Induction cooktops have a lot of advantages over their gas and electric counterparts. For impatient cooks, the biggest pro might be sheer speed: the elements heat up quite fast – no more waiting endless minutes for a pot of water to boil, for instance. Another big advantage, especially for families with curious children, is that induction cooktops use an electromagnetic field that will only create heat when a pot or pan is on the heating element. That also means the surface cools to the touch... very quickly, and it’s easy to wipe clean – there are no metal grates or coils to attract stubborn grease and gunk.
Of course, there are some downsides to contend with. First, induction cooktops can be pricey compared to gas or electric, and second, they require magnetic cookware that will activate the induction heating elements. (Unsure? If a magnet sticks to the bottom of your pot or pan, it will probably work.) Some owners of induction cooktops also say the sensors have trouble recognizing smaller pots and pans, even when they are induction-compatible.
Ready to take the plunge and invest in an induction cooktop? Here are five of your best bets available for purchase online.
Owners say this GE Profile induction cooktop offers a hard-to-find combination of quality and value. Available in all black or black with stainless steel trim, this 36-inch cooktop has five heating elements: one 6-inch, two 7-inch, one 8-inch, and one 11-inch. The 11-inch burner has 3,700 powerful watts to make quick work of boiling water; the other burners range from 1,800 to 3,200 watts. A 30-inch model is also available.
The Profile is feature-rich, with integrated touch controls that can be... locked – perfect for families with small kids – and sensors that heat only to the precise size of the pans being used, and only when pans are on the cooktop. The two 7-inch burners may be used simultaneously with a SyncBurner control to accommodate larger pans or griddles, and indicator lights alert users when heating elements are active or the surface remains hot. Owners say the smooth glass surface is easy to clean and heats up quickly, but some warn that the controls can be a little hard to read. The cooktop is backed by a one-year warranty.
Thousands of happy owners love this little Secura portable cooktop, which can go anywhere that there’s a standard 120-volt outlet. It has a single 8-inch burner that can operate at 10 power levels from 200 to 1,800 watts, and temperature ranges from 140 to 460 degrees. And at just 13 by 11.5 inches, it can fit in the tiniest studio kitchens, campers, hotel rooms or dorm rooms.
For a portable unit, the Secura doesn’t skimp on features. Like most induction cooktops, it automatically detects the... presence of cookware and adjusts the heating element based on pan size. There is a built-in countdown timer that can be set for up to 170 minutes and an easy-to-use digital push-button control panel. Owners say that despite its size, this little burner heats up and boils water with blazing speed, and they love how lightweight it is, making it easy to tote around. The cooking surface can be wiped clean easily. But a few reviewers warn that it’s too easy for larger pots and pans to shift around and hit the controls, which are at the same level as the burner.
Buyers with a little more to spend on a quality induction cooktop should make sure this 36-inch model from KitchenAid is on their list of contenders. It boasts five heating elements. Four are 7 inches, with 2,500 watts; the fifth is a dual 4,800/2,500-watt 12-inch element that can accommodate a range of pan sizes and boil water in a snap. This cooktop is available in all black or black with stainless steel trim.
Its higher price means this KitchenAid features a lot of bells and whistles. There... are 12 power levels for precise heating, and each element has simmer, melt, keep warm and performance-boost functions. Both pairs of 7-inch elements can be bridged to create two larger cooking zones for oversized pots and pans or griddles. The touch-activated controls are lockable to prevent little hands from turning up the heat, and a cooking timer can be set for up to 90 minutes for one cooking zone. Owners say all the settings allow a high level of precision – perfect for the discerning chef – and report that the glass cooktop is easy to clean. A few warn that the sensors of the 7-inch burners may not recognize very small pots and pans, however. KitchenAid backs the cooktop with a one-year warranty that extends to five years for the heating elements and select other components.
Small kitchen? Smaller budget? No problem – the True Induction TI-2B can accommodate both. This little cooktop is only 24 inches long and has two 10-inch heating elements. Unlike many budget-friendly induction cooktops, this one can be inset in users’ countertops, allowing a more seamless look. However, it can also serve as a portable cooktop for RVs, dorms or other places on the go – all it needs for power is a standard 110-volt outlet, meaning you won’t need a pro to guide a complex... installation.
The heating elements on the True Induction use power-sharing technology and can share up to 1,800 watts. For example, one heating element can run at a full 1,800 watts of power while the other is off; one can run at 1,000 watts and the other at 800 watts; or both can use 900 watts. There are 10 heat settings. At full power, one burner can boil a cup of water in 70 seconds, and sensors mean the cooktop won’t continue to heat up if no cookware is detected. Owners love this little cooktop for cramped spaces, saying it heats up quickly and cleans easily. A few warn that it might not be powerful enough for buyers used to a full-size model, though. It’s backed by a two-year warranty and a 60-day trial period.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
If you’re looking for a cooktop that can work in a more compact kitchen, this 30-inch model from the Frigidaire Gallery line is a solid performer at a moderate price point. It has four heating elements: one 6-inch, one 7-inch, one 8-inch and one 10-inch. They range from 2,000 to 3,400 watts. Frigidaire recommends the 10-inch element for quick boiling and the 6-inch for more gentle tasks such as melting chocolate. A five-element 36-inch cooktop is available for larger spaces.
Like the GE Profile,... this Frigidaire has integrated, lockable touch controls and sensors that automatically shut off the heating elements when pots and pans are removed from the cooktop. It also has hot-surface indicators, but note that it lacks a bridge element that can accommodate larger cookware. Owners miss this feature, but they praise the easy-to-clean glass surface and responsive heating elements. A few warn that the surface can be easy to scratch, however. It’s backed by a one-year warranty.
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