Induction vs. electric cooktop: Which type is better for you?

An electric stove glowing red, and a steel pot cooking on an induction cooktop
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’re planning on upgrading your kitchen, you may need to decide between an induction vs electric cooktop. You won’t be able to tell much of a difference looking from one glass cooktop to another, but if you opt for induction, it provides an alternative heating technology which will affect the overall performance and versatility of your stove.

Before you start browsing for the best electric ranges, you need to consider if you’re better off paying extra for this feature. 

What is the difference between these types of stoves though, and why should you consider the upgrade? Here, we break down the differences between induction and standard electric cooktops, as well as the pros and cons behind each. So you can decide for yourself which will best suit your cooking routine, preferences and budget.

Stuck between electric and gas stoves instead? Check out our range buying guide to help you decide. And discover the three things our homes writer, Camilla Sharman, learned when she tried an induction cooktop for the first time, plus 5 things you need to know before buying an induction cooktop

What’s the difference between induction vs. electric cooktops?

A pan filled with peppers and vegetables cooking on an induction cooktop

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

First, we should clarify that induction cooktops technically fall under electric cooktops, because these too are powered by electricity. So, when we say we’re going to compare induction vs electric cooktops, we’re referring to electric ceramic cooktops which lack induction technology for the latter category. 

An Induction cooktop uses an electromagnetic field to heat pots and pans. The cooktop won’t work until an induction-safe pan is in place, and the burner itself won’t grow hot in use because the heat is generated within the pan.

An Induction cooktop essentially uses an electromagnetic field to heat pots and pans. That means any cookware you use with this type of stove needs to be made of a magnetized material to be compatible. The cooktop won’t work until an induction-safe pan is in place, and the burner itself won’t grow hot in use because the heat is generated within the pan, with the exception of any residual heat produced from the cookware.

A standard electric cooktop, on the other hand, heats the surface of the burners themselves using either electric coils or a heating element. This heat then transfers to the underside of the pots and pans in the traditional sense. That means this type of stove will heat up with or without cookware present. 

The controls are generally the same between these two types of cooktops, and there’s very little visual difference as well, other than the lack of a glowing burner with induction models. 

Price comparison

Woman setting the controls on an induction cooktop

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Induction cooktops are more expensive than electric cooktops. The technology is an expensive addition, with induction cooktops starting from around $800, and going as high as $6,000. There’s not a huge selection of models to choose from either as these are still growing in popularity.   

Standard electric stoves are generally more affordable and more widely available versus induction. They start from around $200 and can cost up to $3,000 for more premium brands. There tends to be more options in terms of sizes and layout as well.   

Winner: Induction

Response time

A hand touching the burner of an induction cooktop to show it's cool

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An induction stove will instantly respond and heat your cookware on contact. It’s much faster versus standard electric cooktops, which need to heat the surface as well as the pan before it reaches the ingredients. This also means it’s quick to respond when you turn the temperature down as well.    

Each time you use an electric cooktop, you need to wait for the burner to heat up, as well as the pan itself. That means it naturally takes longer to get cooking with this stove-type.

Winner: Induction


A lid being lifted on a saucepan to release steam while cooking on an electric cooktop

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Because induction technology is quick to respond, that means it gives the user better control as well. As soon as you change the settings, the temperature will adjust accordingly.  

Unfortunately, for electric cooktops, with a slower response rate comes less control as well. You will likely continue cooking for a few seconds after you turn the heat down. In fact, the burner can retain heat so well that you may have to remove the pan to quickly reduce the temperature. This means it’s all too easy to overcook ingredients.   

Winner: Induction

Cleaning and maintenance

Woman cleaning an ceramic induction cooktop

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An induction cooktop is easy to clean as it features  a flat, glass surface, that's relatively quick and easy to clean with a microfiber cloth. For full guidance, see how to clean a glass stove.   

Just as it is with induction, electric cooktops are made of glass with a smooth and flat design. This means they’re easy to clean up, too. 

Winner: Draw

Energy efficiency

Pans on top of induction cooktop

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Induction cooktops heat the cookware directly. That means there’s less heat loss versus heating the surface of the burner first. On top of that, Energy Star states that induction cooktops are roughly 5-10% more efficient when compared to conventional electric resistance units. Considering this, induction is the more energy-efficient option. 

A standard electric cooktop will lose heat as it transfers it from the burner to the pan. This means it's less energy-efficient versus induction, which transfers the heat immediately to the cookware. 

Winner: Induction


Someone moving a saucepan with lid onto an induction cooktop

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You may need to buy all new pots and pans to work with an induction cooktop, which can get expensive. You can tell if your cookware is induction safe because it should specify on its underside, or feature a logo with four loops of wire. If in doubt you can test the base of your cookware to see if it attracts to a magnet. If it does, you can use it on an induction cooktop.

It's much easier with electric cooktops as you can use any cookware, and there's
no need to invest in expensive cookware. You can use any old pots and pans with a standard electric cooktop, including one of the best cast iron skillets.   

Winner: Electric


Someone turning up the heat setting on an electric cooktop

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Induction cooktops are naturally the safer option between the two. It will only generate heat when a compatible pan is in place and the surface itself won’t be so hot when you switch it off. Although keep in mind that there will still be some residual heat from the underside of the pan. 

However, electric cooktops are not very safe. If you accidentally switch an electric cooktop on, it will begin to heat, with or without cookware. Because the surface heats in use, it will also remain hot for some time once switched off. This naturally makes it the less-safe option between the two.   

Winner: Induction

Wear and tear

Scratched surface of a kitchen glass ceramic stove

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The surface of both an induction and electric cooktop can scratch easily as they are both made of glass. Although, if you want to keep it looking pristine, here’s how to prevent scratches on your glass stove.

Try to keep your pans still on the cooktop to avoid scratches, and don’t drag them across the glass.  Plus, avoid storing your pots and pans on the stovetop when they are not in use. 

Winner: Draw

Induction vs electric cooktop: Which is better?  

Ultimately, there’s clearly more pros to upgrading to an induction cooktop. It’s safer, quicker to respond, easier to control and better in terms of energy-efficiency as well. It will, however, add to the price tag and finding the right one to suit your kitchen can be tricky. You need to balance out your budget with your preferences to make a decision on which type of cooktop to buy. 

Considering the benefits, it is likely that induction cooktops will continue to grow in popularity. Hopefully this technology will become more affordable in time to reflect increased demand.   

For more cooking tips, tricks and how tos, check out how to clean an oven, 5 pros — and 5 cons — of cooking with an air fryer and dishwasher vs washing by hand — which is cheaper? 

Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive. 

  • hydrophilia
    Re scratching: some use a thin silicone mat under the pan on an induction stove. Can't do that on electric!
    There are also some makers of induction elements that mount under a heat resistant counter (like granite) and allow you to use part of the counter as a stove.
  • stevej62
    I would correct your article of one seriously incorrect (and misleading) assertion -- that this is Inductive vs Electric cooktops. In fact, both are "Electric". The correct comparison is "Inductive vs Radiant Cooktops". Otherwise, a great article.