Induction cooking

Induction cooking uses induction heating to directly heat a cooking vessel, as opposed to using heat transfer from electrical coils or burning gas as with a traditional cooking stove. To be used on an induction cooktop, a cooking vessel must be made of a ferromagnetic metal, or placed on an interface disk which enables non-induction cookware to be used on induction cooking surfaces.

In an induction cooker, a coil of copper wire is placed underneath the cooking pot. An alternating electric current flows through the coil, which produces an oscillating magnetic field. This field induces an electric current in the pot. Current flowing in the metal pot produces resistive heating which heats the food. While the current is large, it is produced by a low voltage.

An induction cooker is faster and more energy-efficient than a traditional electric cooking surface. It allows instant control of cooking energy similar to gas burners. Other cooking methods use flames or red-hot heating elements; induction heating only heats the pot. Because the surface of the cook top is only heated from contact with the vessel, the possibility of burn injury is significantly less than with other methods. The induction effect does not heat the air around the vessel, resulting in further energy efficiencies. Cooling air is blown through the electronics but emerges only a little warmer than ambient temperature.

The magnetic properties of a steel vessel concentrate the induced current in a thin layer near its surface, which makes the heating effect stronger. In non-magnetic materials like aluminum, the magnetic field penetrates too far, and the induced current encounters little resistance in the metal. Practical induction cookers are designed for ferromagnetic pots that will stick to a magnet.


Here an example of how today the Induction technology is used from Neff

An induction cooker transfers electrical energy by induction from a coil of wire into a metal vessel that must be ferromagnetic. The coil is mounted under the cooking surface, and a large alternating current is passed through it. The current creates a changing magnetic field. When an electrically conductive pot is brought close to the cooking surface, the magnetic field induces an electrical current, called an “eddy current”, in the pot. The eddy current, flowing through the electrical resistance, produces heat; the pot gets hot and heats its contents by heat conduction.

The cooking vessel is made of stainless steel or iron. The increased magnetic permeability of the material decreases the skin depth, concentrating the current near the surface of the metal, and so the electrical resistance will be further increased. Some energy will be dissipated wastefully by the current flowing through the resistance of the coil. To reduce the skin effect and consequent heat generation in the coil, it is made from litz wire, which is a bundle of many smaller insulated wires in parallel. The coil has many turns, while the bottom of the pot effectively forms a single shorted turn. This forms a transformer that steps down the voltage and steps up the current. The resistance of the pot, as viewed from the primary coil, appears larger. In turn, most of the energy becomes heat in the high-resistance steel, while the driving coil stays cool.

The cooking surface is made of a glass-ceramic material which is a poor heat conductor, so only a little heat is lost through the bottom of the pot. In normal operation the cooking surface stays cool enough to touch without injury after the cooking vessel is removed.

Units may have one, two, three, four or five induction zones, but four (normally in a 30-inch-wide unit) is the most common in the US and Europe. Two coils are most common in Hong Kong and three are most common in Japan. Some have touch-sensitive controls. Some induction stoves have a memory setting, one per element, to control the time that heat is applied. At least one manufacturer makes a “zoneless” induction cooking surface with multiple induction coils. This allows up to five utensils to be used at once anywhere on the cooking surface, not just on pre-defined zones.

Cookware may carry a symbol that identifies it as compatible with an induction cooktop.

Cookware for an induction cooking surface will be generally the same as used on other stoves. Some cookware or packaging is marked with symbols to indicate compatibility with induction, gas, or electric heat. Induction cooking surfaces work well with any pans with a high ferrous metal content at the base. Cast iron pans and any black metal or iron pans will work on an induction cooking surface. Stainless steel pans will work on an induction cooking surface if the base of the pan is a magnetic grade of stainless steel. If a magnet sticks well to the sole of the pan, it will work on an induction cooking surface.

For frying, a pan with a base that is a good heat conductor is needed to spread the heat quickly and evenly. The sole of the pan will be either a steel plate pressed into the aluminum, or a layer of stainless steel over the aluminum. The high thermal conductivity of aluminum pans makes the temperature more uniform across the pan. Stainless frying pans with an aluminum base will not have the same temperature at their sides as an aluminum sided pan will have. Cast iron frying pans work well with induction cooking surfaces but the material is not as good a thermal conductor as aluminum.

When boiling water, the circulating water spreads the heat and prevents hot spots. For products such as sauces, it is important that at least the base of the pan incorporates a good heat conducting material to spread the heat evenly. For delicate products such as thick sauces, a pan with aluminum throughout is better, since the heat flows up the sides through the aluminum, allowing the cook to heat the sauce rapidly but evenly[citation needed].

