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In the next few months I have a kitchen remodel planned. One item to be replaced is the range/oven. Currently we have a "vintage" electric stove.

I am undecided as to whether to choose gas or an induction model. I had gas in a previous house and I really liked it. However, I have reservations about combustion gases and unhealthy effects on air quality. I have heard great things about induction ranges, but my biggest reservation there is that I'll need to replace a fair bit of cookware. Personally, I have no experience using induction.

My question is mainly directed at those who have used both induction and gas, but if you've used either that's ok as well. So, given a choice between induction or gas, which would you choose?

P.S. - Not sure if this should be a community wiki, but if so I'm good with that.

Update I was hoping to hear from someone who uses an induction range. The ideal answer would be something like, "I've used gas and induction and when I bought a new range I bought "x" and here's why". Anyway it's not an ideal world...

My issue is that I have used gas for cooking and know lots of others who do as well. I have one friend who used an induction range in a vacation home, and her take was that she hated it at first, but then came to like it. Another friend has a countertop induction burner, but he's not a cook as he just uses it to boil water. The thing is that induction ranges are not very common in the U.S. or at least among people I know.

So, to refine what I'm interested in.... If you are an avid cook, and have used an induction system, "Is it responsive?", "Is it controllable, in that say, you can set a burner at 180 and it'll stay there?", "Is it durable and easy to clean?".

Also, my reservation about replacing cookware pretty much went away. I found flooring materials through salvage for less than half of what I expected to pay. That pretty much opened up my budget if I decide to go with induction rather than gas.

Finally, what I really need to do is find a way to test drive an induction range. I'll be checking in with some local shops to see if there is a way to accomplish that.

And by the way, I have of course googled on this.

Thanks for the input so far.

Another Update

I was hoping to get more comparative experience in using gas and induction. I suppose I didn't get much of that because induction ranges do not have wide usage in the U.S. market.

I know that I generally like cooking on gas ranges. My main concern with gas is indoor air pollution. Somewhere among my bookmarks is an article about particulate matter and CO generated by gas ranges.

On the other hand, I really like some of the things I've read about induction ranges. Efficiency, safety, control, etc.

My final decision on what I actually wind up purchasing is down the road a bit. Hopefully, I'll get to "test drive" an induction range in the meantime.

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One advantage to gas : being able to cook when the power's off. (a big factor if you're in an area that loses power regularly, for days at a time) –  Joe Aug 13 '10 at 17:39
    
@Joe - That particular advantage is not a big concern for me. I live in an urban area that rarely loses power + I have a propane camp stove to use in case of emergency. I'm mostly looking for insight on the cooking aspects with each type. –  wdypdx22 Aug 13 '10 at 18:04
    
Converted to community wiki –  Mike Sherov Aug 13 '10 at 23:32
    
So did you make a decision yet? –  calumbrodie Jan 27 '11 at 16:09
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13 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

We have recently remodelled our kitchen and moved from a gas hob to an induction hob. In general it cooks much the same as gas and you get similar levels of control over the temperature. One style of cooking that is not recommended is 'slide' cooking as this will likely scratch your hob surface - this can be mitigated by putting a piece of parchment paper under the pan or lifting the pan off the hob. we don't use a wok and can't see how we could with our hob.

The surface of the hob gets hot but not as hot as it would it it were gas or electric this means that spilt / spattered food doesn't generally burn on to the hob surface and it is much easier to clean.

The hob is touch control and so far we've not had any problems with this. If you lift a pan off the heating zone it will switch itself off automagically after a certain amount of time. Before this happens if you put a pan back on the zone it carries on cooking. If there are no pans on any active zones then the whole thing switches off after 2 minutes.

We chose a NEFF Flushline hob that sits in a natural black granite work surface and the whole thing is positively beautiful and a pleasure to work with.

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Thanks. Just the kind of info I'm looking for. –  wdypdx22 Aug 14 '10 at 21:57
    
I chose your answer because it's the only one covering "real world" experience in using an induction range. –  wdypdx22 Aug 16 '10 at 20:03
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I've used an induction cooktop for 6 months, after many years of gas cooktops. We bought a 5-burner Miele for about $2800. There are less expensive cooktops but we wanted 5 burners.

