One solution to the climate crisis has become more evident: electrify everything. From our cars to appliances, switching from gas- to electric-powered reduces carbon emissions, alongside many personal benefits. One of the areas seeing innovation most recently, even though the first model debuted at the World Fair in 1933, is the induction stove.
Essentially, a coiled copper wire transfers a magnetic current through a cast iron or stainless steel pot or pan to heat it. According to the Electric Power Research Institute, approximately 77% of the energy generated by an induction stove is transferred to the food, versus around 40% for a gas burner.
Plus, the cooktop and the rest of the room stay cool, improving safety, comfort, and cleaning. There’s less risk of something catching on fire, and fewer resources are expended to run air conditioning or get burnt food off pots and pans.
Chef Christopher Galarza explains the mental health benefits of induction stoves, noting that the heat generated by their gas counterparts creates a taxing physical environment. “This industry is a very brutal one. It takes a toll on your body. It takes a toll on your passions,” he said.
Natural gas stoves also release pollutants like nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and methane (CH4). NO2, in particular, has been linked to worsened respiratory function, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
A study in Southern California in 2014 estimated that in homes using natural gas cooking burners without venting range hoods, “pollutant levels exceed ambient air quality standards for NO2 and CO in 55–70% and 7–8% of homes during a typical week in winter.”
A recent study published in “Environmental Science & Technology” found that gas stoves in the U.S. annually emit methane “comparable in climate impact to the carbon dioxide emissions of approximately 500,000 gas-powered cars.”
About 38% of homes in the U.S. still cook with natural gas, according to the Energy Information Administration. Multiple companies are offering new and innovative induction ovens to combat natural gas’s hold on the country.
The initial idea behind San Francisco-based Impulse was an indoor oven that could produce pizza in 90 seconds with the help of a lithium-ion battery. Instead, founder and CEO Sam D’Amico decided to add those batteries to induction stoves.
“The deeper I dug into the space, the clearer it became that there was a larger story bringing together whole-home electrification and added energy storage in alignment with new policy tailwinds and distributed energy resource incentives,” he said.
The stoves, therefore, are even more efficient, drawing less power through the outlet, and about 10 times faster than a gas stove, able to boil a liter of water in 40 seconds.
Plus, the battery can provide backup storage during peak hours and later use that stored energy to power other appliances or send it back to the grid.
“Effectively, we’re Trojan-horsing a small battery into people’s homes when the appliance goes in,” D’Amico explained.
Berkeley-headquartered Channing Street Copper Company (Copper) is also focused on making it easier for consumers to make the transition. “It ends up being incredibly expensive to switch from gas to induction because of the need to upgrade the electrical service in the kitchen and potentially the house as well,” said Weldon Kennedy, Copper’s co-founder.
Much like Impulse, the company’s addition of a battery to its stove, named Charlie, means that it can be plugged into a 120-volt outlet without any burdensome installation or rewiring process. In an outage, the stove can still cook five meals or power appliances like the fridge. The battery also allows the stove to be taken outdoors. Pre-orders are currently available.
Other companies like Italy-based Fabita are increasing the appeal of induction stoves to consumers worldwide. The Ordine stove oven consists of two copper-ringed plates that can be used one at a time or simultaneously. Plus, it can be placed on a wall to save space.
Adriano Design came up with the concept, with studio partners Davide and Gabriele Adriano explaining that “it gives the user the possibility of organizing the kitchen top space based on the necessities of any given moment, as well as the dimensions of the pots that one needs to use side-by-side.”
With innovations increasing the efficiency and appeal of induction stoves, forward thinkers like Chef Galarza advocating for their adoption, and cities like Berkeley, CA, passing municipal gas bans, these products seem poised to appear in many more homes and businesses.