Induction is not new technology since it was introduced in the 1980s. However, it is far more recent than gas or traditional electric, which started in the 1920s and 1930s. The first popular induction cooktops were the now defunct Diva at $3,500 for four basic burners.
Now induction is far more accepted with every manufacturer marketing a 30 and 36-inch cooktop. It is now the high-endcooktop of choice surpassing electric over $1,000.
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How Induction Works
Induction is the safest cooking method. Unlike the glass on a traditional electric cooktop, the glass on an induction cooktop does not get scolding hot to heat the pan.
Instead, a magnet excites the molecules in the pan so that the pan itself becomes the cooking surface, directly cooking the food bypassing the glass.
For this reason, induction is the most efficient cooking method as there is very little loss of heat when cooking. It is 90% efficient, which is more than gas at 60% and electric at 55%.
It has the least amount of residual heat, so you do not need a powerful exhaust hood. Likewise, it can be used with a downdraft, unlike professional gas ranges and rangetops.
Induction is one of the easiest cooking surfaces to control. It is faster than pro gas but is capable of achieving the lowest simmer.
This allows you to either melt chocolate without a double boiler or sear a steak in minutes. In terms of performance, induction is the best cooktop without question.
Choosing an Induction Cooktop
The two most common determining factors to consider when purchasing a new cooktop are package promotions, rebates, and the cooktop layout.
All of the induction cooktops will have a similar range of high to low power. You should base your decision on functional characteristics, such as the layout of the cooking surface.
The Best 36-inch Induction Cooktops for 2017
The following cooktops were ranked higher than other brands for their configuration and wattage. Additionally, the following rates and displays 36-inch cooktops. Go here for the best 30-inch induction cooktops.
Bosch Benchmark NITP666UC - $2799
Bosch Benchmark was one of the first induction cooktops that have a true bridge burner. Numerous brands are connecting the controls of two burners for ease of use. They don’t have an induction element under the bridge like this benchmark. Having griddle cooking on this makes it one of the best.
- (1) 3,600W Element
- (1) 3,300W Element
- (3) 2,200W Element
- Certain zones can be boosted to 3,600W
Jenn-Air JIC4536XS - $2,099
Jenn-Air is the premium brand in the Whirlpool Corporation. The Jenn-Air line has some great package options and has earned a reputation as a solid, reliable brand in our service history. The Jenn-Air cooktop has a large center burner and has two burners on each side connected by a bridge so that these elements can accommodate rectangular or oblong pans and skillets.
- Center: 12" or 9’’ to accommodate multiple pan sizes - 5,000-2,800 watts
- Left front: 7" 2,500-1,800 watts
- Left rear: 7" 2,500-1,800 watts
- Right front: 7" - 2,500-1,800 watts
- Right rear" 7" - 2,500-1,800 watts
Thermador CIT36XKB - $4,999
The Thermador “Freedom” cooktop is one of the coolest products on the market today. Essentially, the Freedom can cook 4 pans at once and can be placed anywhere on the cooktop surface. Thermador’s sister brand, Gaggenau, makes a similar product at $5,499. Thermador also manufactures a 36’’, 5-burner cooktop for $2,999.
Thermador has a reliable line of products and typically runs quality package promotions if you are looking to incorporate this cooktop into your kitchen design. If you want to see the “Freedom” cooktop live we have it on display for you to try.
- Full Surface: 4,600-100 watts
Miele makes the most powerful induction cooktop in the industry and is the only company to make an induction cooktop larger than 36" for the U.S. appliance market.
- Minimum wattage 1,450, maximum wattage 7,700 when borrowing power from an adjacent burner, the highest wattage in the industry
- 5 distinct cooking zones with independent power in each zone
- Miele induction cooktops can communicate with Miele hoods so the hood can automatically adjust power based on cooking performance
Wolf has been a well-known premium appliance brand name and this cooktop is a popular choice in our showroom.
Instead of placing a big burner in the center and two bridge burners to the sides, Wolf has a different (and arguably a better solution). Put a big burner in the right-hand corner behind the controls and four smaller burners on the left side. The small burners on the left can bridge horizontally, vertically, or all four can make one very large burner. The result is you can have two large round pans cooking simultaneously.
- Two 2,100W Elements
- Two 2,100W Elements with 3,000W boost
- One 2,600W Element with 3,700W boost
Samsung NZ36K7880UG - $2,249
Now for something completely different. Samsung is the first Wi-Fi enabled cooktop in the industry. You can turn the cooktop on/off, preheat and change temperature right from your smartphone.
It also has the Virtual Flame Technology meaning you will see blue LEDS around the burner. So you will know it is on. The cooktop also has BlueTooth so it will signal to your Samsung hood to turn on.
First, all are good.
Miele has the utmost powerful single burner at 7,700W. Samsung has the WIFI technology. Both Jenn-Air and Bosch have two expandable burners, so you can fit any type of cookware.
Thermador Freedom enables you to touch and scroll through the power settings like you would on a smartphone. Other controls would let you slide your finger across power settings like in the Jenn-Air.
Remember, Induction is:
- Induction is the fastest cooking method
- Induction gives off the least residual heat (less venting required)
- Induction is the safest cooking method because it needs to be activated by metal
- Induction is very easy to clean because the glass does not heat as hot
Read our Induction Cooking Buying Guide for features, buying tips and ratings of every available induction cooking product in the market. Well over 120,000 people have read a Yale Guide. Induction is our most popular.
- The Most Reliable Induction Cooktops
- Best 30 Inch Induction Cooktops
- Gaggenau vs. Miele Induction Cooktops
- Wolf vs. Thermador 36" Induction Cooktops
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on March 22, 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.