Induction Cooktops and Ranges

Whether you are concerned about your family’s exposure to indoor air pollution and want more precise temperature control and easier cleanup, induction cooking may be for you.

Like electric cars, induction cooktops and ranges (with oven) take a little getting used to. Translating your familiar dishes and cooking cues to new temperature and time controls may require a few tries.  But THESE CHEFS and the one in this NOVA video seem to love them.  So do we.

If you’d like to try out induction before committing to a full cooktop (or if you need an extra element for a party or cook in an RV or dorm room) consider getting a portable one or two element burner that can plug in anywhere. Be aware though that these have small elements (which limits the size of your pans and can warp them if they are too wide and thin) and are not as powerful as a full cooktop.

There is an Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Electrification REBATE for both traditional ELECTRIC stoves and modern INDUCTION stoves (up to $840) for low-income households available in 2024. There are also funds to cover the cost of converting from gas or propane if you need to upgrade an electric panel and/or wiring. You may use this rebate for an induction stove OR a heat pump clothes dryer, not both. There is NO IRA stove TAX CREDIT.  It is not yet clear if you qualify for the rebate in New Mexico if you already have an electric stove.  See Resources below for more information on incentives. Electricity providers may have rebates.

Energy Efficiency. Both electric (75%-80% efficiency) and induction (85%) are more efficient than methane (natural gas) or propane (32%). Temperature Control.  Unlike gas or electric cooktops, which first generate heat and then transfer it through the air to a pot, induction generates the heat directly inside the pan material
itself. Because it is done via electromagnetic induction, it affords instantaneous, self-regulated and precise control of the temperature. Induction cooktops can maintain a precise, steady temperature, even at
very low temperatures, e.g., to melt chocolate without a double boiler, which is especially hard for gas. Easy sous-vide! Cooks Faster. Under most conditions, induction cooks faster than gas and electric.  Convenience. Once you get the hang of it, you can set a temperature and timer and attend to something else. App-driven cooking. Cool cooktop to put cookbook on. In a power outage, some models come with batteries. Safety. No open flame. The cook surface outside of the pot areas does not get hot. Most cooktops turn down or shut down when the pan gets too hot. The cooktop turns off when the pot is off the stove.  Cooler Kitchen. Induction only heats the pot, not the air, unlike gas and electric. Easier Cleanup. Smooth ceramic-glass top that doesn’t get as hot as electric stovetops means easier cleaning.  Health.  Unlike methane and propane stoves, induction and electric cooktops and ranges do not emit indoor pollutants (see below). However you still need to vent for the gases produced by cooking. (graphics courtesy of electrify now newsletter) A great video from Electrify Now with Frontier Energy Food Service Technology Center, George Lucas’s personal chef (now part of the Building Decarbonization Coalition) and an appliance store, which has a buying guide; towards the end they discuss panel upgrades and when to buy and what to look for when you buy.
Cookware. Induction stoves only work with pots and pans that are magnetic. If the bottom of your pan can hold even a weak refrigerator magnet, then it should work on an induction cooktop. Cast iron, stainless steel and carbon steel are compatible. Copper, glass and aluminum are not. There are “adapters” but we cannot vouch for their effectiveness. For the most even cooking a stainless steel pan with a layer of cooper or aluminum may be advised for some recipes. Cooking with wide, thin-skinned aluminum pans, especially on a portable induction hot plate or small burner may make them warp. Noise. Energy transferring to the cookware may make a resonance noise especially with lighter pots with lower nickel content. Fan noise, especially from smaller induction hot plates may also occur. Expense. Like any new technology, full induction cooktops and ranges can be pricey, starting around $1000, but costs are coming down, and there are rebates to help. More money means more power and more features. Safety. We have read that people with old pacemakers should talk to their doctors before cooking with induction. Panel or wiring upgrade. Portable cooktops use 110 volts, but full cooktops will require 240 volts, high-average (40-50 amps) and a four-prong outlet.  If you are converting from a methane or propane stove you may need to plan for an electric panel and/or wiring upgrade, which can cost thousands. Load management may help with that. However, as with other appliances, there is work to develop full size 120 volts unit with a battery.
Heath Effects from Gas and Propane Stoves

Fossil fuel appliances emit pollutants of concern to climate and health. Indoor pollution levels from a variety of sources can be 2-5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations and are largely unregulated.  In practice, byproducts of burning methane and propane found in homes and flues include benzene, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide and particulates.  (Wood heating and fireplaces and outdoor fires can also create indoor pollutants.)  This is why it is very important that all of our gas appliances are regularly inspected and properly vented. In the kitchen, where our families spend so much time, this is especially true. Pollution from gas and propane stoves, such as NO2, can reach levels that would be illegal outside, according to a recent report.  NO2 causes inflammation and is linked to a greater likelihood of children developing asthma.  In the fall of 2022, the American Medical Association adopted a resolution that acknowledged “the association between the use of gas stoves, indoor nitrogen dioxide levels and asthma.” A December 2022 report published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health attributed 12.7% of current childhood asthma in the US to gas stove use, a preventable rate, the authors note, that is comparable to the childhood asthma burden attributed to secondhand smoke exposure.

If you cannot afford to switch to electric ranges, toaster ovens and/or kettles make sure to ventilate as much as possible using your stove’s hood, by opening a window while cooking or by running a large air purifier continuously.

How Induction Stoves Work

A high frequency alternating electric current runs through a coil of wire (left) under the cooktop’s ceramic-glass surface. This creates an electromagnetic field that in turn induces electric eddy currents in the electrically conductive material of the cooking pot when it is placed on the surface. The current in the base of the pot heats it up through a process called Joule or resistance heating, which is how the elements of an electric stove or coils in a toaster heat up.  The heat in the pot then cooks the food inside it.  If the pot material is not electrically conductive, no current can flow and no cooking results.

Resources and Rebates

PNM’s induction range rebate is $200. El Paso Electric’s rebate is $50/cooktop. Check with your coop to see if they offer rebates.

Consumer Reports Pros and Cons of Induction Cooktops and Ranges (March 26, 2023)

New York Times Wirecutter The Best Portable Induction Cooktop  (Sept 2022)

Consumer Reports Best Cookware for Induction Cooktops (Feb. 2023)

Incentives and What to Know Before You Buy. You may need an electric panel and/or electric wiring upgrade to install an electric or induction cooktop or range that require 240V connections.  There are tax credits and low-income rebates for electric panel upgrades and low-income rebates only for wiring upgrades. IRA rebates for the stoves themselves for low-income folks up to $840 will be available towards the end of 2024.

Look for rebates from your electricity provider, governments, and manufacturers. For example, the Socorro Electric Coop  and Central New Mexico Electric Coop offer $100 per unit for electric-to-induction replacements & $350 per unit for gas-to-induction replacement or new construction). As of March 2023, Xcel and El Paso Electric were not offering rebates for cooktops, and they are not covered in the NM State program for consumers. PNM is (April 2024) considering whether to offer rebates.