Best Induction Cooktop: Do You Know What To Look For?
With all the advantages that induction cooking has to offer, you’ll want to know how to choose the best induction cooktop. You’ve come to the right place. At The Equipped Cook you’ll find detailed information on the best models. From the best value to the best high-end model, from the best cooktop layout to the safest models, it’s all here. Enjoy the search for your new appliance and once you have it in your own kitchen, take pride in showing it to your family and friends. We know they’ll be impressed.
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Are you struggling to find the cheapest induction cooktop available? We have the solution for you.
Induction cooktops are not cheap. Everyone knows they offer the latest technology in cooking. This new technology is highly efficient and can save you time and energy. This comes at a price.
If you are new to induction you may want to try a portable model first. A portable unit sits on your counter and takes up very little space. A portable single or double induction burner is very inexpensive compared to a full cooktop. You can experience this new technology in cooking before you commit to an installed cooktop in your kitchen.
However, a portable induction cooktop is never going to be as exciting. If you really want the full experience of induction cooking you should try to stretch your budget as far as possible to get the appliance you really want.
Induction cooktops are usually over $1,000. The high end models can be as much as $7,000. But there is another option.
If you are really keen to get one, it is possible under $1,000. The True Induction TI-3B Three Burner is a great idea if you’re on a budget.
True Induction TI-3B Three Burner
Can this three burner be installed into my countertop?
This model is versatile. It can be used like a portable model sitting on your countertop. It can also be installed into your counter so it sits flat. It definitely looks more stylish being installed.
This three burner induction cooktop is smaller in size than most. This may be an advantage depending on the space you have in your kitchen. It is 23 1/4″ wide compared to most others at 30″ or 36″.
How much power does it have?
It offers 3,300 watts of power. The power is divided between two zones. The left zone comprises the upper and lower left burners and the right zone controls the one larger burner on the right-hand side.
There are two power plugs for this unit. The left-hand side uses total power of 1800 watts and the right-hand size uses a total of 1500 watts. It should be noted that each plug requires a dedicated 15 amp breaker. In comparison, a lot of four or five burner induction cooktops require a 30 amp breaker so this is an important difference and should make it easier to install as long as you have two available.
There is one particular limitation to this cooktop that you should be aware of. If the two burners in the left-hand zone are being used at the same time they cannot both be used at the maximum level at the same time.
When you use these two burners at the same time the heat settings together can only add up to 10. For example, if you are using one left side burner on level 7 and you turn on the other left burner to level 4, the first one will drop to level 6 to give a total of 10 for the two. In addition to this, there is a limit of level 7 as a maximum on either burner while they are both being used together. This means you can’t have one on level 9 and the other one on level 1 because the maximum is 7 on one while they are both operating. By the time you read this paragraph three times over it should be clear!
Are the controls easy to use?
Each burner on this appliance has a separate control making it very easy to use. The controls offer quick touch sensors with 10 levels to select.
The controls are within (under) the ceramic glass surface so cleaning is very easy. If you prefer to control your heat by temperature rather than a 10 level selection, this option is available.
Selecting TEMP gives you the option of choosing the temperature you want between 150 degrees and 450 degrees in 30 degree increments. The default selection when you select TEMP is 270 degrees. If you prefer choosing from the 10 level selections, as previously mentioned, you simply touch HEAT instead of TEMP.
Which pots are best for this induction cooktop?
The user guide for this model recommends flat bottomed pots made from stainless steel, cast iron or enameled iron with a diameter from 5″ to 10″.
It should be noted that a 12″ saute pan often only has a 9″ or 10″ base making it perfect. It is the bottom of the pan that is important because it makes contact with the induction burner.
Are there any safety features?
This three burner induction cooktop has very good safety features. It includes a timer for each burner. The timer can be set to a maximum of 150 minutes in 5 minute increments. Once the timer counts down it gives an audible alert and goes into standby mode. If you want to restart it you need to touch the power button.
Whether you set the timer or not there is a limit of 150 minutes of cooking time on this appliance. This is a safety feature. After 150 minutes it will shut down automatically and you’ll need to touch the power sensor to continue cooking.
This may be of concern if you like to cook for several hours at a time. A corned beef comes to mind. If you think this will be a problem due to your style of cooking you may need to consider another brand of induction cooktop. However, it will most likely be more expensive too. The other option is to simply restart your appliance as soon as it hits the 150 minute limit. If you set the timer in advance at least you get an audible alert to remind you.
