Pros: Fun factor, Speed, Safety, Convenience, Precision, Simplicity, Cleanability, Efficiency, Style, Cost to operate.
Cons: Not available in a range - yet.
Induction beats them all
This is the hottest and the coolest cooktop both figuratively and literally. Hard to imagine something so good you'd want to change whatever you have now, but some people aren't waiting till the old cooktop breaks to get this one.
We all know gas cooks faster than electric. Gas flames also let you change the temperature up or down very fast - which is why chefs love gas more than slow to change, slow to heat electric.
BUT, even though induction IS electric, it's not as inefficient and therefore cooks much faster than even GAS does and the cooking surface doesn't get hot like electric! You can also change the temperature up and down faster than gas!
Induction cooks better and faster, saves more money, is safer, is easier to clean and has more precise temperature control than ANY gas or electric unit. It's also very fun to use. People who hate cooking won't feel the same once they use induction.
Pros & Cons Of Traditional Fuels
A gas flame offers quick heating and temperature changes for accurate cooking, but you have to clean up and around gas fixtures. You also have to ventilate it because burnt natural gas IS toxic even though and especially because you can't smell it.
Electric smoothtops are easy to clean and don't need ventilation, but take too long to heat up and cool down and there is a lag when you change temperatures. This delay and their energy hungriness not only burns food but costs more money to operate than gas units.
Induction Has No Cons
This induction cooktop IS an electric cooktop but it cooks faster and more evenly with less energy then electric OR gas because the heat goes DIRECTLY to the food without first heating up the cooktop surface and then the pan and then the food. And with induction, you can instantly adjust the temperature like you can with a flame, but quicker!
How Does It Work?
Induction cuts out the middlemen of heating the element surfaces which have to transfer heat to the pot which has to transfer heat to the food - even faster than gas. It uses electromagnets to send energy to where food touches the metal pot or pan.
An analogy is induction is kind of like microwaving your food on a cooktop but without the radiation poisoning that would occur in an open air environment. A microwave has a box and a door to keep the bad stuff inside which doesn't hurt the food or you. Microwaves heat fat, water and sugar molecules in food and thats it. Thats why microwaves heat deep and quick and your dishes and interior surfaces don't get hot - just the food.
Well, induction doesn't even use microwaves which would not be safe in an open air environment anyway. Induction cooktops use harmless electromagnets which are way more energy efficient than radiant coils or smoothtops.
And it knows if you have a small pot on a big element and only sends energy to the area in contact with the metal. Also, when you take a pot off an element, there is no heat being made or wasted - all auto shutoff. As soon as you put the pan back on the element, it starts working again. But doesn't mean you can let an empty or nearly empty pot sit on high. It just recognizes metal contacting it thats all. If you try to fry an egg directly on the element without a pan, it won't work - you have to have it in any metal vessel you can stick a magnet to. Super smart, super safe, super simple.
The Old One
When our family got the first Kenmore induction model back in 1985 I was amazed at how quickly it cooked. You could boil water in 90 seconds. Even back then it was an easy to clean smoothtop. There weren't any knobs on the old unit, but the worst thing about it was there was no spill proof buttons - they were sunken and had seams that were hard to clean. It had a power element, but the other elements weren't too strong. The rest of it was awesome. It worked better than the best even then. But because not enough people understood it, induction left the US market in the early 1990s. However, in Europe and Asia, they "got it" right away and induction did well there. You could still import them here, but they were very expensive - much more than even this Kenmore Elite.
New And Improved
The new one takes care of weakness with more powerful elements and takes care of the buttons with seamless glasstop touch controls! And instead of 4 elements symmetrically behind and next to each other which limits space and access, the new one staggers the 4 elements in an offset pattern to better use the 30" space and accommodate large pots and pans on more elements at once and give easier access to them. You can also lock the controls so kids can't play with them and there is a "hold warm" function on each element.
The standard stainless steel trim on the front and back edges looks pretty, but lets Kenmore add a lot of money to the cost and are one more thing to clean. At least the sides are seamless so you can do a quick right-to-left wipe and you're done.
