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Induction hobs: How they work and what are their benefits

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Miele TwoinOne induction hob with integrated extractor that remove vapours and odours from cooking. 

Different from gas and electric stoves, induction hobs don’t produce heat until a cooking pan of a suitable material is placed on the cooktop. Below the glass surface of the hob is an electromagnetic coil of metal that produces a magnetic field when you switch on the power supply to the hob. This magnetic field does not produce heat, until it penetrates the metal of the cooking pan placed above it, and the moving magnetic field produces a current and heat energy which is then used for cooking.

PROS

1. Safe

As a result of the way it produces heat, you won’t suffer burns simply by touching the cooktop, making it safer for households with children.

2. Energy efficient

Induction hobs are also more energy efficient than gas and electric stoves, since all heat is concentrated in the pot rather than heating up the air around it. 90 per cent of energy is thus converted to heat energy for cooking, compared to just 55 per cent for gas and 65 per cent for electric hobs.

The extractor sits in the middle of the 80cm-wide hob unit from Miele. 

3. Easy to clean

Unlike gas stoves, induction hobs have a seamless and flat design without bulky  cast iron grates that make it difficult to clean. A simple wipe over the surface is all it needs.

The CX 482 induction hob by Gaggenau is a full surface cooktop that comes in two finishes: flush and frameless installation for seamless integration, or a stainless-steel framed cooktop. 

CONS

1. More expensive

 Induction ovens start around the same price as its gas and electric counterparts, but end around two to three times more. For instance, the most expensive gas hob from Bosch costs $1,599, but an induction one can go up to $3,999.

2. Not suitable for dishes that require high heat

If you want to achieve wok hei in your dishes, that smoky aroma characteristic of zi char dishes, it may be difficult with an induction stove as it doesn’t produce that kind of intense heat.

TAKE NOTE

Your usual pots and pans may not all be suitable for induction hobs, including ceramic, Pyrex glass and aluminium ones. Compatible pans should contain a magnetic metal like iron, such as stainless steel or cast iron.