Another safety feature on this unit is the overheating protection. If you start the induction cooktop with an empty pot on it the overheating protection will activate and turn it off automatically.
If you turn the appliance on and don’t place a pot on the top within 9 seconds it will turn the power off again. The same thing will happen if you place a pot or pan on the top that is not compatible with induction cooking. The unit will turn off in 9 seconds as a safety precaution.
Overall, this induction cooktop is great for anyone on a budget. It offers the excitement of this new cooking technology without the hefty price tag. It is definitely worth considering.
Best High-End Induction Cooktop
If you are looking for the best high-end induction cooktop that has all the bells and whistles the Thermador CIT36XKB Freedom will amaze you.
Thermador CIT36XKB Freedom
The first thing you notice about the Thermador Freedom is that there are no circles or crosses on the top surface. So, where do you put your pots and pans? Anywhere. This is a full surface induction cooktop.
With this model you can place any size pan with any shape anywhere on the cooktop and it will heat up. Of course, the pan still needs to be compatible with induction cooking but other than that you have few restrictions.
If you need to pick up your pan and place it back again this cooktop will remember all the settings and continue to cook even though your pan is placed in a different location. There is no need to look carefully to check if you’ve centered your pan on a circle. You simple place it on the top surface and it is fine to continue cooking.
There is a lift and hold function which can be set between 10 and 90 seconds. It is a personal preference on how long you usually lift a pan off before placing it back down again. If you need to pour some liquid out it usually doesn’t take anywhere close to 90 seconds.
The advantage of this function is that, when you lift your pan, cooking is automatically paused while there is no detectable pan and this means no heat transfer to the surface and therefore no loss of energy. This is a highly efficient method of cooking.
Can I use a square griddle pan?
Yes. You can place up to four pans at the same time on the top in any configuration. The smallest pan that can be used is 3″ in diameter and the largest size is theoretically 13″x27″ but the recommended maximum size is 13″x21″. There is an optional accessory teppanyaki griddle pan that measures 13″x21″ and fits perfectly on either side placed vertically from top to bottom.
On the control panel the picture shows either a circle or oval for each pan being used. If you use a rectangle pan it shows an oval. If you use a square pan it will show a circle. This does not mean it is only heating a circle proportion of the square pan. It does heat all four corners of the square pan. It is simply a representation on the control panel but the actual induction cooking works fine for pans with corners. You can cook with evenly spread heat distribution. So the answer is yes, you can use a square griddle pan with perfect results.
What type of controls does it have?
This model boasts a full color touchscreen control panel.
The controls are very clear to see. They’re contained in touch through glass in a 6.5″ panel.
You control the cooking levels using a sliding scale. When you place your cooking pan on the top it gives an indication of a burner on the touch panel. Once you touch the burner symbol the sliding scale pops up and you can slide you finger left or right to increase or decrease the temperature. By sliding your finger as far as it goes to the left you activate the Power Boost function for fast heat. When you are selecting your heat setting it is displayed in brackets on the screen. When you lift your finger from the control heating commences at that temperature.
By sliding your finger as far as it goes to the left you activate the Power Boost function for fast heat. When you are selecting your heat setting it is displayed in brackets on the screen. When you lift your finger from the control heating commences at that temperature.
In a high-end induction cooktop you expect a few extras and this is certainly true with the control panel. This model gives you clear instructions about what to do if you do something wrong. It doesn’t say error and leave you to interpret where you went wrong. For example, if you place your pan on top of the control panel it will tell you to move your pot away. If you want to know how to start cooking you can place a pot on the cooktop surface and press “i” for information and the panel will give you information about what to do next to get cooking. The instructions are very easy to follow and intuitive.
There is a lock function for easy cleaning. If you happen to experience a boil over you can quickly lock the control panel to wipe over the top without affecting the settings and then unlock it again to continue cooking without losing all your settings.
Is there a timer?
There are two types of timer on the Thermador Freedom. The first timer is like any other. You set the time to the number of minutes or hours you want and then after that time expires the timer sounds an audible alarm to notify you.
The other timer is called Cook Time. Cook Time allows you to program a burner to cook for a certain amount of time and then it automatically turns off. The Cook Time is set in a similar way to the cooking settings in that it also uses a sliding scale.
You set the cooking temperature and then you can set the cooking time. There is no need to set the cooking timer if you don’t want to. If you don’t set a time for cooking it simply continues until you either turn if off or lift the pan from the cooktop.
There is also a clock on the control panel. However, it only displays when the cooktop is on.
