Infrared, induction and other smooth-surface cooktops represent such a great improvement that the U.S. Department of Energy has created a new category in which to evaluate them. Both represent an improvement over conventional stove tops, and even greater benefits are expected as the technology advances.
Induction stovetops cook food by using electromagnets to heat the pots instead of applying heat to pots. Induction cooktops are highly energy-efficient, as no heat is lost between the cooking surface and the pot, providing fast response time and temperature control. As an added benefit, because these cooktops do not get hot, they reduce the risk of kitchen burns. Unfortunately, they work this way only with ferromagnetic material and not with aluminum or ceramic cooking vessels.
Infrared cooktops are made of halogen lamps in a corrosion-protected metal dish. The lamps are generally surrounded by radiant coils to give even heat. This transfers heat to the pot by direct infrared radiation. Infrared cooktops are more energy-efficient than solid electric coils and are expected to continue to improve. They can be used with pots made of any material.
Both induction and infrared cooktops are an improvement over conventional solid coil electric stoves in that they are easier to clean and more energy-efficient. Both have their drawbacks as well. Infrared cooktops are less efficient than induction cooktops but can be used with any cooking vessel. Induction cooktops do not heat up and are more efficient but need a magnetic-responsive disk between the surface and the pot for any nonferrous vessel.