3 - Induction Cooking
Electrify Brookline | How-To Guide #3
Gas stoves appeal to many of us for the instant control we have over the open flame on the cooktop. But as the world gets a fuller understanding of potential health and climate impacts tied to gas stoves, we need to think of moving to a more efficient way of cooking.
The Boston Globe reported on a study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that researched the association of indoor gas stove use and an increased risk of asthma among children. The study concluded that, “12.7% of childhood asthma nationwide is attributed to gas stove use, similar to childhood asthma burden attributed to secondhand smoke exposure” The Boston Globe published an article on a study regarding gas stoves and childhood asthma.
What Is Induction Cooking?
Induction cooking can be provided by a portable cookplate, a built-in cooktop, or the cooking surface of a full-size range. Induction cooking creates heat much more efficiently and cleanly than standard radiant electric or gas cooking.
Here’s how induction technology works: An electric current is passed through a coiled copper wire underneath the cooking surface, which creates a magnetic current that runs directly to the cooking pan to produce heat; cookware with a “ferrous” base – able to hold a magnet – can turn the magnetic energy into heat. Traditional radiant electric stoves heat up the entire cooking surface in order to heat up the pan, which is less efficient, less safe, and less comfortable.
Because heat is transferred directly to a pot or pan only, induction cooktops are cool to the touch. You can put your hand directly on the burner while it’s cooking and not get burned. (Though the pot will get hot!) When there’s no pan on the burner, nothing gets hot. And no one can cause a fire or explosion by leaving the burner on by mistake.
This more precise way of heating also means more powerful cooking: induction stoves can boil water up to 50% faster compared to their gas and electric counterparts.
How Can This Help the Climate?
A study published in January 2022 by Stanford University found that natural gas stoves may emit concerning levels of indoor air pollution and could play a larger role in driving climate change than previously believed. Even when they weren’t being used, gas stoves were shown to release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and other harmful pollutants—including formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide—through leaks in the stove and in the service line.
Just using one gas stove for a year emits on average 649 grams of methane—equivalent to the number of emissions released from driving 40 miles.
Will I Still Be Able to Cook Well?
The New York Times has an excellent article about just this question. Their conclusion? It may take a little time, but cooks—both professional chefs at restaurants and amateur cooks at home – have come to love the control they have and the ability to maintain even temperatures at both low and high heat with induction cooking.
What Do We Know about the Technology?
Induction cooking has been used in Europe and Asia for decades. Like other household appliances, including microwaves and computers, induction stoves emit electromagnetic waves. But the amounts are low enough to be considered safe under standards set by the governing agency, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility have concluded that the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from an induction stove are considered not harmful to humans and are overall healthier than gas cooking; however, if you have a pacemaker or other implanted device, you should consult with your physician.
Questions Around Electricity
Many induction stoves and cooktops require a 240 volt electrical circuit, although some only require 120 volts. If you’re switching from an electric range or cooktop, chances are good that you can swap in your new induction appliance by plugging it into the same outlet. If you’re switching from gas, the cost of moving to induction could be higher because you’re likely to need a new outlet and an electric line run from your home’s circuit breaker panel, as well as a plumber to cap off your old gas line. You may find that you also need to upgrade your circuit breaker panel.
Since you may need some electrical updates, a good strategy is to be proactive. You’ll need to know the requirements of the particular device you’re installing — its electrical specifications, as well as the location where it will go. Once you know these, have your electrician come over, give them your appliance specification and ask them to install a circuit that will be induction-cooktop or range-ready.
What Choices Are There?
- You can purchase an induction range, which includes a cooktop using induction technology as well as a regular electric oven.
- If you already have a separate electric oven, you can purchase an induction cooktop.
- You can also purchase a portable induction cook plate with either a single or double burner, and reduce or eliminate your gas cooking while you keep your gas appliance for the time being.
If you’re beginning to explore induction cooking, the Brookline Library has portable induction cooking kits to borrow, so you can "check out" the technology before making a purchase. The kits are available at the Coolidge Corner Library, the Putterham Library and the Main Library.
And check out an excellent article by Consumer Reports on induction cooking.
- Many pans work on an induction stove: cast iron, ceramic clad, enameled, and stainless steel. They all must contain iron, a magnetic metal. To learn if your pan will work, just put a refrigerator magnet on the bottom. If the magnet sticks, the pan will work.
- Induction stoves use 30 to 50% less energy and release fewer emissions than gas stoves.
- A gas or regular electric stove heats the air as well as the pot, making you swelter. Induction stoves only heat the pot and the food.
- An induction stovetop is smooth and easy to wipe clean. With no burners, nothing gets burned onto the surface.
- From frying at 375° to warming chocolate sauce at 110°, induction controls temperature with greater precision than gas.
