They're sleek. They're precise. And they can boil water in about half the time of a conventional stove. But are they right for your kitchen?
By Paul Hope
Induction cooktops are a special type of electric cooktop that gets its power and precision from induction technology. This means it generates energy from an electromagnetic field below the glass cooktop surface, which then transfers current directly to magnetic cookware, causing it to heat up.
It works. Induction cooktops and ranges generally outperform every other kind of range in Consumer Reports tests. In fact, every induction cooktop and induction range that has come through our range lab delivers fast cooktop heat and superb simmering.
What Induction Is—and What It Isn’t
Induction cooktops and ranges look a lot like typical glass-top electric models, except that they cook via a magnetic field. On most 30-inch cooktops, the field is concentrated into four spots (or elements), and they otherwise function just like the elements on an electric cooktop or the burners on gas.
As for the ovens in induction ranges, they broil and bake just as other electric ovens do, and capabilities will differ from model to model. High-end options, for instance, might have features like convection, WiFi connectivity, and even in-oven cameras so you can monitor whatever you’re baking with a smartphone. Entry-level options will have many of the same features you’d find on regular electrics, like storage or warming drawers, adjustable racks, and a self-cleaning mode.
Induction Cooktops and Ranges: the Pros
There are plenty of things to love about induction ranges, whether you’re obsessed with perfectly prepped food or interested in energy efficiency. Here’s how they compare with gas and conventional electric ranges.
They’re more environmentally friendly. An induction stove is 5 to 10 percent more efficient than conventional electric stoves and about three times more efficient than gas stoves. And unlike the case with gas, it’s better for indoor air quality.
They have a built-in safety feature. If you turn on an induction burner with no pot on it by mistake, it won’t get hot. That’s because the heat is created from within the cookware itself; as soon as you remove it from a burner, that heating stops. So the glass surface never gets as hot as it would on a traditional radiant electric range. That surface might merely feel hot the way the kitchen counter feels hot if you were to put a pot of just-cooked soup on it.
Food cooks faster. No other technology we’ve tested is speedier than induction. It cuts out the intermediate step of heating up an element and then transferring the heat to the pot. So compared with electric or gas, it cooks more quickly when you turn up the heat and responds faster when you dial it back down. You’ll find that 6 quarts of water will approach a boil 2 to 4 minutes sooner than on a gas or electric stove. Life-changing? Probably not. But definitely helpful when you’re making dinner on a busy weeknight.
Meal prep is easier. With heat generating from within your pot or pan, induction ranges cook more precisely and evenly. No more simmering sauces that break into a splattering boil or chicken thighs that emerge from the pan scorched. As with other smoothtop electrics, induction surfaces are easy to wipe down, too.
Induction Cooktops and Ranges: the Cons
Before you shop for an induction cooktop or range, consider your budget and your cooking habits. Here’s what you need to know.
It feels very different from cooking with gas. Some avid cooks really love cooking on a flame and the immediate visual feedback they get from it at the turn of the knob. No electric option, even induction, can replicate that feel. In fact, because the electromagnetic field on an induction cooktop doesn’t create a glow, you won’t even know it’s on. That’s why manufacturers have started adding virtual flames and other lighting cues.
It can get expensive when you convert from gas to electric. If you’re replacing an electric range, the swap is simple. Induction cooktops and ranges use the same outlet as a standard electric range or cooktop. But if you’re switching from gas, expect to pay an electrician several hundred dollars or more to install the necessary outlet.
You need the right cookware. While most of the cookware in our ratings is induction-compatible, some pans—including those made of aluminum and anodized aluminum—won’t work on induction. Most others, including stainless steel and cast iron, will. If you’re shopping for new cookware, look for pots and pans marked “induction-compatible.” To determine whether your existing arsenal of cookware will work with an induction range, see if a magnet strongly sticks to the bottom of your pots. If it does, they’ll work on an induction burner.
It might emit a sound. “A buzz or hum is common, and often louder at higher settings,” says Tara Casaregola, who oversees the testing of ranges and cooktops for Consumer Reports. “And we often hear the clicking of element electronics at lower settings, as well as the sound of the cooling fan for the electronics.” Heavy flat-bottomed pans help reduce the vibrations that cause this buzz.
You may need an analog thermometer. The magnetic field of an induction cooktop can interfere with a digital meat thermometer.
Induction cooktops and ranges are typically more expensive than conventional electric models. But prices have continued to drop in recent years, despite inflation, with some induction ranges in our ratings selling for about $1,000.
To learn more about induction, see our cooktop and range buying guides. CR members can also browse our full list of ratings for induction cooktops and ranges. Here, we’ve highlighted the best induction range in our ratings, as well as the best 30-inch and 36-inch induction cooktops.
Best Induction Range From CR's Tests
An induction range is best for kitchens with limited space because it packs a cooktop and oven into a single appliance. Here’s a standout model from our ratings.
GE Profile PHS93XYPFS
CR’s take: This induction range is one of the best performers in our tests. Like most induction ranges, this GE heats quickly and simmers steadily, earning a rating of Excellent in our high- and low-heat tests. It has front-mounted digital controls for a sleek look, along with a convection oven, three high-power elements, and a storage drawer beneath the main oven.
Total cooking elements: 4
High-power elements: 3
Best Induction Cooktops From CR's Tests
If you’ve got the space, a cooktop (along with a wall oven that you’d buy separately) can be a nice way to break up cooking areas in your kitchen. The two cooktops below are exceptional performers from our tests.
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