How to Install an Induction Cooktop

by Michael Chotiner

Induction cooktops, which heat pots and pans with magnetic fields instead of flames or heating coils, have been available since the 1950s, but they are only just now catching on among home remodelers who aspire to state-of-the-art kitchens. Induction cooktops offer significant advantages over both gas and electric models because they:

True, the cooks in your family will need to change some long-held cooking habits in learning to prepare foods with an induction cooker. You may even need to replace your favorite cookware with cast iron or magnetic, stainless steel pots and pans. But installing an induction cooktop is no more difficult than dropping an electric cooktop into a counter and connecting the wiring.

Induction Cooktop Choices

There are many potential things to consider when selecting an induction cooktop, including:

But, for the purpose of planning an installation, it's really only the key dimensions of the cooktop that matter. These include:

Illustration courtesy of GE Appliances

Mainstream models with four or five cooking elements tend to come in only two nominal sizes: 30 in. and 36 in. Your choice here could be based on:

In addition to the two most common sizes, induction cooktops are also available in smaller and odder sizes. European makers offer cooktops that are nominally 23, 31 and 37 inches wide, and you can also find 12-, 15- and 24-in. induction cooktops on the market. Whichever you choose, make sure to check the cutout size and overall depth below the cooking surface before making a final selection. Only some induction cooktops are recommended for installation above a wall oven set into a base cabinet—so if that's your ultimate plan, make sure to choose a cooktop and oven that are compatible.

Observe Minimum Clearances

When you're planning an induction cooktop installation, make sure that the installed unit will have adequate clearance from combustible materials above and below, and on either side. Each manufacturer has its own recommendations, but the illustrations below, taken from installation instructions for a GE Profile induction cooktop, show the key clearances that should be considered.

Illustration courtesy of GE Appliances

Electrical Requirements

Induction cooktops require a dedicated, grounded 240-volt circuit protected with 40- or 50-amp breakers that terminates in an approved junction box mounted below the counter on the cabinet back or on the wall behind it. Manufacturers' recommendations for the optimal location of the junction box can vary based on whether the power supply cable feeds into the cooktop's housing from the left or right, but it should be about 16 in. below the underside of the countertop so the connections inside the box won't be exposed to excessive heat.

Most manufacturers supply a length of flexible armored cable to connect the cooktop to the home wiring at the junction box, but this isn't something I would do myself without input from a licensed pro. There are too many potential variables in existing wiring and local codes to provide comprehensive instructions here, for example:

I'm lucky to have a professional electrician for a good friend, and I invite him over for barbecue when I need to hook up a new appliance. If your barbecue isn't as good as mine, you may need to hire a licensed pro.

Preparing the Countertop Cutout

In the easiest case, you're replacing an existing cooktop with an induction unit of the same nominal size, and the existing cutout is about the right size. If you're really smart (or lazy), you chose a model from the same maker as the old cooktop who supplies trim kits and fillers to conceal any gaps, should the existing cutout prove to be slightly oversized.

If an existing cutout is too small, or if you're installing the induction cooktop in a new countertop, you're going to have to cut. Should you do it yourself?

Installing the Cooktop

Once you've prepared the cutout according to the manufacturer's specs, you're done with the hard part. Various models from different manufacturers require different fastening systems. It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter. It's also a good idea to line the countertop edges around the cutout with reflective aluminum tape to block heat build-up and prevent damage to the countertop.

Whirlpool induction cooktops, for example, use proprietary brackets (supplied with the cooktop) that are fastened to the left and right sides of the cutout, as shown in the illustration below. Then the cooktop is dropped into the prepared opening where it snaps in place with clips.

Whirlpool Bracket System

GE induction cooktops are dropped into the prepared cutout and held in place with clamps that are fastened to the bottom housing with screws. You must be careful not to over-tighten the clamp when setting the cooktop into a stone or solid-surface top.

GE Appliances Hold-down Clamp System

Once the cooktop has been fastened securely in place, call your licensed professional electrician to wire connect the power line from the cooktop to the circuit at the junction box. Make sure that power to the circuit has been turned off at the panel before he starts making the hookup.

Now enjoy your new induction cooktop!

About the author: Michael Chotiner is an expert on DIY appliance installation, and writes tips for homeowners for Home Depot. Michael's advice for induction cooktops is based on his many years of experience as a carpenter and general contractor. To view Home Depot's extensive selection of induction cooktops, click here.