Fossil-Fuel-Free Cooking

Reader Contribution by Paul Scheckel
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Geek thing of the day! Since I wrote about induction cooking 2 years ago, the cost has come down enough now that I bought a single “burner” unit and after a week of use, the numbers are in.

As a long-time gas range cook, the switch takes some getting used to, and it only works with pots that are magnetic. But, I like that it’s fast and I can dial in the temperature fairly tightly. Of course, I didn’t trust any of the ad hype, so I got out the meters and the spreadsheet. Here are the results.

Comparison Between Gas Range and Induction Burner

Gas range, 7,000 BTU burner: time to boil 1 quart of 60 degrees Fahrenheit water was 8 minutes 30 seconds, consuming 992 BTUs of heating energy (one British Thermal Unit is approximately equivalent to the heat released by burning one wooden kitchen match).

Induction cooker: same pot, same temperature and quantity of water, the burner used 1,300 watts at the highest setting and took 5 minutes 50 seconds to boil. This works out to 0.126 kilowatt-hour of electricity and is equivalent to 430 BTUs of heating energy.

If there was a 100-percent efficient way to boil water, the energy required would be about 317 BTUs. This gives us a way to calculate the efficiency of each unit.

The induction cooker is 74 percent efficient, and the gas range comes in at 32 percent. The induction cooker transfers much more heating energy to the pot. The induction method was 32 percent faster and consumed 57 percent less energy.

Because I’m off-grid, induction will be my go-to cooking method when sunshine is ample, offering an option for fossil-free cooking!

Paul Scheckel is an energy efficiency and renewable energy consultant and author ofThe Homeowner’s Energy HandbookandThe Home Energy Diet. Paul is also a speaker at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS. Read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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