Talk to me about induction vs gas

babyraccoonSeptember 7, 2013

I realise this subject has no doubt received a lot of attention in this forum, so forgive me for retreading old ground. However, I've recently had the chance to cook a few times on an induction cooktop (a gaggenau CI 262) and am trying to decide if I will go induction or gas for my new kitchen. I'd get a 90" gaggenau, so either the CI 491 induction or VG 295 gas. I'm hoping to be able to cook on a gaggenau gas cooktop to compare like to like, but want to hear from people in here what they think the pros and cons of each are. My thoughts so far:

Induction pros:
Easy to clean
Safer for small children (of which I have two)
More energy efficient
Cookware size must be matched to size of burner
Sides of cookware don't get hot, so you somewhat lose the benefit of the extra heat conductivity of clad cookware
Any warping in your cookware renders that cookware a bit useless on an induction cooktop
More expensive to repair?

Gas pros:
Seems to heat the pan more (all the way to the edge of the bottom and up the sides)
Don't have to match pan size to burner as much
Harder to clean
Open flames around kids

So far the main thing having me lean towards induction is the ease of cleaning, but my gut tells me that I like cooking with gas better. Mind you, I've only cooked on induction twice. Will it grow on me?

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Induction is more mechanically efficient but gas is cheaper to operate because natural gas is so much cheaper. But the difference is nominal. Which is better for the environment is highly debatable. Unless your induction is either solar or coal powered.

Induction is easier to clean but by how much depends on which gas cooktop/rangetop you are talking about and if you are OCD about it. If you have a solid enameled cast iron rangetop like Bluestar or almost solid enameled cast iron rangetop like the Capital Culinarian it can develop a beautiful black patina. I don't clean every drop of grease that lands on my Culinarian grates. I remove and replace the aluminum foil in the drip tray once a year.

Gas cooktops are a mature technology and are simple to fix. Worst case scenario you use a match to light.

Induction hob goes out it can be expensive to repair. Cost and durability of current induction hobs unknown. History of consumer electronics is not that they get cheaper AND more reliable.

Some induction owners report "buzz" sound when on.

Induction is not safer than gas. Below is a post made by GW poster John Liu about the saftey of gas vs induction hobs and wall vs range ovens.


"I have toddlers, so I need a high wall oven".

"Because of my babies, I won't consider a gas range".

"I'm getting induction because I care about my childrens' safety."

Does any of this sound familiar? I see these sentiments occasionally here on KF. They are expressed by younger parents who have very young children, or are planning to start families.

Oddly enough, I seldom (actually, can't specifically recall ever) hear these concerns from older parents who have actually raised children.

Humans learn from experience, so you'd expect the loudest warnings against ranges and gas burners to come from those with . . . experience. Why don't we?

I decided to go looking for data. Here is an interesting article, "Kitchen Scalds and Thermal Burns in Children Five Years and Younger", that was published in Pediatrics, Jan 2005.

The scientists examined the records of all kitchen thermal burns that resulted in a child's visit to a statistical sample of 100 emergency departments nationwide, over a period of five years, 1997-2002. They looked at all cooking-related thermal injuries, excluding accidents where a child pulled on an electrical appliance's cord and was injured by the toaster, coffee maker, etc and/or its contents.

The main findings were:
- Scalds from hot liquid were the main cause of burns serious enough for an ER room visit (was 2/3rd of the cases), and are the dominant cause of hospitalizations.
- Burns from touching hot pots or other surfaces were less common (was 1/3rd of the cases), and seldom resulted in hospitalization. Most burns were from touching a hot pot.
- There were 7 total injury patterns: (1) reached up and pulled down pot from stove or other elevated surface; (2) grabbed, overturned, or spilled pot onto self; (3) collided with pot or with person holding pot; (4) put hands into pot; (5) pot contents splashed onto child; (6) other; and (7) unknown. (1) (2) and (5) were the most common, accounting for about 50% of all the injuries. (6) and (7) were less than 10%.
- Boys were more likely to climb up on counters and spill pots on themselves. Girls were more likely to have hot liquids splashed on them.

Note what was not a significant pattern of injury requiring a hospital visit: chidren touching a hot oven door, chidren holding their hands in a gas flame, children turning on a gas burner and blowing themselves up. I can't say these accidents never happen, but if they do, it is so rare as to not show up in the data.

Here's my take on this. Your concern for the safety of your children, both born and unborn, should have essentially nothing to do with what kind of range, cooktop, or wall oven you choose. Whether the pot is on a gas flame or an induction hob really makes no difference to your child's risk of being scalded or burned, whether the knobs are on the front or the top makes no difference, and whether the pan is in a range oven or a wall oven also makes no difference. It isn't the appliance! that is the threat to your child. They all do the same thing: get pots and pans, and their contents, very hot. The threat is the pots and pans and the food in them.

Take care to keep pots on the back burners, handles turned in. Have landing space to set hot pots away from counter edges. Design your kitchen so you don't have to criss-cross the room carrying pots of hot liquid (unlike a couple of kitchens recently discussed here). Supervise your children and watch where you're walking. That is what is important, not your appliance selection.

