Induction users - do you ever need or want a radiant burner?

bethJanuary 24, 2012

Ordering my 36" induction in a few days, and I am wondering whether I will ever need a radiant burner for anything again. As I get closer to pushing the button, I have a nagging fear that I'll regret not having at least one available for something. But what that might be, I can't figure out. So, I would like to know your thoughts/experiences. Thanks.

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No, I do not miss the old stove at all! I had to give away to MIL two nonstick skillets that wouldn't work, but that was it.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 7:17PM
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I do have gas as well as induction, because there are a number of things you really need a flame for, but I've never felt the need for radiant heat, per se. I have a portable coil burner in my studio should I want one. I'm thinking of donating my portable induction unit, which I got to try it out back when it was only being discussed on GW, to my studio as well. I think it would do a better job of holding melted wax or glue at temperature, for instance (an electric pan with a temperature control is really the best but they creep me out).

Things you can't do easily on induction:
Wok in a bowl shaped wok at ultra high heat (unless you have a wok dish unit).
Char and toast things with flames.
Use a pressure canner safely.
Use a reversible griddle or other rim bottomed pot safely.
Use long pans with even heating, like fish pans (unless you have zoneless or "full surface").
Use a giant kettle to boil laundry (unless you have zoneless or "full surface")
Use priceless heirloom non-ferrous cookware. You can't use cheap crap non-ferrous cookware either, but that's no big loss...

There may be a couple of other things but they don't come to mind.

There have been hybrid units on the market with part induction and part radiant electric for people who were really hesitant to give up old pots. They ended up, by and large, giving up the old cookware and just using the induction part anyway, so these have been declining in popularity. There are a couple of induction/gas hybrids as well, though I think they may only be sold abroad.

I have two small cooktops, induction and gas, and I mostly use the induction. If I had a gas grill outside (or wanted one), I wouldn't have bothered installing the gas.

There are a few of our members who've had induction and prefer gas. A few. Overwhelmingly, the rest are happy they switched and would never go back. I don't know of anyone who switched from radiant electric, whether glass or coil, who wanted to go back after using induction. There are some who want coil for their pressure canners (or the stand and gas burner from a turkey fryer), or because of installation challenges, and a few who have no gas nor much money to spend who choose radiant because that's really all they can get from a practical point of view.

I think you can be pretty well assured that you'll be fine with induction.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 8:27PM
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Nope, 2 years with induction now, no need for old style burner.

Also don't buy a "Hybrid Induction cook top", most reviews I've seen have been pretty poor for same.

I don't even need gas, but we have a 2 burner gas cook top
just outside the kitchen, for charring peppers, or just for cooking outside when we want to. I will have to take up Woking and stir frying as the gas cook top is really hot, and of course no mess in the kitchen.

Good luck with your decisions!


    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 8:31PM
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pasture19: "I have a nagging fear that I'll regret not having at least one available for something.

We have had an induction cooktop for over a dozen years. We have no radiant gas or electric burner.

Short answer to your question whether you really will need a radiant burner: "no."

Long answer: Once a year -- Osyougatu (New Year's) -- we do wish that we had a flame burner, in order to toast omoci, a traditional New Year's delicacy for Japanese. We make do with a small cast iron hibaci burning charcoal briquettes to toast our omoci. The rest of the year, we do not miss a radiant burner at all.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 10:17PM
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One point that came up with regard to the hybrid units plllog talked about: If you have both induction and radiant ceramic, someone is likely to get burned when they forget that one or more of the burners actually gets hot.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 10:51PM
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I've had my induction cooktop for about a year and a half. I do have a gas burner available outside if I want one, but I never have needed it--not once. I char peppers under the broiler and it works just fine. As to missing having a radiant burner available--no chance. Induction is so much more powerful and controllable.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 11:35PM
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There is one important "can't do easily on induction" item Plllog left off her list.....

Cook on it when the power is out.

We were without power last week for a few days due to a nasty ice storm following 20" of snow. The dance of happy joy I did over putting a gas rangetop in the new kitchen instead of the induction I considered was a sight to behold. As such, I was able to cook for my family, my DB and pregnant SIL, my aged DM, and another family with young children from the neighborhood. The power is about to go out tonight again (been flickering for a couple of hours) from a huge wind storm. Happy to have gas! (you know what I mean.)

