If you’ve never heard of or used an induction cooktop before, you’re not alone. Induction units are almost indistinguishable from the ceramic radiant cooktops that have become common over the past decade. While the older radiant technology has a heating element sealed under the glass, induction uses an electromagnet that essentially turns the pan itself into a burner. It offers quick response, fine temperature control like gas, and super-fast heating, all on a sealed surface that stays cool to the touch and is easy to clean.
The only real downside is that magnetic pans are required for most induction cooktops, in order to efficiently heat using the magnetic fields they generate. Typical induction cooktops have marks etched on the surface that outline pan placement over the coils (just like their radiant counterparts), with varying sizes of electromagnets for larger or smaller pans. Thermador turns this model on its head with the new 36” Freedom Induction cooktop; there are no outlines for pan placement. Instead of four or five large electromagnetic coils, it has 48 tiny coils, allowing you to place up to four pans of any size, anywhere you want on the cooking surface.
A la Portlandia, many appliance manufacturers think the answer to high-end appliances is to “Put a touchscreen on it!”, and Thermador joins the club with the Freedom Induction cooktop by throwing in a 6.5” color touch control panel. However, this is one of the first appliances that is truly enhanced by touchscreen control; the infinite pan placement would make standard fixed controls unworkable, where the touch gestures for controlling the Freedom are very intuitive, and much quicker and more convenient than most digital cooktops. With all this power, the Freedom still only requires a 40 amp circuit, so it won’t usually require rewiring to replace an existing electric cooktop. It’s great to see real innovation in cooktop technology, and there’s a whole lot of it wrapped up in Thermador’s Freedom cooktop.