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While looking at installation documents for electric induction cooktops, I've come across the instruction:

Make sure the wall coverings, countertop and cabinets around the cooktop can withstand heat (up to 200°F) generated by the cooktop.

This seems to exclude natural wood as a countertop material. The spontaneous ignition temperature of natural wood is well above 200°F but it's less clear to me that prolonged exposure to this temperature would be safe.

Is this kind of language in the installation documentation trying to discourage installation into natural wood? Or is there some standard trick (flashing, offets, I don't know what) that makes it possible and safe?

Or is exposure to these temperatures for long periods actually safe for natural wood?

  • What sort of cooktop? (Gas, radiant, induction). Are you installing a natural wood product marketed as a kitchen countertop or are you contemplating/modifying a DIY project? I would be surprised to learn that a product marketed as s kitchen countertop can’t support the installation of a cooktop but this is something you would expect to see laid out in the installation manual as a safety warning. – Stanwood Dec 4 '17 at 0:46
  • Induction cooktop into a home-made countertop. – Jean-Paul Calderone Dec 4 '17 at 0:55
  • Based on Youtube videos of installations it looks like a wooden counter top presents no problem. – Jim Stewart Dec 4 '17 at 2:03
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My GE induction cooktop has almost the same warning but it only specifies wall coverings and cabinets (not the countertop). The walls and cabinets can get direct radiant heat from the cookware but the countertop is unlikely to get quite so hot simply because of the angle of incidence (which reduces the intensity of the radiance). The cooktop itself shouldn't generate such high temperatures (e.g., from it's internal cooling fans).

Metal flashing can protect against flash fire or embers (and is specified if there are wood cabinets 24-30" directly above the cooktop. But this won't change the impact of continuous radiant heat. So lining the cutout hole with flashing would not make a difference. (Surrounding with a wide metal "U" channel would make a difference but you'll see I don't think its necessary.)

The jury is still out on whether continuous exposure to temperatures above 170F can lead to combustion of wood due to self-heating (pdf). This would be relevant for wood surfaces near a pellet stove or steam pipes running through a floor opening but I have difficulty believing you will generate these high temperatures for prolonged periods with a residential induction cooktop. It's simply not designed to operate continuously for long periods. (If this is a DIY restaurant than you'd need to rethink things.)

You should observe charring (over time) near the cooktop prior to any ignition due to self-heating. In the very unlikely event this happens then I would consider widening the cooktop opening and installing metal u channel or other material.

Overall, it seems the risk is low and you should not need to take any special precautions. Someone else might be able to comment on whether the residential building codes specify appropriate surfaces for a countertop (e.g., for flame retardance). Your countertop would need to meet any applicable building codes regardless of the cooktop.

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