Induction cooking is faster and more energy efficient than cooking with gas or with a traditional, electric radiant heating element. To achieve these benefits requires a different type of technology so we wanted to put together a brief description of how induction cooktops work to explain to our readers how these cooktops are able to operate faster, safer, and more efficiently.
With a gas range you are burning gas and creating an open flame. With a traditional electronic heating element you are heating a metal coil that gets very hot. With an induction cooktop electricity is used but not to create heat. The electricity creates a magnetic field and the magnetic field reacts with ferromagnetic cookware. What that basically means is cookware that is made of iron or steel. A basic rule of thumb is that if a magnet can stick to your cookware, your cookware is suitable for induction cooking.
For a slightly more scientific explanation of how induction cooktops work, that magnetic field is creating an electric current in the cooktop and the magnetic field pulls randomly distributed electrons into a consistent direction in your cookware. When all of the electrons are moving together it is known as an eddy current and it is the eddy current that generates heat within your cookware. The induction cooktop uses copper coils and the resistance to the flow of electrons is higher in ferromagnetic cookware than it is in the copper coils of the cooktop. Increased resistance equates to increased heat and with an induction cooktop the heat is actually produced from within the bottom of your pots and pans.
There is an interesting video on the website for GE appliances demonstrating the fact that the heat is generated from within the cookware itself. The video shows a pot of water next to some ice cubes on a cooktop. The water in the pot is boiling while the ice cubes remain unaffected.
One of the newest innovations with induction cooktops is the introduction of zoneless cooktops. The heating zone of an induction cooktop is equivalent to the burner of a gas cooktop. With the newer zoneless cooktops the entire surface of unit can be used as a cooking area. There are sensors under the glass that will detect the size and placement of your pots and pans and energize mini elements that are directly under your cookware. This allows you to cook in any size or shape of cookware you desire.