Or are they all relatively the same?
hahaa good question. I suppose the benefits are: temperature control, fast boiling, relatively cool cooktop. Cons are: limitations of hob sizes, only certain pans will work, hobs are particular about pan sizes, buzzing.
So I guess my definition of "best" would be the one that has the beneficial attributes with least negative impact from the cons. Also, want it flush with the countertop. :)
Best bet is to download the installation manuals for the ones You are really interested in. This will tell you whether they can be flush mounted or not. It will also tell you clearances you will need below the unit and also power requirements.
While your at it download the Operator's manual for them.
This way you will learn how the controls work and whether they are to your liking. It will also show the hob layout and the power of each hob. It will tell you about the timers whether they just time out and make a noise or they actually turn off the burner.
From doing extensive reading here in GW, the 2 most popular induction cooktops seem to be Bosch and Miele, with a few Thermadors thrown in.
You can see all of these on the induction site.
When You see one you like the get the model number and google it. You can find some large pictures that way, and obviously you want one that is frameless.
I have the Elux Icon it does have a frame, but the main reason I bought it was the touch controls were separated from the cooktop via an SS strip. Something on the touch controls was what "Totalled" our less than 2 year old Expensive and fancy non induction smooth cook top, so of course we did not want a "Repeat performance of that" with a new Induction unit.
It turns out, this was "Over caution" on our part, as I don't recall seeing any post about problems with the touch controls on any induction cook top. Yea you might get an error msg if ya spill a lot of water on the touch controls but just wipe it off and you're good to go.
You can find most of the Installation and Operation manuals on the AJMadison Site.
Thank you for the feedback. I forgot that another important element for me was the ability to bridge. I think the kitchenaid and the LG have true bridge elements, and the bosch has two same-sized hobs front to back, which would probably work well for a bridge.
" I suppose the benefits are: temperature control, fast boiling, relatively cool cooktop. "
Temperature control? As in, you set a temperature for the pot and it holds that temperature? That's a very rare feature.
The other two things pretty much all of them have.
"limitations of hob sizes, only certain pans will work, hobs are particular about pan sizes, buzzing."
The sizes are what they are, and of course vary by vendor and model. You need to measure your own pots at the bottom to know what size variations you need. As to certain pans, they have to be magnetic, ie cast iron, steel or magnetic stainless. Aluminum and glass (pyrex) won't work.
To me, buzzing is a feature of the pan, not the unit.
As to hob minimum/maximum, once again it depends on vendors. But the rule of thumb I use is 1" overlap for the hop size. So a 6" hob can use up to a 8" pan.
Some, like the Elux, cannot fit flush with the counter top. The Elux has ventilation holes around the rim.
The Induction Site would be a good place to start to see all the vendors, tho sometimes their info is out of date.
I would recommend trying to cook on the one's you like.
I have the Wolf - there is a low grade buzz on all of my pans except the one cheap tea kettle - but when the fan is going - you don't notice it.(I have at least one of Staub, CIA, Calphalon, All Clad, DeMeyere and a few more (but no repeat sizes...)
You can flush mount or put a SS rim around it - but you can't put anything in the first drawer as it has fans underneath.
Wolf - high power burners and large burners. No bridge and only one timer.
Miele - timers for all burners
Thermador - you have the option of the zoneless but more costly. Several GW have reported the regular version does not buzz (yes it is supposed to be the pan but not sure why mine buzz other than maybe my hearing is excellent..)
Wolf is coming out with a new induction cooktop with bridging.
The newer Jenn-Airs have bridging, the 36" actually has 2 sets of bridged hobs.
Then if you're "Really Loaded", (about 5 grand's worth) there is the Bosch zoneless.
Google induction cooktops bridged to see some of these and google zoneless induction to see the Bosch, also AEG has one and so does Gaggenau but don't ask the price of the Gaggenau!!!!
You can bridge a wolf but not over the controls. Limited heat in the middle.
How well does bridging work on the bosch 800 series across the two equal size elements?
kitten1313: ". . . another important element for me was the ability to bridge. I think the kitchenaid and the LG have true bridge elements, and the bosch has two same-sized hobs front to back, which would probably work well for a bridge."
[grin] You are already ahead of the game when you show that you have done your homework by mentioning LG. We have had an LG induction (LCE30845) for several years now, and it has served us well. Yes, the two left-side nominally 8" burners do have a bridge element for the hourglass shaped gap between them, and the bridging works well. LG even includes a griddle with the cooktop that is exactly the width of the two bridgable burners and exactly the length of the two bridged units. It is made of magnetic stainless steel, but the surface is quite soft and will show scratches the very first time you use a spatula on it. The scratches will not be deep, and do not detract from function, but some people may fret about the cosmetics. Of course, you can use any other suitably sized induction-compatible griddle or pot on the bridged burners instead.
Aside from the special bridging function, the LG is a pretty basic induction cooktop, lacking some extra bells and whistles found on the (much) more expensive brands and models (such as timers on the burners). The largest (nominally 11") burner has plenty of power for any "normal" cooking function, but if you can in 20 quart pots, or want to deep-fry your Thanksgiving turkey atop the cooktop, even the largest burner on the LG would be inadequate.
For some reason I have not yet discerned, I have noticed that when I mention LG on this forum in connection with cooktops, I might as well be writing in Chinese characters; there never is any response at all. (Mention LG in connection with refrigerators or washing machines, however, and everyone chimes in.) In contrast, when anyone mentions an exotic European brand of cooktop that probably sells a tiny fraction of the volume of LG cooktop sales, the post invariably garners a response. That was why I was surprised to see you bring up LG spontaneously.
Another unusual feature of the LG is that it requires less clearance below the countertop than almost any other cooktop of any kind, under 2", and its cooling air vent is not into the cavity below the countertop, but through small slits, less than the thickness of a nickel, on the rear of the coooktop in the stainless trim at the back.
I think what is 'best' for me may not be 'best' for you. I think you need to sit down and look at how you cook and what you cook and what you cook with and then determine what units might fit your needs.
When I was first looking at induction, I thought I wanted a unit with a bridge for a griddle. But for me, hob placement to meet my cooking needs and being able to hit a button once to adjust heat up and down were more important.
I purchased a Bosch 800 series. I love the numeric strip for power adjustment and it fits my style of cooking perfectly. I am most often multi-tasking, so for me, being able to immediately adjust heat with 1 touch saves me from many boil overs. The multi-tasking occurs more often than meals requiring a griddle. With our old electric coil unit, I had a griddle that I used to use often when the kids were younger, but as they have grown, they are eating different things at different times and my griddle use is down to sleep-overs and holidays. So I bought a Presto griddle for those times and am happy with my choice.
Something I absolutely love with my unit, that I never thought of when checking out the different options available, is the timers on the hobs that shut them off. It is so nice to be able to set a timer for boiled egss or rice or whatever and have the unit shut that hob off when the time is up. Again, it is something I use more often than I would a bridged element, but it isn't something I shopped for at the time.
I don't have issues with humming with my pans. I purchased a set of Tramontina after reading about them at Chow-Hound and I love it. They were cheap, they heat evenly, don't make noise, and clean up beautifully. My other cookware is Le Creuset and I do not have noise issues with them either.
Best of luck with your research and shopping! Cooking with induction is awesome!
My KA cooktop has a bridge burner that works well for things like pan gravy. I like the hob configuration, it has timers, the boost works well. It can be installed flush. And it does not require much clearance, so I have a drawer right underneath. But it is noisy - it clicks as the magnets go on and off, and all my various cookware buzzes more or less. Sometimes I find the clicking really annoying. Had I known about the clicking, I probably would not have chosen KA.
Does anyone have anything to say about Frigidaire Professional induction cooktop. I was looking at it and it seems pretty good. I just don't really know much even in general about Frigidaire Professional. How is their quality?
I've looked at Bosch and LG as well. Especially Bosch 300-series that doesn't have a the steel rim. Would love to but I'm not really in the market of a Miele, Thermador, Gaggenau or similar, it's over my budget.
Any other suggestions for more of a low budget insuction cooktop that still does a good job?
Kitten1313 - did you decide on a cooktop yet?
Dodge 59: "Wolf is coming out with a new induction cooktop with bridging. " - Do you happen to know when that will be?