BY CHARLES KELLER
In this era of attempting to reduce our use of fossil fuels, people are turning away from natural gas stoves to what are called induction stoves. The name comes from the way the stove heats: an oscillating magnetic field induces vibration in cookware, which, in turn, heats it. This is a very efficient way for a stove to work.
Induction stoves have many advantages over traditional electric or gas ranges. First, they use electricity instead of natural gas (which produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas). It also heats things more quickly. In a way it does away with that old saying, “A watched pot never boils.” When I make tea, I have to hurry getting the teabag ready, or else the water is already boiling! Another advantage is that the cooktop does not get very hot; it is heated only by residual heat from your cookware, thus one cannot get accidentally burned by touching the range top. There are also no clunky heavy supports to clean, just a smooth surface to be occasionally wiped down. I read that chefs love the versatility and quick response of induction stoves and prefer them to either electric resistance or gas cooktops.
As to expense, they cost about the same as a gas stove. My induction range, which was highly rated, is a 30-inch unit and cost about $1,000. The ovens on these stoves are very efficient and versatile but do not use induction.
Be aware that an induction stove only heats magnetically-receptive cookware. Nearly any iron-type works. Our Clubware works just fine, as do cast iron pans and All-Clad brand pots and pans. We did have to replace our teapot. Aluminum or copper pans do not work, nor do some types of stainless steel. To see if your pots and pans work, simply use a magnet to see if it will attach to the cookware. Use, for instance, one of those you put on your refrigerator door.
All in all, we find our induction stove to be not only superior to other types of stoves, it puts us on the way to carbon-free appliances. As to operating cost, we have not had the stove for long, but my recent County utility bills for gas and electricity are unchanged (neither going up nor down), and my rooftop solar panels produce non-fossil electricity.