Searching for induction cookers? Here's 12 things you should know first...

Are induction cookers safe, will they save you money and will you have to buy a bunch of new pans?

Induction cookers
(Image credit: Getty / Martin Barraud)

Induction cookers feel almost magical – they deliver fast, powerful heat without gas burners or hotplates, and they’re incredibly energy-efficient, too. We think they’re brilliant and we think you’ll agree, but there are a few important things you need to know before buying one.

Let’s discover why some pans won’t work and you’ll need to find the best induction pans for your new hob; why you won’t save money but will help the environment; and why people with pacemakers should stay well away.

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1 Some of your pans won’t work

Induction cookers work by creating a magnetic field that heats up your pots and pans. In order for that to happen, those pans need to have ferrous material in them – so, unless they’ve got induction-friendly bottoms, you won’t be able to use copper, glass or aluminium cookware on your induction hob. Woks with curved bottoms won’t work, either; you’ll need pans or woks with flat bases. It's one reason why some prefer gas in the induction hob vs gas hob debate.

2 Some pans you don’t think will work will work

You wouldn’t expect a ceramic pan to work on an induction hob because it isn’t magnetic, but don’t throw away your cherished Le Creuset cookware just yet – many enamelled or ceramic pots are coated cast iron, which works brilliantly on an induction hob.

3 A fridge magnet will come in handy

The simplest way to check whether your existing cookware will work on an induction hob is to get a fridge magnet (or any other magnet). If it sticks, the cookware should work happily on your hob.

4 You might need more power

Induction hobs use a lot of power and your electrics might not be up to the job. If you’ve already got an electric hob, you should be OK, but if not, you might need to rewire older kitchens.

5 They don’t really pay for themselves

Induction hobs may seem expensive and they’re certainly a lot pricier than a basic four-burner gas or electric hob, but they’re also much more energy-efficient. For example, whereas you can expect about 50% of your energy to be wasted when you use a gas hob, the figure is much lower with induction – they’re around 90% efficient, so very little energy is wasted.

Will that save you tons of cash? We’re afraid not. According to Confused About Energy, an electric hob costs about £53 a year to run and an induction one costs £37, but a gas hob is still much, much cheaper – £16 a year for the same amount of cooking.

6 They’re incredibly quick

Whoever said “a watched pot never boils” hadn’t used an induction hob. They heat up incredibly quickly and boil water at near-kettle speeds. Whatever you’re cooking, you’ll spend much less time waiting for things to get the right temperature.

7 They’re brilliant for low and high temperatures

If you’ve ever wished your hob could go just that little bit lower, so it doesn’t turn your sauce into a bubbling disaster, or wished your hob was a bit hotter to sear steak more spectacularly, induction is your friend. It’s much more controllable than other cooking methods.

8 They’re much safer

Most hobs heat up and stay hot for ages, but induction hobs don’t. In fact, they don’t heat up at all. They heat your pots and pans via magnetism, and that means there’s only residual heat from your cookware, so they cool down very quickly.

9 They’re much easier to clean

If your hob is like mine, it gets splattered with everything. With gas or electric, that “everything” can get burnt on and becomes hard to shift. Not with induction – just wait for it to cool down and you can wipe everything off with a soapy cloth.

10 They’re much easier to scratch

Like any glass surface, induction hobs are easily scratched and can be smashed by a dropped pot.

11 They can interfere with some medical equipment

This is a serious downside – the magnets in induction hobs are very powerful and it’s possible that they might interfere with pacemakers. 

12 They’re better for the environment

Gas may be cheap, but it’s still a fossil fuel that emits fumes and has a huge environmental footprint. When you use an induction hob, you can be using renewable energy, so you can cook with cleaner air and a cleaner conscience.