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Induction Cooktop 101 – Should Singaporeans Replace Their Traditional Kitchen Hob?

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So, you’re doing up your very first kitchen design, and you’re already imagining yourself whipping up culinary delights like you’re Martha Stewart, the Barefoot Contessa and Nigella Lawson all rolled in one.

But there is one problem that you’ll face, along with most new home owners in Singapore: should you install one of those newfangled induction cooktops, go with a traditional gas stove?

Asking your parents is useless, because they’ve only known cooking on gas stoves. You know, the traditional kind with the big heavy gas tanks under the cooktop that seem to need replacing at the least opportune time.

Induction cooktops, on the other hand, are newly popular. They’re sleek and make you feel like you’re living in a fabulous Soho loft rather than an Ang Mo Kio HDB flat. They’re aesthetically-pleasing and space-saving for sure, but are they really a pragmatic choice for Singaporeans? Consider this a complete crash course into the world of cooking hobs in Singapore.

 

Stove, cooktop, hob, burner – what do they all mean?

Alright, first things first. Let’s get our terminology straight.

Stove: This is the entire cooking unit, which includes the cooking area on top (the cooktop) as well as whatever’s below.

Cooktop: As the name suggests, this is the top portion of your stove, which includes the burners.

Burner: This is the part of the cooktop where the fire comes out (if it is a gas burner) or where the heat comes off (if it is an induction burner) and where you place your pot or pan for cooking.

Hob: This is actually the same as a burner, but when you go shopping for kitchen stuff, you’ll encounter this word the most. That’s because it has come to be used to describe the entire stove. Therefore, you’ll usually be asked something like, “you want normal cooker hob or induction cooktop?”

 

What are traditional kitchen hobs?

Traditional kitchen hobs are those with gas burners (and therefore open flames) on the cooktop and dials to adjust how large or small a fire you need for cooking.

Generally, the traditional gas hob is cheaper than induction cooktop. The hob itself averages only about $500 to $600, and gas is also cheaper than electricity in Singapore.

If you’re very much into cooking, you would probably prefer the traditional kitchen hob because gas stoves are compatible with most cookware and you can achieve higher cooking temperatures, which means you can do stuff like wok frying and charring.

Installing a traditional kitchen hob should be part of the kitchen renovation package if you’re moving into a new kitchen. Your contractor will probably work with the carpenter who did your cabinets and the electrician to sort things out. If you’re replacing an existing hob, the retailer you bought it from will usually handle installation for you.

For new home owners, you do need to decide whether you want the gas (a) piped into your house or (b) delivered in LPG (liquified petroleum gas) tanks.

Gas pipe option: This is obviously more convenient in the long run, as you won’t have to worry about gas suddenly running out just before dinner time. But installing the gas pipe is a bit of a hassle. You’ll need to contact City Gas (call 1800 555 1661 or fill in the webform) for an appointment to install the pipe.

Only when the pipe is installed and your kitchen cabinets and kitchen tops (the solid surface on top of the cabinets) have been put in place, then the hob can be fitted in. Then, you need to contact City Gas again to arrange for a connection appointment.

After the second visit from City Gas, the gas pipe should be connected to the hob, and you’re good to go. Your contractor, if he’s really good, can sometimes do all the above for you.

Cost-wise, you’re looking at a one-time cost of $70 for gas installation, then about $15 a month for gas (based on Singapore Power’s estimates for the average HDB 4-room flat).

LPG tank option: If you want to use a gas tank, you can call any number of LPG home delivery services to order a tank. No need to do any complicated piping.

  • Mega Gas (tel: 6899 3388)
  • SingGas (tel: 6555 9222)
  • Sin Joo Heng Gas Supply (tel: 6567 2007)
  • Tan Brothers Gas Supply (tel: 6455 1169 / 6456 4392)
  • Union Gas (tel: 6316 6666)

An LPG tank costs $34 to $36 per tank, and it should last a month if you cook every day.

 

Induction cooktops – what are these & why are they so popular?

Induction cooktops do not use open flames. Instead, the hob has coils of electromagnets beneath which generate a magnetic field. When the right type of cookware is put on top of it, thermal heat is produced. But if you touch the cooktop, it’ll be cool to the touch.

