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A lot of education is still required to convince customers of the benefits of induction technology. Independent dealers are well positioned to embark on this educational task and capitalise on the fast growing and lucrative market. Anna Ryland reports.

Despite being the fastest, most energy efficient and safest of all cooking technologies, induction isn’t widely understood and adopted in Britain. To the average customer an induction hob looks like any other hob – with a high price ticket.

The market outlook

In contrast to the poor performance of most domestic appliances during 2009, “sales of induction hobs have grown at an incredibly healthy rate of more than 20% by volume and value over the last 12 months (May 2009 – April 2010, year-on-year), suggesting very little price erosion and significantly outpacing the wider market. This trend echoes the consistent rise of induction hobs over the last five years. The market was worth nearly £21m last year, confirming it as one of the fastest growth sectors of major appliances. Although more affordable products have been brought to market during this time, over 60% of products still exceed £500,” comments Anthony Williams, GfK account director, Domestic Appliances.

As a result the market share of induction is increasing, confirms Mike Jarrett, sales director of Neff: “Induction is one of the few product areas showing growth in a tough market, but its share of ceramic hobs is still relatively low (approximately 18%). However, induction is gaining market share at the rate of around 1-2% per year and we predict that this will continue to climb, year on year.”

Smart features

The numerous advantages of induction technology far outweigh its drawbacks.

Steve Dickson, commercial manager of Belling and Stoves, lists four major benefits of induction. Firstly, it is ‘smarter’ than traditional methods because of its controllability. “Belling’s PBI60 touch controlled hob for instance has a pause function which allows you to shut down and re-start the product at the touch of a button – a recall function which automatically saves your last temperature setting.

“The second major benefit of induction is that it is faster than more traditional heating methods. Induction reaches the required temperatures much more speedily than traditional hob types, boiling water nearly twice as quickly as a gas hob and 30% faster than a ceramic hob. The third benefit of induction is that it is the safest cooking method on the market. Even if the controls are turned on accidentally, the hob will only start heating up if a saucepan is placed on one of the zones. This means there is a much lower risk of people burning themselves if the hob is left unattended and switched on.

“The final major benefit of induction is that it is much greener that gas and ceramic hobs. Cooking on a GDHA induction hob is approximately 30% more energy efficient than gas cooking and 25% more efficient than ceramic.”

Some manufacturers, like Whirlpool, have introduced a ‘mixed’ fuel option to help customers overcome initial reticence to move to an induction hob. The latest hob from Whirlpool includes gas burners sited on a glass base with an induction cooking zone.

Moreover “induction dramatically cuts down on the cleaning,” reminds Juliana Saldo, brand marketing manager at Whirlpool. “It is also the most elegant hob available with the stunning black glass finish adding a continuation to the work surface and an eye-catching enhancement to the kitchen.”

The drawbacks

The main obstacles towards a wider adoption of induction are a lack of understanding of the technology and its premium price. “Few consumers appreciate the difference between induction and ceramic hobs – all they see is black glass and a relatively high price. Many also believe that expensive special pans are needed, which is not the case. And that’s why retailers’ advice and guidance is particularly important in this area,” says Iain Starkey, Hotpoint brand manager. Meanwhile the solution is simple. “The only requirement is the use of magnetic-based materials such as stainless steel, enamelled steel, and cast-iron, generally available on the market. An easy way to test whether a saucepan or pan is suitable for an induction cooker is by holding a magnet against the bottom of the saucepan. If the magnet sticks to the saucepan, it can be used on an induction cooker,” explains Tanya Searle, product manger, Electrolux Major Appliances UK.

Advancing technology

The latest advances in technology have made induction hobs even more desirable. One of them is ‘flexible’ or ‘zoneless’ areas which allow consumers to maximize the use of their induction space. For example, “the AEG-Electrolux Maxi-sense range provides the largest usable induction area on the market using flexible sections to create an all over cooking surface. Pans can be placed anywhere on the hob as long as the section marker is covered,” comments Electrolux’s Tanya Searle.

Another new development are digital controls which ensure precise heat selection.

