Induction ranges are relative newcomers to the appliance market. 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 enameled steel, is placed on the cooktop, the electromagnetic field generates heat directly within the pan while the cooktop itself stays cool.
We found fewer reviews for induction ranges than for other types of electric ranges, primarily because they're less common. Moreover, most of the induction ranges that have been reviewed in professional sources -- including last year's top pick, the GE Profile PHB925SPSS -- have since been discontinued.
One induction range that performs very well in professional tests is the Samsung FTQ307NWGX (*Est. $1,930). This range pairs an induction cooktop with a 5.9-cubic-foot convection oven. Its special features include electronic SelectTouch controls that promise the same fine temperature control as a gas range, a warming drawer and a 20-minute SteamQuick cleaning cycle. It has a stainless-steel finish and comes with a one-year warranty that covers parts and labor.
In professional tests, the Samsung FTQ307NWGX excels at all cooking tasks: boiling, simmering, baking and broiling. Professionals are divided over the effectiveness of its cleaning cycle; one test deems it "very good," but editors at Good Housekeeping say it leaves residue behind. We found about 50 reviews for this range on the Samsung manufacturer site, which are generally but not uniformly positive. Most owners are impressed with how quickly the cooktop heats food; one owner says, "When I want a cup of tea, I put on a pot of water and by the time I have the sugar and tea bag in my cup the water is boiling!" Users also note that the cooktop is very responsive; some say it responds to adjustments in temperature as well as a gas stove.
However, many users complain that the layout of the induction elements is awkward, making it hard to take full advantage of the cooktop space. As more than one user notes, with an induction cooktop, the pots and pans must be sized to match the heating elements. This means that cooking several large items at once is not possible, and smaller cookware can't be used at all on the large front burner. We also saw a couple of complaints about this range's durability, both involving circuit boards that failed within a week of purchase. However, the users do say Samsung was accommodating about replacing the damaged parts under warranty.
The only other induction range for which we found mostly good reviews is the Kenmore Elite 97203 (*Est. $2,170). The cooktop has four heating elements, ranging in size from 6 to 10 inches, and its Power Boost setting promises the ability to raise foods quickly from simmer to boiling. The oven is a 6.1 cubic feet, equipped with a convection fan, a warming drawer, seven rack positions, four porcelain oven racks and an extra-large window. Other special features include a temperature probe that monitors meat as it cooks, and a built-in exhaust fan. Sold only in a stainless-steel finish with black accents, this range is backed by a one-year warranty.
The Kenmore Elite 97203 performs as well in professional tests as the Samsung induction range. Like the Samsung, it leaves some residue behind in Good Housekeeping's tests of the self-cleaning cycle, but all professional sources agree that this range's boiling, baking and broiling performance are excellent. However, we did not find nearly as many positive user reviews for it. Sears.com, the only retail site that sells Kenmore appliances, has only a handful of comments for this range, with an overall rating of 3.5 stars out of 5.
As with the Samsung, users say they are impressed with the cooktop's speed and responsiveness but disappointed by the layout; one user complains that there is no realistic way to use all four burners without going out and buying specially sized pans. We also saw complaints about reliability, burners malfunctioning and an oven that takes too long to preheat. Although we did read more positive reviews than negative ones, we'd like to see a stronger positive consensus from users for a range this expensive.