Lately we’ve been getting a lot of questions about gas vs induction cooking. Each method has its pros and cons, so the decision depends on your circumstances, budget, and preference. To help you evaluate which cooking method will work best for you, we’ve put together a side-by-side summary of the characteristics of each. Here’s to a great cooking experience, either way!
An induction cooktop uses high-frequency electromagnetic currents to generate heat directly in the cookware.
Beneath its smooth flat surface are copper coils that generate “eddy currents” that interact with magnetic cookware to generate heat. When turned on, these coils instantly generate heat, and when turned off, the heat instantly stops. In fact, because heat is generated within the cookware, and is not transferred from the cooktop, the cooktop surface stays relatively cool to the touch (the heat from the pan may warm it slightly).
Because the system instantly generates direct heat and only ~15% of heat is lost in the process, you can, for instance, boil water 50% faster with induction. Many units also allow very precise temperature setting, for example 215 or 314 degrees, giving the cook an even higher degree of control over the cooking process.
A gas cooktop works by igniting a stream of natural gas to generate a flame that applies indirect heat to the cookware.
The gas enters through a main gas line and is ignited either by an always-on pilot light (as in some older models) or an electric ignition system. The burner assembly directs the flame at the cookware, which sits above the burner on grates.
The flame instantly generates heat, but because it is an indirect source of heat, losing ~68% of its heat energy as it passes from the source of ignition to the cookware, it takes longer to heat up the cookware. The process also heats up the cooktop and the surrounding air.
The intensity of the flame can be adjusted by a knob for precision cooking, and it can be shut off to instantly stop generating heat.
WHAT ABOUT THE OVEN?
If you’re looking to buy a range (cooktop + oven), it is highly recommended that you buy one with an electric oven. They generate more heat faster, and they maintain a more consistent internal temperature, which results in faster cook times and better results. So-called “dual fuel” ranges, with a gas cooktop and electric oven, are very common, and all electric cooktops have electric ovens.
A sharp eye will have spotted in the above explanation that induction cooking requires magnetic cookware.
This is not a dealbreaker, as your lovingly seasoned cast iron skillet and enameled Le Creuset sets are still well-suited for induction. And, aside from the specially designed induction cookware, newer cookware oftentimes features iron bottoms to be “induction compatible.” There are two ways to determine your cookware’s compatibility.
Any conventional cookware can be used on a gas burner, including aluminum, steel, cast iron, ceramic, enamel, and heatproof glass.
There are two major safety concerns with gas cooktops, but with the right habits, you can keep you and your family protected.
1. Carbon Monoxide & Other Indoor Air Pollutants
Gas cooktops release several indoor air pollutants while in use, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, as well as tiny particulates. Even when not in use, they emit a minute amount of methane. These pollutants have been linked to the development and exacerbation of chronic respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. These risks are even more pronounced in children, and nitrogen oxides have also been linked to reduced cognitive development. And, of course, certain concentrations of carbon monoxide are fatal.
Research indicates that while in-use, your gas cooktop generates indoor concentrations of these pollutants that exceed the standards for outdoor air pollution, and without proper ventilation, many of these pollutants remain in your home. You can read more about the risks here.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Always use your vent / fume hood while cooking. Even the lowest setting is enough to vent most pollutants outside. If your vent / fume hood does not vent outside, it does not address the issue.
2. FIRES & BURNS
Gas is an inherent fire hazard, and an estimated 4,200 home structure fires per year are started by the ignition of natural gas. Because the cookware and cooktop area both become hot, the risk of burns increases.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do not leave paper, cloth, or plastic items near burners during and after use. Teach children how to avoid burns and stay safe yourself.
If you exercise normal caution while handling the heated cookware, there are no other safety concerns to be aware of, since even the cooktop does not get very hot.
Gas cooktops do rely on fossil fuels and generate emissions while in-use. Gas heating elements even emit a minute amount of methane when the cooktop is off. Individually, the emissions are not significant, but collectively, the use of gas stoves by Americans generates emissions equaling that of half a million cars.
Because of climate change, some state and municipal governments now prohibit new gas hookups for home builders, principally to prevent the use of gas furnaces, which do generate significant emissions.
Induction cooktops are more energy-efficient than other electric cooktops, and they deliver a bonus energy efficiency benefit by reducing the workload of your home’s HVAC system.
As utilities transition away from the use of fossil fuels in the coming years, due to both economic and political forces, your induction cooktop will become more environmentally friendly.
More elbow grease is required to keep gas cooktops clean, as there are more nooks and crannies in which buildup can occur. Regular cleaning helps. Some disassembly may be required at times to clean burner assemblies.
Because we have been “cooking with gas” for a long time, the technology is very reliable, and most all service technicians are familiar with it.
The unit’s smooth surface allows for quick and easy cleanup.
Because the technology is comparatively new, it may require more repairs over its lifespan. Furthermore, not all service technicians may be familiar with the technology involved, though rest assured, Nebraska Home Appliances technicians very much are!
Requires a gas line from a public utility be installed in your residence. A vent hood (recommended) requires a 120-volt current. The operating costs for gas appliances are very low.
Requires a 220 to 240-volt current, which is the standard for ovens and ranges. Typically, no additional wiring is needed. Thanks to faster cooking times, the operating costs for induction are also low.
Like any other consumer product, gas ranges run the gamut from spartan ($500) to luxurious ($10,000). While the performance of ovens can improve at higher price points, Consumer Reports recommends a price ceiling of about $1,000 for gas cooktops.
And because the EPA does not endorse the use of gas cooktops without a vent hood (nor do we), you will need to invest in one. They range from $50 to $5000, but you do not need a very powerful vent hood: a CFM of 800-1000 will suffice. A lower-powered hood will also produce less noise. Still, it is worth visiting an appliance showroom to test out the noise level to find the one you like best.
Induction stoves typically start at $1,000 and have the same high-end as gas stoves ($10,000). Unlike with gas stoves, higher price point induction cooktops do perform better and are more reliable, though obviously there is a price ceiling beyond which buying the appliance is purely vanity.
You will likely incur additional costs purchasing induction cookware, though that will vary with how much induction compatible cookware you already own. Online stores offer three-piece sets for under $50, and larger sets for under $300.
The cost of both induction cooktops and induction cookware is dropping as both become more widespread.
We hope this comparison has been helpful. And if your current cooktop requires repair, maintenance, or parts, please don’t hesitate to call Nebraska Home Appliance. We’re always happy to help!