Over the years, and with the continuous technological innovations also in the home, we have seen several of our small and large appliances evolve and change. Among these is also the hob of our kitchen, which today, in addition to proposing the well-established Gas hobs, sees the spread of the brand new Induction hobs.
With this short article we will analyze and explain the main differences between these two cooktops, highlighting the pros and cons of each.
Gas Hobs and their functioning
Although still widely present in most Italian homes, an analysis of this historical type of hob is a must.
As the name suggests, this plan operates by supplying and burning methane gas, in the case of newer appliances, or LPG gas, in the case of older systems.
The main parts that make up Gas cooktops are:
Burners: are the point where the gas is supplied to the outside and the place where the flame permanently resides;
The thermocouple: is the safety device that interrupts the gas supply when the flame of the stove goes out or is extinguished;
The Grids: are the metal bases on which the pans are placed in order to guarantee their stability and also to allow a correct distance between the burner and the pan. The grids are usually made of metal or cast iron. Cast iron, as well as having greater thermal efficiency, is also more resistant and long-lasting;
The Dispensing Knobs: are the devices through which we can increase or decrease the Gas supply, so as to increase or reduce the strength of the flame;
Ignition (Spark) button: is the button that must be pressed to start a spark at the base of the burner to generate the flame. Today, many cooker hobs have integrated this button directly inside the supply knobs.
As far as energy efficiency is concerned, the most modern gas cooker hobs are able to guarantee an excellent performance.65% efficiency.
With regard to durability, gas cooker hobs, with correct weekly maintenance, can easily last for 20 yearsthanks to the simplicity of their components.
Induction hobs, on the other hand, are powered by common household electricity. They have glass-ceramic surfaces like the more general electric hobs, but they work in a totally different way since they do not heat the glass-ceramic surface, but rather directly the pot placed on it.
As you can understand from the name, this type of hob exploits the induction principle. In practice, through coils crossed by an electric current, a magnetic field is generated that directly heats the base of the pots with ferrous bottom without heating the table top at all.
Thanks to this physical principle, theefficiency ishigher than 90%thus guaranteeing an almost completely negligible waste of energy.
As far as durability is concerned, Induction hobs, while not requiring any maintenance, may last less than their Gas counterparts due to more complex and more stressed components.
The main parts that make up Induction cooktops are:
The glass-ceramic hob: as already explained above, it is a completely smooth top in glass-ceramic material;
The Coils: are that part of the components that is crossed by electric current generating heat. This heat is then transmitted directly to the base of the special iron-bottomed pots thanks to a sheet of "mica" placed just above the coil. The "mica" is a mineral belonging to the family of phyllosilicates;
Electronic Boards: represent the brain of the Induction hobs. They control and manage all the components ensuring the correct communication between the various parts of the Induction hobs;
Inverters: are the real beating heart of induction hobs. These devices supply power to the coils by transforming the input voltage from 230 Volts to an alternating voltage. Being the component most subject to stress, Inverters are the part of Induction hobs most prone to failure;
The Control Panel: Last but not least, we have the Control Panel. It consists of a logic board and a chip containing software for correct energy management. It is the component least prone to failure.
If for Gas hobs the pan compartment is a completely free and open world, the same cannot be said for Induction hobs. The latter, in fact, NEED of compatible pans in order to function. In this sense we are talking about pans, pots and pans with ferrous bottom.
Since induction hobs are very popular, especially abroad, it is easy nowadays to find many products that are perfectly compatible with the new induction cooking.
However, if you are switching from a gas hob to an induction hob, you will have to change all the pots and pans in your home. In fact, as already explained, aluminium, copper, ceramic and even glass pans will not allow the Induction hob to work properly, thus making it completely impossible to cook food.
Another fundamental difference between these two hob solutions concerns the hood. For Gas cooker hobs, the hood is MANDATORY by law, while for Induction hobs, in addition to not having any type of regulatory requirement, very often the same Induction hobs are equipped with a sophisticated integrated suction system for cooking fumes and vapours.
As mentioned above, induction hobs have the great advantage of having an absolutely unparalleled energy efficiency. If, in fact, well-made gas cooker hobs can at most achieve an efficiency of 65%, induction cooker hobs can easily reach and in some cases exceed 90%.