Aluminum or copper alone does not work on an induction stove because of the materials’ magnetic and electrical properties.[3] Aluminum or copper cookware is more conductive than steel, and the skin depth in these materials is larger since they are non-magnetic. The current flows in a thicker layer in the metal, encounters less resistance and so produces less heat. The induction cooker will not work efficiently with such pots.

Household foil is much thinner than the skin depth in aluminum at the frequencies used by an induction cooker. Here the foil has melted where it was exposed to the air after steam formed under it. Cooking surface manufacturers prohibit the use of aluminum foil in contact with an induction cooking surface.

The heat that can be produced in a pot is a function of the surface resistance. A higher surface resistance produces more heat for similar currents. This is a “figure of merit” that can be used to rank the suitability of a material for induction heating. The surface resistance in a thick metal conductor is proportional to the resistivity divided by the skin depth. Where the thickness is less than the skin depth, the actual thickness can be used to calculate surface resistance. Some common materials are listed in this table.

Induction equipment may be a built-in surface, part of a range, or a standalone surface unit. Built-in and rangetop units typically have multiple elements, the equivalent of separate burners on a gas-fueled range. Stand-alone induction modules are usually single-element, or sometimes have dual elements. All such elements share a basic design: an electromagnet sealed beneath a heat-resisting glass-ceramic sheet that is easily cleaned. The pot is placed on the ceramic glass surface and begins to heat up, along with its contents.

In Japan, some models of rice cookers are powered by induction. In Hong Kong, power companies list a number of models.Asian manufacturers have taken the lead in producing inexpensive single-induction-zone surfaces; efficient, low-waste-heat units are advantageous in densely populated cities with little living space per family, as many Asian cities are. Induction cookers are less frequently used in other parts of the world.

Induction ranges may be applicable in commercial restaurant kitchens. Electric cooking avoids the cost of natural gas piping and in some jurisdictions may allow simpler ventilation and fire suppression equipment to be installed. Drawbacks for commercial use include possible breakages of the glass cook-top, higher initial cost and the requirement for magnetic cookware.

This form of flameless cooking has certain advantages over conventional gas flame and electric cookers, as it provides rapid heating, improved thermal efficiency, and greater heat consistency, yet with precise control similar to gas.[14] In situations in which a hotplate would typically be dangerous or illegal, an induction plate is ideal, as it creates no heat itself.

The high efficiency of power transfer into the cooking vessel makes heating food faster on an induction cooking surface than on other electric cooking surfaces. Because of the high efficiency, an induction element has heating performance comparable to a typical consumer-type gas element, even though the gas burner would have a much higher power input.[15]

Induction cookers are safer to use than conventional cookers because there are no open flames. The surface below the cooking vessel is no hotter than the vessel; only the pan generates heat. The control system shuts down the element if a pot is not present or not large enough. Induction cookers are easy to clean because the cooking surface is flat and smooth, even though it may have several heating zones. Since the cooking surface is not directly heated, spilled food does not burn on the surface.

Since heat is being generated by an induced electric current, the unit can detect whether cookware is present (or whether its contents have boiled dry) by monitoring how much power is being absorbed. That allows functions such as keeping a pot at minimal boil or automatically turning an element off when cookware is removed.

Because the cook top is shallow compared to a gas-fired or electrical coil cooking surface, wheelchair access can be improved; the user’s legs can be below the counter height and the user’s arms can reach over the top.

Induction cooking is suitable for use at a basement. There is no danger of carbon monoxide even if the ventilation accidentally run out.

Cookware must be compatible with induction heating; glass and ceramics are unusable, as are solid copper or solid aluminum cookware. Cookware must have a flat bottom since the magnetic field drops rapidly with distance from the surface. (Special and costly surfaces are available for use with round-bottom woks.) Induction rings are a metal plate that heat up a non-ferrous pot by contact, but these sacrifice much of the power and efficiency of direct use of induction in a compatible cooking vessel.

Manufacturers advise consumers that the glass ceramic top can be damaged by impact, although cooking surfaces are required to meet minimal product safety standards for impact.Aluminum foil can melt onto the top and cause permanent damage or cracking of the top. Damage by impact also relates to sliding pans across the cooking surface, which users are advised against. As with other electric ceramic cooking surfaces there may be a maximum pan size allowed by the manufacturer.

A small amount of noise is generated by an internal cooling fan. Audible noise (a hum or buzz) may be produced by cookware exposed to high magnetic fields, especially at high power or if the cookware has loose parts. Some users may detect a whistle or whine sound from the cookware, or from the power electronic devices. Some cooking techniques available when cooking over a flame are not applicable. Persons with implanted cardiac pacemakers or other electronic medical implants may be advised by their doctors to avoid proximity to induction cooking surfaces and other sources of magnetic fields. Radio receivers near the unit may pick up some electromagnetic interference.