Installation: Induction ranges and cooktops can range in costs. In Consumer Reports ratings from 2022, 30-inch electric ranges start at $600 and gas models start at around $505, while 30-inch induction ranges start at $1,160. Still, industry experts agree that, as demand increases, prices will fall. This price differential does not reflect rebates and tax credits that are available.
Operation: According to the Mass Clean Energy Center, the cost to operate an induction cooktop for the average family will be about $50 per year.
You can find more details about induction cooking at the Mass Clean Energy Center website.
Available Rebates and Tax Credits
Currently, Mass Save offers a rebate of $500 for a new induction stove after verification through a Home Energy Assessment. Check to make sure you have the verification you will need at Mass Save.
For more details, see Resource Guide #1: Financial Incentives: Tax Credits and Rebates
How Your Neighbors Made the Switch
A Brookline neighbor who’s been in the same house since 1970 was a long-time fan of cooking with gas. She’d always disliked electric stoves, feeling that she couldn’t cook well on them. When she remodeled her kitchen about four years ago, she saw no reason to replace the new gas stove she’d purchased only a few years earlier.
However, through Mothers Out Front (MOF), she became aware of the potential health issues around gas stoves, though she was a bit skeptical at first. Then she thought about her adult son whose health issues included asthma once he was an adult, and wondered whether the gas stoves in their home when he was growing up might have been a contributing factor.
But more important to her was the climate impact of gas cooking that she was learning about and the need to stop fossil fuels, period. Cooking without gas was something she wanted to try and she began doing some research on induction cooking following MOF presentations on the subject. Two opportunities helped her make her decision. First, she had a neighbor active in MOF who had completely replaced their gas stove with an induction range. It made a difference to see what someone had already done and to be able to ask questions. Second, she took advantage of the Brookline Library’s option to borrow an induction cook plate and pans. For two weeks, she cooked everything she could on that cook plate – all her favorite soups, casseroles, and other foods. That ability to test it out made all the difference. She could cook well on it.
She learned that purchasing a single burner induction cook plate was affordable for her and the same MOF neighbor recommended a brand, so she wasn’t starting from scratch. She also looked at a double burner cook plate, but counter space was an issue and she realized that without a big family at home she didn’t really need that second burner.
She purchased a Duxtop single burner cook plate on Amazon for around $100; some models cost even less. She could plug it directly into an existing outlet, so there was no need for any additional electrical work. She’s been very happy with it, though some of her pans were not compatible. So, she just cooks with those that are and plans to purchase one or two pans that will work.
The bottom line? For this homeowner it’s “do what you can.” She recommends that everyone give induction cooking a try and with the library lending program, it’s easy. As she says, every choice we make makes a difference; everything we do in our lives has an impact.
This Brookline family bought an induction range as part of a kitchen remodeling project not too long ago. The brand they chose is GE Café. The price was higher than some induction models, but it works well and it looks good.
They decided to make this choice for two reasons: they needed a new range (some burners on their old range were no longer working) and they wanted to get rid of fossil gas.
Because the family has 100% green electricity through Brookline Green Electricity, the range is entirely fossil-fuel free. If you have electricity from other sources, using an induction range won’t be entirely fossil-fuel free, but each year as our electrical grid becomes greener, induction cooking will also be a more sustainable choice.
This range was an investment in improving the family’s kitchen and the homeowner wishes there were even more options that were less expensive so that induction cooking would be accessible to more people.
You can read all the details in this homeowner’s blog about his family’s experience with induction cooking.
This family’s gas cooktop was old and they were worried about the potential negative health impact of gas. They were also very concerned about the climate, and moving to an induction cooktop would be a step they could take toward reducing their emissions.
They went to Yale Appliance, but the exact Bosch model they wanted (Consumer Reports #1 model) was unavailable due to supply chain problems. Yale didn’t know when that model would be back in stock, but the upgraded version was in stock and they could get it right then. They decided they wanted to move ahead, so paid the additional cost for the upgraded version.
The installer first disconnected the existing gas cooktop from the gas piping and removed the cooktop and piping.
Their electrician had let them know that in order to install the induction cooktop they would need to add a circuit breaker with a higher amp rating in the electric panel, as well as a higher voltage outlet for the induction cooktop; the electrician performed this work before the delivery of the cooktop. The cost of the electrical work was higher than they anticipated.
Even with the added expenses, the family is very happy with their induction cooktop. It functions very well overall, there's no noise, it has a sleek look, it heats fast. And they found that there was no learning curve in terms of cooking food on an induction cooktop.
About Electrify Brookline
Electrify Brookline is a collaboration between the Town of Brookline’s Zero Emissions Advisory Board (ZEAB), Mothers Out Front Brookline and Climate Action Brookline. Our goal is to provide clear information to guide the community on the path toward electrification — improving the energy efficiency, health and comfort of their living spaces while reducing climate-damaging emissions to preserve a livable future for all.
IMPORTANT: Verify with your installers that they have the proper licenses and insurance, and confirm that they have or will obtain all required permits and inspections from the Town of Brookline.
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