Pros:

  • Heating is very fast, so fast that you have to adjust your cooking habits so pots don't boil over and food doesn't burn. It's probably 20-30% faster than gas to heat a pot.
  • The flat cooktop is easy to clean.
  • Energy efficient. You can get away with a less powerful ventilation system, such as an downdraft system in a center island, instead of a huge overhead system dominating your kitchen.
  • Lots of control: change the heating setting, and the pot responds instantly. Great for going from a boil to a simmer.

Cons:

  • Be prepared to shop around for cookware. As you probably know, induction requires pans made of magnetic material, but that's just the beginning of the story. We tried 5-6 different induction-ready brands before we settled on a winner. More details follow.
  • Different brands of cookware make different amounts of noise on induction ranges: humming, rattling, screeeeeeeeeee sounds, etc., especially at high power settings. That's because of the magnetic technology. Expensive Demeyere pans were annoyingly loud. Expensive All-Clad pans were quieter but still audible (we kept these). The quietest are cast-iron such as Le Creuset: almost dead silent (we cook most often with these now). A few cheaper pans were unbelievably loud. Advice: buy one pan, try it for boiling water at high settings, and return it if you're not happy.
  • Large griddles don't seem to work well, e.g., for pancakes. Cold spots remain on the outer edge. We tried several cast-iron griddles and they all did this, especially if you use multiple burners at a time. Even when allowed the griddles to heat up for 15-20 minutes in advance, cooking is uneven. (Eventually we bought a $40 electric griddle for pancakes.) I see a similar problem when cooking with a large paella pan on the largest burner: the middle is hottest.
  • With gas, you can look at the flame and get a feel for what level you need. With induction (and electric, I suppose), all you have is an abstract number like "8" which does not correspond to anything memorable for me, and the scale isn't linear, so it's hard to build intuition. My wife misses gas a lot because of this.

Are we glad we went with induction? I'm not sure. We miss some of our great old (non-magnetic) pans, especially our large 2-burner griddle. If the cooktop died tomorrow, we would probably consider running gas to the kitchen.

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I can tell you my personal experience. Then you have to weigh in. I don't have induction, I have heating elements under ceramic glass. The material is the same, the mechanism is different.

Gas pros:

  • once you turn it off, it's off, so if you need to stop the heating immediately, you can do it without moving the pan. This holds for induction as well, but not for electric elements, like in my case.
  • you generally have handles, which are a better control method, imho. I've seen induction ranges with handles as well, though.
  • for the oven, gas works better. you can cook pizza in a gas oven, while an electric one won't work, unless it's very powerful and ventilated. Gas creates a stronger convection, which improves cooking.

Gas cons:

  • it ruins the bottom of the pan
  • it is potentially dangerous
  • the thing that produces the flame (sorry, don't know the name) is relatively complex to clean, and the electric starter will most likely fail within a year.

Induction range pros:

  • cool design
  • it is less dangerous if you leave it on.
  • In case of spill, it generally turns off automatically.

Induction range cons:

  • you will have to change the pans, if they are not made of iron or proper material. induction works through magnetic induction, which heats the metal of the pan. This is the reason why the induction does not burn you if you put a hand on it when it's on. I also heard of pans that broke down, but it's not a personal experience, so I don't really believe it 100 %.
  • ceramic glass is a nightmare to clean, and it's basically dirty after only one use. You will have to scrub it a lot, but with the danger of scratching it. It is also relatively fragile.
  • you most likely have digital controls, which are generally slower to operate.

Given the choice and with the experience I have, I would probably go electric non-induction, as I have right now but with no ceramic glass. If only ceramic glass solutions are available, I would probably go gas.

