Gas vs Induction Cooking Energy Comparison

Comparison Between LP Gas Range and Induction Burner

Admittedly, this is a simple and very limited analysis, but it does offer some useful information. I wrote about induction cooking 2 years ago, the cost has since come down enough that I recently bought a single coil, counter-top unit, and after a week of use, the numbers are in.

As a long-time gas range cook, the switch to induction takes some getting used to, and it only works with pots that are magnetic. But I like that it heats fast and I can dial in the temperature fairly tightly. Of course, I didn’t trust any of the ad hype, so I got out the meters and the spreadsheet. Here are the results.

Gas range, 7,000 BTU burner: time to boil 1 quart of 60°F water was 8 minutes 30 seconds, consuming 992 BTUs of heating energy.

Induction cooker: same pot, same temperature and quantity of water, the burner draws 1,300 watts (4,436 BTUs) at the highest setting and took 5 minutes 50 seconds to boil. Total electrical consumption was 0.126 kilowatt-hour of electricity, equivalent to 430 BTUs of heating energy.

If there was a 100-percent efficient way to boil a quart of water, the energy required would be about 317 BTUs, the basis on which to calculate the efficiency of each unit.

The induction cooker is 74 percent efficient at transforming and transferring input energy to the water, and the gas range comes in at 32 percent. The induction method was 32 percent faster and consumed 57 percent less energy.

Efficiency and speed are compelling reasons to use induction cooking, but because I live off-grid, induction will be my go-to cooking method when sunshine is ample, offering an option for fossil-free cooking!

Do you have a copy of The Homeowner's Energy Handbook? All about efficiency and renewables!

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Tags: cooking, induction, scheckel

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Comment by Steven Lefler on October 19, 2016 at 3:04pm

No one in government wants you to disconnect from the grid.

All electric houses (ON Gird) with Time of use billing from a utility company cost $. If you profess Zero Net Carbon houses then the appliances you place inside the home (energy calculations) will cost more to operate based on Time of Usage.. The Solar, Batteries and/or Wind are the counter argument, add more to reduce cost to operate your appliances.

Comment by Ruben on October 19, 2016 at 2:47pm

I am not arguing about the cost of the unit of energy to the consumer and I am not talking about politics. I am talking about efficiency calculation. If you are going to calculate the efficiency of a device just based on what it comes out of the wall socket without considering the huge penalization that you take at a power plant, then it is not right. Again. like I said before in my comment, if you get your electricity strictly from solar or hydo, then I can accept your argument.

Comment by Steven Lefler on October 19, 2016 at 2:44pm

I sent my Time of Usage billings for California. Whether you are heating water and use electricity (Tankless or Heat Pump) the time you operate will greatly impact your billing. The introduction of propane is most necessary for Off The Gird or as a supplement to the appliances of heating of water in difficult cliamtes..

Comment by Steven Lefler on October 19, 2016 at 2:42pm

Comment by Tauran Ivall on October 19, 2016 at 2:04pm

I was going to add to a comment to Nickie. You can get a combination gas and induction cook tops from Gaggenau and Bertazzoni

Personally i am looking for a 4 burner induction with a single gas WOK burner

Comment by Nate Adams on October 19, 2016 at 1:09pm

Great stuff Paul!

I learned an interesting benefit of induction at the recent ASHRAE IAQ conference in DC. The plume off of pans is much less "energetic" for induction because less heat is applied. This makes range hoods capture more of the effluent and exhaust it outside. The IAQ ramifications of cooking are quite large, getting as much out of the house as possible is likely to increase in importance as we learn more.

Another win for induction. I FINALLY got my wife willing to try it, in the next year or so I intend to get rid of my gas stove. I'm down to space heating that uses gas, hopefully a few more years and that will be all electric too. 

BTW Ruben, here in Cleveland we can buy renewably produced electricity for exactly the same price as coal fired. IMHO we should be pushing clients pretty hard towards all electric if we want to head off climate change. Thankfully induction is a good alternative, while plain electric cooking is a giant "meh".

Comment by tedkidd on October 19, 2016 at 12:54pm

LOL. Ruben, you realize this is a typical Koch brothers type argument with gaping logic holes used to manipulate and confuse public opinion? In this case it appears to be deflection, not sure why you would do that...

I'm with Tauran, talking about "typical" grid when discussing efficiency of a consumer device is both cherry picking and building strawmen. The grid is getting cleaner fast, and let's say the house has solar. Knocks the knees out from under that silliness. 

And it's irrelevant. People make decisions based upon what THEY pay, not "conversion efficiency" of their power supply. 99.99999999% of people don't even know their mix, much less care enough to have it impact their decisions. Addressing unpriced societal externalities has no interest to consumers who can't even contemplate unpriced personal externalities - such as the health costs of having unsealed combustion devices polluting your home.

End of the day, induction has amazing user experience benefits (what people really care about) at no measurable energy premium and significant IAQ benefits. 

Comment by Tauran Ivall on October 19, 2016 at 12:29pm

Ruben,

I think your right about having to factor in the losses of the coal or gas fired plants into electricity. But you are not considering that the cost to drill for oil, the subsidies involved, rail cars, pipelines to be built etc also contribute substantially to the cost. Induction is still a clear winner

The assessment should solely be based on a $/BTU, and the energy required to heat 1 L of water. Sure, you can use California (high electricity costs), or Oregon (low electricity cost) vs Texas (cheaper oil and gas) and do a table of some sort...

Comment by Ruben on October 19, 2016 at 10:04am

I don’t agree with your assessment. The reason is that your calculations do not considered the conversion efficiency of fuel into electricity, which is typically 30% for older coal-fired plants and 40% in more modern plants with steam superheating. Natural gas combined cycle plants can reach efficiencies up to 60%. Nuclear is around 30%.

What is conversion efficiency? Let’s say we have 100 units of energy in a fuel and the power plant has a 40% efficiency. This means that of the 100 units, 40 units will go into electricity and 60 units will be emitted to the environment as waste heat. The reason for this is purely physics of thermal engines. This is ruled by the Carnot cycle. Same thing happens with cars. About 30 percent of the energy contained in the gasoline goes into propulsion energy, the rest is dumped as heat through the tailpipe and radiator.

Going back to your energy estimates, if you consider a 40% conversion efficiency at the power plant then the 430 BTUs used by the induction cooker at the point of use had a real energy expense at the plant of (430/0.40)=1075 BTU. In reality, things are even worst because I am not considering all the other energy loses, such as transmission and voltage conversion at power stations.

So at the end, it would fair to say that the “overall efficiency” of both cooking devices is pretty much the same.

Electricity is not an energy source. It is an energy carrier. Electricity can be clean or dirty depending how it is generated. If you run your induction cooker with a solar panel or with energy from a hydro plant, then the outcome will be different.

Comment by Paul Scheckel on June 28, 2016 at 10:02am

anyone have metered data to compare conventional electric cook top?

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