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Five things to know before you buy an induction hob

Induction is the new buzz word in the hobs marketplace - but what does it mean, and are induction hobs really any better than electric or gas?

Five things to know before you buy an induction hob

Induction hobs claim to offer the best of both worlds compared with gas and electric, combining the responsive heating of gas hobs with the easy cleaning of electric hobs. 

They’ve taken domestic and professional kitchens by storm in recent years and induction hobs are an increasing favourite with chefs and home cooks alike.

We’ve highlighted five characteristics of induction hobs that you should know about before you make your choice.

Find out how 14 newly tested hobs, from the likes of AEG, Bosch and Neff, performed in our reviews of the best hobs – and discover which six induction hobs made it as Which? Best Buys. 

1) Induction hobs heat up quickly

The best induction hobs are great for simmering stews slowly, they have responsive touchscreen control and are a breeze to clean. But speed is the main area where induction hobs have cut through the competition from gas and traditional electric ceramic hobs.

The chart below shows how quickly the fastest hob we’ve tested from each category boils a pan of water.

The best induction hob we’ve tested takes just three and a half minutes to boil a big pan of water – as fast as some kettles – compared with the best gas model’s toe-tapping eight minutes. Induction wins hands down.

If you’re a time-pressured or impatient cook, head to the fastest hobs we’ve found.

2) You need induction-compatible pans

You don’t necessarily need special ‘induction’ pans – but you will need pans that are made of, or contain, iron.

When you power up an induction hob, metal coils under the hob’s glass surface create a magnetic field. This interacts with the iron in a pan’s base. An electric current is generated that transfers energy into the pan, creating heat.

Some or all of the pans you already own might work, but it’s best to check. If a fridge magnet sticks firmly to the base, that’s a good sign.

If not, it’s easy to find induction-ready pans these days, though you’ll need to build the cost of new pans into your budget.

3) Induction can mean bigger cooking zones

Gone are the days of four standard-sized cooking zones on every hob.

Induction hobs have paved the way to joined-up cooking zones. These can create extended cooking areas variously called flexi, link or bridge zones. They let you cook using larger pots or dishes, which would extend beyond a standard heating zone.

To give you an idea, here’s a a couple of flexi-zone hobs from our latest hob reviews.

Left: Stoves H2H BHIT601 – this offers two large bridge zones   Right: Belling IHL602 – with a single link zone on the right

4) Induction hobs can affect pacemakers

Most common household electrical appliances are not a problem for pacemaker users, but the British Heart Foundation advises that you should keep a distance of at least 60cm from an induction hob while it is on.

Practically, this means induction hobs are probably best avoided in favour of electric or gas hobs if you have a pacemaker.

5) Induction hobs can come with handy extras

You can pick up a Which? Best Buy induction hob for less than £250, but if you fancy pushing the boat out, look out for these features:

  • Hob to hood wireless communication Your cooker hood detects what is being produced from the hob below and adjusts its fan speed accordingly.
  • Integrated extractor An extractor fan is built into the hob itself, meaning you won’t need a hood.
  • Gas and induction in one If you can’t say goodbye to gas, some induction hobs also include a gas burner.
  • Induction wok zone This is where the hob has a curved indentation to accommodate a wok.

New Which? hob reviews

We’ve just tested 14 more hobs from well-known brands such as Bosch and Belling, Hotpoint and Hoover.

If you’re torn between a gas hob and an induction hob, use our buying guides on induction hobs and gas hobs to help make your decision.

The best hobs we’ve tested score an impressive 87%; the worst get just 44%. Don’t risk this kitchen essential letting you down – head to our hob reviews to read detailed, unbiased verdicts on more than 120 hobs.

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