Induction vs gas – Pros and cons and what is good for your kitchen
What you cook your food on is just as important as what you cook it with. If you are looking to buy a stove or cooktop you will know that this is a big investment and one that you will need to get right as it will be with you for a long time.
There are a number of things that you will need to take into account
- The initial cost of the appliance
- The installation fees
- Possible costs of compatible cookware
- Long term running and maintenance costs of the appliance
In this article, we will cover all of these points so that you will have a better idea of what you should be looking at by the end.
The article will cover the following :
Induction cooktops heat your cookware by magnetic induction. In other words what happens is that it is the cookware that heats up and cooks the food as opposed to the stove or cooktop.
In fact you can actually put your hand on the plate and it will not burn you ( before you do this just remember that the pot or pan will make the plate hot because it will be hot and transfers heat back down into the plate.)
Because the heat transfer is done through induction you are able to control the temperature of the pot or pan far more accurately and faster than conventional electric stove tops.
Induction cooking will only work on certain types of cookware. You will need to make sure you have cookware that has steel in the base and is magnetic. ( this is the easiest test ) you are looking at cookware like stainless steel or cast iron. There are non stick cookware and ceramic cookware brands that also off this as they have created pots and pans with steel in the base
Here is a video that shows you this in action.
When you cook with gas you are cooking with a controlled flame. You control the flow of gas to the flame and so directly control the temperature of what you are cooking. Gas is usually the preferred method of cooking for pros and chefs because of the degree of control that you have and the speed at which you can make adjustments. If you looking inside the kitchen of any restaurant kitchen you are sure to see gas cookers there.
Gas cookers allow a great degree of versatility as the heat source is not at one level like you find on electric or induction stoves, this allows you to move your pan around and take advantage of certain cooking methods and tricks
Although the final outcome is the same there are some very important differences between induction cooking and conduction cooking.
Induction cooking works directly on the cookware and so in order for this to work you will need to have certain types of cookware. For cookware to work it has to be “magnetic” i.e containing iron in it. Cookware such as stainless steel and cast iron are great for this. There are a few things to consider when you are looking into this, I have written a post here that covers some of this to give you a better idea.
Conduction cooking works by heating the element up which transfers the heat upwards into the cookware. There are two types, gas and electric. Some of the new electric stoves come with a glass top which can be confused with induction or the other way round. Gas stoves have a naked flame that you cook with.
When it comes to cookware, you can use any, this includes the ones that have been designed to work on induction tops. The opposite is not the case and you will need to make sure you have induction ready cookware. This is a significant difference between the two of them and this can affect the total cost quite dramatically and so should be factored in when making a decision on what to get.
Lets have a look and compare the pros and the cons of both induction cooking and gas cooking so that you get a better idea of what is you will need in your home.
- Very efficient in terms of electricity and is far quicker than Gas cooking
- Very child friendly
- Very quick to heat the cookware reducing cooking times as well as the fact that is is only the cookware that heats up nothing else making the kitchen a cooler place.
- Very accurate – temperatures are finely controlled to help make your cooking better and easier
- Pre-set temperatures for easy use
- Because the base does not heat up you can easily have a portable cooktops which can be used anywhere.
- Are a lot safer than traditional electric cooktops as they do not get hot themselves
- Many have safety features which do not allow them to be on if there is no cookware on the plate
- Glass surface that does not get too hot means spills are a lot easier to clean.
- Can be very easy to install as you do not have to worry about the base heating up.
- Can be very expensive compare to other types of cooktops
- Will my cookware work with induction – You will need the correct cookware to use
- Unlike gas you need to have the cookware on the plate for it to be effective
- Glass surfaces can crack or be scratched
- Pre-sets and fine temp control means you have to be a little more calculating in your cooking
- Touch control systems take time to get used to and can be difficult in a situation where there is a lot going on in the kitchen.
- Instant heat source when you turn on gas.
- Gas is a lot more versatile than Induction as your cooking area is less defined ( up and across – just watch a chef cooking and you will see how they move the pots and pans around.
- Rapid temperature changes make its more accurate and reactive than traditional electric cooktops.
- The flame, for many acts as a visual guide as to how they are cooking temperature wise.
- Most gas cookers come with manual knobs to control the temperature which works better for some people as opposed to touch control system
- While some cookware is better for gas than others all of you current cookware will work with gas.
- Gas cooktops can be very expensive to install as you will need to have a gas supply installed if you do not already have one.
- While it is very rare there are occasionally gas explosions from leaks etc so there is a safety factor that needs to be taken into account.
- The naked flame makes them not very child friendly and so children in the kitchen have to be closely supervised.
- The heating method is not as efficient as induction and it is not uncommon for kitchen to get hot when you are cooking because of this heat escape.
- Are not so easy to keep clean, there are little bits that need to come off and be cleaned so there is some level of maintenance.
- Because of the safety features you will need to ensure a reasonable amount of maintenance to ensure good and safe performance.
In Terms of power usage this is a difficult one to figure out as there are different sizes and you will also need to take into account the cost of these sources where you live. In many countries in Europe for example gas is cheaper the electricity and is piped straight into the house.
For many in the USA you will need to have some sort of gas tank attached if you do not have this option. For some in the rural areas gas will be cheaper as it is less expensive than the electricity. You also should take into account that fact that gas can run independently to your electricity, if the power goes out then you will still be able to cook.
With all of this in mind it is important to remember that ultimately induction is more efficient than gas and will heat and cook faster than standard electric cooktops or gas will.
If you are someone that does not really do a lot of fancy cooking and maybe feeding a big family with kids etc then in this area induction is probably going to be a better solution.
Why not have both?
If you are not ready to change the whole of your kitchen for this it should be pointed out that because of the nature of induction cooking you can very easily get a portable two plate cooker that can be used in conjunction with what you already have in the kitchen. This option will help you when you are cooking for more than you usually cook for and can be done on any of the kitchen surfaces.
This is the million dollar question and really there is no straight answer to this. Overall though for the average user induction would be the option that you should most seriously look at.
If you are a foodie and cooking is a big part of your lifestyle gas might be a better option for you as it is more versatile.
If you are a family and need to change what you have at present then the induction cooktop is probably the one that you should be looking at.
If you have kids in the house that are active in the kitchen then again you should be looking at the induction range.
If you are a student and are looking for something economical, then the portable induction range is what you will be best suited to you.
If you are looking to make a major change in your kitchen then we strongly advise that you seek professional help as they will be able to better assess the exact costs for you in terms of installations and running costs that you will incur.