Every decade, it seems, manufacturers surprise us with new technology that makes life easier in the kitchen. Some appliances, like microwave or convection ovens, become invaluable over time. Others, such as home sous-vide machines, never advance past the “toys for the rich” category.
It’s too early to know whether induction hobs will eventually replace ceramic or sealed plate electric ones on cookers – but going strictly by their functionality and advantages, they should. They heat pots more quickly, they’re safer, they’re easier to clean, and are more energy-efficient. As you’d expect from any new technology that’s superior to existing equipment, they’re also more expensive than traditional electric hobs.
In the meantime, portable induction hobs are widely available – and a godsend to home cooks who value time and efficiency in the kitchen. The only problem is selecting the right one to buy for your purposes. Some are bare-bones models suitable for use as an extra hob when you have visitors for dinner; others can serve as a dedicated choice for stir-frying or preparing dishes which require very delicate control of temperatures.
If you’re ready to give one a spin but aren’t quite sure where to start, never fear. We’ve done all the necessary research to prepare a list of the best, along with induction hob reviews. This article gives you reliable advice to which you can refer when making a buying decision. We’ll get to our picks for the very best induction hob after we take a quick look at how they work, their benefits, and the features you may find most valuable.
Top 10 Best Induction Hobs Comparison
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An induction hob looks almost identical to a regular sealed-plate or ceramic one, but the two generate heat very differently. With a traditional one, electricity is used to heat metal elements that are inside. That energy eventually makes its way through to the pot and the food inside. Induction hobs, by contrast, use high-powered electromagnets to generate a strong magnetic field. The magnetic field, as you may recall from your science lessons, is able to induce a flow of electrical current in the pot, heating it – and the food inside of it – quickly, while leaving the hob cool to the touch.
There’s only one catch: the pot or pan must be “induction-capable” or it won’t get hot. That generally means you have to use cookware containing iron, although some stainless steel pots and pans will also work. The best way to know: if a magnet will attach itself strongly to the bottom of the pan, you’re all set. Otherwise, you can easily purchase induction-capable cookware in stores or online.
We’ve already touched on the benefits, but let’s look a little more closely.
First of all, they’re fast. Really fast. Because they immediately create heat in the pot or pan, there’s no time “wasted” while waiting for the hob itself to warm up and transfer heat to the pot. Tests have shown that a large pot of water will boil up to five minutes faster than with a traditional electric one, and also significantly faster than when using gas.
Second, the fact that the hobs don’t get hot makes the environment much safer. This means no accidental burns on a misplaced finger or to a curious child touching it. It also means they are much easier to clean, because food won’t “bake onto” a cool hob. It’s important to realise, though, that the pots and pans will still get hot – that’s why we say the environment is safer, not completely safe. (One caveat: if you have several working simultaneously on a cooker, some heat from the pots will eventually be transferred to the hobs.) This method of cooking is tremendously energy-efficient as well because no electricity is “wasted” in heating the hobs; it is up to 70% more efficient than traditional electric. (One more caveat: the speed and energy-efficiency advantages aren’t as marked on portable units as on four- or five-hob induction cookers.)
Finally, there are a number of terrific features available with today’s portable induction hobs. The best is the ability to pinpoint target temperatures for specific foods or types of cooking; some models have a number of presets for everything from boiling water or heating milk to deep frying, and accomplished cooks who are working with touchy sauces will find that on the best units they can set the perfect temperature to prevent their sauces from breaking.
Many products also include digital timers, LED displays, overheat controls, auto-shutoff (whenever a pan is removed) and touch screen controls.
Induction hobs are unquestionably convenient and look most beautiful, but there are a couple of potential problems to look for on individual units. The surfaces on some are so slick that pots can be “stirred right off the surface,” and touch controls can be so sensitive that making small adjustments in temperature can be almost impossible. It’s also important to know that some models, particularly those with fans, do make more noise than traditional offerings. (Often, the noise is really created by vibration of lower-quality pans, not by the hob itself.) We’ll touch on those issues if they exist with the units we review so you know before you buy.
Top 10 Induction Hob Reviews List
1. Tefal Everyday IH201840
This modern-looking unit that can handle pans up to 26cm in diameter has just about everything you could want in a portable induction hob. There are nine adjustable power levels which run all the way up to 2100 watts, not as powerful as the primary hobs on full-scale cookers, but plenty to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
There are also five pre-set power settings for activities like stewing, stir frying, deep frying and boiling water plus an integrated two-hour timer; the only downsides are that setting the right temperature for simmering can be a bit tricky, and there’s no “current temperature” indicator on the LED display. For a very reasonable price, though, this is a great portable option.
