Induction hob vs electric hob: which is the best electric option for you?

Choosing between an induction hob vs electric hob can be tricky unless you know what to look out for...

Induction hob vs electric hob
(Image credit: Getty Images / djedzura)

Not sure whether to pick an induction hob vs electric hob? Induction hobs promise faster cooking, better energy efficiency and easier cleaning than traditional electric hobs, but they can cost a lot more money, not to mention that you’ll need the best induction pans, too. So, if you’re considering updating your kitchen with a brand new hob, should you go for the higher-tech option or should you stick with the tried-and-tested option? Let’s consider the pros and cons.

In this guide, “electric hob” means old-style solid-plate electric hobs and more modern ceramic electric hobs, too.

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Induction hob vs electric hob: Cost and running costs

Induction hobs are more efficient than electric hobs – they can be up to 90% efficient, compared with around 65% for traditional electric hobs, so almost all of their energy gets turned into usable heat – but the annual savings aren’t dramatic; think around £20 a year unless you’re cooking for an army.

Induction hobs cost more to buy, too. While induction hobs are much cheaper than they used to be, they’re still more expensive than equivalent non-induction models. For example, on one electrical retailer’s site, a good-quality ceramic electric hob from a premium brand is currently £229, while the same brand’s equivalent induction hob is £480.

Induction hob vs electric hob: Do you need new pans?

An electric hob will work with all of your existing pots and pans, although if you’re coming from gas and have a round-bottomed wok, you’ll need to swap it for a flat-bottomed one. Other than that, everything will work fine.

With an induction hob you need magnetic cookware and that rules out copper, glass and aluminium unless they have a magnetic plate in the bottom. If in doubt, grab a fridge magnet and put it at the bottom of the pan. If it sticks, the pan should be OK.

Induction hob vs electric hob: Will you need to rewire?

Both kinds of cooker require hard wiring by an electrician; you can’t just plug them in to a wall socket. Let’s go back to those two hobs we just mentioned. The ceramic hob requires a 6.6KW connection with a 30 amp fuse; the same firm’s induction hob needs a 7.4KW supply with a 32 amp fuse. 

Induction hob vs electric hob: What are the key benefits?

The main benefit to a standard electric cooker is that it’s cheap to buy. An induction cooker cooks more efficiently and more quickly, delivers finer control of very low and very high temperatures, and is much easier to clean. It doesn’t get hot – it warms up the pots and pans via magnetism – so food is much less likely to get burnt on.

Induction hob vs electric hob: What are the key downsides?

Induction hobs’ glass surfaces are easily scratched and can be smashed. Electric hobs are fairly brutish things – they’re slow to heat up, slow to adjust and slow to cool down, whereas induction feels much more like you’re cooking with gas.

Despite what the internet might tell you, an induction hob is not going to massively reduce your energy bills – whereas an electric hob might cost about £55 a year to run, the equivalent induction hob will come in at just under £40. When you consider the difference between upfront costs (and the possibility of rewiring if your electrics aren’t up to the induction hob’s power demands), you’ll need to cook a lot of things for a long time to make your money back. 

Induction hob vs electric hob: Verdict

If money’s no object, we’d pick the induction hob every time. It feels a little like cooking with magic because the hob itself doesn’t heat up and yet it can deliver incredible heat incredibly quickly. If you’re a serious steak-searer or stir-fryer, you’ll love what it can do – although if you’re new to induction, you’ll have to rethink your favourite recipes because everything cooks so much more quickly. It’s a shame that you can’t use every kind of pan on it, but that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make.