Is it powerful?
According to the technical details, this induction cooktop boasts 7,200 watts of power. It offers 4,600 watts of power boost mode to boil water faster than other cooktops. The power boost function is available on all areas of the cooktop on all four burners as identified by the location of the pans. But only on one burner on one half of the cooktop at a time.
Due to the high power of this unit it requires a 40 amp breaker so you’ll probably need to let your electrician know this before installing.
The cooktop surface contains 48 induction elements to allow you to heat a pan anywhere on the top. This model is amazingly powerful.
Even though the Thermador Freedom is extremely powerful the burners are also capable of being used at very low heat. You can utilise a warming function or even melt chocolate directly in a pan without setting it over water. There is a lot of control available to you.
Is there anything this induction cooktop can’t do?
Interestingly, there is one limitation.
If you place a pan on the exact center of the top surface the cooktop finds it difficult to allocated it to either the right or left-hand side. Apparently the surface is technically divided into two halves even though there is nothing to indicate this. Therefore if you place a pan in the exact center it alternates between allocating it to the left and then the right. It basically gets confused. It starts clicking and it does not heat the pan.
The solution is to place your pan to one side or the other. Most people tend to do this anyway. If you are using two or more pans you need to place them on each side to be able to fit them on top.
This is not a big deal but it is definitely a limitation.
Overall, this induction cooktop is amazing. It offers everything you want plus a little more. It is a delight for cooks to use and impressive to have in your kitchen.
Best Value Induction Cooktop
If you are looking for the best value induction cooktop there is one that stands out. The Frigidaire FGIC3067MB Gallery 30″ Induction Cooktop is a good price compared to other induction models. It offers great features and the excitement of induction cooking at an affordable price.
Frigidaire FGIC3067MB Gallery
This model offers 4 burners in two zones. Each burner is designated by a cross design and you place the pot in the center of the cross. There are touch controls located within the glass top for easy cleaning. Safety features are included which turn the induction cooktop off if you spill or place a pot on top of the touch controls.
There are touch controls located within the glass top for easy cleaning. Safety features are included which turn the induction cooktop off if you spill or place a pot on top of the touch controls.
Will it boil water fast?
The largest burner is 10″ and 3400 watts. It will boil a pot of water in under 2 minutes.
The other burners are 6″, 7″ and 8″. The power ranges from 2000 watts for the smallest burner up to 3400 watts for the largest 10″. A large 12″ inch frying pan is often only 9″ diameter on the base so the largest burner on this model is perfect for most cooks.
There is a power boost function to allow you to heat fast on each burner. When you turn the induction cooktop on, touch the up arrow and the burner will activate power boost at maximum power. This allows you to boil water rapidly or bring a pot of food to a high heat quickly. When utilizing the maximum power level the control will display a “p” for that burner.
This model utilizes power sharing in two zones. If you try to use two burners within the same zone on the highest heat setting the cooktop will automatically reduce the heat on the first burner to allow the one that is operated the latest to achieve a higher heat setting. Power sharing operates because there are two induction generators within this unit shared between the four burners.
Power sharing operates because there are two induction generators within this unit shared between the four burners.
Are the controls responsive?
Yes, the controls are very sensitive and respond to a light touch. To protect against accidental operation by a child or cat there is a control lock function.
The heat controls for each burner are activated in 1/2 increments between 1 and 6-1/2 and then 7, 8, 9 don’t have any half settings between them.
The touch controls are very easy to use. They show an arrow pointing up and an arrow pointing down for the heat settings on each burner.
Are safety features included?
This model features a magnetic detector. The sensor automatically determines whether the pot is suitable for induction cooking and will only allow the unit to turn on if the pot is compatible. This eliminates the cooktop turning on by accident.
Similarly, if the pan is not centered correctly on a burner the heat control will flash and automatically turn off after 3 minutes.
There is pan size detection. The sensor automatically determines the size of the pot you are using and adjusts the burner to only heat the size of the pot being used.
When you turn on the power the cooktop will remain in ready mode for 10 seconds. If no other control is touched within the 10 seconds, the cooktop will turn itself off as a safety precaution.
After you finish cooking the glass surface may retain residual heat from the pan you used. While the surface is hot, the controls display an “H” to indicate it is still too hot to touch.
A control lock is included. This lock can only be utilized when the cooktop is turned off. It is activated simply by touching the control lock for 3 seconds. This stops children or cats accidently turning it on. To unlock, you touch and hold the lock control for 3 seconds again.