Moreover “low absorption induction hobs, such as the Candy PVI 640CBA are becoming more popular with energy conscious customers who are looking to cut their electricity costs,” explains Steve Macdonald, marketing director of Hoover Candy.

The latest and the best

Almost every manufacturer now has induction hobs in their portfolio and the range of benefits they offer is truly impressive.

The Hotpoint CIO744DOB induction hob features touch control operation, boosters on all zones, four individual timers (one for each cooking zone) and flexible double ring and oval cooking zones that allow both small and large pan sizes to be accommodated. Meanwhile the Indesit Prime induction hob, which has recently been awarded a Which? Best Buy for its value, comes with two large and two small cooking zones.

An induction hob from Prima Appliances has nine power settings, residual heat indicator, child safety lock and an electronic timer.

The Candy PVI640CBA low absorption hob uses less than half the energy of a standard induction hob (3 Kwh instead of 7Kwh), and has micro-computerised controls that continuously monitor and optimize energy distribution to each cooking zone. Also it can be operated on a 13amp ring main with an isolation switch, making it much easier to install.

In 2009, Belling launched an industry first, a built-in oven that uses induction technology in the main oven cavity. Capable of slow cooking, roasting, grilling, steaming, fan cooking and baking casseroles, the BI60i uses up to 50% less energy than an A rated oven when in induction mode.

Key features of Gorenje’s induction hob range include a PowerBoost function, which heats up extra fast and the BoilControl preventing a pan’s contents from boiling over by automatically adjusting the temperature of each zone. Finally, the StopGo feature provides ultimate convenience for the consumer if they are unexpectedly called away – one touch of the StopGo key freezes all settings. “A real highlight of Gorenje’s 2010 induction range has to be the Ora Ïto white induction hob, GHS 64 ORA-W. After the popularity of the original Ora Ïto range in black glass, Gorenje has relaunched the appliances, but this time in stunning white,” comments Ruth Ferguson, Gorenje’s marketing manger.

The latest development from the AEG-Electrolux is the MaxiSense HK764400FD induction hob that features flexible induction sections allowing pans to be placed anywhere on the hob as long as the section marker is covered. The hob also features DirekTouch controls which make temperature control even more precise.

Miele, which is one of the induction technology pioneers, has a wide range of induction hobs featuring the Stop and Go function which allows the user to move away from the appliance for a short period reducing all the zones to the lowest setting and returning them to their original settings on the user’s return. Miele induction hobs also have a number of programmable functions such as a timer, power range settings and audible tones.

De Dietrich has been at the forefront of zoneless induction and the flagship of the company’s collection is the DTi1053X. The 65cm zoneless Dual Continuum zone hob accommodates numerous inductors beneath two side-by-side 23cm x 40 cm continuum zones that allow for different sized pans to be situated across the area with different temperatures, front and back of each zone. Alternatively, at the touch of the controls, each zone will become one entire temperature area in order to accommodate larger pans such as fish kettles or pasta pans.

The latest Smeg product is the SE2951ID1 touch control induction hob, which has a 29cm giant multi zone, which gives more cooking flexibility, allowing for both small and large pans.

New to Neff is the ‘FlexInduction’ hob that provides greater flexibility by heating pans of any size, positioned anywhere in the enlarged single zone that provides a 380mm x 200mm cooking area that is consistently heated when a pan is detected.

For 2010, Whirlpool introduced the Glamour Cross-Burner AKT477 hob on which a 24cm induction zone is teamed with three gas burners set on a glass surface – for consumers who need the convenience and reassurance of mixed fuel. Other new induction hobs from Whirlpool are single zone models; from 37 cm wide, through to 77cm wide units with four induction zones in a variety of layouts, offering the widest possible consumer choice.

Amica is about to launch its latest Inari induction hob in the UK, which has the highly functional open zone and an innovative design.

Sleek designs

With open-plan kitchens becoming a centre of family life, the hob has to impress with both functionality and design. “Sleek, contemporary aesthetics are one of the main selling points of induction over traditional gas and electric hobs. Glass-topped hobs offer a minimalist, seamless design concept, fitting flush with kitchen work surfaces. Touch-controls continue this theme, so that today’s consumer does not need to choose between function and form,” comments GDHA’s Steve Dickson.