From a father whose two kids have reached 11 y/o and 14 y/o without any kitchen accidents, despite having grown up in some awfully dodgy kitchens!


    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 10:59AM
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One advantage to gas over induction is if you are in an extended electrical power failure. In that situation, you can always cook with gas (I am presuming there are no electrical ignitions) and heat water. If you live in a cold winter/snow zone climate, it is worth considering. Only you can know how often that happens, or the likelihood, and if you would be severely affected.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 12:58PM
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"Cookware size must be matched to size of burner"

Not entirely true. Pretty much all allow +/- 1 inch on sizes, some don't care at all. My CookTek unit is perfectly happy to heat up a 13x9 cake pan or a 4" steel pot. No issues.

"Sides of cookware don't get hot, so you somewhat lose the benefit of the extra heat conductivity of clad cookware"

Actually, this is where clad cookware is best used since the heat will conduct to the sides. Of course, it depends on what you mean by 'hot'. I generally would prefer gas for wok cooking since the sides are used more than not.

"Any warping in your cookware renders that cookware a bit useless on an induction cooktop"

Nope. I mean, if you run over the pan with the car or beat it with a sledge hammer, that might make it not work, depending. People routinely use silicone pads underneath pans with no ill effect. Granted, if your pan is warped outward (convex) it may not sit well on the flat surface, rolling around a bit. But the pan would still heat up. And a pad would keep it from sliding/rolling around.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 3:27PM
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I was all ready to go gas when I discovered induction.
I have been quite happy with it - but again newer technology is unknown for how long it will survive.

I recently visited a friend's house and made dinner for them on their professional gas range. Wow - I cooked myself in addition to the dinner - the handles of the vessel were also very hot! - With induction - if you cook it long enough and have metal handles - they can also get hot - but at least I don't get as over heated!

Both gas and induction make noise - but the noises are different - with gas, you hear the gas noises - with induction - they all make some buzzing (some claim that their unit doesn't but I would have to hear with my own ears). Mine makes some noise but when the fan is on - I really don't even hear it.

Safety - An open flame is more likely to start a kitchen fire than no flame. Most kids figure out quickly that a flame burns but not necessarily the other issues such as pulling a hot pot of water on top of them.

UMHS (University of Michigan Health System) just started a research study on the effects of gas cooking on health... But don't worry, someone else will do one on health effects of induction.

We live in an area that used to lose power for prolonged time periods but after meeting with the local Sparky company (electric company), they upgraded the wires leading to the neighborhood and now we seldom lose for more than a couple hours. - We also live where it can can quite hot and quite cold - one of the last times we lost power - I just packed up the turkey etc and we headed north (actually, we had planned to go up north to cook the turkey - it just worked out perfectly) - It would have been too cold to stay in the house in the middle of the winter!

Go with your heart and your cooking style - no regrets from my choice.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 4:43PM
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Another advantage of induction is that in a small kitchen such as mine it acts as additional counter space. Any electric smoothtop would, but with induction there's no danger of accidentally igniting something like a dishtowel or potholder or piece of mail.

In the end, it is a personal choice, since they both cook well and are highly responsive. Me, I'd always choose induction, and I have one of the noisiest models on the market. I love it anyway.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 9:08PM
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Another advantage of induction vs. gas is that is is more comfortable to cook. Gas dumps a lot more waste heat into the kitchen, so it is hotter and less comfortable. Cost more for AC, if you are in that climate.

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Or get induction.

In my massive remodel, I installed an induction range, but I plumbed gas behind the range, in case anyone (future buyer) prefers gas. Only cost me a pittance, while everything was apart and gas was already being modified.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 2:47AM
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All great points!

Power outages are very rare where I live, so I'm not overly concerned about not being able to cook on my stove if the power goes out. As for heat in the kitchen, this also wouldn't be a major concern in our climate.

So far, the two aspects that have me considering induction are the ease of cleaning and the lack of an open flame. The cooktop will be located in an island facing a breakfast bar - I'm envisioning kids doing their homework while I cook, paper accidentally dropping into the flame, etc. Something to be considered when we get more into the nitty gritty of the kitchen design.

For those who have cooked on both, any observations on the general performance of one versus the other?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 3:16AM
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There is an aspect you haven't mentioned yet - venting. How will you vent from your island cooktop? When we moved into our home, the GE gas cooktop was against a wall with a popup vent. Both were pretty useless, so we planned to replace the GE with BS. After a lot of thinking about how to vent from the BS gas cooktop, we decided to go with induction instead because the heat generated was less, so venting requirements were lower.

