In induction cooking, the cooktop doesn't heat up, the cookware does. Unlike electric cooktops, induction technology allows instantaneous temperature changes as the power level is adjusted. In that way, cooking is similar to a gas range.
The electricity flows through a coil to generate a magnetic field under the glass ceramic surface. When an induction-compatible pan is placed on the cooktop, currents are sent through the pan and instant heat is generated. Induction cooktops heat foods between 40 to 50 percent faster than gas or electric ranges.
Induction cooktops are marketed as more energy efficient than gas or electric ranges because they cook food faster and lose less heat in the process. However, cooking accounts for a very small percentage of the energy used in a home, so the amount of savings due to induction cooktops is nominal.
Higher-end restaurants often have an induction burner or two at the ready, because these burners deliver the consistent low heat demanded by certain sauces and confections.
Induction cooking requires the use of pans that react to the current produced. Cast iron, enamel-coated cast iron and some stainless steel pans are suitable. If a magnet sticks to the bottom of a pan, it can work on an induction cooktop.