• 5 barriers to induction stove adoption — and one clever high-tech fix
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This is part of our special series "Home of the Future." Read more.

5 barriers to induction stove adoption — and one clever high-tech fix

It can be complicated and time-consuming to install an induction range. But carbon-free cooking may work for more homes with a bit of help from battery storage.
By Julian Spector

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A woman's arm opens an oven door
(Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty)

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Canary Media thanks Sense for its support of the Home of the Future series.

In the early weeks of 2023, electric induction cooking emerged as a flashpoint in the culture-war skirmish du jour, an unexpected turn for a cooking appliance that’s been around for years.

To be clear, the White House isn’t trying to take away anyone’s gas stove, but some progressive cities and states are working to get gas out of homes entirely, for the sake of the climate and for people’s health. But before that can happen, there has to be a widely accessible alternative. And the induction-stove sector still has plenty of growing to do.

The basic induction technology is well established; these stoves boil water much faster than gas stoves and they offer far more granular heating control than is possible with combustion.

But there are a number of logistical challenges to overcome before induction cooking can be adopted by the mass market. Here are the key obstacles to widespread induction-stove adoption, followed by some of the solutions, including one major technological innovation that will make a huge difference.

It’s hard to even know what it will cost to install an induction range

Generally, when you buy an appliance, you know how much it’ll cost you. Items that require specialized installation may come with an extra fee, but that’s communicated upfront. That’s not the case with induction ranges.

An induction stovetop usually needs at least 40 amps allocated on the home breaker box, and a high-voltage plug on the wall to feed it. If you don’t have enough space left on your breaker box, or you don’t have a high-voltage plug within reach of your oven spot, the costs of the electrical work to actually install induction can spike. And it’s hard to know how much extra work you’ll need without expert consultation.

You can’t just do it — you have to pay an electrician to figure out what it’s going to cost,” said Weldon Kennedy, founder of Channing Street Copper Company, an induction-stove startup.

Induction installation is often lengthy and costly

Besides the uncertainty around induction installation, the high cost and extended timeline also impede adoption.

A relatively minor installation may still punch through drywall or masonry, incurring additional work to patch it up. But if the stove’s consumption exceeds what the electrical panel can provide, the panel upgrade alone can cost thousands of dollars, and it may take a while to find an available electrician.

In some cases, you may need to upgrade your home’s service from the distribution grid, which means the electric utility gets involved — and passes you the bill for their efforts. And in extreme cases, one home’s desire for an electric stove can push the neighborhood grid over the limit, requiring installation of a whole new transformer. That unlucky homeowner could face a charge of tens of thousands of dollars if they decide to go through with it.

That’s an untenable tab to install an appliance that itself only costs a couple of thousand dollars.

Induction ranges use a lot of power, and that causes problems for the grid

It’s not a random home cook’s job to worry about whether the grid has enough electricity to meet demand. But in aggregate, mass adoption of induction cooking poses a risk to the workings of a clean energy grid.

Take California, which is getting rid of fossil-fueled electricity by 2045, and moving toward carbon-free buildings, too. The Golden State already struggles with power shortfalls in the post-sunset hours, when solar production drops off just as people get home from work and start using more energy. Supplying those evening hours — known as the duck curve” problem in grid-planning circles — will get a whole lot harder if millions of homes need a simultaneous surge of power to cook dinner on induction.

Without some coordination to minimize grid stress, utilities will have to spend more money to meet demand for induction cooking, and those costs will trickle down to consumers one way or another.

Electric stoves don’t work during a power outage

Extreme weather — fueled by climate change — topples electric grids around the country on a regular basis. When the grid goes down, homes that run stoves on electricity will lose the ability to cook, if they lack backup power.

That could be jarring for people who are familiar with gas stoves as a way to cook through an outage. Granted, some gas models rely on electricity to actually ignite the fuel, and combusting gas indoors without functioning ventilation is bad for your health.

People can ride through a grid outage by equipping their homes with backup generators, solar-charged battery packs or certain electric vehicles like the Ford F-150 Lightning — but these require thousands of dollars of investment. Without these or other solutions, induction stoves are only as strong as your local electric grid.

Induction products are still too expensive

Setting aside outsize installation costs, induction cooktop products still tend to come at a market premium.

