual Zone element on the 36-inch model features two burner sizes in one position for easy pan-size matching. According to the firm, the Ceran glass-ceramic surface is stain- and scratch-resistant. 800.536.6247. www.jennair.com.
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    Kenyon. The Silken silicon pad covers the company’s induction cooktops, allowing for easier cleanup of spills and spatters. The mat, which is available in a range of colors, provides a slip-free surface for pots while still allowing the technology to work. After use, the pad can be removed to the sink for cleaning. The induction cooktops include automatic shutoff for boilover or if a pan comes off the burner. 860.664.4906. www.kenyonappliances.com.
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    KitchenAid. Architect Series II induction cooktops come in a 30-inch size and a 36-inch size. The 36-inch model has a 6-inch and an 8-inch element, plus two 7-inch elements and an 11-inch/7-inch dual-zone element; the 30-inch model has a 6-inch and an 11-inch element and two 7-inch elements. The cooktops feature nine heat-level settings, power boost, and a keep-warm function. 800. 422.1230. www.kitchenaid.com.
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    Thermador. The manufacturer’s latest induction cooking offerings include what it describes as the industry’s most powerful element—4,600 watts—as well as the industry’s first 13-inch-diameter element and triple-zone heating element. The cooktops feature Sensor Dome, a retractable sensor that measures heat from the cookware, nine pre-programmed cooking modes, individual timers for each element, an anti-overflow feature, automatic stop system, and child lock. 800.656.9226. www.thermador.com.
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    Viking. The VISC 30-inch induction range features an induction cooktop with two 7-inch, 1,850-watt elements; an 8-inch 3,700-/2,300-watt element; and a 6-inch, 1,400-watt element. The cooktop features MagneQuick power generators, power boost to select elements for faster boiling, and heavy-duty metal knobs. The self-cleaning oven offers a 4.7-cubic-foot overall capacity, a glass-enclosed infrared broiler, a Vari-Speed Dual Flow convection system with bi-directional airflow, Rapid Ready pre-heat, and three lights. 888.845.4641. www.vikingrange.com.
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    Wolf. The manufacturer’s 30- and 36-inch induction cooktops feature more than 10 power levels, including a Hi-Power setting. Cookware-sensing technology shuts off the appliance after 30 seconds if an induction-compatible pan is not detected. A 15-inch integrated model also is available. 800.332.9513. www.wolfappliance.com.

Unlike many green building products, the term “energy efficient” may not to be the No. 1 selling point for induction cooktops. While these appliances are indeed efficient—so much so that they’re becoming a go-to staple in many eco-friendly kitchens—it’s their superior cooking capabilities that likely will be what seals the deal with most home buyers.

Boasting energy efficiencies higher than gas and electric along with precise temperature control and myriad safety features, induction cooktops pack a double-benefit punch for green building pros and consumers alike. The challenge, however, is a familiar one: Though popular in Europe for some time, induction technology is still largely foreign to many Americans, and comparative costs are high. Growing attention by green builders and new offerings from several big appliance brands, along with word-of-mouth marketing about the appliances’ chef-friendly features, are expected to shift attention to these super-efficient surfaces.

How They Work

Traditional electric or gas cooktops transfer heat from the burner to the pot and then to the food. With induction, magnetic coils underneath the smooth ceramic surface generate an electromagnetic frequency. This frequency stimulates molecules in ferrous-metal pots and pans (such as cast iron) that generate the heat that cooks the food.

The process transforms the pot—rather than the burner—into the heating source, so less heat is lost in transfer. As a result, induction cooktops are roughly 87% to 90% efficient, manufacturers estimate, compared to about 50% to 55% for gas and around 60% for electric.

“Since the energy is supplied directly to the cooking vessel, nearly 90% of the energy is used to cook,” says Juliet Johnson, manager of premium brand experience at KitchenAid and Jenn-Air. “Its energy efficiency makes it a natural for green building.”

What’s more, in most units, the magnetic coils under the surface only react to the size of the pot on top of it. “Because it’s actually having a reaction with the diameter of the pot, very little energy is wasted,” says Jennifer Park, marketing communications manager for Fagor.

Supplementary energy savings also can result because there is no excess heat coming off the surface that can overheat the kitchen.

Beyond Green

While induction’s energy efficiency is what’s attracting the attention of green builders, remodelers, and architects, what will likely appeal most to consumers are cooking advantages ideal for anyone who likes to prepare masterful dishes at home.

Like gas, induction offers more control over heat output than electric units, along with faster reaction time when the temperature is adjusted. The precision, along with induction’s ability to hold exact temperature, allows for more controlled heating and easier cooking of historically difficult foods, such as melting chocolate.

Where induction also shines is speed: Near-instantaneous response times mean a pot of water will come to a boil more quickly.

And because there is no heat being transferred from cooktop to pot, the surface remains relatively cool to the touch—a helpful safety feature that also helps reduce cleanup. A range of other safety components are present on many models, including child locks and automatic shutoff systems in case of overflows. Fagor’s seven-point safety system also includes a temperature cutoff at 575 degrees.