It's been a long time between posts.  Almost 7 months to be exact....but I promise it's not because I'm lazy.  It's because I'm busier than I've ever been!  I'm happy to say that my wife and I had a baby girl, Charlotte, in August.  She's almost six months old now and doing great.  It has definitely been a life changing event and she's a pure joy to have in our lives. At the same time we've been learning how to be parents, I've been fortunate enough to have been chosen to provide new kitchens and baths for several exciting projects, including some new construction, one multi unit project, and two amazing remodels in seperate parts of town here.  I guess my main point here is that while I have been quiet on my blog,  it has not been quiet in work or personal life.

I PROMISE to post some great pics of the completed projects once we get them installed.  I'll do my best to get some install pics of projects going in too.

What is Induction Cooking?

Induction What does it mean, and how does it boil water faster, and more efficiently than gas or electric burners?

Will your current set of pots and pans work with a new induction cooktop and how can you be sure?

Why should you consider induction cooking for your kitchen?

How the heck does it work???

I know.  It's strange.  It's a little different way of thinking about cooking.  For those of us that can let go of our preconceived biases regarding gas burners and how they outshine and outburn everything else, induction might be a perfect fit for our kitchens.

How Does Induction Work?

 Induction occurs when heat is "induced" into a piece of cookware by an electromagnetic field.  The "element" is a high frequency electromagnetic unit that is situated underneath the ceramic or glass cooktop surface.  (see the picture to the left- It's the coils!)  Induction uses sophisticated electronics in the element to generate electromagnetism.  This magnetic field is very strong.  When a piece of magnetic material - such as a frying pan - is placed on top of the cooking surface, the magnetic field is transferred to the pan.  This magnetism agitates the molecules at the very core of the pan's makeup and they begin to shake and vibrate very quickly, producing friction.

Have you ever pulled your hands too quickly along a rope and gotten a burn?  That's friction.  The heat that is released (and burns your hands) is the same type of heat that the induction cooktop uses to cook that bacon you've been salivating over all morning.

Here's the main thing to take away:  induction cooking transforms your piece of cookware (a frying pan, for example) into the actual cooking surface.

Yeah, it Sounds Great, but How Does it Perform?

There are three aspects to this.  How fast does an induction cooktop heat up?  How controllable are the temperatures?  How about energy efficiency?

Let's start with energy efficiency.  Hands down, induction is simply the most energy efficient way to cook that exists today.

On average, induction cooking is 85-90% energy efficient.  That means that about90% of the energy produced is actually delivered to the source.  Gas, on the other hand is only 40% efficient!  Most of the heat generated is lost between the time the flame is turned on and the point at which heat is delivered.  Induction is TWICE as efficient as gas when it comes to energy delivery.  WOW.

The following statistics are courtesy of Meyer Corporation / Jenn Air

Click here for statistics: Induction

How about controllability??

Well let me tell you.  It's just as easy to control an induction cooktop's heat as it is gas or electric.  I don't have any statistics to show you, but I can say from experience that it is very easy to control the heat source.  You can still simmer your Gramma's sauce all day without burning the pot.

I've Heard About Induction's Ability to Boil Water Quickly, but Exactly How Fast is it??

It's not just boiling water.  The example of how fast it takes to boil water is just the easiest visual for most of us.  So how fast is it?

Let's use some more statistics from Meyer Corporation / Jenn Air

The following times are based on the time to bring to boil 2 QUARTS of water

Induction: 4m 45s

Gas: 8m 18s

Electric: 9m 50s

Induction is just about twice as fast as the next best option.  I think this is pretty self explanatory, so I won't go into more detail about it.

Will My Pots and Pans Work with an Induction Cooktop?

There has been a lot of backlash against induction because of a misconceived notion that your current set of pots and pans will not work with it.  That may be a little bit true, but for the most part, it is not.  It is also a widely held belief that you need to spend hundreds and hundreds of your hard earned dollars on a new set of "induction-ready" pots and pans.  That also, is not true.

How can you determine if your pots and pans will work with an induction cooktop?  Simple.  Take a magnet and place it on the bottom of your cookware.  If it sticks, your pot will work.  If not, then you need to go shopping.

Don't be conned into paying an arm and a leg for an expensive set of cookware if you don't really want to.  There are plenty of induction ready cookware sets available at places such as Costco that won't burn a hole in your pocket.  As with anything though, you get what you pay for.  Many cheaper pots and pans have "hot spots" or non-ergonomically designed handles.  These may work with an induction cooktop, but you may not get optimum performance out of them.

My Favorites from KBIS 2011

"This year's show is SO much smaller than past years' shows." KBIS 2011, in my opinion must have been the smallest show in many years for the NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association).  I think I must have overheard this quote about ten times during my three days in Vegas.  Despite this perceived lack of attendance, it still felt like a pretty big show to me, and I met a lot of people who will definitely make a difference in my business the upcoming year.  Best of all, I got the opportunity to see the best and brightest new products that are on the market.

Lighting in the kitchen and bath is a real focal point now.  Toto even has a line of sinks with integrated LED lights underneath that shine up and through a transluscent material.  Hafele probably has the LED product with the most "cool factor".  It is called LOOX and it's versatile, energy efficient, and simple to install.  LED is still rather expensive, but it is very energy efficient and you'll probably never have to change a bulb for as long as you own your house.  Check out my earlier blog post about the Basics of LED Lighting.

I was also impressed with Northern Contours.  Based in Minnesota, Northern Contours builds doors for major cabinet manufacturers.  They have great capability and are true custom in this respect.  To give you an idea of their capabilities, I took a picture of a high gloss real wood custom veneer cabinet vignette that was on display.  What does this mean for you?  Take a look at their website, www.northerncontours.com, and if you find a finish that you love, it can be made for your very own project.

Karran makes sinks with zero lip on them for solid surface or laminate countertops.  Laundry rooms would really benefit from this feature.  Using a patented design, Karran has created a sink that can be undermounted to laminate or solid surface, virtually eliminating any and all seams or overhangs.  It's a great look.  TIP:  So you can't afford granite?  Specify a Karran sink for your laminate countertop and really upgrade the overall look of the space.  It immediately gives a high end look.

Ok, now for an item that might not be practical for everyday use, but if you're looking to really make a statement with a powder bath and just want the WOW factor, I might suggest the following product...Toto has a line of vessel lavatories called "Luminist".  Luminist incorporates LED lighting beneath a translucent lavatory bowl.  When turned on, the vessel appears to emanate light evenly in all directions.  The Toto website has better pictures of this product, but here's one I snapped with my camera phone.

If you are planning on creating a steam shower or a shower with multiple rain heads and heavy volume of water flow, it is worthwhile to explore the Schluter Kerdi Board System for the encapsulation of all moisture and vapor.  Schluter is well known for their tile accessory products and this is just one more addition to their various products.  Schluter has incorporated the drain into the pre formed pan board of the shower, virtually eliminating the risk of water leakage at that point.  They also have some very pleasing designs for the drains.  One of which is pictured below.

To view this year's "Best of KBIS" as voted on by the NKBA, check out the following link:


Til next time...have fun with those projects!