🌎⚡️The Best Stovetop You Can Buy

Quinn Emmett
January 25, 2023
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The Best Stovetop You Can Buy -- And How The Government's Gonna Help Pay For It

IKEA induction stove

IKEA

The best stovetop you can buy is an induction stovetop. And that's good news, because Dark Brandon's on his way right now to take your freedom, your hamburger, AND your gas stove!

I'm kidding. I'm kidding!

What I'm not kidding about: Cooking with gas means you are literally burning toxic, explosive methane (aka natural gas aka fossil gas) right in your kitchen.

And growing research indicates there may be real negative health effects from "having friends over for Cacio e Pepe and then saturating the air with pollutants."

How so? Well, stop me if you inexplicably missed every single news headline last week about how the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health "found that 12.7% of current childhood asthma in the US is attributable to gas stove use" and then everyone started yelling at each other.

Anyways!

Most people never think about their gas water heater or gas clothes dryer or gas furnace, unless they’re broken. If that's you, congratulations. Just wait.

On the other hand, some people wield an open flame in their kitchen every single day, and often while drinking and/or exhausted, which is not ideal. Gas stoves are the most intimate gas-powered consumer touchpoint, and thus a vital lever to to reduce gas emissions, by way of reducing gas appliances, which require gas infrastructure, which is 1) unprofitable and 2) has been known to explode.

The point being: If people (you) can be convinced to remove the single gas appliance they/you actually have a relationship with (in this case, because it potentially causes health issues, and is better to cook with), then they’re/you're more likely to be convinced to remove other gas appliances, because who cares, and now we’re making our way to reducing overall gas infrastructure, gas emissions, and overall emissions, and my anxiety medication.

IRA makes this all so much easier.

What's the Difference Between A Stove, a Stovetop, a Cooktop, and a Range?

Kitchen

Unsplash

Thanks for asking, Sally.

Kitchens usually have two main cooking parts, a "cooktop" for heating pots and pans, and an "oven". If only it were that easy. Let's explore:

  1. The "cooktop" and oven can be purchased and installed separately, for example, as a cooktop in a kitchen counter, and a wall oven
  2. (You know what an oven is, this isn't an oven explainer, Alex)
  3. Anyways, annoyingly, a cooktop can also be called a "stovetop"
  4. If they’re combined together in one unit we call it a “range” or “stove”

So for today's purposes, let's assume we're mostly talking about the stovetop/cooktop, which come in a variety of sizes, but standard is usually 30-36".

The Best Option

Induction stovetop

Unsplash

Modern "induction cooktops" are as different from old school electric burners as White Lotus season 1 is to White Lotus season two. Some many unnecessary deaths!

With induction, energy is transferred directly from electricity to the iron in a cooking pan, through a magnetic field. If this sounds like Star Trek, it is, you're welcome, we made it. Europe's been using them for eons and most fancy chefs agree they're better. 

While you're always going to breathe some not great stuff from the actual cooking of the food (you should always have ventilation), induction stoves themselves are way (way) safer than gas.

For example, the induction burner itself doesn't actually get hot, so there's far less of a chance of getting burned — at least, from the burner. Don't touch a hot pan? Maybe?

Anyways -- they're also just better. They heat food or water super fast and can be more accurately controlled than "a medium-sized actual flame inches from my goldendoodle". It's like cooking with a computer, because it is.

Our Recommendations

  • Stove/range: Consumer Reports recommends the LG LSE4616ST as their top slide-in stove pick (currently $2298 at Home Depot)
  • Stovetop/cooktop: Good Housekeeping ranks the GE Profile PHP9030DJBB #1 and FWIW, Consumer Reports has it #2 (currently $1998 at Best Buy)

BUT WILL MY PANS WORK???

Le Creuset pan

Unsplash

Induction heats pans using magnetism, so your induction cookware (natch) need to be attracted to magnets.

Cast iron works, Le Creuset works, but pure aluminum and copper aren't magnetic, sorry. You can test if your pans work with a magnet. If it sticks, the pan will work.

(Don't have a magnet at home? What? Magnets are the coolest. Buy one here).

