Induction cookers are fast, convenient, precise, clean, energy-efficient — and a very attractive addition to any kitchen. Unmatched safety makes them a perfect choice for the home kitchen.
Built-in units are flush-mounted in a kitchen counter or wherever you like, frequently with a choice of edge trim available. They can be mounted above a built-in oven, if desired, and require a 240V plug like any electric range.
Portable units have one or two cooking zones (elements) and plug into a 120V outlet, typically drawing 15 amps. Commercial induction cookers also come in portable models; some of these require 120V plug-in and some need 240V because they have higher wattage elements. Commercial units will be covered in detail in another article. Induction ranges are also appearing on the market; combining an induction cooktop with a convection oven, they replace an electric or gas range — prices compare favorably with full-size drop-in units.
Sizes — What Size Induction Cooker to Choose?
Residential Induction Cookers — Built-in
- 36-inch units with 5 zones all the way down to 12-inch single zone.
- Zones (elements) from 5.5 to 12 inches in diameter.
- 2-zone models — side-by-side or front-to-back configurations to fit various kitchen spaces.
- Consider dividing your cooking station. Instead of one 5-zone cooktop, you could place two 2-zone units with a space between. Keep them close enough to reach when you’re alone, but spaced so that two people can work comfortably.
Residential Induction Cookers — Portable
- Supplementary cooking appliance, with zones of varying size. Choose one that will accommodate your largest frying pan or soup pot.
- Single-zone or two-zone units — make sure you choose one that is stable, with a flat bottom or good non-slip feet. Try putting a large pot on it with a handle that sticks out; see if the unit wobbles or becomes unbalanced. Two-zone models should accommodate two pots comfortably.
- Very handy for “mother-in-law suite” or bedsitter, cottage or an outdoor kitchen.
Induction Cookers — Performance/Convenience Features
- Controls — electronic touchpads, protected by the sealed surface; temperature settings adjusted by “slide” control or by “plus” and “minus” pads. You don’t have to stretch across hot pots to reach the controls.
- Some models, especially portable induction units, have dials or knobs to turn the zones on and adjust temperature.
- Power-boost available on most models — provides extra power to a zone when needed (e.g. bring a huge pot of water to the boil).
- Precise temperature control — some models allow switching between heat levels and actual temperature settings. Cooking candy? Melting or proving chocolate? Set the temperature and time you want.
- Memory settings — want your eggs cooked a certain way? store the setting and use it again.
- Timer settings and “keep-warm” settings allow you to keep sauces, soups, and other dishes warm without overcooking or drying out.
- Cleaning — ceramic-glass surface is easy to maintain; no more “cooked-on” messes. Wipe spills during cooking with a damp cloth. When done, spray with non-abrasive all-purpose cleaner and wipe clean.
Induction Cookers: Safety Features
- Pot recognition — zone not active until a pot is put on; cannot be turned on “accidentally” or left “on” when pot is removed. Activation requires an object with large enough diameter and weight.
- Pot size recognition — active area of zone adjusts to pot diameter, saves energy.
- Induction zones cannot be activated by non-magnetic pots, bowls, measuring cups.
- Pan-overheat detection/shut-off — empty pots will not overheat; oil will not get to ignition temperature.
- Overflow detection/shut-of — zone shuts off for boilover or large spill.
- Residual heat indicators — light stays on if a zone is warm after a hot pot is removed.
- Child-proof lockout — children cannot activate cooktop when an adult is not present.
When looking at induction cookers for the home kitchen it is very important to check specifications for each model that interests you. If you want a particular safety/convenience/performance feature, make sure that the model you’re looking at has it. Remember that small portable models will not have all the features or capacity that you find in a built-in unit, so look for the features that are most important to you.