After you've found out the basics about the different types of hobs in the market, consider the following factors to help you determine which suits your lifestyle and space best:
1. HEAT CONTROL
Every cook knows that heat control is the key to a perfectly-cooked dish. Whether it is low-heat cooking (such as simmering) or high-heat cooking (such as sauteing), having control means you are less likely to overcook or burn food.
For ceramic hobs, the electrically-heated coil elements take time to heat up, and there is also heat loss during the transfer between the hob and cookware. In comparision, with induction hobs, there is no waiting for the heating element to heat up or cool down, as it creates a magnetic field instead, which heats up the cookware.
You can save time with an induction hob; it is estimated that it only takes around five minutes to boil a litre of water, as compared to eight minutes for a gas hob, and 11 minutes using a ceramic one. However, even experienced chefs might have problems understanding which settings on induction or ceramic hobs will provide the right amount of heat, since there is no visible heat source.
Gas hobs are still the choice of professional chefs, for ease of control and good heat distribution across the base of a pan. But with open kitchens being in- trend these days, if your hob is located in a breezy area, the flames can be easily put out.
2. COOKWARE COMPATIBILITY
While gas hobs are compatible with most cookware, including round-bottomed woks, you can only use cookware with flat bases for ceramic hobs. This is so that there is optimum surface contact, which makes heating more efficient and consistent.
Induction hobs have the most specific requirements. Because its elements are electromagnets, the correct ferromagnetic materials for cookware are required, such as steel, enameled steel and cast iron. This can make choosing an induction hob a costly option. You might not be able to use your favourite range of cookware if you change to an induction hob! Generally, for both ceramic and induction hobs, use cookware with sizes close or exactly that of the indicated heat zones, as the parts that sit outside those heat zones won’t heat up.
3. CLEANING AND CARE
Since both ceramic and induction hobs have smooth, flat surfaces, there are no hard-to-reach corners for dirt and food to get trapped in. This makes them a breeze to clean. But spilled food can get “baked” and stuck onto the surface of ceramic hobs, so wipe them up immediately.
When cooking, make sure that the bottoms of the pans are dirt-free, so as not to scratch the hob’s surface. Clean with a microfibre cloth, too.
When it comes to gas hobs, more effort in cleaning is usually required as there are uneven and protruding parts, such as the burners, pan stands and drip plates. Consider that if you’re a messy cook, and how much you hate cleaning! Over time, the various parts will also wear out and make your hob look old.
Check if your pans are suitable for use with induction hobs by holding a magnet to the middle of the base. If the magnet sticks, it’ll work.