Anyways — got some wedding present pans you can't part with? Buy an "induction converter" (or "induction interface"). Despite the Back To The Future-style lingo, it's literally just an iron plate with a handle, or a medieval shield. Put it on the stove, the plate gets hot, and heats your pan like an electric resistance stove.

  • Cons: You can still burn the shit out of your hands, a little less energy efficient
  • Pros: Still no flame!

Most induction stoves are touchscreen, though some have knobs. You can precisely control the heat from 1-10, but even better about having actual numbers is instead of imprecisely measuring a open flame, you just tell your exhausted partner "Just cook the riced cauliflower stir fry on level 7, the kids won't eat it if it's even slightly burned" and then there you go, you parented.

Try It Out (Or: You're A Renter and Your Landlord Won't Upgrade)

Portable induction stove

CNN

Sometimes -- even with that sweet IRA cash -- you're not in a financial position to toss your gas stove and upgrade. Or maybe you're a renter and your landlord won't upgrade, despite OPEN FLAMES IN YOUR UNIT.

Anywho — all good. You can get a portable induction burner that plugs into a regular 120V outlet to just have, or to test the waters. Either way, you'll start reducing your gas use. And if you like it, keep it, it's yours, you paid for it! Here's Wirecutter's best portable induction burners. You should buy one.

Next Best

Radiant cooktop

As the goal is to get gas out of the home, we’re going all-electric here, but we understand not everyone can make the jump straight to induction.

Radiant cooktops are similar to old school coiled electric resistance burners (see "Old School", below) but they're covered with a flat surface that's sometimes called a ceramic top or smooth top. Don't let them fool you. They're cheaper than induction, but their performance worse, and no magnets.

Got a radiant stove? You're already electric, but consider upgrading to induction for the magnets and less burny-burny.

Old School

Coil stove

Electric resistance burners — often in the shape of a coil, and when hot, resembling something very recently forged in the fires of Mordor — have been sold for decades, and it's what you (and apparently Stephen Colbert) think of when you hear "electric stove".

Downsides: All of them? They take forever to actually get hot, and once they are, they can and will burn you at every given opportunity for like hours after you're done cooking up that Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange chicken. They're a pain in the ass to control, because, again, they take many minutes to heat up, and then the rest of your life to cool down.

Upsides: Do I have to? Fine. It's not gas?

The Future

Impulse induction stove

Impulse

You gotta hear about this. A bunch of geniuses like the folks at Channing Street Copper Company and Impulse thought, "But wait how do we make electric induction stoves cooler" and then they strapped BATTERIES to them. Come on!

As my friend David Roberts, author and host at Volts and fellow clean energy fanatic, noted: “Embedding batteries into appliances opens up all kinds of intriguing opportunities. A stove with a battery can deliver more power at the point of cooking. It can continue working when the power grid goes out. And it can serve as distributed storage to assist in grid stability.”

How To Install An Induction Range

Back to the Future gif

GIPHY

First, don't do that. At least not yourself. Have you lost your mind, Gary? Do you remember the time you tried to replace the ONE uplight on the camellias? And now you want to try your hand at installing a STOVE?

Anyways: Many induction cooktops and ovens need appliance-level outlets that are 240V and 40-50A. You probably don't have one where you need it.

If you've got an electrician over for another job, say, fixing the fuse to the uplights, considering having them run a 240V outlet to your kitchen to make it easier to replace when you're ready to electrify. It should cost less than $500 and take a few hours to install.

Maybe make them a coffee or six? It's the nice thing to do.

How Does the IRA Help Me?

Piggy bank

Unsplash

Besides boiling water faster than you can forage in the fridge for literally anything to pre-eat with your hands, standing up, induction stoves are more efficient than gas and electric resistance stoves, so they're a bit cheaper to operate.

But unless you're on the line cooking all day, you're only using your stovetop a few minutes a day, so your energy bill savings probably won't make up the upfront costs of switching.

That's where IRA comes in. You can get up to $840 off an induction stove (if you're switching from gas), and there's even more benefits for upgrading your electric panel, wiring, etc (check out Rewiring America's IRA calculator here to see how much you can save).

OUTRO

Got questions? Shoot us an email at questions@importantnotimportant.com and we'll respond weekly. Thanks as always to our partners at Rewiring America.

Quinn


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