Hands down, the recessed induction cooktop is one of my favorite features in our kitchen.
When we planned to invest in the kitchen of our dreams, switching from gas to induction was high on our list. We wanted a high-efficiency home, and energy efficiency is still one of the leading considerations when we are updating or upgrading fixtures and appliances.
Back in 2018-2019, there were a number of induction cooktops on the market, but not nearly as many options as today. We chose the 36″ Contemporary Induction Cooktop by Subzero-Wolf. It wasn’t a sponsored product, but I learned about the product line by way of writing for the home improvement industry. Press images featuring induction cooktops are eye-catching and scream high-end. SZW was sharp.
There were several reasons induction was right for our home:
- Our cooktop is in the kitchen island
- We have barstools alongside the island, within arm’s reach of the cooktop
- Putting gas burners within reach of anyone sitting on the barstools is just a bad idea
- Glass-top electric cooktops stay hot for a long time
- It’s easier to clean a glass cooktop than a gas range
- Only the part of the burner in contact with the pan heats. The cooktop cools and can be touched within seconds of being turned off.
- And, as already stated, we embrace high-efficiency technology so if I were to choose between a glass-top electric cooktop or an induction model, induction won.
Getting the kitchen cooktop installed didn’t come without its share of hiccups, naturally, but we are thrilled with how it turned out. It’s one of the best choices we made during our kitchen renovation. Not to mention, if you’re checking out this post following the wave of criticisms against gas ranges and are reviewing alternatives, you’ve come to a good place.
How Are Induction Cooktops Installed?
Induction cooktops often sit atop the counter, especially if a customer is replacing an appliance; however, most models also come with the option of being recessed into the countertop so that they are completely flush.
Without a recessed seat for the appliance, a metal frame sits atop a hole cut in the counter. The cooktop and its frame fit on top, just like a drop-in sink might sit atop your counter.
While this may only raise your induction appliance ⅓”-½” off the counter, once I realized that our Subzero-Wolf could be recessed, there was no going back in my mind.
We began to imagine how easily crumbs would gather around the perimeter of the frame. It became clear that it might be harder to contain spills. Or worse, spills on the countertop might go underneath the cooktop frame and into the kitchen island drawers. A recessed, smooth work surface would not only look great, but it would make life easier.
How Do You Recess an Induction Cooktop?
Recessing any cooktop is best accomplished by the countertop company at the time you are replacing your countertops. And while this should be a reasonably simple ask of your salesperson, be sure to discuss it early in the planning process.
Induction cooktop manufacturers who offer recessed installation should provide full specs for the product that can be relayed to the countertop company. From what I gather, countertop companies usually obtain a template so that any height clearances and curved radiuses are made exact to the cooktop product.
Our Subzero-Wolf induction cooktop did NOT come with a template, much to everyone’s surprise at the 11th hour. Furthermore, upon reviewing the design guide that came with our cooktop, the countertop company was concerned that they did not have the proper blade for the CNC to cut a tight 7/16″ outer corner radius.
To work around this and accommodate our request, I brought them the entire cooktop and they created a custom template for our job. They also ordered a special tool so their machinery could accommodate the tight corner angles. Still, it was a one-shot that the custom template and cut would work, or we would need to order a new piece of countertop quartz.
Once it was cut (they did it!) and the countertop was installed (it was perfect!) our contractor was able to position the induction cooktop into the recessed space. One thing I was not prepared to navigate, was that the recessed ledge was a little bit too low. The induction cooktop did come with rolls of high-density foam that, with the help of our contractor (no, we did not DIY our kitchen remodel), we attached to the inset ledge to raise the induction cooktop slightly until it was perfectly level with the countertop. I am still waiting to see if this foam compresses under the weight of the cooktop. In 4 years, it has not.
A black silicone caulk was installed around the edge of the cooktop to seal around the entire appliance. No moisture can get between the countertop and the induction cooktop. The black silicone blends in perfectly with the black glass appliance.
How Do We Like Our Subzero-Wolf Induction Range?
Induction heats FAST. There’s nothing quite like cooking on someone’s gas range and realizing the shortcomings of gas while you wait for water to boil. Induction heats water in a fraction of the time, is consistent, and has made cooking more efficient. I’m not a chef but I do enjoy cooking every day, and I can sear and still achieve the same type of cooking performance as I did with a gas range.
The glass induction cooktop has outperformed our expectations in many ways; however, we sometimes find that the sensors don’t react to our finger when we are looking to turn on or adjust the burner temperature, which can be annoying, but it’s a minimal complaint.
If I could choose a different product, I’d probably select an induction cooktop with two large burners. Ours has one large burner and four small burners. The GE Monogram that I also considered in 2019 had a second larger burner, and it was silvery-white, but it couldn’t be recessed.
One insight for you, though: If and when we have to upgrade products or the countertop, I would readily switch to an invisible induction cooktop to achieve all the benefits of a flush and easy-to-clean cooking surface. My one call-out is that it should be an “anywhere” invisible surface so that you don’t have to think too much about whether or not you’re placing your pan directly on the invisible burner.