This peculiarity of induction hobs is due to the fact that almost all the heat generated is transferred directly to the base of the pan. This passage is completely impossible for Gas hobs since, in the case of the latter, most of the thermal energy released by the flame is dispersed into the home environment.
Greater energy efficiency will therefore guarantee a lower expenditure of energy and therefore lower consumption on our bills. Greater energy efficiency = Greater savings.
However, not all that glitters is gold. If, on paper, induction hobs guarantee lower consumption, we have to deal with two big problems.
First of all, induction hobs fall into the category of large household appliances as far as energy absorption is concerned. Therefore, if we decide to adopt a cooker hob of this type we will have to make sure that our meter is powerful enough to handle the new energy load required to avoid annoying blackouts.
Secondly, the cost of electricity is much higher than that of gas. Therefore, if our only source of electricity supply is the national grid, even though we have lower consumption we will have to face higher expenses than gas cooktops.
Assuming a rough estimate of consumption, here is a concrete example. To need 500 kWh of pot heat per year, and taking into account a thermal efficiency at 50%, with the gas hob, we would need 1000 kWh per year. With induction hobs, on the other hand, we would need about 550 kWh / year of electricity.
With gas hobs we need about 95 m³/year of gas to cook, for an expenditure of 75 Euro/year.
With the induction hobs we would need 550 kWh/year of electricity for an expenditure of 105 Euro/year.
Referring only to consumption and operating costs, in a normal situation of electricity supply from the state network, we can say that there is no real convenience in Induction hobs, precisely because the cost of electricity is much higher than that of methane.
Totally different, however, would be the case in which our home was equipped with photovoltaic panels. In this case, the energy cost required by induction hobs would be zero. In this case, the induction cooking system would be truly ideal given the total independence and energy self-sufficiency of the house.
In any case, whatever the final choice, switching to a new generation cooker hob with an efficiency class not lower than A+ will guarantee not only savings in bills, but also tax benefits thanks to the → Bonus Furniture of the Revenue Agency ←
From the point of view of safety, it is impossible not to keep an eye on induction hobs. In fact, even though modern gas cooker hobs have reached truly excellent safety standards, maximum safety can only be achieved by completely banning all types of gas from our homes. With induction hobs, there will be no more dangers of gas leaks.
In addition, since induction hobs are designed to heat only the surfaces for which they were created, it will be completely impossible to burn yourself if you put your hand on the glass-ceramic hob, something that could easily happen with gas hobs since an open flame is used.
Cleaning the Cooktop
Another point in favour of induction hobs. A perfectly smooth surface and non-porous material such as glass ceramic will allow you to clean the hob with just a few strokes of a sponge. Not to mention that induction hobs do not require any weekly maintenance.
Gas cooker hobs are a totally different matter. In fact, since they are composed of several interlocking components and/or are placed one on top of the other, it will take more than a few minutes to disassemble and clean each individual piece. This cleaning and maintenance procedure is absolutely necessary to avoid partial or irreparable damage to the Gas cooker hobs.
Gas Hobs and Induction Hobs: Summarizing
Induction Cooktops: i Pros
Very easy to clean;
Unmatched energy efficiency (beyond the 90%);
No flame and greater safety;
Potentially reduced cooking times;
You can then set different temperature levels and cooking times;
In the presence of photovoltaic panels, consumption is reduced to zero.
Induction Cooktops: Cons
While more efficient, the cost on your bill will always be higher than its Gas counterpart;
Extreme delicacy of the glass ceramic hob;
Significantly higher purchase price than the Gas variants;
NEED of specific iron-bottomed pots to work;
You completely lose the feeling of cooking with a flame;
You may need to increase the power on your home meter.
Gas Hobs: i Pros
Ease of use;
Newer models have very good energy efficiency (up to 65%);
Low purchase price;
Methane for their operation is very cheap;
Compatible with all types of cookware;
Feeling of cooking with flame.
Gas Hobs: Cons
Cleaning the hob is considerably more laborious than with the induction hob;
They require periodic maintenance to avoid malfunctions;
By emitting open flames they are always potentially dangerous and a fire hazard;
More complex installation given the need for a Gas connection.