An induction (or any electric) stove will not be operable during a power outage. Older gas-stoves do not need electric power to operate; however, modern ones use electrical igniters and will also not operate during power outages.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the efficiency of energy transfer for an induction cooker is 84%, versus 74% for a smooth-top non-induction electrical unit, for an approximate 12% saving in energy for the same amount of heat transfer.

Energy efficiency is the ratio between energy delivered to the food and that consumed by the cooker, considered from the “customer side” of the energy meter. Cooking with gas has an energy efficiency of about 40% at the customer’s meter and can be raised only by using very special pots, so the DOE efficiency value will be used.

When comparing consumption of energies of different kinds, in this case natural gas and electricity, the method used by the US Environmental Protection Agency refers to source (also called primary) energies. They are the energies of the raw fuels that are consumed to produce the energies delivered on site.The conversion to source energies is done by multiplying site energies by appropriate source-site ratios. Unless there are good reasons to use custom source-site ratios (for example for non US residents or on-site solar), EPA states that “it is most equitable to employ national-level ratios”.These ratios amount to 3.34 for electricity purchased from the grid, 1.0 for on-site solar, and 1.047 for natural gas. The natural gas figure is slightly greater than 1 and mainly accounts for distribution losses. The energy efficiencies for cooking given above (84% for induction and 40% for gas) are in terms of site energies at the customer’s meters. The (US averaged) efficiencies recalculated relative to source fuels energies are hence 25% for induction cooking surfaces using grid electricity, 84% for induction cooking surfaces using on-Site Solar, and 38% for gas burners.

Source-site ratios are not formalized yet in Western Europe. A common consensus should arise on unified European ratios in view of the extension of the Energy Label to domestic water heaters. Unofficial figures for European source-site ratios are about 2.2 for electricity, 1.0 for on-site solar, and 1.02 for natural gas, thus giving overall (referred to source energy) efficiencies of 38% and 84% for induction cooking surfaces (depending on source electricity) and 39% for gas burners.

These provisional figures need to be somehow adjusted due to the higher gas burner efficiency, allowed in Europe by a less stringent limit on carbon monoxide emission at the burner. European and US standards differ in test conditions. The US ANSI Z21.1 standard allows a lower concentration of carbon monoxide (0.08%), compared to the European standard EN 30-1-1 which allows 0.2%. The minimum gas burner efficiency required in the EU by EN 30-2-1 is 52%, higher than the average 40% efficiency measured in US by DOE. The difference is mainly due to the weaker CO emission limit in EU, that allows more efficient burners, but also due to different ways in which the efficiency measurements are performed.

Whenever local electricity emits less than 435 grams of CO2 per kWh, the greenhouse effect of an induction cooker will be lower than that of a gas cooker. This again comes from the relative efficiencies (84% and 40%) of the two surfaces and from the standard 200 (±5) grams CO2/kWh emission factor for combustion of natural gas at its net (low) calorific value.[improper synthesis?]

Gas cooking efficiencies may be lower if waste heat generation is taken into account. Especially in restaurants, gas cooking can significantly increase the ambient temperature in localized areas. Not only may extra cooling be required but zoned venting may be needed to adequately condition hot areas without overcooling other areas. Costs must be considered on an individual situation due to numerous variables in temperature differences, facility layout or openness, and heat generation schedule. Induction cooking using grid electricity may surpass gas efficiencies when waste heat and air comfort are quantified.

The market for induction stoves is dominated by German manufacturers, such as AEG, Bosch, Fissler, Miele and Siemens. The Spanish company Fagor, Italian firm Smeg and Sweden’s Electrolux are also key players in the European market. Prices range from about GB£250 to 1,000 within the United Kingdom. In 2006, Stoves launched the UK’s first domestic induction range cooker at a slightly lower cost than those imported.

The European induction cooking market for hotels, restaurants and other caterers is primarily satisfied by smaller specialist commercial induction catering equipment manufacturers such as Adventys of France, Control Induction and Target Catering Equipment of the UK and Scholl of Germany.

Taiwanese and Japanese electronics companies are the dominant players in induction cooking for East Asia. After aggressive promotions by utilities in HK like Power HK Ltd, many local brands like UNIVERSAL, icMagIC, Zanussi, iLighting, German Pool also emerged. Their power and ratings are high, more than 2,800 watts. They are multiple zone and capable of performing better than their gas counterpart. The efficiency is as high as 90% and saves a lot of energy and is environmentally friendly. Their use by local Chinese for wok cooking is becoming popular. Some of these companies have also started marketing in the West. However, the product range sold in Western markets is a subset of that in their domestic market; some Japanese electronics manufacturers only sell domestically.

The National Association of Home Builders in 2012 estimated that, in the United States, induction cooktops held only 4% of sales, compared to gas and other electric cooktops



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