How Do Induction Plates Work and What Are Their Benefits?

When placing a saucepan on a gas or electric hob, you rely on the principle of conduction to heat its contents. Place a casserole dish in the oven and, instead, it will become hot as a result of a combination of convection and radiation. Now, however, there is a fourth way in which to transfer heat to your cookware, and it involves none of these three fundamental principles of thermodynamics. Based on a discovery by the British scientist Michael Faraday in 1831, the induction plate relies on the fact that when a conductor is placed in a changing magnetic field, a voltage is produced in the conductor.

While Faraday’s experiments led to the electric motor and the generator, they failed to capitalise on the fact that the electrical resistance of the conductor also acts to generate heat. Even though the first patents for a hob that was designed to leverage this side effect were taken out in the early 1900s, it was not until around 1975 that the first units became available commercially, at least, to those who could meet their price tag. Since then, this technology has advanced considerably and the growing demand for these devices has meant that high-quality induction plates are now much more affordable. So how do they work?

While rather more complex in practice, in essence, these devices consist of a coil of copper wire located beneath a sheet of ceramic glass. When an alternating current is applied to the coil, an oscillating magnetic field is produced. This results in an induced eddy current in the body of a vessel placed above the glass, while its resistance produces a rapid build-up of heat. To work, the cookware used must be made of a suitable ferrous metal, such as certain types of stainless steel or cast iron. However, some “all metal” induction plates operate at much higher frequencies and are also able to work with copper and aluminium cookware. Alternatively, simply by placing a suitable metal disk on the hob, any type of vessel placed upon it will become heated.

This indirect method of heating offers a number of advantages. Firstly, it is energy efficient. It heats the pot, not the kitchen. Furthermore, heating is immediate upon switching on and stops instantly when switched off. The cooker surface can never get hotter than the pot which, allows for precise temperature control during the cooking process, as well as reducing the risk of burned fingers. The relatively cool ceramic top means spilt food does not become burnt and encrusted, so induction plates should seldom require much more than a quick wipe with a damp cloth to keep them clean.

They are clean, they are quick, and they use much less electricity, so the benefits of cooking with these new-generation hobs are pretty impressive. Maybe then, the next question you need to ask is “where is the best place to get one?”

The answer is simple. Just as it’s the best option when you’re looking for classy but affordable cookware, a Snappy Chef outlet is the perfect place to source induction plates. We offer a choice of single or dual plate models, as well as travel and industrial models, and even one designed to be used with a wok.