Induction Range

We recently replaced our gas range with an induction one and it’s lot better. My main motivation was energy savings (we have solar, so electricity is “free”) and improved indoor climate. I don’t want to get into the whole gas-stove culture war and I’m personally open to the possibility that burning gas inside may not be all that harmful. But all else being equal, there’s no way a gas stove improves indoor air quality and given the other benefits it seemed like a good idea to make the switch.

Induction FTW

I had two requirements when shopping for the induction range:

  • Controls on the front so you don’t have to reach over boiling pots and pans to adjust the burners
  • Actual hardware knobs so you don’t have to fiddle with a touch interface embedded in the cooking surface

The cheapest model to fit those criteria was a $900 (at time of purchase) Samsung model. The fastest burner can boost to 3200W which is decent but not outstanding. I’ve been tracking Impulse Labs which has battery-boosted 10kW burners but is currently only a cooktop and not actually shipping yet. Other ranges were slightly more powerful but also at least 3x the cost and so not worth it. I also did consider an upgrade option from Samsung with a dehydrator, but it was $600 more and I’m pretty sure I’m never in my lifetime going to dehydrate $600 worth of stuff.

The Samsung replaced a $5000 stainless steel 4-burner Thermador Professional. These kinds of stoves are an artifact of the inflated San Francisco property market: When condos and houses are put up for sale they’re given a lick of paint, some marble countertops and a flashy new stove that looks impressive for the open house. They’re not actually good for home use though: All four burners are the same size and huge, so that anything but our largest pan had flames licking up the sides, even at moderate power settings.

Figuring out the electrical wiring was fiddly, but doing it myself at least meant that I knew everything was going to plug in and work. If you read online induction range reviews and installation experiences you’ll see that many folks end up with the wrong kind of outlet or an outlet installed in a way where the big 40A 240V plugs with stiff power cords don’t plug in.

It’s now been a couple of months and it’s astounding just how much better the induction range is. I was expecting the cooking experience to be about similar or even for the induction range to be somewhat slower, but that’s not the case at all. I didn’t time the gas range, but I’m pretty sure the induction range boils water and heats up pans faster just because it puts the heat into the pot/pan instead of blasting most of it up the sides and into the rest of the kitchen.

And the ancillary benefits are many:

  • The flat ceramic cooktop is so much easier to clean and you don’t have to manhandle cast iron inserts to do so
  • Handles of pans and cooking utensils don’t get super hot from gas flames. You can lift pots off the range without using oven mitts or a tea towel
  • The cooktop doesn’t get hot except for the area right under the pot, so less scary to have kids help stir
  • When not in use, the flat cooktop is much more useful for setting down grocery bags and other stuff
  • The oven is much larger and you can place two cooking sheets side-by-side. There’s even a storage drawer below the oven

Overall, it’s just so nice that cooking is no longer a flaming, sputtering inferno, and that it’s still fast.

The only thing that was nicer on the flashy gas range was that the oven racks ran on smooth roller bearing slides (the Samsung has crude grooves in the oven wall). The Samsung also comes with a digital clock which is not a pro because, like all appliance clocks, it’s invariably wrong. Amazingly the Samsung range actually connects to the internet and you can even use an app to set the clock, but it cannot sync automatically over NTP.

Except for our cast iron pans (which we frankly don’t use much) we had to get new pots and pans. And I had to install a stainless steel backsplash to cover an un-painted patch of wall, but that proved a boon because the backsplash has a shelf and hooks for hanging utensils.

Overall, if you can make the wiring and power work and you have the option, I heartily recommend switching from gas to induction, even if you go for a cheap induction range like we did.

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