Although induction cooking has been used for many years, there are many misconceptions. Here we address some common questions on this technology.
I heard that you had to spend a lot of money on “special pans” for induction.
Sometimes the phrase “induction compatible” is used by pan manufacturers to command a premium. In truth, any magnetic pan will work. The higher the ferrous (iron) content, the better. Many cheap steel or cast iron pans perform very well. A simple and cheap compatibility test is a fridge magnet - the stronger the attraction to the bottom of the pan, the better it will work in general. Many stainless steel pans are magnetic, while some aluminum pans are made with a steel (iron) core, sandwiched in the base, so that they will work on induction. This type of pan generally works very well – the steel inducts, while the aluminum conducts the heat up the sides. It's true though that copper and all aluminum pans will not work.
Induction doesn’t sound very powerful. I just went online and converted 1800W to BTUs. It came out at just 6,100! Surely that’s not enough to cook?
The "pure" conversion does not take relative efficiency differences into account. Gas burners are typically only 35-45% efficient (which is why commercial kitchens using gas are often so hot). Induction cooktops are anywhere from 80% to 95% (depending on how it's measured), but as a rule of thumb, an 1800W induction unit is the equivalent of 16,000 BTUs of gas.
Those glass tops on the induction units don’t look very strong. Are they really up to the task?
The tops have to pass a very stringent test called UL197. They have to withstand the impact from a 1.2-lb. (0.4 kg) steel ball from 21" (533 mm) and a 4-lb. (1.8 kg) pan dropped 10 times from 8 inches (203 mm). For cooktops - especially commercial ones - "ceramic glass" is better than tempered glass. They both pass the same drop tests, but tempered glass can bow at high temperatures (e.g. if a pan has been heating on the top for a long period).
Click HERE for more information on induction technology.