I know my situation doesn't apply to a radiant burner, per se, but I thought worth mentioning when discussing induction.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 2:53AM
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no to radiant burner

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 8:33AM
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I have never needed or wanted a radiant burner after getting my induction. Marcolo makes a good point about safety of a hybrid unit.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 11:33AM
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No no no no no! (to radiant)
Granted about the power outage breezygirl... and my mom with gas always crows about that! But for us that might happen 4x/year, and I'm never that worried about cooking a meal during a power outage (have a nat gas BBQ, can eat cold cuts, just wait for it to come back on, etc.).
Love my induction!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 5:45PM
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Thank you all. You have sealed my decision. All induction it will be. Thinking seriously about the Bosch 800 because of the high powered boost on the big burner. Guess I won't wait for the $5000 Thermador zoneless... that's for my next life. Two salesmen told me that I only need the 500 level, because they are the same, but I like the controls on the stainless steel rim. One said they would rub off eventually. I know there are several good brands out there. Any opinions, suggestions, experiences?

Marcolo, I would probably be the one getting burned, so thanks for that good point on the hybrid.

Gary and plllog, the appliance salesman told me that they have had nmany complaints/problems with hybrids, and some have stopped manufacturing them - Viking, for one. No such complaints with all induction, so he says. I think Electrolux is still making them.

herring_maven - May I come to your house for Osyougatu?

I will probably retire my trusty old round-bottomed wok to the gas grill outside. Maybe it will work. Can certainly char peppers on the gas grill. I wonder if one could char peppers on the induction using a well fired up cast iron grill or griddle.

breezygirl, I understand your point very well. October 29, 2011. Fourteen inches of snow, wind, trees down everywhere. No power for 10 days. Generator? I don't got no generator. Thank goodness it wasn't January. I boiled water for my coffee standing in the snow over the gas grill side burner. It took forever, and wasn't fun. After 48 hours, I got in my car and escaped to a friend's house for a week. That was fun.

Also no natural gas lines in the area, so I would have to install LP, which isn't as good, from what I have read on GW.

plllog - I have a couple of questions about what you wrote.

"Things you can't do easily on induction:
Wok in a bowl shaped wok at ultra high heat (unless you have a wok dish unit)." Would one of those flat-bottomed woks work? I have always used the round bottom.

"Use a pressure canner safely." I don't use one, but I do use a pressure cooker. Would that also be unsafe?

"Use a giant kettle to boil laundry..." How big is that? I have a giant stockpot that I use several times a year to make tomato sauce and stock for freezing. Ferrous. After that power outage incident, maybe I should take up canning. Fond childhood memories.

Thanks again to all of you!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:23AM
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Fori is not pleased

I think the things you can't do on induction are related to super heavy tubs of water, and you can't do those on radiant either (unless you go coil instead of the glass top). Except many people do. It's just a manufacturer CYA warning.

(Well yeah you can't burn on open flame either but you can get a little grill for that if you miss it.)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:53AM
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Most pressure canners (and cookers for that matter) that I"ve seen are aluminum. Aluminum will not work on induction. You would need a flat iron/steel plate beneath it.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 4:19PM
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I have two Kuhn-Rikon Pressure cookers that work just beautifully on my Miele Induction cooktop. I know that there are other stainless steel brands out there that also work--if a magnet sticks to the pot you've got, it'll work. Induction rocks with pressure cooking--the pot comes up to pressure quickly and adjustments are immediate. Get the unit that has the best hob configuration for the pans you use the most. For me, that was the Miele--even my larger pans fit well on the medium sized hobs (they're almost 8 inches each), so that the big honkin' one in the middle can be in use for a big vat of pasta while I'm using the "smaller" hobs to make the sauce and sides. Other brands have come out with more power on their largest hobs, but honestly, I can stir fry just fine on what I've got, so have never wished for more power.

I also really like the shut off timers on the hobs--I use that a lot with my pressure cookers. Bring it up to pressure, set the timer for 15 minutes, and in 15 minutes it turns itself off whether I'm paying attention to it or not Very convenient. When I bought mine, there were few brands that offered this feature, but it's a lot more common now.

Be sure to come back and let us know how you like it!


    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 5:25PM
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Cj - Happy to hear about the pressure cooker/shut-off timer. I like the big guy in the middle also. I'll check about the shut off on the Bosch. Do you use a flat bottom wok to stir fry?

Weedmeister - I have a stainless pressure cooker, so won't need the plate for it, but it might be useful for my copper double boiler, which won't work on induction.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 9:23PM
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Fori is not pleased

(you're not gonna need a double boiler anymore)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:37PM
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We have been using induction for 3 years now and while you can get by without a double boiler for melting chocolate and some other things, there are some applications that are far better in a double boiler. The heat from the simmering water is THE correct temperature for some sauces and doesn't vary at all.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 1:03AM
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The steel plate under the pot is really inefficient, and reports here say that the ones sold for the purpose don't work well. You can use the upper portion of your double boiler with a ferrous pot, but for most things you really don't need a double boiler.

