When you ‘boil’ it down, there really are only a few options for home cooking. Gas and electric have ruled the industry since technology began moving past the wood-fired stove. While an open fire is still technically an option, it’s obviously not very practical.
Just like innovations that have been ‘cooked up’ in the past several decades, new technologies are always hoping to solve all the issues of meal preparation, perhaps just falling short of actually cooking it for you.
Today, home chefs are likely equipped with either gas or electric ranges, but can expect to see more of the relatively new induction appliances flood the market. For good reason. Induction comes with a plethora of benefits.
There are also advantages to swapping out gas for straight electric. If you’re considering making the change away from gas, here’s some information to ‘digest.’
Pros and Cons of Gas, Electric, and Induction
Each option has its advantages and disadvantages.
Many people love cooking on gas. It’s quick to respond, easy to monitor, and it can be manually lit, so it works even when the power is out.
However, gas is also an expensive form of power, costing more than electricity. If you’re using propane, you have to worry about refilling the tank. Natural gas can be piped in directly, but it’s a safety concern due to the potential for gas leaks.
Plus, natural gas is a petroleum product. The fracking required to access it is detrimental to the environment. It causes air pollution and disrupts the ecosystem, affecting wildlife and human activities.
In addition, natural gas has to be piped, which means the land is further disturbed through the building of trenches and clearing of the land. The process of sourcing natural gas also contaminates water.
Compared to electric ranges, gas cooktops require more energy to operate, especially since the flames release heat up the sides of the pan. This escaped heat is inefficient, which is not only non-eco-friendly but costs more.
The setup of a gas range is somewhat more challenging to clean than the solid surface of a smooth cooktop or even a range with electric coils.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of gas stoves is the fact they are a contributing factor to poor indoor air quality. Burning gas emits nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (HCHO) into your home, all of which have been associated with adverse health effects, including respiratory issues.
Electric ranges have been around for a long, long time. Traditionally they had coil burners, which have seen an upgrade to a flat cooking surface in recent years.
Electric ranges run on the home’s electrical system without the need to install gas piping. It’s safer for the air quality and less expensive to purchase and operate.
Electric ranges are better for the environment, especially if the home is powered by renewable energy such as solar, wind, or hydro.
Since there’s no open flame, there’s less of a fire risk, and less excess heat escapes the stove, so it’s more efficient and less likely to heat up the kitchen.
Induction technology is powered by electricity, so devices plug into the same type of outlet you’d use for your electric range.
However, the system works through the use of magnets. Basically there are magnets beneath the surface of the induction cooktop. Those magnets initiate the heating and cooling response within the pan.
Inasmuch, the burner doesn't really get hot at all. Instead, the temperature is created directly inside the pot or skillet. This system reduces the chance of burns since the surface of the stove remains mostly neutral.
It’s similar to the heat left behind on a counter after a warm dish is removed--noticeable but not dangerous.
Induction has more in common with electric stovetops than with gas ones, so it comes with many of the same benefits. However, most of the benefits are amplified with the induction method.
For example, the surface is similar to an electric glass top, so cleaning is the same. However, induction has the lowest fire hazard of the three options, and it has virtually no heat escape, so it won’t warm the surrounding area or waste resources.
Induction can also be powered by renewable energy and is the most efficient cooking method you can choose.
Plus, since the advanced technology communicates directly with the pan, there’s no need to warm the burner and then the pan. This speeds up the cooking process by several minutes each time you need to bring a pot to a boil.
Induction is known for having exceptional heat control for the same reason. A turn of the knob provides a quick response in both rising and lowering the heat.
Many cooks report induction offers a lower simmering setting than gas, meaning that there’s actually a low heat option that keeps the pot warm without being too hot. This often isn’t the case with gas, where it’s tough to find a low enough temperature for some applications.
Induction is the preferred option for many home chefs, but it comes with a higher price tag than other options, at least for now.
Another thing to know about induction is that it requires specific types of cookware. While many pans are induction compatible, many are not, and they literally will not work. That’s because the magnets need to recognize the pan.
Many induction stoves are even equipped with a safety feature that turns the burner off if the pan is removed for longer than a few seconds.
Similarly, if the pan doesn’t have the right magnetic makeup, the burner will refuse to turn on. When shopping for induction-compatible cookware, one tip is to bring a household magnet with you. If the magnet sticks to the bottom of the pan, it should work fine on the induction surface.
In addition to pots and pans, you’ll likely need to invest in a new thermometer. Since many digital thermometers are affected by the magnets from the induction stove, go old school with an analog model instead.