The new one is extremely easy to clean because you just wipe up ONE surface. No separate surface for controls on the side. Its all up front and easy to use and see. The buttons don't get in the way or hide under big pots either. Instead of buttons or dials, this one uses up and down touch arrows with a power display built right into the ceramic/glass cooktop! So easy to see, use and clean.
Simmering on an induction cooktop is way better than any gas or electric unit - even on the widest element - and even including gas models with simmer plates and regular electric models with "simmer select" that lower the power more than the lowest setting already does. You get precise control at either end of the temperature range. In 90 seconds, you can boil the water needed to cook a package of frozen veggies. The actual cooking of those veggies doesn't take very long after that. Searing meats is virtually instant because the lag is even shorter than gas!
You can scale down the heat faster than gas. You can more precisely hold a boil with less energy with the lid on without boilover so you can spend less time babysitting the food. There are no burn rings inside pots like you sometimes get with gas. Heat distribution is perfect.
Stays Much Cooler
And the induction cooktop is almost cool to the touch when you do quick reheats because it cooks so fast there isn't time for heat to transfer back down to the cooktop! For longer cooking, yes, it gets hot, but nowhere near as hot as regular electrics and it cools off almost as fast as gas grates do. Much, much faster cool off than regular electrics.
And because there is minimal waste heat generated, the kitchen stays much cooler! Because the cooktop doesn't get very hot, there are no burned on foods you have to scrape off the surface if they overflow.
Why It Works So Well
All this efficient, to the point, cut-out-the-middleman cooking is due solely to the energy efficiency of induction. It "induces" heat in food touching a metal pan by hitting metal with electrically boosted magnet power. Sounds complex, but it's very simple.
The elements use 25% less energy than a regular cooktop AND cook in less time than a regular model. So the total energy reduction ends up saving about HALF of the electricity you would need to cook something on a regular electric cooktop. It even costs less to run than gas!
Another analogy is that this cooktop is like a compact fluorescent lightbulb. You know, the spiral lightbulbs that use only a quarter of the energy of a regular bulb and last 10 times longer? Those bulbs only use 20 watts of electricity to make 75 watts worth of light (which is really measured as 1,200 lumens of light from either bulb). Those bulbs are also warm to the touch when they are on - not hot enough to burn. Waste heat is what drives up your electric bills and cuts the life of bulbs and all electronics.
10" element 1,200 watts = Heats like 1,500.
8" element 2,200 watts = Heats like 3,000.
7" element 1,800 watts = Heats like 2,300.
6" element 1,800 watts = Heats like 2,300.
For comparison, 2,500 watts is standard for large regular electric elements. 3,000 watts is considered a "power element".
This model's 2,300 watt heating equivalent on the 6" and 7" induction elements is not far off from a standard large element's power yet it works faster. So when you add in the real 8" power element, it's almost the same as having 3 large elements!
The 10" isn't a power element, but most manufacturers don't offer anything with that high a wattage over 9" anyways. The wider the element, the harder it is to spread out high limit wattage. So manufacturers choose to concentrate more watts in smaller elements like the 8" power element which is still wide enough for a big pot. On the 10", you can still stir fry effectively in a wide pan because it works faster than a regular element of that size.
Induction is still more flexible and better than anything out there. There really are no down sides to this model especially considering it's much cheaper than other boutique induction brands without Kenmore's buying power. The induction cooktop is a no brainer. You don't need classes, you don't need to read a thick manual, you don't need special maintenance and you don't need to worry about radiation.
Induction lets you cook faster, better, cleaner, cooler and safer without breaking a sweat. You save money operating this one which pays for the extra cost of the unit over time and it's so much more fun and easy to cook on than anything else.
Durability & Warranty
Our 20 year old induction cooktop still works today. But, because the old one had vulnerable sunken controls and not the spill proof glass touch pads like the new one, it did develop a problem on 2 element controls closest to the spills. If you're concerned about service or reliability, just get the pricey Sears "protection agreement" which covers more issues than the regular 1 year warranty covers and can be purchased in 3 or 5 year increments and extended after that.
For pricing and more information look up model 42800 on Sears.com
For more general induction information go to TheInductionSite.com
If you need a good dishwasher, range hood, range, wall oven or hybrid car, see my other reviews.