(1) Figure out whether or not you’ll need a new electrical circuit
Option 1: Gently pull back your gas range to figure out what size outlet you have behind it. It’s most likely plugged into a standard 120V outlet. If there’s also a more powerful 240V, 50 Amp outlet back there, you’re in luck and can swap in pretty much any electric range (including induction) without doing anything with your wiring.
120V standard outlet (for gas ranges):
240V, 50 Amp range outlets (needed for electric/induction ranges):
Option 2: If you’d rather not pull out your range, another way to figure this out is to open your electrical panel and see if there’s a dedicated circuit labeled “Range”, typically with 2 breakers attached to each other. If you have this, it’ll be serving a big 240V outlet. It’s still worth double-checking to make sure this outlet is behind the range, where you’ll need it to be. But you should be all set for an electric range.
(2) If you need to, add a new electric range circuit
It’s pretty common, however, for homes not to be wired for electric ranges – especially if the original house had a gas range. If that’s your situation, you’ll need to get an electrician involved to add a new electrical circuit for an electric range. This will involve running a new wire from your panel to the wall behind your range. If your electrical panel is in an unfinished basement and the kitchen is on the first floor, this will be relatively easy. If the route from panel to range goes through finished space, it will be more challenging (and expensive). Electricians can be pretty crafty at fishing wires through walls. They can even run the wires outside, through conduit, if that’s the easiest route. But there will likely be some drywall patching and touch-up paint left to do after the electrician’s work is complete. Get a couple quotes from electricians for the work. They’ll probably need an electrical permit from the city, the cost of which should be included in their price.
Some homes won’t have enough open slots in the electrical panel to add a new range circuit. An electrician should be able to figure out if you can free up space by combining existing circuits, using tandem breakers, and/or installing a sub-panel. If this does the trick, it’ll probably cost less than the next option, which is to swap in a new & larger electrical panel. On occasion, this leads to costs from your electric utility that now needs to provide more power to your home.
(3) If electrical work is cost-prohibitive, consider alternative strategies
What if the cost of electrical work is making the whole project seem out-of-reach? This happens sometimes – and has motivated creative folks to develop products to address this exact situation, although they’re not quite ready for prime time yet. One company is building a slide-in induction range with a built-in battery that will plug into a standard 120V outlet (and also will be able to operate for a while during a power outage!). It won’t be cheap, but may be less than adding an expensive electrical circuit. Some folks get creative by plugging an induction cooktop into a standard outlet and plunking it down right on top of their gas range, which they could continue using just as an oven. Others switch their stove top cooking to inexpensive plug-in induction burners, placed on their countertop when in use and tucked away in a drawer when not.
(4) Incentives to help cover the cost?
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) does not include tax credits for induction ranges. However, it will cover up to $840 in up-front costs for electric ranges, depending on your income, once states get this part of the program up-and-running in late 2023. More details can be found in this short Consumer Reports article.
(5) Consumer choices
All major appliance manufacturers now make induction ranges, and you can now find them to suit anyone’s aesthetic taste – from sleek modern to colorful retro. But these can be spendy! Happily, entry level induction ranges are available in the $1,000 range. They work great too, but have more limited aesthetic & feature choices. Just in the past year, we’ve finally started seeing more choices at lower price points, including a smart looking one from Samsung that has knobs (which some folks prefer to touch-sensitive panels) and a larger burner in one corner, neither of which used to be found in entry-level induction ranges. Over time, options will grow. But I think we’ve made it to the point where there are good choices across the price spectrum.
(5) Switch now – or wait?
If cost is your driving factor and you’ve determined that you’ll income-qualify for IRA up-front discounts, consider getting any needed electrical work done at your leisure and waiting until later in 2023 to buy. If health is your driving factor, stop using your gas stove ASAP and either replace it with induction or switch to an inexpensive countertop induction hot plate to bridge the gap until you get a full-sized replacement.