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Lower-Priced Induction Ranges Heat Up Market

NEW YORK – American consumers have been slow to embrace induction cooktops, in part for their high price tags.

That may soon change, as new models from Electrolux and Whirlpool have entered the marketplace with retail stickers that are roughly one-third less than their predecessors.

Induction cooktops use magnetic fields, rather than flame or electric heating elements, to heat pots and pans. They are cool to the touch, cook food more quickly and are more energy efficient than gas or electric ranges, but require steel or iron cookware.

Electrolux’s entry is a freestanding range with a power-assist feature that allows it to boil water in 90 seconds. It’s outfitted with a convection oven that preheats 25 percent faster than conventional models and has a new self-cleaning system that produces virtually no odor or smoke.

The range shipped to dealers this summer and carries a suggested retail of $2,199. “We are excited to take this technology, incorporate it into a free standing range with a new, innovative self-cleaning oven system, and deliver it to the marketplace at nearly $1,000 less than previous induction ranges,” said John Terzo, senior VP and cooking products general manager for Electrolux North America.

Whirlpool said its induction model is an industry first: a freestanding double oven with a total of 6.7 cubic feet of capacity matched with an induction cooktop featuring an 11-inch boost element that can boil up to 25 cups of water in 50 percent less time than a 12,500-Btu gas burner. The suggested retail is $2,249, and the range is available nationwide through Sears, h.h.gregg, Ferguson and Menards, among other dealers.

Despite the more competitive price points, the jury is still out on induction. John White, appliance executive VP for the BrandSource buying cooperative, said further price cuts will be necessary to grow the category’s small base, while concerns about replacing pots and pans remain.

Even Electrolux Major Appliances North America president/ CEO Jack Jack Truong acknowledged the initial obstacles. “It needs a lot of demonstration and behavior change, and it requires new cookware,” he conceded. “But once people experience it, they won’t go back.”