We installed a Thermador induction cooktop with Kobe overhead vent and couldn't be happier. Induction is faster and more finely controlled than gas. For the cook, it's more comfortable because heat goes only into the pan and not in your face or arms. I love the convenience of timers - no more boilovers or burnt offerings. I have set mitts and potholders on fire over gas a number of times, that's all in the past. DH loves the easy cleanup.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 9:44AM
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I can't say for all units on the market and I did see videos on the net of some induction units being picky on the size of the pan (KA?), but on my Miele you have a very large range to play with so this is not an issue and it should not be an issue on something sold under the Gaggenau name.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 12:39PM
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Safety around kids may not seem to be as big a concern after the explanation above. But that doesn't take into consideration the added design options an induction cooktop gives you for a smaller kitchen-the kind you can find along with younger kids. An induction top is much more likely to be on an island with kids using the island too.
Homework, breakfast, snacks and helping with cooking.
Think of the open flame in that setting and compare that with the induction safety.
If your design includes an island cooktop with island seating then induction makes safety sense.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 1:27PM
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And the debate goes on ... Cook on both , decide which brings you the most pleasure and satisfaction ... I can imagine that had I went with gas ,I would be extolling its virtues , but I went with induction and have never looked back ... There is no wrong answer ...

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 3:02PM
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babyraccoon: "Cookware size must be matched to size of burner"

No more so than with gas. Really. If you cook with a large pot over a small ring of gas, you have the same problem.

"Sides of cookware don't get hot, so you somewhat lose the benefit of the extra heat conductivity of clad cookware"

A common misconception about clad cookware. For cooking solids, that is, effectively, wok-style cooking, or fried chicken in a cast iron skillet, zone cooking, where some parts of the pan are hotter than others and you move the solid pieces around constantly, heating of the sides is part of the process.

However (as in most cooktop/rangetop cooking), where the contents of the pot are liquid, clad cookware is a detriment, not a benefit. Almost all of the heat that is conducted up the sides of the pot ends up in the kitchen, not in the contents of the pot, and that energy is "stolen" from heat at the bottom of the pot that would have heated the contents of the pot.

If you put your hand on the side of a clad pot that has been on the burner for a while, it is hot. Think about that: the heat that you feel in your hand is not going into the liquid inside the pot; it is headed out of the pot.

It is simple physics: heat flows through a heat conductor from the hotter zone to the cooler zone. Most of the stuff you cook in a pot starts out at room temperature, or close to it. (Usually tap water is cooler than room temperature, but not much.)

Heat applied at the bottom of a pot containing liquid will create a convection current in the liquid which quickly will distribute the heat throughout the liquid. Once the liquid inside the pot is hotter than the air outside the pot, to the extent that the sides of the pot can conduct heat, those sides will take heat OUT of the liquid and conduct the heat to the air outside of the pot.

I know, I know, you have read some of the advertising that makers of clad pots have put out there to convince you that clad pots are always superior to disk-bottom pots. A lot of money has been spent on the snake oil. But advertising money simply cannot overcome the laws of physics.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 9:16PM
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So, herring maven- what are you selling? We all know what we enjoy cooking with; irregardless of the "laws of physics"....

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 10:07PM
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I had induction in 1988 in a new home and loved it because of the ease of cleaning. So I don't think it is a new technology that will then go away.

Gas IMO is a dirty, smelly fuel and discolors the bottom of all of my cookware. Also, depending on where you live, gas might be more expensive than electric to run.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 9:57AM
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I had induction in 1988 in a new home and loved it because of the ease of cleaning. So I don't think it is a new technology that will then go away.

Gas IMO is a dirty, smelly fuel and discolors the bottom of all of my cookware. Also, depending on where you live, gas might be more expensive than electric to run.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 10:00AM
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bevwinchester: "So, herring maven- what are you selling?"

Nothing. Nothing at all. Why do you ask?

"We all know what we enjoy cooking with; irregardless of the 'laws of physics' ...."

Suppose the discussion was about air conditioning in automobiles, and a poster wrote that a "Con" to air conditioning was that you needed to keep the windows rolled up, and that prevented you from sticking your arm out the window to signal a turn. Would it indicate that I am selling something if I were to comment that sticking your arm out the window to signal a turn is no longer the preferred method to signal?

If you enjoy cooking liquids with clad cookware and thereby you use your pot as a space heater for a cold kitchen, enjoy away; no one is going to pry your clad pot from your hands. But the advantage that clad pots enjoy as radiators should not be listed as a "con" for induction cooktops or ranges, because the heat that goes into your kitchen is lost to the cooking process.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 4:14PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Just my opinion. I have always cooked with gas. In one apartment, we had electric and I quickly learned how to burn everything! So gas has ruled all of my kitchens since!

We just moved to county property, high on a hill, and there is NO gas! And county code says we can't cook with propane inside! My option was electric or induction.

I'm a grandma, and not excited about learning new things, but I do remember the electric disasters, so we went induction! Holy Cow! I've never cooked better or been happier in my kitchen! Induction is amazing! PLUS, you get to buy all new cookware! I carry a magnet with me to the stores now just to test if a pan is induction friendly. Many aren't, but I got an awesome set on overstock! Beaudex from France!

All my cast iron still works great too, and I have a lot of that!

Color me happier with induction!!


    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 11:28AM
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desertcow, I love the "Holy Cow"!! We also can't have gas in our new place, so we're going the induction route, too. Love the testimonial.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 11:52AM
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