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How and Why Induction Works

How induction works
Vollrath Pro Staff -


The key concept of induction is in the fact that heat is generated by the pan itself. The induction unit achieves this by creating movement in the molecules in the material of the pan. All that is required is that the pan be magnetic.

  • An electric current in the induction range creates alternating magnetic fields.
  • The magnetic fields excite molecules in the cookware itself.
  • The excited molecules produce heat in the pan.



Nothing is more efficient

Gas and electric ranges are very inefficient. The videos below were taken by a thermocamera. On the gas range to the right, the white at the base of the pot shows the extreme heat of the flame. Note how little of that heat is actually making it to the pot. The rest of the energy floats away into the room. This not only wastes energy for cooking, it drives up HVAC usage and costs. It's almost like burning money.

In the induction video on the left, you can see how the energy converts directly to heat in the pan. Because of this superb energy efficiency, much less energy is lost. In a foodservice operation, a switch to induction ranges can amount to a huge yearly energy savings. This is good for our environment, and as energy costs remain high you'll also see a big impact on your bottom line.


Nothing is faster

Once you understand how induction works, its easy to understand why it is faster than gas or electric.

Gas and electric ranges work by creating a heat source beneath the pan, which in turn must transfer its heat to the cookware. This is an indirect transfer - kind of like giving a message to one person in order for them to tell a third person. But induction turns the cookware itself into the heat source. Now you can deliver the message in person. Much faster.


Nothing is more accurate

And what happens when you have someone deliver a message for you? Your message changes a little by the time it reaches its intended audience.

Again, personal delivery works best. As you have seen, Induction uses magnetism to generate heat. Since the amount of magnetism varies precisely by how much electricity is delivered, it follows that temperature control is also extremely precise.

Also, consider this: with induction, more magnetism = more heat, and less magnetism = less heat. Since we can produce very weak magnetic fields by delivering very little electricity, we can produce very low heat if needed (great for pastry applications). And no matter where you are in the temperature range, accuracy never changes.

But a flame can only burn so cool, so when you try to turn a gas burner down as far as it will go, you push the very maximum of its low-end capabilities. Any semblance of precision or flexibility goes out the window.


Nothing is safer

There is no heated surface on an induction range. The pan gets hot. The food gets hot. But the induction range only produces magnetic fields; so if there is no pan on the range, no heat is produced. Turn a cold Vollrath induction range on, put your bare hand on the surface, leave it there all day. Nothing will happen. (But note that the surface will get hot when cooking because there is a hot pan sitting on it.)

And Vollrath goes above and beyond the inherent safety of induction with features like overheat protection, small article detection, pan auto detection, empty pan shutoff, safety auto-shutoff, and a "hot" warning display. There are more details on Vollrath ranges in the Vollrath Induction presentation.

One Vollrath Sales Manager has a great demonstration of the unique safety of induction. He puts a pan on the induction range, slides a dollar bill between the pan and the range top, and turns the unit on. After cooking some food he lifts the pan, and the dollar bill comes out unscathed.

You probably don't want to try this experiment with a gas or electric range. But if you DO like burning money, gas and electric ranges can help you do that in more ways than one...

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