Options and Features
Regardless of what powers your range, there are myriad features to consider. If you’re thinking of switching to an electric or induction stove, you can likely find any combination of options you want.
Look for convection settings for the oven, WiFi compatibility, cameras inside the oven, and smart features that allow you to control the appliance from your phone, even while you’re away from home.
If you don’t need anything fancy, base models offer the same performance with standard features like adjustable racks and a self-clean option.
Like every other appliance, there is a range of options when it comes to cooktops and ranges. Brands and models vary in reliability and prices.
In general, you get what you pay for with higher priced items equating to better performance and reliability.
Then there’s the debate about whether gas, electric, or induction models are more durable. According to Consumer Reports, a standout consumer product review organization, induction cooking appliances rank highly when compared to other options.
In fact, the publication reports all induction options that have been tested in its lab offer fast heat and high-quality simmering.
Consumer review sites aren’t the first to recognize the benefits of induction stoves. Because of their high level of energy-efficiency, power companies and state and federal governments often offer incentives to make the change.
With better efficiency, cheaper operating cost, less air pollution, and the ability to run off of renewable energy, induction technology is enjoying a starring role, and it may remain a headliner for the foreseeable future.
Since the appliances and the installation can set a homeowner back, incentives help spur the adoption of the technology.
Check with your energy provider as well as government websites to see if there’s a rebate or tax credit available for your situation.
Related to the incentives is the fact that we’re living in a changing world. The sustainability goals for the next 27 years are making headlines on a daily basis, around the globe.
While swapping out your cooking surface might not be the end-all answer for solving the climate crisis, eliminating sources of natural gas in your home is a start.
Every small step helps, and as we barrel towards a carbon net-zero future, you’ll probably find you’re ahead of the trend if you make the change now rather than later.
Making the Change from Electric to Induction
It’s an easy transition from an electric range to an induction model, so if it’s time for a replacement, you might as well upgrade. Although the induction unit will cost you more, and you may need to replace some pans, the swap is basically the same as any other appliance replacement.
You don’t need to deal with gas lines or make any electrical changes.
Simply unplug your old unit and slide it out of place, making sure not to damage the flooring. Place the induction stove in its place, plugging it into the same outlet.
Switching from Gas to Electric or Induction
The process of moving away from gas is the same whether you’re bringing in an electric or an induction unit. You’ll need to turn off and disconnect the gas connection from the range. Remove the appliance and permanently cap off the gas supply.
At this point, you’ll need an electrician to put in an appropriate outlet. This is the single most relevant step in your gas conversion. That’s because it can be a significant undertaking depending on the setup of your electrical system.
Your electric or induction stove requires a dedicated outlet with a 220-volt plug. That outlet needs to be on its own circuit, which means there has to be an open spot in your circuit panel.
If you don’t have room for the addition, you’ll need to add a second circuit panel, which can crank up the price of the electrical work.
While appliances may soon run on via Bluetooth, at this point, we still need to plug them in. In addition to the work at the location of the circuit panel and the installation of the new outlet box, you have to run wire between the two locations.
You might luck out and find this to be an easy process. Say, if your stove is located directly above the panel box, or perhaps on the opposite side of the same shared wall. If this is the case, there’s not far for the wire to travel and probably few obstacles to contend with too.
However, if your kitchen and the breaker box are across the house from each other, your electrician will have his work cut out. That wire needs to be fished through the floor, ceiling, and walls from one end to the other.
These costs can add up quickly when you combine the supplies with the time involved in the process. You may be looking at a wide range of potential scenarios, from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.
While replacing the cooktop or range will always cost you for the new appliance, switching from gas to electric requires upgrading your electrical system. Once you get bids for this work and wrap your head around the expense, the hard part is done.
With the wiring situated, you can plug in your new appliance and get cooking.
In summary, moving away from gas is good for both the internal and external environment. It’s also good for your pocketbook.
Whether you choose to go to an electric or an induction model, you’ll find an efficient replacement for your gas setup.
At this time, the majority of the associated costs go towards the required changes in capping off the gas supply and running the designated electrical circuit from the box to the appliance.
If you’re hoping to keep up with the ever-changing times, it might be best to look ahead with a switch to induction now. Of course, who knows, there could be a new player in the game at any time.
If you’re wondering what a typical repair might look like, check out Fixing an Induction Cooktop With a Blown Fuse and Induction and Glass Cooktop: Stovetop Care and Repair.