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 or 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.
One induction range that performs very well in professional testing is the Frigidaire Gallery FGIF3061NF (Est. $1,550). 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.
The FGIF3061NF fares well in testing, including an Editors' Choice, Best of the Year award and a perfect 10-score from Reviewed.com. "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 in another test conducted by a well-respected independent reviewer, 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 now plentiful enough to be another point in this induction range's favor. We spotted more than 80 at HomeDepot.com and a score of 4.4 stars. At BestBuy.com, there were more than 50 additional, unique user reviews (unlike HomeDepot.com and many other retailer sites, BestBuy.com does not include feedback from elsewhere in its tallies), and the range earns a similar grade of 4.5-stars.
The Kenmore Elite 95073 (Est. $1,500) is another induction range that fares pretty well in professional testing. In one expert test, it did very good or better across the board. Reviewed.com likes the Frigidaire induction range a touch better, but still likes the Kenmore enough to give it an Editors' Choice award. 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." There are a handful of user reviews at Sears.com, but too few to be helpful.
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 aces, 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.
Elsewhere in This report: