Cannot decide between electric and propane range

Bph2January 10, 2014

My husband and I are about to do a total renovation of our 27 year old kitchen. For some reason, DH thinks he wants a gas range. We have never done a lot a cooking, but I think he invisions getting back into serious beer making. He thinks that he can better control the temp with a gas range. Propane is our only option as there is not a natural gas line in our area.

I would be OK with a slide in smooth top mid price range. We have researched dual fuel and electric induction ranges and are now frozen.

Would the gas range be superior for keeping the temp constant on a large pot of beer stuff? He says the temp must be brought to 141 F for a set number of minutes and the up to 180 F for so long. Would induction do as well?

We have not selected a KD yet. One KD thinks gas is the best way and another thinks induction is better. Neither one is aware of his beer making plans.

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I cook.
I prefer cooking especially in this frigid weather than sitting in a restaurant getting blasted by the arctic temps with each door opening.
Decades ago I cooked on an old gas range with a large oven with the grill located on the base. This old relic was my favorite cooking appliance.
Having moved more than 13 times I have worked with induction, gas and electric. Out of the three I always preferred the gas. I guess seeing the flame helped in knowing what was the correct flame height. I think over time I managed the cooking by the flame size and not the control panel.
I think you can manage the control on induction and electric too voer time so all three cooking appliances are manageable , you just need to work out the bugs.

My present viking stove has a loose control dial for the oven so 350 can really mean 325 or 375. I just am cautious when I bake.and do toss in a thermometer to be assured.

I have an under ground propane tank.
I have the appropriate vents for my gas range.

The decision to have gas means placement of the propane tanks, will you want to fence their site, and venting.
A friend brews beer and he prefers the gas.
Your choice to make but go with what you really want and can afford.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 11:49AM
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I think chickadee4 has set out some pretty good parameters in pointing out that there is more to consider than the cost of the stove, alone.

Your husband's interest in brewing may be a crucial factor If the choice is between radiant smoothtop and a gas range and the cost of installing a propane set-up is not a budget buster.

Basically, many radiant smoothtops work poorly with the very large kettles used in brewing and home-canning. The large base of the kettles can confuse the heat control sensors under the glasstop. The burners cycle frequently and take a very long time to boil (some never bring the kettles to a full boil.) That may make the smoothop electric undesireable if your husband wants to do more homebrewing.

No such problems using induction for brewing. Check out the homebrew enthusiast websites. Plenty of people using induction ranges and even portable induction units for home brew kettles. Also check-out canning forums.

Induction ranges now can be had at prices comparable for upper-mid-range radiant smoothtop freestanding stoves. (At least, what I consider upper-mid -- your budget and views may be different). Both Samsung and Elctrolux/Frigidaire have decent induction ranges that, on holiday weekend pricing, have been down around $1300. The Elux/Frigidaire is also available as a Kenmore model, too, and I saw that down around $1250 (I think) on a Black Friday sale. Regular prices are several hundred dollars higher, but if you can wait for the holiday sales promotions, the discounts can be substantial.

Of course, these are free-standing ranges and not slide-ins like the ones you are interested in. The least expensive slide-in induction ranges, AFAIK, are still running $2500 and up. The mid-range slide-in smoothtops seem to run about $1500 to $2000 or so.

But, compared to the cost of bringing in a propane tank and plumbing the connections to your kitchen, and maybe it does not look so bad?

Here's another suggestion. From back when I was doing home brewing, my recollection is that I only needed to have enough power to maintain a boil with about 8% to 12% hourly evaporation rate in a 5 gallon kettle. The large burners on most induction ranges will do this easily and a lot more quickly than anything else, especially propane.

I use magnetic stainless steel canning kettles that I got (inexpensively) from Walmart and our local hardware store. Last fall, I tried some canning using an 1800 watt portable induction burner and it worked okay, about like using an 1800 watt coil burner, Nothing special except that I was able to move the canning to a more convenient and spacious location than my small and overheated kitchen.

