Hob Choice Help
Should you go for cheaper traditional gas or the new more expensive induction type hotplates?
A lot of people are torn between a gas or an induction hob and there’s a fair bit of confusion around which one is better to use for everyday cooking.
This tends to be a bit of an emotive and at times argumentative topic both in the trade and outside it. We will try to be as objective as we can here.
For most people probably now, induction is now the best way to go and there’s a number of reasons for this that we will explain however, an awful lot of people are completely besotted by a gas hob for some reason and refuse to have anything but a gas hob. Problem is that soon, they probably will not be able to.
New rules look set to effectively outlaw gas hobs and ovens in the next decade or so across the EU so, gas ovens and hobs may well not be an option for much longer anyway.
This makes the topic of gas or electric built in hobs and cookers a very important consideration for buyers.
Gas Cooker & Hob Servicing
Now as we don’t want involved in a political debate over the EU, nanny state or whatever else let us point out that, getting a gas hob or cooker repaired has become increasingly difficult as new UK legislation has made being an operative to repair these harder and harder as well as considerably if not prohibitively expensive over the past couple of decades or more.
Bluntly put, the cost of training and keeping up the legal requirements to allow the repairers to mend gas fuelled products is too high and most repairers won’t touch gas now at all.
If our information is correct and gas is to be phased out in domestic use then the chances of those that still have the ability to repair gas products holding onto and paying a lot of money to keep fixing it is not exactly very high.
Those that do stay in that particular area aren’t going to be cheap.
We would urge you to consider this before you buy a new built in hob or cooker as, a few years down the road when it does need a repair you may well find yourself either unable to get it repaired or, it’s costing a fortune to have it repaired. Either way, it’s not good news.
Even today, getting a gas appliance repairer in most areas of the UK is not easy, can take much longer than many other products and can be expensive.
We all know what they are and they require little to no explanation.
Flame, heat, cook. It’s not hard to understand.
There are however a couple of things that are really not so great about gas and, never have been. As well as some things that are just great about a gas hob.
- Installation limited and there are numerous requirements
- Hard to clean
- Tend to look dirty quickly
- High installation costs
- Naked flame so technically more dangerous
- Expensive to repair or service with limited choices
- Can use any pot, many or whatever on a gas hob
- Can sear stuff, kebabs etc
- Can see the flame and heat level, great once user is familiar with it
- Cheap to buy (mostly)
All in all gas hobs are pretty good, most people get along just fine with them and they really don’t give that much trouble all things considered.
But, getting then serviced can be really hard now.
Induction has become increasingly popular, including in commercial kitchens was the technology has improved with many professional chefs now favouring induction over gas. Even for cooking using a wok.
Induction uses what they call electro-magnetic induction. You don’t really need to know what that means but basically, it’s a big magnet controlled by electronics. If you really want to know more there’s a short video below that explains it in more technical detail.
In the meantime here's a video overview of induction use from Kitchen Aid, aka Whirlpool:
Like gas hobs though, there are both pros and cons.
- Not so hard to install as gas
- Are more energy efficient and therefore cheaper to run
- Easy too clean
- The “new” look tends to last longer
- Safer and can be child locked
- More accurate control
- Full of electronics that can be expensive to replace
- People aren’t familiar with the technology
- You need pans etc with iron (most are fine but some aren’t)
- Can’t sear stuff on an open flame
- Can’t see flame or heat level other than using the display
- People that have a pacemaker can have issues
Induction is good and good to use, as fast and as responsive as gas for the most part as well as safer offering up a lot to like about induction but we’ve seen some people, even in the trade, refuse to accept this.
Sure there’s cons to it but, there’s cons to gas as well.
There is no doubt whatsoever that in terms of raw energy use, when in use, that induction wins hands down against gas.
People often seem to have it in their heads that gas is cheaper than electricity in the UK for some reason and maybe that’s true, maybe not but what we have no doubt about is that induction is cheaper to run in energy terms.
To demonstrate just look at this graph from Siemens the says it all.
Regardless of how you want to slice it, when it comes to energy use, induction wins. Big time.
Now aside from saving the planet and being polar bear friendly this does you, the owner a favour as it means you use less energy, If you use less energy it costs you less to cook on.
We see this as a win-win-win for induction as, it’s safer, faster and using less energy as well!
Induction Service Issues
Two things spring to mind for us as potential issues with servicing on induction.
The first is technical information or, the lack thereof.
As with most tech info manufacturers are will we say, guarded about it. Or, to be more blunt, they refuse to let anyone have it so running test programs or accessing diagnostics etc is made difficult if not impossible and, we don’t think that’s on really.
People and repairers should have the right to access this information.
Second one is, they are often having a laugh with the part prices.
Control boards can cost well over £100 and sometimes a lot more. Induction plates the same and are often supplied as a bank of two plates only, a full assembly making repair often prohibitively expensive.
Again, we don’t think this is fair and more so if manufacturers want people to embrace induction over the other options.
As we said, it is all too likely that gas (at least for domestic cooking if not also heating) is set to be phased out and, we are not talking about in decades either. This looks to be set to start happening fairly soon, probably by 2020 or not that far after.
What do you think the chances are of gas hob and cooker manufacturers investing in stock, development and servicing of these products are anywhere even close to that date?
Okay, we’ll just answer that for you, it’s none.
There’s no way that these companies are going to spend money developing or maintaining these products so, what you buy now or a few years from now will be technology from another era. Sure the marketing guys will probably spin it to make people think it’s all new and bang up to date but, the reality is it won’t be.
What manufacturers will do is sell through what they have right now and plough all resources available into the development of the technologies that will be of use in the future, not waste money on tech they’re not going to get a long term return on.
While gas may well not be dead just yet, its days would appear to be numbered.
This makes it really hard for us to recommend that people invest in gas hobs or cookers now, especially large and expensive range cookers that you will want to last for many years.
Gas Or Induction
The choice between the two for us, knowing about upcoming issues as well as the current ones with gas, is pretty much a done deal. It has to be induction.
We’re quite sure that there are people that will disagree with this assessment and no doubt there will be comments to that effect below but on a purely objective basis taking into account the issues surrounding gas with its longevity, safety and inefficiency then the decision, at least for us and a good many people, is a bit of a no-brainer.
So our opinion is, get induction even with the foibles.
Induction Technical Detail
This video explains how induction works really well and isn’t overly technical, hat’s off to the Edison Tech Centre for making this one.