Induction cooktops date back to the 1980s, but their high prices and poor performance failed to ignite the passions of home cooks. However, performance upgrades have been made and prices have been lowered and, 30 years later, their proven energy efficiency makes these cooktops fierce competitors with their electrical and gas counterparts. While these cooktops do their job differently, they all require proper ventilation.
Basics of Induction Cooking
Induction cooking uses a powerful electromagnet to generate heat energy in a metal pot or pan. The cooktop has a smooth surface without raised burners. The flat burners are heated by electrical current and while food cooks quickly, the cooking surface never feels hot. This means no heat is wasted during the cooking process, as the heat is focused solely on the vessel. This Old House adds that, “magnetic induction heats with an 85 to 90 percent efficiency rating, versus less than 70 percent for electric and about 50 percent for gas.”
Why Ventilation is Necessary
Stove top cooking can result in wonderful things, such as a charred steak topped with sautéed onions and mushrooms. Unfortunately, the actual cooking process can cause damage to your home. Grease builds up on cooking surfaces and nearby countertops while steam, left to concentrate and thicken, can rot walls. Ventilating hoods have fans to move the air and filters that trap grease and particles, keeping them from clogging ductwork and becoming a fire hazard.
Induction Cooktops and Ventilation
The argument for ventilation is greater for gas cooktops because gas cooking produces more steam and carbon monoxide than other cooking methods. Induction cook tops don't produce excess heat or steam, but ventilation and air movement still is required. Movement of air is measured in CFM, or cubic feet per minute. The Home Ventilating Institute recommends that cooktops against a wall have hoods that can move between 40 and 100 CFM while cooktops on an island are covered by hoods that move between 50 and 150 CFM. It is the size and location of your cooktop that dictates the size of the necessary ventilation.
Considering Induction Cooktops
Induction cooktops, while more energy efficient than both gas and electric, do have drawbacks. First, these cooktops require the use of ferrous metal cookware to complete the electromagnetic circuit. Ferrous metals contain iron and are magnetic. Pans made of steel and cast iron will work on an induction cooktop while those made of aluminum, copper and glass will not. Second, cooks who are used to waiting for pans to heat and water to boil will have to adjust their timing when working with an induction cooktop.