I mention the portable units because you and your husband could consider experimenting with a portable induction unit and big, stainless kettle for a cost of under $150 (maybe under $100 if you like Amazon and eBay.) Heck, if the induction unit works for his brewing, maybe you can get the mid-range radiant smoothtop slide-in that you are leaning towards and let him set up a dedicated brewing workspace with his own burner.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Fri, Jan 10, 14 at 15:19

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 3:07PM
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Thanks for the very informative information. We looked at the GE Café dual fuel and the GE induction ranges today. DH also likes the middle griddle of the dual fuel model for frying eggs, pancakes, bacon, etc. But there are probably nice cast iron griddles that could be used on the induction range.

We had a rep for the propane company come out to give us a cost of the propane install and line into the house. It was pretty reasonable. Burying a tank would be a problem with the water table being so close to the surface, so we're not considering that. But the tank can be placed in a side yard that we don't use and is not seen from the street.

If DH did not have any opinion, I would definitely go with the induction or maybe just a nice regular smooth top range.

Thanks, again as we hope to make a decision soon.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 4:02PM
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On griddles, there is a long and fairly recent thread about induction suitable griddles. You do not have to get cast-iron, either. Chef King has a carbon-steel one that is 14" x 23", about double the usable cooking space of the non-stick one that comes with the GE Cafe gas and DF ranges. It runs somewhere between $60 and $110 depending on where you buy it.

The Cafe ranges have been getting pretty favorable reviews here for the last couple of years. If you are in that price range, you might want to look pretty hard at the PHS920 induction slide-in. Slightly less expensive (last time I looked) and no new plumbing/re-plumbing required plus you get the responsiveness/controlability/rapid adjustibiity you would get with the gas cooktops with less waste heat in the kitchen and much quicker speed to heat. The GE slide-in has an 11" burner at the right front and that burner would be great for brew kettles.

Of course, as chickadee points out, some people just plain prefer gas ranges.

Bear in mind that most gas ranges have conversion kits for switching the burners from natural gas to propane. The conversion will often have some costs to it and the conversion usually results in about a 10% (or so) drop in the heat output. That may or may not matter for you and your husband.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 12:00AM
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I have read may threads that stated if one prefers gas it should only be used in the cooktop, not the oven. Electric ovens are generally much better at keeping to the settings chosen. And you have a lot of options like warming and proofing too. In my case I have a glass top electric cooktop and an electric wall oven. I wanted gas but I too have no natural gas. When I contacted a gas service conlractor he said he could install the propane fit for building inspection for $2000. That put gas out of my budget.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 1:46PM
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Nerdyshopper, the propane company rep give us a written cost of installing the tank and line for $850, so that seems OK. If we go with the gas range if will definitely dual fuel with an electric oven and it has a small bottom oven that I think I would use at least as a warming oven.

If our kitchen were larger, I would do a gas cooktop on the island and a wall oven. But I don't think we have the room. The KD designers we have talked to seem to think the best use of space for us is a range.

Getting ready to take a much needed and delayed vacation. Maybe our heads will clear up so we can really start moving forward.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 3:36PM
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We have the electric or propane choice too. I just bought the GE slide in induction. I don't have it yet, so can't tell you what I think. I am used to cooking on gas, and really like that level of control.

However, I bought a single induction burner and did my Christmas toffee on it... This requires lots of long boiling over high heat. Omg - it was so much nicer on the induction burner than on my gas burner. It didn't heat my kitchen at all, and was so much more comfortable for me to cook over.