Whirlpool’s Juliana Saldo adds: “Although 600mm square is still the main deal for most we are seeing increasing number of shapes and sizes being enthusiastically adopted. Manufacturers are being very clever with the introduction of larger and expansive surfaces. They are introducing new designs such as multiple zone hobs, linear hobs and hybrids that offer both induction and gas on glass.”

Things to come

The DA market overall is showing sings of recovery but 2010 is not going to be plain sailing. “It will continue to be tough for new sales in this product segment until the housing market picks up again. However, other sectors, such as replacement, will be very competitive. Consumers will continue to search out the best deal, which might not necessarily be the best price as other factors can take precedence here such as service and delivery,” comments Jane Massey, brand manager of Siemens.

With the cost of energy rapidly climbing up, the benefits of induction will soon outweigh its disadvantages in consumers’ minds. These sleek and super efficient hobs which are now perceived as a ‘nice thing to have’ will soon become necessities. Now is the time to start informing your customers that, like with the resource-efficient laundry and refrigeration products, the sooner they invest in new technology the greater savings they will make.

Sales Tips

• Demonstration is essential because induction hobs look just like any other electric hobs – with a big price ticket.

• Ensure that at least one person in the showroom at any given time understands induction technology and is product trained.

• Have three key features and benefits listed next to the appliance.

• To test whether customers’ existing pans will work with an induction hob, tell them to put a magnet to the base of the pan; the more it sticks, the better the heat transfer is.

Safety advice

Installation advice by Steve Macdonald of Hoover Candy

1. There must be a gap between an induction hob and an oven. The worktop has to be at least 30mm thick and there must be sufficient space around the cut out to ensure adequate ventilation.

2. Induction hobs should never be situated above any other appliances. They should only be installed over an oven or cupboard space.

PRODUCT PLATFORM

Induction hob innovation from Belling

Part of Belling’s collection of innovative induction appliances, the PBi60R is the UK’s first 60cm 4 burner induction hob that combines induction technology with the simplicity of rotary controls.

In addition to simple and intuitive knob control, the PBi60R boasts an array of innovative features including a power boost setting, overheat pan protection which employs sensor technology to shut down an unattended hob before it reaches a dangerous temperature; and a safety shutdown function which automatically turns off all cooking zones if the hob is left unattended.

For further information on the new Belling products,

visit www.belling.co.uk.

Electrolux Inspiro Oven – thoughtfully designed for cooks who want to shine in the kitchen

The Electrolux Inspiro Oven EOC69400X is the perfect ingredient for anyone who wants to shine in the kitchen. Often the stumbling block in recipes can be the point you put it in the oven. The temperatures and times given in recipes are often guidelines – and most recipe books simply do not suggest using the many cooking functions available in today’s multifunction oven. The Inspiro’s automatic cooking takes all these decisions out of your hands – using the best temperature, time and cooking functions to ensure your dish is cooked to perfection. The Electrolux Inspiro Oven was voted one of six Good Housekeeping Institute Outstanding Products of the Year – winning a prestigious Good Housekeeping Consumer Award 2008 in the GHI Tried & Tested Category.

Beko launch new Induction Hob

Beko has launched a new Induction Hob HII64401T to compliment its contemporary Built-in range. With nine cooking levels per zone, the Induction Hob cooks food quickly and efficiently, saving time and energy. Simple to use with touch controls, LED power level indicators, and individual time control on each zone and end time buzzer, the Induction Hob is also easy to maintain with its frameless black ceramic surface. A safer option it is also equipped with a child lock.

Stockist details: www.beko.co.uk 01923 818 121

Award Winning Indesit Induction Hob

Indesit Prime proves that innovative technology doesn’t need to be expensive! The 60cm Indesit Prime induction hob (VIA640C) combines designer style and the very latest in technology at a fraction of the price, making it accessible to everyone. The VIA640C has just been awarded the top Which? Best Buy score for great value: “This Indesit hob heats up quickly, is good at simmering…and is easy to use and keep clean.”

Stockist details: www.indesit.co.uk 08000 921 922



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