If this is the best value induction cooktop, are there any other features?
Yes. This cooktop also offers a Keep Warm control. By touching the Keep Warm control once it will activate on the burner most recently turned on. This feature allows you to heat at a very low level to keep food warm without scorching. When activated the burner control will display “L” for the keep warm setting.
There is also a timer function. It is a kitchen timer that can be set between 1 minute and 99 minutes. It is one timer for the whole cooktop. The timer does not affect the heat settings and does not automatically turn the cooktop off. It indicates the end of the countdown by sounding a long beep every 5 seconds until you touch the up and down arrows at the same time to turn the timer off. It is then your decision whether to turn your cooking off.
In summary, the Frigidaire FGIC3067MB Gallery 30″ Induction Cooktop is a full four burner cooktop with lots of impressive features. It is not the cheapest induction cooktop available but it is a long way short of being the most expensive. It offers a lot of value at an affordable price compared to other induction models.
Best Induction Cooktop Layout
If the burner layout is important for your cooking then the GE Cafe CHP9536SJSS 36″ Built-in Induction Cooktop is for you. It offers a number of features not available from other cooktops.
GE Cafe CHP9536SJSS
In summary, this model offers five burners in three heating zones. Two of the burners can be synced together and used for a rectangular shaped griddle pan. The burners consist of: an extra large 11″, one large 8″, two medium 7″ and one small 6″ burner.
Most induction cooktops consist of four or five circular induction burners. This makes it difficult if you want to use a rectangular griddle pan or a long oval fish pan. For the best induction cooktop layout you need two burners that operate together to give you flexibility with your cooking.
Is a griddle included?
Yes, the GE Cafe CHP9536SJSS 36″ Built-in Induction Cooktop comes with its own stainless steel clad aluminum griddle included. The advantage of this lightweight griddle is that you can prepare french toast, pancakes or gourmet sandwiches easily on your cooktop. You can also use your own heavier cast iron griddle.
To sync the two 7″ burners for use with a rectangular or oval pan you simply need to press one button and then use either one of the 7″ burner controls and it activates the two together at the same heat level.
What size pots can I use?
The largest burner on the model is the 11″. This is perfect for large saute pans. Even large 12″ pans usually have a base that is smaller than 11″ so the 8″ burner is also very useful for larger pots or saute pans.
If you measure the flat base that makes contact with the surface this is what matters even though the top of your pan may curve outwards from this base.
This model includes a pan size sensor. This feature recognizes the size of your pan and heats the burner to the size of your pan, up to the maximum diameter available.
There is a minimum size for pans for each burner. The largest option, the 11″ burner, requires a minimum pan size of 7″. The smallest pot that can be used is 4-1/2″ on the smallest burner. If you have a favorite pan that is smaller than 4-1/2″ you may need to rethink your cooktop choice. Since induction cooktops rely on contact with the surface to create the heat in the pot it is more important that your pots meet the size requirements than with any other cooking method like gas or electric.
Is it powerful enough to boil water quickly?
The largest induction burner is 3700 watts and the smallest is 1800 watts. The largest one boils tap water in less than a minute on full power.
At the other end of the scale, if you need to melt chocolate without a double boiler you can use the lowest heat setting and it will melt without burning.
There is a circular arc control for heat as well as the plus and minus signs to use in the alternative. If you turn an induction burner on and press the plus sign it goes straight to Hi. If you press the minus sign after turning on it goes straight to Low. Using the Hi setting will bring water to the boil rapidly but it can only be used for 10 minutes maximum. If you need to keep it up at that setting you can press the plus sign again after the first 10 minutes.
The Low to Hi burner settings correspond to the following range of heat settings: melting, holding, simmering, reducing, searing, frying, boiling quickly.
The GE Cafe CHP9536SJSS 36″ Built-in Induction Cooktop does utilize power sharing. It is divided into three zones. The two sync burners exist in the left zone. The largest 11″ burner is in the middle zone. The 6″ and 8″ burners are in the right-hand zone.
One burner can be used at maximum power in each zone at the same time. If you try and use two burners at maximum power in the same zone at the same time the power will be reduced. This is the power sharing at work.
If you need to cook with more than three pots on high power at the same time it is best to stagger their time for high power usage. Three zones is generous and if you go to a smaller four burner model there are only two zones which is far more limiting.
I know this is the best induction cooktop layout but what are the controls like?
The controls on this model are probably the easiest to use of any induction cooktop. They are intuitive. The touch control isa circular arc shape with blue LEDs that light up when in use.