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Another downside for hobs with touch controls: just a little damp on the controls gets them flashing E for Error and turns off the heat. If you are working intensively at the hob, that can happen often enough that it becomes annoying. –  Chris Steinbach Aug 13 '10 at 21:10
    
@Chris : very true. Had the same issue. –  Stefano Borini Aug 13 '10 at 21:14
    
Thanks for the input. More for my remodel file. Also, added an update to the OP. –  wdypdx22 Aug 14 '10 at 16:59
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Safety: Induction ranges are safer. For those with kids in the house, there is less chance of them being badly burned by the range itself. And there is no chance of pilot light failure and build-up of dangerous levels of gas.

Efficiency: Induction ranges are more efficient than gas, and far more efficient than standard electrical ranges.

Heating capacity: Even the cheaper induction ranges are capable of producing much higher levels of heat than even high-end home gas ranges. Something to keep in mind if you are doing much wok cooking or pan searing.

Durability: The metal surfaces on the gas range are pretty tough to harm. Ceramic can be chipped or cracked.

Cleaning: The induction range is one flat surface. No nooks and crannies for little pieces of raw or burnt food to escape into. However, you can't use the same type of scrubbing and scouring without scratching the surface.

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Good info. Thanks. –  wdypdx22 Aug 16 '10 at 20:23
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I grew up with and learned to cook on a resistive element (traditional electric) stove, since then I've lived in apartments with gas, owned a glass top resistive model and stayed for a couple of months in a Japanese apartment with on inductive stove.

  • Resistive element
    • Many have relatively low power (though high power unit have always been available if you had the money)
    • Slow to heat up and cool down, and no visual feedback of just how much heat you are using means that you have to "get to know" a stove before you can get good control.
    • I find the coils models to require a lot of cleaning, the glass top ones need regular cleaning and occasional heavy (but careful, non-abrasive) scrubbing
    • So-so with woks
  • Gas
    • Powerful and with visual feedback that mean I get good control of the heat on a new stove almost immediately
    • Fast on, fairly fast off (the iron grid hold some heat)
    • Works really well with woks
    • Works when the power is off, though you may have to light it with a match (it is sometimes hard to safely hand light the oven)
    • Bigger fire hazard than other stoves, gas leak hazard (modern models are better about this)
  • Induction
    • Pretty fast.
    • Cleaning is like other glass top models
    • Not every pan will work. Stick with iron or steel.
    • Probably the safest
    • Very efficient
    • Don't know how these perform with woks (as there wasn't one there) but I'm betting on "not well".
    • An unexpected benefit in small kitchens is that you can keep ramkins with ingredients on the cooktop as you work and drop a cutting board onto the cooktop almost immediately after taking a pan off the "heat".

I have been happiest with gas, and nearly as happy with any glass topped electric model (but the wok thing would be an issue for me when looking to buy).

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I've not tried induction but I do have trouble hitting really low temperatures on gas hobs, even on the smaller rings. On modern, glass top electric hobs I can make things that would otherwise require a double boiler (actually I've got a double boiler and it ticks me off that I don't have a use for it).

In one sense glass top hobs are easier to clean than gas; you just wipe them over. But regular glass top hobs tarnish quickly from all the scrubbing of burnt-in food. The answer I'm told is to wipe the hob clean directly after use, which may be practicable on an induction hob since they cool quicker.

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Having used both, I prefer induction due to:

  • The heating speed (It's almost instant)
  • It's probably (in my head at least) more efficient
  • Easier to wipe down
  • My hob (which was pretty expensive), has a timer which I've never seen on a gas hob
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I don't have personal experience with induction.

A family friend has one and it was broken down for ages. A cooking show on TV had each contestant pair cook at home during a stage. The contestant's with induction had it broken down.

I've never seen any chef using induction. Gas top and bottom or electric bottom rule in kitchens - pro and amateur alike. If induction was that great they'd be more visible in the scene. Induction is very expensive to repair and requires special pans.

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Induction ranges may be overrated. Sure, they are "more efficient" than gas in the sense that more of the energy goes to your cooking. The problem is that electricity is far more expensive than gas (at least where I live in central Ohio). Therefore, you will see a big jump in your energy bills than with gas. I speak from experience. My year-to-year electric bill went up for the month of June by $15 between 2012 and 2013 after we installed an induction range in the beginning of June, 2013 (June 1st, to be exact). This is in spite of lower temperatures by an average of 3 degrees, and in addition to having replaced ALL windows last December with double-pane types in lieu of the inefficient single-pane windows we had.

