Purchasing a Cooktop
Regardless of which type of cooktop you opt for, it is important to bear in mind the following when making a purchase:
- Shop for a cooktop according to the amount of available space in your kitchen. There is no use deliberating over how many cooking zones you need if you only have space for 4. Some manufacturers now offer 70cm cooktops that fit a 60cm cutout which can give you that little bit of extra room for your cookware, where a 60cm maybe a little cramped.
- Choose a cooktop that has the features that will be beneficial to you, such as timers, child locks and so on. Look at the position of the elements or burners that suit the size and number of pans you use most times you cook, side or front control and so on.
- It is important to consider energy efficiency when choosing a cooktop. An induction cooktop may require a larger initial outlay but it could save you money over the cooktop’s lifespan.
- Always check with your electrician about electrical ratings of any cooktop you are considering to ensure you have the correct wiring to suit your purchase. And make sure to adhere to the manufacturers installation requirements to avoid issues later.
- We strongly recommend that all cooktops are installed by a trained professional.
How they work
The principal difference between ceramic and induction cooktops is how they create heat.
- Ceramic cooktops contain coiled metal elements under the tempered ceramic glass. These elements are electronically heated to the desired temperature. This coil then heats the ceramic surface and, consequently, warms the pan. The elements do cycle on and off during use making accurate heat control less than induction cooktops.
- Induction cooktops feature powerful, high-frequency electromagnets instead of heated coils. These magnets generate a magnetic field that heats the pan and not the cooktop’s surface.
- In short, induction cooktops are far more efficient than ceramic cooktops as they only heat the pan and not the surrounding air or the cooktop’s surface. Induction cooktops remain cooler during the cooking process, the ceramic top only heats from residual pan heat and loses heat quicker once turned off.
Both ceramic and induction cooktops can help you prepare food with accuracy and control. However, there are still some differences between them that buyers should be aware of.
- Induction and ceramic cooktops tend to feature digital, touch controls. As well as adding to the design value of the cooktop, this also helps you to be more precise when setting heat levels.
- Other valuable features of touch controls such as child or control panel locks, timers, pause buttons and so on can be very useful for the busy householder.
- Induction cooktops, however, offer more cooking control than ceramic cooktops as they can respond to a change in heat settings in an instant. Electric cooktops need time to heat up, something that you may struggle with for some recipes.
Both ceramic and induction cooktops offer a wide range of effective safety features that significantly reduce the risk of injury and damage to the cooktop.
- Induction cooktops are ideal for any home with small children as the surface doesn’t get as hot as a ceramic top and only activates even when switched on until a pan is placed on the zone.
- Ceramic cooktops do retain considerable heat after cooking up to four or five times higher than induction, however, most models now come with a residual heat indicator so you always know which zones are still too hot to touch or clean.
- Certain models offer added safety features that will turn the heat off if there is a spillage or if the pan that has been placed on the cooking zone is empty. The latter of these features can prevent lasting damage and costly repairs
Most induction and ceramic cooktops feature digital touch controls meaning they are totally flat. This is great news when it comes to cleaning the cooktop.
- Most ceramic and induction cooktops are flat, smooth surfaces which means there are no crevices for food to fall into. This in turn means that cleaning the cooktop is usually just a case of wiping it down.
- However, because ceramic cooktops heat up, spilled food can bake onto the surface. It's important to wipe spills from a ceramic cooktop when safe to do so. Leaving cooked or burnt food on the cooktop will only make cleaning and maintenance harder.
Induction cooktops require a specific kind of cookware; ceramic cooktops will accept almost all types of cookware but are less energy efficient. Be aware that opting for an induction cooktop may mean that you have to replace some of your existing cookware. A quick check is to place a magnet on the base of your cookware, If the magnet sticks firmly you should be fine, cast iron is great and a large griddle pan is a great addition to your induction top for a bigger cooking area and a good flat base wok will make Asian cookery a pleasure.
- Ceramic cooktops perform better when used with flat-bottomed cookware as it increases the amount of the pan that is in contact with the heat and so reduces warm up times.
- If you opt for an induction cooktop check with your cooking specialist to assist with sizes and styles of cookware that best suit your cooking preferences as cookware has also advanced with time.
The cost of purchasing and running ceramic and induction cooktops differs greatly. It is important to consider your style of cooking, safety, energy bills and your time when deciding which is the most appropriate. An induction cooktop may be a slightly higher initial cost but a far better option long term.
- Ceramic cooktops tend to be less expensive to purchase than induction cooktops.
- Where electric elements are reasonably consistent in quality induction coils can vary greatly in quality and performance. As the tempered glass top is quite consistent in quality the induction coils are what will make a considerable difference when in use. Check with your cooking specialist to discuss power levels, zone layout, other features, warranty etc to determine the best cooktop for your circumstances