I'm sold - for the big pot of molten liquid....induction is for me. Btw - we already have propane to the house, would have just needed to plumb it to the stove, I decided I would prefer the induction.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 4:45PM
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We just got rid of our propane gas range for an induction cooktop when doing a kitchen remod. I have cooked on gas for 40 years but am totally smitten with my induction & it truly has incredible heat control at all levels & the timers on each hob are a win win!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 6:09PM
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My DB brews a lot of beer. (And has won numerous awards).
He uses a free standing induction burner.
I recently bought an induction cooktop and then cooked on a friends high end professional propane gas range.
It took much longer to boil a pot of pasta water and the wasted heat around the pan was amazing on the propane.
If you have been using electric for all of these years, I would recommend going induction
In any case, give your DH his own burner in his brewing area.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 6:06AM
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GW members: Thank you, thank you, thank you!
DH and I have now come to agreement to purchase a slide in induction range. He is now excited about using induction cooking.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 9:03AM
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Just one last word. I purchased a small induction hot plate a year or so ago and when I read the instructions I had to send it back because I use a pacemaker and there were warnings never to turn induction on anywhere near a pacemaker.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 10:05AM
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If the manufacturer's product literature forbids use of a product by people with pacemakers, heed it by all means. That is probably a substandard product and it is a good thing that the maker/importer is telling you that..

That warning is not generally applicable to most induction cooking products, however. Some product manuals will use bland, "CYA" language about consulting your physician if you have a pacemaker. As if doctors have time time to know this. (One of our local docs called me when a patient asked her a question about this. I pointed the doc to the NIH site to find the studies. This isn't something the docs know about and the proliferation of products would make it hard to keep up, anyway).

This concern seems to come up about once a year in this forum. Google "gardenweb + induction + pacemaker" to find previous discussions which also (IIRC) have links back to the NIH and medical studies summarized there.

The gist of the medical studies is that there may be a magnetic field from induction cooktops that is detectible by instruments on the chests of persons with unipolar pacemakers (a relatively rare type) implanted on the left side, although the field seemed to be too weak to actually adversely affect those pacemakers. Apparently, no observable effects for other pacemakers.

To be sure, persons with pacemakers are generally advised to avoid being within strong magnetic fields. For example, they generally should avoid getting an MRI (which involves putting the body into a strong magnetic field to produce the imaging data). If you have a pacemaker, it also is probably inadvisable to lean against an operating microwave oven (at least an older one whose shielding may have degraded). Nor should you hug an electrostatic loudspeaker, either.

Cooking with induction should not give you any comparable field exposure. The magnetic field from induction burners falls off very rapidly within an inch or so of the burner surface. At normal cooking distances, the field might be detectable with sensitive instruments but seems far too weak to have any affect on pacemakers. Most cooks will not normally put their chests into very close proximity to a hot pan, let alone the burner under it. (Maybe if you have a pacemaker and are very short -- to the point where you need to stand with your chest pressed to the front of the stove in order to use a pan on the front burner --- then induction ranges might be something to worry about.)

There is another study by an self-appointed "international commission"which is opposed to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from electronic devices but that is a general health concern and not about pacemakers. If you are concerned about the EMR that surrounds us, from home devices like toasters and televisions to cell phones to power lines, then you probably want to avoid all electric stoves, induction or not. Also, and any gas stove with with a digtial oven control panel, too.

Read beyond those studies and you'll find the internet is fraught with the usual array of half-informed mis-advice, hostile fan-boy flaming, paranoia, and just plain nonsense. I think it was last year that we ran across a website -- I think it was something like the Living Large site --- that actually told people to use plastic and wooden utensils when cooking with induction because you could electrocute yourself by touching a metal spoon to a pan on an induction burner. There are other postings which state that induction cooking is just like a microwave without the containment of the oven. Some folks probably view induction cooking as akin to cooking over nuclear waste. You get the idea.

So, the bottom lines are these. First, if you have a pacemaker and your doctor says you shouldn't use induction, don't.

Second, read the product manual for any induction appliance you are considering. If the manual says "not to be used by anybody with a pacemaker" it is probably a substandard product that you want to avoid, anyway.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Mon, Jan 13, 14 at 15:12

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 4:20PM
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