The good: It’s energy efficient, safe, and very cool
The bad: The price tag seems steep, but the cutting edge is never cheap
The bottom line: Step up to faster, more energy-efficient cooking that will wow your dinner guests.
Writer Arthur C. Clarke famously commented, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
After being gobsmacked by Whirlpool’s new energy-saving induction cooktop, I know what he means.
Watching a chef demonstrate the Whirlpool induction cooktop, I felt like an Amazonian tribesman entranced by a Zippo lighter. Instead of flicking the flame on and off, though, the demonstrator put her palm on the surface of the glass induction cooktop that, moments before, held a sizzling skillet of fajita fixin’s. She said it wasn’t hot to the touch, and her smile didn’t indicate any pain.
Then she took a small pan previously cut in half for just such demonstrations, and laid into it a stick of butter spanning the cooktop surface and the pan.
The half of the stick in the pan melted quickly, ready to accept some mushrooms for a quick sauté. The other half of the stick lying on the actual cooking surfaces stayed as cool as a cucumber. I suppose, given enough time, the whole stick would have melted as the heat transferred through the butter. But still it was a cool trick. Except that it wasn’t a trick.
Whirlpool’s magnetic miracle is based on induction cooking, a technology using electromagnetic energy to generate instant heat to only the cookware touching its surface. It even comes with a Boost element that can boil water up to 52 percent faster than standard levels. Since heat is only generated to the cookware it is touching, the resource-efficient Whirlpool induction cooktop is the company’s most efficient cooktop ever.
For example, the advanced induction technology transfers up to 90 percent of energy directly to magnetic cookware, using 25 percent less energy than traditional ceramic-glass cooktops and 58 percent less energy than gas cooktops.
This savings means one could power a 60-watt light bulb for seven hours with the energy saved every time you boil water. And, because induction heats only the cookware and its contents, spills won't bake onto the induction cooktop, making it Whirlpool brand's easiest to clean.
Best of all, you don’t need special pots and pans. Good thing Whirlpool didn’t follow the Apple model, with proprietary plugs for iPods and such.
"Induction cookware is an important part of the induction equation, but expensive cookware isn't required," said Steve Swayne, consumer scientist with the Institute of Kitchen Science. "One simply needs to check their current cookware with a magnet—choose a magnet from your refrigerator and hold it up to the bottom of the cookware. If it sticks, your cookware is compatible with induction technology."
As Swayne mentioned, only ferromagnetic pans can be used for induction cooking.
Ferromagnetic materials include:
- Enameled steel
- Cast iron
- Stainless steel designed for induction cooking
When cooking on any surface, proper ventilation is important. Whirlpool brand has a line of canopy range hoods that helps eliminate steam and odors associated with what's cooking on the range. Available in 30-in. and 36-in. models for the wall or island, a canopy range hood brings a sophisticated style to any kitchen.
If you're building or remodeling a kitchen, the Whirlpool induction cooktop makes an interesting choice to replace traditional cooking options. I imagine you'd have to cook quite a bit to make the energy savings pay off, but that may not be the whole point. My only question is, will magnetic induction cooking make a watched pot boil any faster?