A portable hob is a handy solution to many cooking problems – whether you haven’t got enough space in your kitchen or need an extra cooker whilst yours is being repaired. They heat up and cool quickly, are easy to clean and can be taken anywhere you can plug in.
Wide cooking surface
Some hobs have a number of cooking zones, each with its own control dial. This lets you choose between different heat levels and styles of cooking, like frying, boiling and simmering. This can be useful if you often cook with multiple pans of different sizes or use various cooking techniques.
Induction hobs are very popular as they have a sleek and easy to clean facade and are quick to heat up. They also have a low risk of burns as the energy is generated at the base of the pan and only the surface of the glass ceramic is heated, rather than the surrounding area like traditional electric hobs.
Flat induction hobs have coils under the glass which, when switched on, create an electromagnetic field. When induction-compatible cookware is placed on the hob, the magnetic field interacts with the iron-based magnetism of the pan and generates heat. This only happens when the pan is in contact with the hob and means that you can reduce the amount of time you spend washing up. Some induction hobs have a ‘bridging zone’ function that allows you to link two separate cooking areas together, creating one larger space. This is particularly useful when cooking with large pans, such as fish kettle style and a wok.
Accurate heat control
Induction hobs use less energy than smooth top electric models because they don’t heat up the entire cooking surface – just the pan. This makes them very efficient and also easier to clean. They’re a great choice for a range of different cooking techniques, including frying and boiling. Many come with smart features, such as a PerfectFry sensor that prevents boiling over by regulating the temperature.
The best induction hobs are very precise and heat up a pan very quickly. They work by using an electromagnet to create a magnetic field around the pan, which transmits the heat directly to the pan itself. This allows you to boil water almost twice as fast as an electric hob, and much quicker than a gas one.
This Indesit model offers a very high level of precision – for example, you can bep tu munchen switch between nine power modes and set specific temperatures for each zone. It was a decent performer in our tests too, heating a 1.5 litre full pan of water in just over two minutes. This is largely because it can offer max power in all zones without siphoning the energy from elsewhere, and has some particularly clever automatic modes, such as Push&Boil and Push&Warm, which maintain a constant temperature for longer.
If you’re able to cook in bulk and use the timer functions on your appliances to turn them off, this will help to reduce energy consumption. Using the correct pan size for each zone and not leaving a pan on a hotplate will also save energy. Always ensure that the base of your pans are flat – this will prevent them from wasting energy.
Gas and electric hobs waste a lot of energy by pumping heat into the cooking surface and the surrounding air. Induction hobs, on the other hand, only consume the energy needed to heat the metal of the pans themselves, so there’s very little energy wasted.
Which’s sustainability editor Emily Seymour says an induction hob is the most efficient choice. ‘An induction hob is more efficient than a gas or ceramic hob because there is no electricity wasted heating the pan’s surface, or by heating the space around the pan,’ she says. This makes it a good choice if you want to boil water quickly or reheat food, as the hob will work more efficiently than an oven. However, if you’re cooking infrequently, an electric oven could be cheaper to run. Uswitch research using smart meters found that an oven costs 68p per hour of usage.