Cooking on Induction in a Van: The Pros and Cons

Cooking with electric in a van

We get asked regularly about how we cook in our van, and you’re often very surprised when we say we have no gas in our van at all. We cook solely on electric with a two burner induction hob connected to our lithium ion battery. We’re here to tell you that cooking on induction in a van is not only possible but it has some great advantages to it as well.

cooking on induction Spain

Why no gas?

Well, mainly because I’ve heard horror stories of vans blowing up due to issues with gas. Naturally I decided that would absolutely happen to us so we should avoid it at all costs! It’s entirely possible I concentrate on the negative a little too much… lets not get started on the potential bomb disguised as a lithium ion battery we carry on board!

On a slightly more serious note it can be difficult to get LPG on the continent, especially in more remote places in Scandinavia. Add in the need for different connectors in different countries and avoiding gas starts to become an attractive option! We also know a lot more about electrical systems than we do about gas, and there’s nothing like working to your strengths!

Doesn’t it use loads of power? 

Honestly? Yes! We have quite a lot of demands on our battery, not just our hob so keeping enough charge in the battery is a daily task. We top up our battery using solar, charging as we drive or plugging in. Sadly we don’t live in California or Southern Spain and whilst Britain is known for many things it’s not for its good weather! We’re also big fans of the white stuff and spend the winter following the snow, which often means multiple days without decent solar. But, a year in, including a couple of months in the Arctic in winter and we’d still put induction in our van if we were to do it all again. 

Are you currently deciding how to cook in your van conversion? Read on for our pros and cons of cooking on induction in a van.

cooking on induction Ireland

Advantages of Cooking on Induction

  • No Gas – The biggest advantage for us is that there’s no gas in our van. We didn’t have to worry about the installation process of gas or find an area to store a gas tank, so there’s no loss of storage space. There’s also no need to worry about different connectors when travelling, running out of gas or trying to source it when on the move. Finally, we have no concerns over ventilation or carbon monoxide by cooking on induction in the van.
  • Less moisture – When gas burns it produces water. Cast your minds back to your chemistry class and you might recall that methane reacts with oxygen when heated to produce carbon dioxide and water. Why the science lesson? Keeping moisture out of your van is a constant battle, so the less water released the better!
  • More efficient – Whilst induction uses up precious electricity it’s actually a very efficient way of cooking. Much more of the heat generated finds its way to your food than it does when cooking on gas, so much so that water will boil almost twice as fast on an induction hob than on a gas burner.
  • Easy to clean – We’re all for quick, easy and convenient. Our induction hob takes seconds to wipe down.
  • Green energy source – When we’re able to charge our battery on solar alone cooking on induction in the van is environmentally friendly. Sadly, if we have to drive solely to charge the battery it’s definitely not a clean source of power.
  • Easy to install – Our hob was really easy to install. We wired it into the electrics and we can turn the power on and off to it via our touchscreen. We’ve also seen other camper vans using portable induction hobs that simply plug in to a socket when in use.

Disadvantages of Induction Cooking

  • Power – We touched on this above but absolutely the biggest drawback of cooking with induction in a van is the amount of electricity it uses. We have a 300ah battery and boiling the kettle for a cuppa (with enough water for two people) drains 3% from our battery. The other night I cooked Thai Curry and that drained 13%.

    You need a good battery capacity, ideally lithium ion (which carries a significant cost implication) and an inverter powerful enough for the hob you choose (ours is 3.5kw). You’ll ideally need to charge to some degree every day. If it’s not sunny this means driving or plugging in, so parking up for a week at an amazing wild camping spot isn’t an option unless you have good weather. Don’t let this put you off though, there are ways to manage your power usage. If you don’t have many other demands on your power you should be fine. We tend to cook meals that take no longer than 15/20 minutes and plan to cook more exciting things if we know we’ll be somewhere with power or good weather.

  • No toast – You can’t make toast! Or crumpets for that matter. We have hunted and hunted but we can’t find a way of toasting properly using an induction hob (it’s just not the same using a frying pan). If you have an idea drop us a comment below… please!
  • Omnia Oven – We don’t have an oven in our van and most of the time it’s not an issue, until you fancy baking a cake or some yummy fresh bread (yeah, that’s not happened yet!). Like many vanlifers we have an Omnia Oven. If you’ve not seen them before they’re a great little option for cooking whilst camping as they enable you to bake/roast/casserole on your stovetop. The donut shape, base and ventilated lid encourage the heat to circulate just as it would in a conventional oven. It doesn’t work so well on our hob though as heat is created through electrical induction as opposed to thermal conduction, and therefore the heat doesn’t circulate in the same way. We have used it but it’s fairly slow. We keep a Trangia (alcohol) stove in the van for times when we want to use our mini oven.

Omnia oven baking on induction

Don’t Rule Induction Out!

We appreciate cooking on induction isn’t for everyone. Many people automatically dismiss using electric for cooking in their van but it can definitely be done. There’s a lot of advantages to it so don’t rule it out too soon! We’re huge fans and despite the above cons we’ll definitely install induction again if we ever do another van conversion!

View some of our other Kitchen Essentials

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