We're currently struggling to cook via an ancient electric stovetop at our new apartment. It's been a learning experience going from gas to electric, but we're managing. Now, if we owned the place, we would want to upgrade our kitchen, and if we had the money to invest, we may put that cash down on an induction cooktop. This technology uses half the energy of gas and less than half that of an electric stove top. So how does it work?
When on, a magnetic field on the stovetop transfers energy directly to the pot and its contents, nothing else. The magnetic field creates a circulating electric current, which generates heat.
What's crazy is that since it uses a magnetic field, rather than an actual heating source, only the cookware, which has to be made of magnetic materials like cast iron or stainless steel, warms up while the cooktop stays cool. And better yet, you can instantly change the amount of heat going to your pot. No more waiting for ranges to cool down. The photo above illustrates how induction cooktops ensure no more fire hazards in the kitchen -- though you won't be immune from bad manicures.
According to the department of energy, 84% of the energy required is converted to heat to cook the food versus 52% for a standard electric burner and 40% with gas...For example, to boil 2 quarts of water [it] would take only 4 and a half minutes and 745 kilojoules of energy using an induction stove, compared to twice as long, using electric or gas. [via HDF]
Unfortunately, all that awesomeness costs money. Prices for induction cooktops range between $1,600 to over $4,000. Though you can get single burner, standalone cooktop for as low as $73.
(Images: Stovetops, Electrolux; diagram, Induction Cooking World)