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Best induction hobs 2017: Speed up your cooking with the best induction hobs from £45 |

Best induction hobs 2017: Speed up your cooking with the best induction hobs from £45

Induction cooker hobs may have only been around a few years, but they’ve already revolutionised home cooking. Ask anyone who uses an induction hob and chances are they’ll tell you that their cooking experience has been totally transformed. Efficient, fast, clean and safe: this is a technology that’s perfectly suited to the modern kitchen.

The only trouble comes when you actually attempt to choose a specific model for your needs. Given the sheer amount of choice on the market, it’s difficult to decide which is best. Even Bosch alone has 30 different models in its lineup – and other manufacturers’ ranges are similarly daunting – so that’s why we’ve done all the research for you. Scroll down the page, and you’ll find a roster of top-rated models that not only perform very well but are among the most highly commended by users and reviewers alike.

If you want to speed up and, in many cases, simplify your cooking escapades then jump aboard the induction train – you won’t be disappointed.

How to choose the best induction hob for you

What’s so special about induction hobs?

Induction hobs are the most expensive type of hob to buy and install but they’re amazingly efficient, both in terms of speed and energy consumption – they’re up to 50% more energy efficient than either gas or electric ceramic models. With an induction hob, roughly 84% of energy from the electricity supply is put straight into the food you’re cooking. By comparison, gas loses around 60% of heat energy simply because most of the heat dissipates into thin air.

For a quick gas versus induction speed test we filled a cold, lidless Le Creuset pot with 500ml of water. The gas hob method took 4 minutes 17 seconds to bring it to the boil while even the portable Tefal induction model reviewed below took just 2 minutes 17 seconds.

And the biggest benefit for many people? Flat-topped induction hobs are also super easy to clean – just wipe over with a damp cloth.

How do induction hobs work?

Instead of heating the entire area on which the pot or pan is placed, induction hobs use magnetism to heat only the contents within the pot. The process works by using a magnetic coil to agitate electrons in the food or liquid. This leads to rapid heating that is both energy efficient and easily controlled. Indeed, the process is so efficient it can often boil water quicker than a kettle and the moment you lift the pan, the process stops. Naturally the heat of the contents alone will also make the pot or pan hot to the touch but the hob surface itself will be no hotter than a radiator at full blast so you could safely touch it without giving yourself a third-degree burn. For this reason, induction hobs are far and away the safest option if you have young kids around the house.

Are there any downsides?

The most pressing issue is that the magnetic induction process only works on pots and pans made out of ferrous metals like iron and steel so you will almost certainly need to change some, if not all, of your current collection. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to see if your current cookware is compatible. Simply place a magnet on the bottom of each pot and pan and if it sticks you have the correct style; if not, you’ll need to buy a new one.

Another thing worth noting is that most induction hobs have a toughened ceramic glass coating and some have been known to crack if a heavy pot like a Le Creuset is dropped on it. Tread carefully in this respect or you might need to replace the entire unit. Some induction hobs are also quite easily scratched by sliding rough cast iron bases across the surface though you can quite safely place a tea-towel, piece of parchment or, if you want something neater, a dedicated silicone guard between the hob and the pan to prevent this.

Most induction models use touch sensitive control panels to select individual cooking zones and their respective temperatures. If you have a lot of trouble using touch-sensitive panels then perhaps steer clear because induction hob controls can be quite fiddly.

One reason why many seasoned chefs still prefer to use gas is because they can aggressively slide a frying pan or wok above a constant flame during sautéing and stir frying. By contrast, induction hobs switch off as soon as the pan loses contact and they don’t heat the contents of a pot quite as evenly as gas does. Furthermore, because most induction hobs (certainly the cheaper models) are made up of different-sized cooking zones, they can be quite picky about having pots and pans placed accurately within their individual cooking boundaries. This can be a problem if you have a large, oblong casserole pot as it will most likely not fit within the optimum area. Thankfully, some more expensive models get round this by having flexible zones that can be bridged to form one large cooking area.

Finally, people with heart pacemakers fitted are advised to check with their doctor first as the magnetic fields created may cause problems – it pays to be careful.

Are there any installation tips I should know about?

Induction hobs (and indeed all electric cookers) should be on their own separate ring main and one of the correct amperage and wattage. For this reason you’re advised to check the model’s power consumption against your electricity supply first because you may need to have your power rating increased and this can be expensive, especially if you live in an older house that requires a whole new ring main.

You will also need to employ the services of a carpenter to build a hidden platform for the unit and perhaps some extra carpentry on your worktop surface. Most solo induction hobs (save those like the portable Tefal model reviewed below) are of the built-in variety but you can still go down the induction route by purchasing a range-cooker that’s fitted with an integral induction plate.

The best induction hobs to buy

1. Ikea Smaklig: The best induction hob under £500

Price: Around £349

The name Ikea is usually synonymous with flat-packed furnishings and household trinkets so it’s perhaps a surprise to learn that the Swedish company also dabbles in the sale of highly regarded induction hobs and other household appliances.

The four-zone Smaklig comes with a raft of features you don’t normally see at this price level. Flexible zone control allows you to link multiple zones together to form one large cooking area for oversized pots and casserole cocottes, and an anti-overflow feature automatically shuts off the system if any contents boil over onto the touch control panel. It also features individual power boosts for express cooking, a child lock and a pause function that halts the cooking process while you answer the phone.

If you’re on a tight budget but insist on a product that offers the most bang for the buck then consider this stylish, tech-endowed option. Not only does it perform remarkably well but it looks good, is energy efficient and very easy to use. And if you’re still undecided about opting for a product of this nature from a company that sells self-build MDF furniture, consider the raft of positive reviews it’s gleaned and, above all, its amazing five-year warranty.

