There have been a number of recent reports touting the efficacy of non-fossil fuel energy sources, with solar and wind garnering the greatest attention. While petroleum continues to dominate energy sources, predictions for when electricity generated solely from renewable energy becomes dominate in the United States are forecasting an achievable 90 percent goal by 2035 – based as much on politics as the underlying technologies including smart grid development. In an effort to reduce natural gas consumption, which ranks right behind petroleum as an energy source, many states are incentivizing homeowners to ditch their fossil fuel appliances for ones that run on electricity, because every step in the right direction is a giant leap for the planet.
Additionally, in our world of performance homes and a surging wellness real estate marketing push, clean air is a major talking point that cross pollinates any discussion about moving from natural gas to renewable electricity. Case in point, your kitchen.
Cooking with a gas stovetop produces PM2.5 (one of the deadliest air pollutants) in addition to nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Which is why it is recommended that any time you turn on a burner you should have your venting hood on at its maximum setting. Now think about that for just a minute – our kitchens have become the hub of our homes and we’re polluting the environment with noxious fumes and ultrafine particulate matter when we have an alternative available that can reduce fossil fuel consumption without any loss of cooking performance.
Most of you are aware of induction cooktops, but perhaps not up to speed on the very latest advances that have stimulated a 30 percent year-over-year sales growth in the U.S. in 2020 versus three percent growth overall in the free-standing range category. From a cost-competitive standpoint to the simple fact that induction cooktops are more energy efficient than gas, there’s a major move afoot to make our kitchens healthier and greener. Let’s take a brief look at how induction works and then profile a few stovetops that represent the current field of best-in-class products.
In an induction cooktop, electricity feeds a coil that produces a high-frequency electromagnetic field. The field penetrates the magnetic material (steel and aluminum) of your pot and produces a circular electric current which generates heat. The heat generated in your cooking vessel is transferred to the contents in it. Nothing outside the cooking vessel is affected by the electromagnetic field and when the pot is removed from the cooktop the generation of heat instantly stops.
Induction offers a wide range of power settings, including low power that is gentle enough for bakers to melt chocolate without having to use a double boiler. Induction offers precise and nearly instantaneous temperature control, making it predictable, unlike with gas where cooks have to guesstimate heat levels by looking under the pan to judge the size of the flame.
Induction cooktops are 90-95 percent efficient compared to gas, in which about 50 percent of the energy is lost to the atmosphere, heating the kitchen. Another extremely – though underrated – attribute of induction versus gas is keeping your cooktop clean. With an induction top, you wipe it down and you’re done. With a gas top, you’re a slave to an incredibly dirty cooktop with multiple fittings that have to cool down and be dismantled ahead of cleaning. Finally, it’s just so much faster to cook with induction, as you can increase or decrease the temperature far more quickly than gas, which is a more efficient use of energy.
The downside of induction for a long time has simply been a matter of costs. They used to be really, really expensive compared to gas. But that gap has closed dramatically and with sales increasing at a rapid rate, price won’t be the factor when deciding which cooktop technology you prefer.
Sharp is somewhat unique when it comes to name brand appliance manufacturers – they only offer radiant cooktops (electric and induction). The Sharp top-of-the-line 36-inch induction cooktop comes with a contemporary European Black Mirror finish made with premium Schott® glass that is highly scratch resistant. With five cooking zones and an enhanced LED display, this cooktop offers a simmer enhancer for extraordinarily consistent cooking performance that excels with delicate sauces.
For safety, the cooktop has residual heat indicators for each cooking zone, and cookware must be present for a cooking zone to turn on so you don’t accidentally turn it on or leave it on after you remove a pan. And for cooks who have all five zones going at once and are about to plate their food, there is a Keep Warm mode on all zones that facilitates getting your food to the table at the right temperature.
Dacor offers both a 30-inch and a 36-inch induction cooktop. The 36-inch is outfitted with a seven inch LCD control panel with full-touch culinary command for pre-programmed settings and step-by-step recipes. Its FlexZone offers nine flexible cooking modules that heat and cook at lightning speed. The cooktop can accommodates pots and pans of all shapes and sizes with a simple swipe of the finger.
Dacor has specially sourced ceramic glass to resist heat and scratches from pots and pans sliding around on the surface. And the Dacor iQ Kitchen app with integrated Wi-Fi features allows you to control and monitor the appliance remotely. For safety, there is a Child Lock and a hot surface indicator.
The Freedom® 36-inch induction cooktop can take up to six pans at once, with the largest fully usable cooking surface in its class. Fully-loaded with 56 inductor elements and pot detection that intuitively recognizes the size, shape and position of cookware.
The cooktop also features a large full-color touchscreen and allows the cook to change a preset power level simply by moving a pot or pan. It’s designed specifically for recipes that require frequent temperature changes.
It’s time for performance homes to feature induction cooktops as a matter of course – they are more energy efficient than gas, they are certainly a healthier option versus gas, and the latest models have some great features that go beyond cooking with gas.
With clean air becoming a major selling point in a wellness environment, doesn’t it make sense to have the nerve center of your home as clean as possible? Induction cooking is a natural step in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and at the same time evolving the art of cooking itself.