This means that you can’t use just any type of pots or pans. Only those made of magnetic material like steel or iron will work with an induction hob. Glass, aluminium and copper pots won’t work. Your cookware also needs to be flat for even heating because the induction hob is flat. This rules out woks, tadka spice pans, and anything else with a rounded bottom.

Because induction cooktops don’t have open flames and cool down quickly when there’s no magnetic contact, they are often regarded as safer – a key consideration if you have small children, pets or very clumsy people in the household. Many also come with safety features such as child locks and sensors to prevent overheating.

They’re also ideal for modern BTOs with very small kitchens. Induction cooktops are sleek and sexy, take up little space, are easy to wipe clean, and don’t heat up the entire kitchen (so you won’t sweat like crazy every time you cook). They’re also easier to install than the gas hob, because you don’t have to bother with the gas supply. You pretty much just plug and play.

However, induction cooktops can be rather disappointing for home chefs, especially those into Asian cooking. They are good for precision cooking and slow simmering, but you won’t be able to get that intense wok hei and crispy char that only very high heat can achieve.

Another major consideration is cost. An induction cooktop usually costs more than a traditional kitchen hob. Based on these sample prices, you’re looking at $1,200 and above for just the unit.

Induction cooktop Price
Brandt BPI6309B Induction Hob 60cm $1,199 at Parisilk
Bosch PPI82560MS 2 Zone Serie | 8 Induction Hob $1,159 at Mega Discount Store
La Germania P-6 41 to N 60cm Built-in Induction Hob 4 zones $1,588 at Audio House
Whirlpool ACM898BA 4 Zone Induction Hob (60cm) $1,799 at Courts
Electrolux EHH6332FOK 60cm Built-in Induction Hob $1,961.68 at Harvey Norman

Then there’s the ongoing costs to consider. Electricity is more expensive than gas in Singapore. Assuming you cook daily, the induction cooktop will probably add more than $50 a month to your electricity bill. Ouch.

Finally, if you’re making the switch from traditional gas to an induction cooktop, and your existing cookware isn’t compatible, you might need to budget a bit more cash for a new set steel or iron cookware, which would set you back from $500 for a 5-piece set.

 

The verdict – should you make the switch?

Here’s a quick comparison table of induction cooktop vs traditional gas kitchen hob:

Induction cooktop Gas kitchen hob
Cost of unit $1,000 and up Average $500 to $600
Ongoing costs $50 or more a month for electricity $35 a month for LPG tank replacement (less with piped gas)
Compatible cookware Steel or iron, flat-bottomed Any type
Cooking styles Precision cooking e.g. simmering, boiling, steaming. Cannot do high heat cooking Versatile for wide variety of cooking styles e.g. high heat wok frying
Design Simple, minimalist, sleek, takes up little space Bulky, more suited to traditional style kitchens
Safety No open flame, cools down fast, units usually have safety controls Has open flame, may require constant attention
Cleaning up Flat surface – easy to wipe clean Lots of knobs and burners – more time-consuming to clean

If you’re a serious home chef, you will probably still go for the gas kitchen hob no matter how pretty and hi-tech induction cooktops get. The traditional gas hob is great for those who cook often, want to cook in traditional local styles (e.g. charring, wok frying, tempering spices), and like a variety of cooking styles and cookware.

The gas kitchen hob is much more cost-effective than an induction cooktop. Both the unit price and the ongoing costs of gas are lower (best if you opt for piped gas).

However, it’s more time-intensive. You need to pay close attention to the open flame while cooking, and cleaning up those knobs takes more time and effort.

On the other hand, the induction cooktop is for you if your primary concerns are safety and convenience. That is, you don’t harbour dreams of being a domestic goddess. Induction cooktops are good for simple cooking methods like slow simmering and steaming, and the precise controls make cooking easy for beginners.

The induction cooktop is undoubtedly a great choice for newlyweds and young parents. It’s the safer choice if you have young children (or plan to), and cooking and cleanup both take minimal effort.

Assuming you don’t mind the restriction in cooking styles, the one major drawback of the induction cooktop is its cost. Make no mistake – this decision that will definitely cost you more.

Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a lower maintenance alternative to the traditional kitchen hob, the cost might be well worth it. It’ll still be cheaper and healthier than eating out for every meal.

Have you made the switch to an induction cooktop? What do you think? Share your reviews in the comments!

 

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