Glass-ceramic or induction, how to choose the right hob/cooktop?
Glass-ceramic and induction hobs (cooktops) look pretty similar. They both offer a streamlined, minimalist look and are easy to keep clean, with no pan supports to scrub – a job no one appreciates! Here, we look at the characteristics of each type of hob and its advantages and disadvantages. There are two types of hobs/cooktops :
THE CERAMIC HOB
Ceramic hobs are made of black tempered glass and look fantastic in any style of kitchen. They work by passing an electric current through coiled elements hidden beneath the glass surface. Control knobs adjust the current passing through the elements, and therefore the heat generated. The heat radiates through the glass surface to the base of the pan.
The ceramic hob/cooktop offers two heating technologies.
- Radiant hobs are constructed with several electric resistors that heat the hob via an infrared radiation system.
- Halogen: some ceramic hobs are heated with halogen heating elements. These are usually more powerful than the elements in radiant hobs and heat the hob in successive pulses.
The advantages of ceramic hobs/cooktops
- You can use all types of heat-sensitive pots, pans and containers with a ceramic hob.
- Ceramic hobs heat up more quickly than a standard cast iron hob.
- Indicator lights show if the hob is still hot even when switched off.
- Ceramic hobs feature safety systems that prevent the hob from heating in the event of overheating or an overflow.
- This type of hob is more affordable.
The disadvantages of ceramic hobs/cooktops :
- The cooking zones are slow to cool – between 10 – 20 minutes.
- They are less responsive than induction hobs.
- A brief period of adjustment is required at first to master the process of cooking with a ceramic hob.
- Ceramic hobs have a relatively high consumption of power, especially halogen hobs.
THE INDUCTION HOB/COOKTOP
Induction hobs use electromagnets consisting of copper wire coils powered by an electric current beneath the hob surface. The electromagnets agitate the free electrons of the pan’s metal base, generating heat transmitted evenly and directly from the pan to the food. As a result, the hob surface never gets really hot. The induction zone is only activated when you place a pan on it and instantly turns off when you remove it.
The heating element is only activated when in contact with a container made of ferrous metal, i.e. stainless steel, cast iron, enamelled steel, etc. So if you try to use an incompatible type of pan, for instance, a copper pan, the hob will simply not work.
Handy hint: If you are unsure if your pans are compatible with an induction hob, place a magnet on the outside of the base. If it sticks, the pan contains ferrous metal and will work on an induction hob.
The advantages of induction hobs/cooktops:
- Settings are responsive and flexible: it is very quick and easy to raise or lower the temperature to stop a pan from boiling over, simmer, keep hot or sear. In addition, some hobs allow you to control the temperature to the nearest degree.
- Induction hobs are economical: they use 30 to 50% less energy compared to other types of hob. This is because heat is applied only to the pan’s surface and not wasted on the surrounding area, and the hob stops heating instantly as soon as you remove the pan.
- Easy maintenance: any food splashed on the hob will not burn or stick. To clean an induction hob, wiping with a damp cloth is all that is needed.
- Safety: Induction hobs reduce the risk of burns because the heat is not distributed over the entire hob -no more scorched tea towels!
- Safety controls and indicators: induction hobs are designed with user-friendly features such as a timer, residual heat indicator, childproof lock, overheat protection, overflow protection, etc.
The disadvantages of induction hobs/cooktops:
- It may be necessary to purchase induction-compatible saucepans.
- The size of your pots and pans must not be smaller than 10% of the size of the hob; otherwise, the induction heating will not work.
- More expensive than a ceramic hob.
Glass-ceramic or induction: which hob/cooktop is right for me?
So which one should you choose? If you love cooking and use your hob a lot, then you may well opt to spend a bit more on an induction hob. However, if the price is a crucial factor, then a ceramic hob is a great choice. Budget-friendly glass-ceramic or high-performance induction, it’s your choice!