Unlike conventional electric ranges, which use heating elements to cook, an induction range uses electric current to generate an electromagnetic field on the cooktop. When magnetic cookware, such as cast iron, stainless or enameled steel, is placed on the cooktop, the electromagnetic field generates heat directly within the pan while the cooktop itself stays cool. However, it's important to use the proper pots and pans in order to make this work. For some top recommendations for induction-friendly pans, see our separate report on cookware.
We found fewer reviews for induction ranges than for other types of electric ranges, primarily because they're less common. However, we also found some ranges that were easy to recommend.
Often, the best performing appliances are also the most expensive, but that's not the case with the Frigidaire Gallery FGIF3061NF (Est. $1,600). In addition to a very responsive induction cooktop, this freestanding range is loaded with other common but convenient features. It offers convection heating in the 5.4 cubic foot oven along with a temperature probe and storage drawer. Oven settings include auto shut-off, keep-warm, delay-bake and Sabbath modes. The induction stovetop has five heating zones -- one of which serves to keep cooked food warm. In professional testing it does an excellent job of rapidly bringing water to a boil at high temperatures. At low temperatures, it's rated as excellent for melting and holding chocolate as well as for simmering delicate soups without scorching.
At Reviewed.com, the Frigidaire Gallery FGIF3061NF earns an Editors' Choice and Best of the Year award and a near-perfect score of 9.9. "With its awesome induction burners, excellent convection baking performance, and a sale price that hovers around $1,500, the FGIF3061NF makes the most compelling case we've seen for upgrading from a traditional electric range to induction," says James Aitchison. Though it's not the top rated induction range at ConsumerReports.org, it still performed well enough to earn a Recommended label; it did Very Good to Excellent in all regards save for broiling, where it only earned a grade of Good.
User reviews are plentiful enough to be another point in the Frigidaire Gallery FGIF3061NF's favor. Owners love this range, and heap praise on it for its performance -- especially its ability to bring even a large pot of water to a boil in 2 minutes or less. Those who have never had a convection feature in an oven before love that as well, although several say it takes some getting used to for perfect results when cooking baked goods. And, of course, we noted the lower scores for those who were disappointed to find that you have to have induction-friendly cookware to operate the stovetop; but we discounted those as that is an integral part of induction cooking.
The Kenmore Elite 95073 (Est. $1,900) is another induction range that fares well in professional testing. At ConsumerReports.org it's the top-rated induction range, earning scores of Very Good for low and high temperature cooktop performance, Very Good for baking and broiling. Reviewed.com likes the Frigidaire induction range a touch better, but still likes the Kenmore enough to give it an Editors' Choice award and a score of 8.6 out of 10. Kori Perten finds a few shortfalls in her testing, but adds that "All in all, this Kenmore is an above-average range that seems designed with the induction newbie in mind." Kenmore brands are only sold at Sears.com, and there are far fewer reviews there than we spotted for the Frigidaire Gallery FGIF3061NF; and satisfaction is lower, with more complaints of durability issues. We also saw several comments about how badly the range smokes in the self-cleaning cycle, although it earns an Excellent for that feature in ConsumerReport.org's testing.
The range excels particularly at stovetop cooking, experts say. Perten calls it "the star of the show" thanks to its lightning-fast boil times and great heat distribution. The range has five heating zones -- one of which is a warming zone -- with pan-size detection sensors to ensure that energy output is tailored to each pot or pan.
While everyone agrees that the stovetop is terrific, we found more divergence when it came to the convection oven. In one test, the Kenmore is said to provide "impressive baking and broiling." Perten agrees when it comes to broiling, but not so much when it comes to baking. Cakes came out well enough -- near perfect, in fact, but, "our cookie tests left something to be desired," she said. Perten adds that while the "oven isn't at all awful," some serious bakers might find it to be disappointing.
One of the best-reviewed, and also one of the priciest, induction ranges we evaluated is the Samsung Chef Collection NE58H9970WS (Est. $3,600). It's a slide-in induction range that is fully-featured with a high-end appearance and some high-tech features that have expert testers swooning. At Reviewed.com, James Aitchison calls it "the most technologically advanced range we've ever tested." He goes on to say, "We're smitten with its sleek, transitional design that mixes both traditional and modern aesthetics."
Brian Bennett at CNET agrees, making the Samsung NE58H9970WS one of the highest-rated ranges there, with a 4.5-star score. He notes that, "The Samsung Chef Collection Induction Range has plenty going for it, including futuristic cooking capabilities, flexible oven controls and killer good looks, all packed into a compact 30-inch slide-in size."
Both expert reviewers acknowledge that the Samsung NE58H9970WS is pricey (which is the only thing that keeps it out of our top spot) but they also say you get what you pay for. That includes a touchscreen panel that displays only those menu options that will work with the setting you're using, making the induction cooktop easier to use than most, and giving the control panel a "futuristic" look that gets raves from experts and owners. Another nice bonus, especially for newbies to induction cooking -- the cooktop uses blue LED lighting to mimic the appearance of a gas flame and to offer visual feedback to users.
The oven on the Samsung NE58H9970WS features Samsung's proprietary Flex Duo technology. That means that this range can be used as either a single or a double oven, offering the ultimate in flexibility. The large, 5.8 cubic foot capacity can be divided into a 3.1 cubic foot upper oven and a 2.6 cubic foot lower oven. The door can be used as a two-oven door or a single-oven door. The oven detects when the partition is inserted and adjusts the available selections on the control panel accordingly. Unlike many double oven ranges, convection is available on both ovens.
Performance-wise this Samsung induction range is no slouch either. Cooktop performance is rated as Very Good on high heat, Excellent on low heat in testing at ConsumerReports.org, but in testing at Reviewed.com and CNET the cooktop was an outstanding performer in both high and low-heat modes, reaching upper limit temperatures of close to 800 degrees Fahrenheit to quickly bring liquids to a boil, and minimum temperatures of 98 degrees -- perfect for simmering delicate sauces without burning.
The oven's performance was a smidge less perfect. While Aitchison at Reviewed.com found very minor variances in cookies baked without convection, cakes baked with convection came out perfectly. At CNET, Bennett put the Samsung NE58H9970WS through the biscuit test in convection mode, and found that, although they were uniformly cooked, they were also uniformly underdone. However, it aced the chicken and burger tests, turning out a beautifully roasted chicken and deliciously juicy broiled burgers. Testing at ConsumerReports.org backs up these findings, the NE58H9970WS earns scores there of Excellent for broiling and Very Good for baking. Owners, too, rave about the cooktop, but have scattered complaints about the performance of the oven -- although most say that there is a learning curve and that once you master it, things turn out perfectly.