Each induction burner has its own touch control. Even the two 7″ burners that sync together for a longer pan have their own sync button to press and then you can use either of the burner touch controls to set the heat level for both together. None of the controls are shared or overlap, making it easy to use with little instruction.
Each burner has its own On/Off button in the middle of each arc control. There is also an All Off button to control the entire cooktop with one touch.
The only thing to be aware of is that the grey line that forms the touch control must be used and not the blue LED lights. The LEDs do not have touch sensors under them.
Is there a kitchen timer?
There is a separate timer available for each burner. The timer function can be set to provide an alert at the end of the countdown but it will not automatically turn off the burner. It is up to you to decide whether you want to keep cooking when the alert sounds. Having a timer for each burner is an advantage over other induction cooktops that only offer one kitchen timer for the whole cooktop.
Having a timer for each burner is an advantage over other induction cooktops that only offer one kitchen timer for the whole cooktop.
The timer mode is very easy to set. Once you touch the Timer Select control the burner display will blink. It is simply a matter of pressing the up or down arrow to increase or decrease the time you want to set. The timer countdown automatically starts after 3 seconds if there is no further action. The burner timers are set in the order of left to right on the timer select control.
Any safety features?
This model provides pan detection removal as a safety feature.
If the pan is removed from the surface the burner turns off and the display starts blinking. If the pan is removed for more than 25 seconds the control turns off automatically and the LED lights turn off for that burner display.
There is a control lock provided as a safety feature against the induction cooktop being activated by children or accidentally. The lock symbol on the controls simply has to be touched for 3 seconds to activate the lock. To unlock you touch the same symbol for another 3 seconds.
The lock feature can be changed to an automatic lock which activates after the cooktop has been in standby for 10 minutes. This lock function can be changed in the custom settings.
Can I change the settings?
The GE Cafe CHP9536SJSS 36″ Built-in Induction Cooktop offers custom settings as part of the touch controls.
The custom settings allow you to alter the illumination level of the LED lights on the controls. You can also adjust the volume of the controls, both the buttons and the alerts.
The timer alert duration can be set for 15, 30, 60 seconds or indefinite until you attend to turn it off.
The custom settings also allow you to change the timer mode to act as one kitchen timer independent from any of the burners. Of course you have the option to turn it back to separate timers for each burner which is a huge advantage to people who like to cook with separate timers for each pot. It saves you from looking at the clock over and over.
It is easy to activate the custom settings. You simply touch and hold the All Off button for three seconds and then touch and hold the Timer button for three seconds. The two buttons must be touched within 30 seconds of each other without any other functions being activated in between. Once you have the custom settings activated you can see the code for each setting in the timer control screen.
You probably won’t want to change the custom settings regularly so it is best to keep page 11 of the Owner’s Manual handy for when you need it. Take a copy of that page and keep it in a kitchen drawer or take a photo of the page on your smartphone as a quick reference guide.
What is the difference between the GE Cafe series and the GE Profile series?
You may have noticed that there is a GE Profile series which looks quite similar to the GE Cafe induction cooktops. The GE Profile is similar in appearance and both types of model are manufactured in America.
The difference is the GE Cafe series has extra features. For example, the GE Cafe includes individual timers for each burner. You can also customise the settings which can’t be done on the GE Profile series.
Any other features?
In addition to being the best induction cooktop layout, this model allows for forward approach installation in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The cooktop can project forward out from the kitchen wall without a cupboard or oven underneath the front of the cooktop. Details can be found in the Installation Instructions provided by GE.
The cooktop can project forward out from the kitchen wall without a cupboard or oven underneath the front of the cooktop. Details can be found in the Installation Instructions provided by GE.
What if I can’t fit this cooktop in my kitchen?
If you can’t fit this 36″ cooktop in your kitchen space you may consider the GE Cafe CHP9530SJSS 30″ Built-in Induction Cooktop. The 30″ model is very similar to the larger one except that it has 4 burners in 2 zones instead of 5 burners in 3 zones.
It still has the griddle option provided by joining the two left burners and it still has the extra large 11″ burner.
If you are replacing an older 30″ GE cooktop as part of a kitchen remodel this may be the best option for you.
Overall, this induction cooktop offers a great layout with extra features. If you are seriously into cooking and like to use a variety of cooking styles you may want to give priority to the layout of burners when buying a new appliance. The GE Cafe CHP9536SJSS 36″ Built-in Induction Cooktop is a great choice.
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