Another plus for gas is that using gas in winter assists in heating your dining area if it is open to the kitchen as several homes in the U.S.

The deal breaker may be different from person to person, but, for me, gas is much less expensive and, thus, preferable. As mentioned in a previous post, gas is also available in cases of power outage. Induction is much better than "standard" electric, though.

In summary, if operating cost is your biggest concern, here is how they rank:

1 (Least expensive) - Gas

2 - Induction

3 - Electric

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In many countries, electricity is cheaper than gas, and is also sourced from a renewable resource (hydro, wind etc) –  TFD Jun 25 '13 at 22:41
    
In the UK, electricity is about 2-3x the price of gas per kWh. Gas cooking is about 40% efficient, induction around 80%. So, induction breaks even at best compared to gas running cost wise but likely to be worse from a Total Cost of Ownership perspective given that induction hobs are more expensive. Not clear on the longevity/reliability of induction hobs, all I found was an NAHB study that puts it at 10 years for induction, 15 for gas. –  Frederik Oct 26 '13 at 9:51
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I had gas oven all my life until a few months ago. I think that for an oven, the induction method is better. This is because in an oven you will want temperature to be roughly the same everywhere - this is incredibly difficult to achieve using a gas oven. This is particularly important for any sort of cake.

As far as non-oven goes, I highly prefer the gas option, because it is much easier to get the temperature right. I do think this is just a preference though. My ideal kitchen would have gas on top and an electric oven. Well, 2 electric ovens really - together having the same size as a normal oven.

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Induction oven? I don't see how that would be possible. I think perhaps you misunderstood what "induction" means. –  Marti Jun 25 '13 at 22:41
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Having had an Induction top in our last house, we missed the immediacy of the almost instant heat (iron or steel pans only, you can buy a steel to fit on the hob to use with non-ferrous pans), it's so much more controllable than anything else. Chefs are using it more, the main point is that it's twice as efficient as gas. The surface where the pan was cooking is hot through being in contact with a hot pan. Never as insanely hot as a halogen hob or electric ring. Unlike gas you can't catch fire or get the fumes from incorrectly burning gas. I had to buy a single induction ring for the house we moved into as the old kitchen was tired, it'll do until we can get a new induction hob. Induction is the future, only heating the pan, not the whole kitchen. While they are saying energy shortfall in the UK maybe this could help.

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What's your source for induction being twice as effective as gas? –  razumny Mar 22 at 21:07
    
I know that you shouldn't use Wikipidia as your source but it did say US government <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…; I know you can't take it all as read, but from use of Inductionhobs, De Detrich, I'm quite sold on induction, –  Stewart Mar 22 at 23:43
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If you want to cook. Get Gas. its a no brainer.

If you do anything interesting, like moving your pans from stove top to oven, or have any old pots you like and love.. Induction won't do it for you.

If you want to show off your kitchen, and keep it clean, get induction or glass ceramic.

You will probably have to get all new pots... your fry pans you will have to replace every couple of years.

Pans warp over time..even All clad Pro or whichever expensive pan you prefer. If you drop it in H2O while still hot even 1x it won't be superflat for induction or ceramic anymore.. (I know you would never do that.. but your teenage daughters friend or a house guest might)

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Since nearly all the important pros and cons are already listed, I just want to add one more thing:

Induction cooking produces electro-magnetic hazards. It doesn't seem to be quite clear what possible effects that may cause on human body (e.g. radiation that hits your eyes). Some say none, some say there may be effects ... Just like the question wether or not a mobile phone may be harmfull to your brain while doing a phone call.

Same for the stuff you put in the pan that is exposed to this radiation. It could be possible that it may influence the food's structure/molecules.

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There's no scientific evidence for the claims made in this post. –  ceejayoz Aug 28 '10 at 16:07
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