Buy the Ikea Smaklig now

Key specs – Type: Built-in; Width: 59cm; Cooking Zones: 4; Flexi zones: Yes; Output: 7.4kW

2. Tefal Everyday: An ingenious ‘portable’ induction hob

Price: Around £45

If you’re not sure about induction and fancy dipping your toes in first, then this superb portable model from Tefal comes highly recommended. You could leave it in the cupboard until you need it, increase your cooking space by keeping it permanently alongside your existing gas or electric hob or take it camping or caravanning. It’s perfect for studio flats and bedsits, too, because all you need is a standard 13-amp electricity socket.

The Tefal is a doddle to use and comes with five pre-set functions – heat milk, stew, stir fry, deep fry and boil water – a timer function, and plus and minus controls to adjust temperature parameters within each preset. If you prefer to go it alone, simply select manual and choose from nine power levels (450W to 2,100W). The durable black ceramic plate is good for induction-ready pots with steel bases of up to 19 centimetres in diameter.

For the money, it’s hard not to be seriously impressed by this product. At just £45, it seems almost too cheap considering the price of induction hobs in general. Yes, it only has one hob but it passed our boiling and flash frying tests with flying colours. For sheer versatility and price, this diminutive slab of cookery tech has very few peers.

Image of Tefal Everyday Induction Hob IH201840, Ceramic Coated Cooking Plate - Black

Tefal Everyday Induction Hob IH201840, Ceramic Coated Cooking Plate – Black

£44.99 Buy now

Key specs – Type: Portable; Width: 28cm; Cooking Zones: 1; Flexi zones: No; Output: 2.1kW

2. Neff T66TS61N0: The best model for discerning chefs

Price: Around £1,299

One of the most unfortunate issues with induction hobs is that they require the pot or pan to be placed within the circular boundary of the chosen cooking zone. If the pot’s base is too big for a particular zone – ie it overlaps too much – chances are the hob will not work and may signal the fact by making a humming noise. Since most cooking pans are circular, this usually isn’t a problem. But what if you want to use an oblong casserole cocotte or boil gravy using the rectangular tin the chicken was roasted in?

This striking top-of-the-range, four-zone model allows you to place any sized pot pretty much anywhere on the cooking surface. It’s called FlexInduction and it’s a technology we hope will be the norm on all future induction models. With this hob you can scatter your pots and pans around much more conveniently and even use larger casserole dishes simply by joining two FlexZones together using either the integrated touch interface or Neff’s unique TwistPad, a removable, illuminated magnetic control wheel that rests on top of the unit’s integrated touch control panel. The TwistPad is a great innovation that makes it much easier for the user to adjust cooking zones and temperatures – although the fact it’s removable does mean it could be easily lost or knocked off the hob.

Given the price and Neff’s excellent reliability record, you can rest assured that this hob will provide many years of efficient service. A perfect premium buy.

Buy the Neff T66TS61N0 from Currys

Key specs – Type: Built-in; Width: 60cm; Cooking Zones: 4; Flexi zones: Yes; Output: 4.6kW

3. Bosch Serie 4 PUE611BF1B: The best model for easy installation

Price: Around £349

This mid-range, four-zone model is marketed as ‘plug-and-play’ meaning it will plug straight into an existing 13amp socket without the need for any extra electrical work. You don’t get any flexible zones here, so it might not be suitable if you’re a regular user of large casserole dishes or absolutely need the last word in versatility.

As with so many induction hobs, the touch control panel can be a faff to use – you really do need to press decisively when selecting modes and temperature levels – but in the main this hob performs outstandingly well and comes highly praised by both users and product testers.

Despite the lack of flexible zones, the Bosch still offers everything else you’d expect of a modern induction hob, including obligatory features like pan recognition, safety shut off, a child protection lock and 17 variable power settings for each zone. The PowerBoost function, meanwhile, is just the ticket for speedy boiling and flash frying. And, as with all the induction models in this roundup, cleaning up after the pasta has boiled over is an absolute cinch.

Buy the Bosch Serie 4 from John Lewis

Key specs – Type: Built-in; Width: 59.2cm; Cooking Zones: 4; Flexi zones: No; Output: 3kW

4. Smeg Victoria PI964B: The best induction hob, with knobs on

Price: Around £597

If you can’t get along with high-tech touch-sensitive controls, consider this very welcome alternative that uses good old-fashioned twisty knobs. Indeed, in the pantheon of induction hobs, this is one of the easiest models to get a handle on.

Inspired by the Italian company’s very first cooker from 1948, the Victoria matches several other retro products in the Smeg line so if you have a country-style kitchen and already own one or two of its products then this induction newcomer is definitely worth consideration. Just be mindful that its 7.4kW power consumption may require some extra electrical work before installation.

The Victoria comes with four cooking zones and will accommodate two different pan sizes (up to 210mm and 160mm). Like the slightly cheaper Bosch, you don’t get any flexible zones here but what you do get is the usual gamut of functions like automatic pan size detection, a control lock to prevent accidental or inappropriate use and independent boosters for ultra quick boiling or flash frying.

As with the vast majority of induction hobs, the Smeg’s ceramic surface is only available in black. If you want to make sure your new hob matches your kitchen’s colour scheme, though, then fear not as you have the option of four different frame colours: white, black, steel and cream.

Buy the Smeg PI9864B from Homebase

Key specs – Type: Built-in; Width: 60cm; Cooking Zones: 4; Flexi zones: No; Output: 7.4kW

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