Induction Cooktops

Types: Induction cooktops are available in countertop and drop-in versions in single- and double-hob models, which offer front-to-back or side-by-side configurations. These come with the more familiar flattop cooking hotplates or in round-bowl wok units. The range of cooktops offered is quite large, from 450-watt warming units to 10-kilowatt stockpot units. The variety of functions includes low-power warming, wok ranges, and single-, double- and four-coil units. There are also griddle-top models and hidden warmers to heat through the countertop.

Capacities/Footprints: Single-hob induction ranges are typically about 13 to 15 inches wide, 15 to 17 inches deep, and 3½ to 5 inches tall. Double units may be roughly 27 to 30 inches deep. Typical stockpot capacities would be 24 to 40 quarts, but can be higher.

Energy Sources: Induction cooktops run electricity through an induction coil that produces a high-frequency magnetic field just above the cooktop. All induction ranges require an electric power source. Units up to 1,800 watts generally utilize 110/120-volt power. Units above 1,800 watts typically use 208- or 220-volt circuits. There are also induction units used as warmers with chafers. These are 120-volt or 208- to 240-volt units and have lower wattages for warming in the 450- to 700-watt range.

Manufacturing Method: Case tops are typically constructed of type 304 stainless steel, while cooking surfaces are made of high-temp ceramic. Case bottoms can be made of stainless steel, aluminum or molded plastic.

Standard Features: Standard features include empty-pan protection and overheating limiters. The latest models have leveling feet to adjust to uneven tabletops. Manufacturers may offer either control knobs or touchpad operation. Control panels that rely on cooking levels to select temperatures generally offer between 20 and 100 settings.

New Features/Technology/Options: Units now have advanced power-level and temperature controls, are more durable than previous units. Reconfigurable units are now available that can be used either as countertop cooktops or built-ins.

Prime Functions: Induction cooktops can be used in place of traditional gas and electric ranges as well as burners. These units easily plug into almost any electrical outlet, and are commonly used for display cooking in catering and buffet applications.

Key Kitchen Applications: Induction cooktops are ideal for myriad applications, such as sauté stations, stockpot ranges and high-temp cooking as well as auxiliary heating stations for soup and sauce work, stir-fry, warm salad condiments and pastry kitchens.

Purchasing Guidelines: In the United States, it is mandated that induction ranges are FCC listed and compliant, which helps ensure that the units will not interfere with radio waves or electronics. Lower-cost units may have higher wattage ratings but generally do not meet the rated wattage over a wide range of cookware.

Along with being useful for front-of-the-house applications, induction cooktops are simple additions to kitchen cooklines.

It is strongly recommended that operators only use induction-ready pans with these cooktops, which will provide the most even heat and efficient cooking.

Maintenance Requirements: Induction ranges must be kept clean and free of food debris. The underside may have an air-intake filter that should be inspected and cleaned in accordance with manufacturer guidelines. The tempered-glass cooking surface must be allowed to cool prior to being wiped clean with a mild dishwashing detergent.

Food Safety Essentials: With sautéing and demonstration cooking, as well as omelet stations, it is important to hold cold ingredients at 40 degrees F or less and hot food at greater than 140 degrees F. The induction range must meet ETL or UL and NSF standards or an equivalent. Induction cookers can greatly reduce the risk of burns, since the units don't use open flames.

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