Electric cooktops usually cater to the needs of those who either do not have much space in their kitchen to fit a full-size range or who do not cook on a regular basis and simply need an appliance that they can store and bring out only when needed.

However, as with their larger counterparts, there is more than one type of electric cooktop. While there are dozens of electric stoves from multiple manufacturers, there is a distinction to be made between them regarding their functioning principles: They can be either induction or radiant electric stoves.

Each of them has advantages and disadvantages, however, they both use electricity in order to help cook food.

How Radiant Cooktops Work

Products that follow this design actually heat up pans and pots in a couple of steps:

  • Electricity passes through the heating element and raises its temperature;
  • This heat is then transferred to ceramic components above them, usually a ceramic top;
  • This top radiates heat and transfers it to the cookware;

This process is extremely similar to the way a gas kitchen range works, in the sense that external heat is applied to the pan or pot. Also, an important characteristic of radiant models is the fact that the ceramic “burners” do not instantly cool down after use, requiring a couple of minutes to reach room temperature.

How Induction Cooktops Work

These have a slightly different, more high-tech functioning principle:

  • Electricity passes through copper coils hidden in the appliance, right under the market areas;
  • These generate a small magnetic field that passes through the material above the components and reaches the pan or pot;
  • The pan itself then heats up due to it being inside the magnetic field;

In this design, the pan or pot is the burner as there is no other element that heats up in the process. This having been said, the food will be cooked more evenly due to the fact that the entire pan will heat up at the same time.

These usually also come with more accurate temperature controls and can be better suited for those who cook a lot of food at once and need to use larger containers.

Which is better?

There is no clear winner when it comes to choosing a radiant vs induction cooktop. It is usually a matter of choice due to the fact that the induction models only work with certain types of cookware that react with the magnetic field, while the radiant ones are compatible with any pan you would normally use on a gas range. 

Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that radiant cooktops are more affordable, however, they are less efficient due to the fact that heat is lost in the transfers.

Overall, radiant stoves are more useful for those who want the freedom to use their existing cookware with the new appliance while induction ones are better suited for those who want to pack them immediately after use as these do not warm up, they simply heat up the pan.

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