Where would be we be without the hob cooktop? Most of us can manage without a grill or even an oven, but the hob is where we do most of our cooking. Last week we talked about why so many people love a gas cooktop, and you can read it here. This week, it’s the turn of the electric cooktop.
Electric cooktops are a great choice; they’ve got no naked flame to worry about, they’re easy to clean and, especially with the new styles available today, they’re very nice looking. An electric hob is simple to install and there’s one to suit every budget. So, if electric is your choice, there are basically three types of hob to choose from:
- sealed plate hob
- ceramic hob
- induction hob
Sealed Plate Hobs
Sealed plate hobs were the first to come onto the market. The plate is made of cast iron with an internal electric element. Sometimes, there are four plates with two that heat more quickly than the others; these are usually marked with a red dot or circle in the centre. This type is the cheapest and the most simple. However, they can be expensive to run, as they are slow to heat and cool down. However, the real downside is the lack of control. The sealed plate hob, although it’s a wise choice if you’re on a budget, could be accused of being clunky and hard to use in today’s world of high-tech appliances.
The ceramic hob is the next step up the ladder, and it’s a very popular choice with today’s families. Sleek, modern, easy to clean, scratch resistant and with a smooth glass surface, they suit the modern kitchen. They’re heated either by a coiled element, fast response ribbon elements or halogen. They heat up and cool down rapidly and usually come with an endless list of features; digital displays, finger-touch controls, timers –- and most will have an indicator to tell you when the hob has cooled and is safe to touch.
The induction hob is state-of-the-art. Although it is relatively new technology, it has quickly risen to being the most favoured option for cooktops in Australia. Induction cooking has been the preferred choice in professional kitchens for many years, but it’s only recently that manufacturers have designed easy-to-use models for the home. Induction cooking is fast, clean and above all, safe. And, when we talk fast cooking we mean fast cooking –- most have a ‘power-boost’ control to boil a pan of water in 90 seconds flat.
Induction hobs are as responsive and as immediate as gas, with instant heating and cooling, which—aside from being great for temperature control—means lower running costs. The hob looks more or less the same as a ceramic hob in that it has a flat ceramic surface, but it works very differently. In an induction hob, high-frequency electromagnets sit underneath the top, and they create a magnetic field when a saucepan is placed on the plate. However, the heat can only be activated by ferrous cookware, that is, cookware with iron content. This is because it’s only iron that can activate the electric current that an induction hob needs to generate heat. They’re also 90% energy efficient, which makes them the greenest choice.
In our next post, we’ll talk about choosing between these options.