2. Andrew James Digital
The Andrew James offering provides many of the same functions as the Tefal but with some limitations. Its top power is 2000 instead of 2100 watts (you won’t notice the difference), there are ten preset power levels instead of nine, and there’s a three-hour timer (which can only be set in 5-minute increments, a drawback) instead of a two-hour one. However, it’s not quite as attractive as the Tefal, there are no activity presets, it’s a little noisier, it only accommodates pans that are 24cm in diameter, and most importantly, you can’t make manual temperature adjustments. One cool engineering twist, though, is that this hob won’t even turn on if it doesn’t have an capable pot on it. We like the Tefal more, but this is a good option if you want to make a few sacrifices to save a few quid.
3. Andrew James Digital Double
This is an Andrew James model we really like for its versatility – because it has two hobs situated side-by-side with the same basic features as the single hob unit we’ve just reviewed. Neither hob reaches the power level of single-hob brother; one maxes out at 1000 watts and the other can reach 1800. But 1800 watts is plenty for everyday usage, and the ability to prepare two dishes at the same time simply by using a portable cooker makes this a real find, even if it does cost a lot more.
4. VonShef Digital
The VonShef is priced around the same level as the first Andrew James model we’ve discussed, with most of the same pros and cons: 2000 watts max, five-minute timer increments, ten settings but no manual control, somewhat-loud fan. If you’re looking to make a decision between the two units, the VonShef can handle 26cm pans – but that’s the only major difference we’ve found.
5. Kenley Portable
Priced at a moderate level, the Kenley has some of the advantages of the Tefal but also some of the disadvantages we’ve seen with the Andrew James and VonShef. The most important issue is that you’re restricted to using pots or pans with a 20cm diameter on this unit. The maximum power is 2000 watts, with ten settings but no manual temperature control, and there’s a three-hour increment timer and automatic-off for empty pots. It’s rather noisy but it’s thinner than the other hobs we’ve looked at, which could be an advantage for some.
6. Whirlpool ACM847
If you’ve had good experiences with portable hobs, here’s a step up. This countertop one can install permanently in your kitchen and has three separate cooking areas: a large rectangular one on the left (which has two independent zones on it but can also be used for one big roasting pot, for example) and areas for large and small pots on the right. Available power ranges from 2300 watts in the largest zone to 1400 watts for the lowest. There are nine selectable power levels, and you can choose different temperatures for each zone )as well as a “power boost” when needed). There’s also “6th Sense” technology which automatically raises or lowers the temperature as required. You’ll pay a lot for this one, but you’ll also get a lot.
7. Whirlpool Built-In ACM804
This large Whirlpool built-in hob has four distinct, separately-controlled cooking zones, two for larger pots and two for smaller ones. But the biggest difference between this model and the ACM847 is that it requires a 32 amp, single-phase supply and must be wired-in; you have your choice with the previously-reviewed unit. There are big advantages to permanent wiring, though; you can use full power to all zones, unlike portable units which split power between induction zones, and the maximum power available is 7200 watts. It’s another expensive choice, as you’d probably expect.
8. Whirlpool Four Zone ACM812BA
Similar to the ACM804 and around the same price point, the ACM812BA is a built-in unit with two large-sized cooking areas, each with two controllable zones and rated at 7200 watts. It also has the same convenience features like nine power levels and the option to boost power in any zone for quicker cooking.
9. Swan SIH201 TouchScreen
Now that we’ve finished our tour of the high-end Whirlpools, we have a portable unit from Swan to check out. It’s compact, but will handle pans up to 26cm in diameter and works well for what it is. While it’s not is a feature-packed hob; temperature control is handled by running your finger along a bar marked from 1-10 and there’s only a simple timer. We wouldn’t recommend this unit for a chef or even an accomplished cook, but it’s a good choice for someone who doesn’t want a learning curve or a complicated cooker. It just cooks things well, for a decent price.
10. Team Induction Hob
We finish with a surprisingly nice portable model from Team. It has a maximum power of 2000 watts, accommodates large pans, and has a rotary on/off/temperature control for those who prefer their appliances simple rather than sleek. There aren’t preset power setting buttons or timers, and it actually costs more than the Tefal which was our favorite – but this one comes with an induction-capable pot as part of the package.
Give Induction a Try
We assume that most readers are checking out these induction hob reviews because they’re interested in giving induction cooking a try. If you’re just looking to replace a hob you’ve owned in the past, we don’t have to encourage you to buy a new one. But if you’re new to this way of cooking you really owe it to yourself to at least take one of the inexpensive models on this list of best induction hobs on a test drive.
Induction hobs can save a lot of time, and the portable models we’ve focused our advice on can easily fit almost anywhere in your kitchen, or be taken into your garden for a cookout or with you on a camping trip. Most are no noisier than a refrigerator (at worst), and the better models we’ve reviewed give you very easy control over temperature and timing so you can create a perfect meal.
The chances are good that at some point in the future, these will come standard on most cookers – because they’re so much more energy-efficient than gas or standard electric ones. Why not jump ahead of the curve? Good luck, we hope you find the right product to buy.