For cooktops and portable countertop hobs, there are affordable options, but for full-sized ranges, the majority of available models are in the higher price ranges,” said Noah Cordoba, who analyzes kitchen electrification at the Building Decarbonization Coalition. One of the most affordable full-size induction ranges is made by Frigidaire, but it still retails for more than $1,000.

Canary's Julian Spector takes an induction cooktop for a test drive.

The core solution: Just add batteries

These challenges aren’t insurmountable. Much like rooftop solar or battery storage, induction stoves are the hardest to get in the earliest stages of mass adoption.

Already, startups and legacy appliance makers are moving fast to make induction products more accessible and desirable. They’re trying out all sorts of design upgrades, but one of them stands out for how many problems it could solve single-handedly. The idea: make induction stoves with batteries.

Adding energy storage to induction stoves will let them more easily slip into existing infrastructure; the stoves can load up on power slowly over time, then tap into their battery power to deliver the surges needed for high-intensity cooking (a similar dynamic applies to electric-vehicle chargers paired with batteries).

This will mean induction stoves can plug into normal outlets without expensive upgrades to home wiring, said Kennedy, whose Berkeley-based startup Channing Street Copper is developing one such product.

The company advertises plug-and-play installation” for its forthcoming Charlie stove, which begins shipping this spring for Bay Area customers. For $5,999, home cooks get a four-burner electric stove with a convection oven and a 4-kilowatt-hour battery. The product uses lithium iron phosphate chemistry, known for its hardiness and better fire-safety characteristics (and yes, it’s insulated so the batteries don’t heat up).

A blue induction range with two mugs and an aqua kettle sitting on top
The $5,999 Charlie induction range with battery (Channing Street Copper Company)

You can plug into that standard wall outlet that’s sitting there behind the stove anyway,” Kennedy said. For a large number of people, this will still be the cheapest way for them to get an induction range in their home.”

San Francisco–based Impulse, which has the same concept in mind, has raised $25 million from investors including Lux Capital and real-estate-focused VC firm Fifth Wall. Founder Sam D’Amico set out to use batteries to build the perfect indoor pizza oven,” but he ended up expanding the mission to do for home-cooking appliances what electric vehicles did for the automotive industry. The stove comes with 3 kilowatt-hours of lithium-ion battery storage. But Impulse isn’t yet taking orders or revealing price info, so this one’s a little further out from showing up in home kitchens.

The key customer draw for energy-storage-enabled” cooking is the ease and cheapness of installation. But these devices can also help with the macro challenge of supplying enough clean energy to power widespread induction cooking at night. Stove batteries can load up when clean energy is cheap and abundant, and then use that energy to cook when electricity demand is high.

As for resilience concerns, battery-equipped stoves let you keep cooking through a blackout. 

During a power outage, the onboard battery lets you cook and run a fridge or other appliance,” Channing Street Copper’s website claims.

The main drawback to adding a battery is that it drives up the overall price of the stove, which is already pretty pricey. Kennedy is banking on the reduced installation costs to compensate for the additional cost of the battery components. But there are a few other ways that customers can reduce the overall cost.

For one thing, these battery systems are big enough to qualify for the federal investment tax credit for energy storage that was created by the Inflation Reduction Act. That law also offers multiple benefits for home electrification (including electrical panel upgrades). Certain local and state governments have their own incentives.

The stove industry still has work to do to launch more affordable products, but government incentives for this up-and-coming sector can help ease the price burden for now. While widespread adoption of induction stoves for fast, clean, fossil-fuel-free cooking may not be right around the corner, innovators in the space are making sure the hurdles facing customers today don’t persist too much longer.

Canary Media’s Home of the Future series is supported by Sense.

Consumers need better tools to make their homes more efficient and to foster electrification. Sense technology is built on a simple, proven premise: Customers need real-time information to engage. With the first-of-its-kind Sense app, consumers can see exactly where and how to save energy in their homes. Sense works for utilities, for consumers and for the grid. Leading meter manufacturers are partnering with Sense to create consumer-ready smart meters that take home-energy management to the next level. Learn more.

Julian Spector is a senior reporter at Canary Media. He reports on batteries, long-duration energy storage, low-carbon hydrogen and clean energy breakthroughs around the world.