Induction’s drawbacks are similar to a lot of new-to-the-U.S. products: price and familiarity. Prices depend on size and power, but Consumer Reports places induction in the range of $1,800 to $3,500, compared to $650 to $1,200 for gas and $550 to $750 for electric. As the category’s popularity increases, prices should drop.
Helping induction’s growth are launches by more well-known brands. Electrolux, for example, is showcasing the technology in national TV ads. Several companies have recently introduced induction ranges, providing even more installation flexibility, and a number of models boast innovative new finishes and features, such as Bosch’s AutoChef and Thermador’s Sensor Dome, which measure pot temperature to provide even greater control.
Still, building professionals will likely need to inform homeowners and buyers that the technology exists and how it works. For this type of product, seeing is believing, so including induction units in model homes or sales centers and hosting cooking demos is an ideal way to show off benefits to buyers.
“Consumers are just not aware of induction. Once they see it being used … then they’re sold,” says Johnson. “I think educating the consumer and getting them to the products so they can see it live and in person makes a huge difference.”
Homeowners also will need to be made aware of pot material requirements: Cookware must be ferrous metal (i.e., magnetic) to work with induction, which means no copper, aluminum, or glass.
Education isn’t limited to consumers. Pros will need to learn the slight differences in specifying induction cooktops—which come in a variety of types based on size, number of elements, and wattages. Traditional 30- and 36-inch four- and five-element units are offered along with smaller sizes ideal for apartments and condos where space is an issue.
In addition to size, buyers will need to consider power—specified in watts, as opposed to the BTUs of gas units. Cooktops will often be listed with an overall wattage as well as wattage for individual burners. Keep in mind, some cooktops’ burners “power share,” which will limit each element’s total power when used simultaneously. This is also true for large elements that have a “power boost” feature, which jacks up power temporarily for a faster boil.
Though some manufacturers continue to increase their power options, in general today’s offerings are more than sufficient and surpass what’s been used in Europe.
Installation is not much different than electric models, though contractors will need to check with the manufacturer on electrical requirements; depending on the cooktop’s wattage, up to 50 amps may be needed. Installers also should verify clearance requirements for or restrictions against installing ovens beneath the cooktop.
Also consult your dealer about ventilation, says Kenyon vice president and co-owner Mike Reischmann, as requirements could be less.
Though promoting, selling, and installing induction units will require some adjustment for pros and their clients, the benefits are likely to continue to gain fans, particularly as models show up in green projects.
“Induction cooking is going to be the hottest thing,” predicts Reischmann. “You’ve got the technology that’s finally there, you’ve got the price points coming in range of normal appliances, … and you’ve got the energy efficiency that induction offers.”
Katy Tomasulo is Deputy Editor for EcoHome.