An induction cooktop is a cooking range just like a gas or electric range but functions using different scientific principles. All the difference lies in the technology called as “induction”.
Let’s have a look at the conventional cooktops and cooking ranges and how an induction cooktop or hob differs from them.
In a gas cooking range, LNG (liquefied natural gas) or gas from propane tank flows through a tube till the gas burner and when fire is applied it burns providing the necessary heat for cooking.
In an electric cooking range, electricity flows through the heating element and because of the resistance heat gets generated in the element itself. When vessels and cooking pots come in contact with this heating element they also get heated.
However none of these things happen in an induction stove or cooker. The whole induction system is based on a scientific principle called as “electromagnetism”. A typical induction stove has an electrical coil hidden beneath it’s surface. The surface in most cases is glass or partial glass.
All induction cookers or cooktops strictly requires electrical supply to function properly or function at all. Alternating current is passed through the coil that is hidden inside the cooktop which generates electromagnetic field on top of the coil.
Since the current flowing through the coil is “alternating”, the degree of magnetic field is also changing constantly. When you keep a metallic ferrous vessel on top of the glass surface in the vicinity of this electromagnetic field, reverse induction process happens and electricity gets generated in the metallic vessel.
But since a vessel or cooktop does not have any means to pass on the electricity it becomes hot due to it’s own resistance offered by the metal itself. This heated metal transfers the heat to the food carried by the pot or pan.
By looking at this figure below you’ll get a clear idea of how it all works.
1) Alternating current passes through electrical coil present beneath the top surface of induction cooker.
2) This alternating current generates electromagnetic field which is changing directions.
3) The vessel in the vicinity of this magnetic field again generates “eddy currents” in the vessel. But since the vessel is not connected to an electrical circuit, these eddy currents cause the vessel to heat which is useful for cooking.
Unlike the gas or electric range no surface gets heated in this process, except that of the vessel. You do not see any flames or red hot surfaces on top of the induction cooker. In fact if you touch the top glass surface of the induction hob even when it is functioning with full potential, you can touch the glass top and it remains cool.
Thus all induction hobs work on this simple yet very powerful principle of electromagnetism.