How Induction Cooktops Work

Buying an Induction Cooktop

Here are some important tips to mull over before you buy an induction cooktop.



  • Try before you buy. Find a store that carries induction cooktops and ask for a demonstration. Still unsure? Some manufacturers offer cooktops that have induction elements alongside radiant elements, or you can test drive the technology with a portable unit for less than $200.
  • Buy a model designed specifically for home use. Induction cooktops were originally designed for use in industrial and restaurant kitchens.
  • Know what you're getting into. Installation is easiest during new home construction. If you're replacing a stove or remodeling an existing kitchen, be sure that your wiring, voltage and amperage can handle the load (something in the range of 208/240 volts with breakers up to 50 amperes).
  • Ask an electrician. Older wiring can be dangerous if overloaded. Power grids fluctuate, and even modern wiring doesn't necessarily put out its rated voltage. Improper installation can also interfere with radio or television reception. An experienced electrician can help you avoid constantly tripping your breakers -- or worse.

Now let's get wrap things up by dishing out some induction cooktop features to ask your appliance seller about.


  • True simmer heat levels
  • Keep-warm setting
  • Pan detector
  • Pan suitability detector
  • Pan size adaptation
  • Residual-heat indicators
  • Child safety lock
  • Hot surface light

Less common:

  • Overflow detection
  • Anti-overheating limiter that disables temperatures above 575 degrees Fahrenheit, so oil and other flammables can't get hot enough to catch fire
  • Power Boost mode
  • Zoneless cooktops that allow you to cook anywhere on the cooktop and can accept and "remember" any size or shape of cookware [source: Creighton]
  • Special cooking accessories, such as grills, griddles, wok rings and simmer plates
  • Voltage and connection problem indicators
  • Sabbath/Shabbat mode, which is a setting that temporarily disables automatic shutoff, allowing Jews observing the Sabbath to continue to use the oven

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • BBC. "Michael Faraday." (Accessed online Oct. 5, 2009).
  • Cassidy, David C., Gerald J. Holton and Floyd J. Rutherford. "Understanding Physics." Springer. 2002.
  • Creighton, Keith. Management Supervisor, The Rogers Group (public relations for BSH Home Appliances Corporation (Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte)). Personal correspondence. Oct. 6, 2009.
  • Chowhound (Cookware message board). "Cooking on Induction Hob - How is it?" May 4, 2009. (Accessed online Oct. 8, 2009).
  • Chu, Louisa. "Magnetic Fields: Induction Cooktops Cook Hot, Stay Cool." Chow. Feb. 1, 2007. (Accessed online Oct. 8, 2009).
  • Consumer Reports. "Induction Cooktops are Promising, but not Perfect." June 2008. (Accessed online Oct. 6, 2009).
  • Consumer Reports (blog). "Buzzword: Induction." June 9, 2008. (Accessed online Oct. 12, 2009).
  • Fairchild Semiconductor. "Induction Heating System Topology Review." July 2000. (Accessed online Oct. 6, 2009).
  • General Electric Co. "Electronic Induction Cooktop" (owner's manual). (Accessed online Oct. 7, 2009).
  • General Electric Co. "How Induction Works - Two-Part Cooking System." (Accessed online Oct. 5, 2009).
  • National Academy of Sciences. "Joseph Henry." (Accessed online Oct. 5, 2009).
  • Peters, Malte. Product Manager Cooking, BSH Home Appliances Corporation (Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte). Personal correspondence. Oct. 8 and Oct. 13, 2009.
  • U.S. Department of Energy. "Potential Impact of Alternative Efficiency Levels for Residential Cooking Products." (Accessed online Oct. 7, 2009).
  • U.S. Fire Administration/National Fire Data Center. "Structure Cooking Fires." August 2005. (Accessed online Oct. 7, 2009).
  • U. S. Patent Office. Induction Cooking Unit Having All Pan Safe Operation, Wide Range Power Control and Low Start-Up and Shut-Down Transients" (United States Patent 3886342). May 27, 1975 (filed April 26, 1973). (Accessed online Oct. 8, 2009).