I think your pressure cooker question has been answered. The presser canner people can't find stainless ones that are big enough for them, and even if they could, they're too big and heavy for the cooktop, and build up enough heat that it would be a risk for shattering the glass and/or would make the cooktop shut itself down in self protection, thereby interrupting the processing, which can be dangerous.

As to the big kettle, measure the bottoms of what you have. The nominal pot measurement is the diameter of the flat part of the bottom of the pot. Most of the big elements available are 11", with some 12-13" and some 10". You can usually have an extra inch of diameter without losing quality. For stock, a 12" pot on an 11" ring, would be fine. My mother's old huge kettle wouldn't fit, but my stockpot is exactly 11" around, and so is her current one, which is taller and narrower than the old one. The thing about zoneless is that even with the less expensive European ones (they don't sell them in the US), is that you can combine four regions for one huge pot. Find the best match between price and elements that you can, and I'm sure you can work with whatever you get for your big pots.

Then there's the wok. Your standard carbon steel wok from Chinatown doesn't work well with induction. The "inside out" ones might have a better chance, but the problem is still that the wok curves away from the field in a flat induction unit (rather than a specialty dish shaped one). Therefore, while you might have a 14" wok, maybe only 4-5" is really being affected by the field. The sides have to wait for heat to develop in the bottom and work its way up. That also means that you can't take advantage of the double boost on a large double ring for that extra oomph most wokkists want. A flat bottomed wok will work fine for heating on induction, but you lose the benefits of the round bottom. I know a guy who used a much flatter, but still dish shaped wok (not Chinese or Japanese, but I forget where it's from) on a bamboo stand on a flat induction, and got a good result. But I don't think that was for the Chinese stir fry that the blast furnace advocates are looking for either. You can also get a flat on the outside, bowl on the inside, cast iron wok that will work, but it takes a very long time to heat up the sides. Once hot, they stay hot quite well, so you don't have as much worry about the recovery time. The whole way of wokking is different, however, to using a lightweight, thin steel one.

The outdoor burner will surely work. :)

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Do you frequently pressure can at temperatures above 500*F?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 3:16PM
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To char a pepper on an induction. Turn on vent. Put heavy pot on hob. Put a spoon or three of alcohol, brandy or other liqueur inside pot. Set pot contents aflame with match or lighter. Char pepper over flame. Just like old fashioned tableside French cooking. Why wouldn't this work?

I just made this up! But, some guys just don't want to hear about how easy charring under a broiler, like CJ does, is.

Was it Steak Diane? or what other tableside flaming dishes were there?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 11:01PM
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I pressure can on my induction cooktop - but so far the only unit that is BIG enough and stainless steel is the Fagor 10qt canner. USDA guidelines state that the canner must be UL approved and hold at least 4 quart jars to be safe to use with USDA tested receipies and times. Some people are comfortable with the risks and don't worry about stuff like that.

The only drawback is this unit only cans at 8 and 15lbs, and 8 is not enough pressure to reach the right temps, so you have to pressure can everythign at 15lbs. That is not a problem for me as I'm at higher elevation anyway. I only use it for small batches when I don't want haul out the big stuff, it is not my main pressure canner. BTW - I won't pressure COOK in an aluminum unit, my DH is too worried about possible health concerns and won't eat it if I did.

I would never miss a radiant burner having induction, but I would love to have a gas or coil hob for my canning. But then I can about 80% of the non-dairy food we eat so canning is a very big deal for me.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 11:10AM
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westsider, there's a difference between charring and flambeing. Alcohol will not produce a medium temp flame for long enough and you're likely to get a unique taste, too.

I don't care about this myself, but no, what you are suggesting would not work. You might be able to scorch the outside a bit, but you won't cook through that way, at least not without using enough alcohol to give it a weird taste in the process.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 12:10PM
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I defer to Macybaby on all things canning. ;)

Thanks for answering this question better than I did.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 8:10PM
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thanks writer. It was just a thought. You are correct.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 8:54PM
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I used induction for over a year (Miele 36" cooktop). I moved to Seattle and the home I am renting (and leaving) has a Kitchen Aid 6 burner gas cooktop. I hate it. I cannot get a true simmer and had to buy an induction hob. No one should be using a round wok to stir fry, so that is not an issue. Check America's Test Kitchen results on using a wok. For me gas totally sucked. It takes forever to boil water - over 10 minutes compared to On gas, I have two size "burners". Smaller flame or wider flame. You have to put it on high to cover your pan for even heating then everything burns, so you have to keep it small. On induction, you just match the pan to the ring size and everything is perfect - very low simmer to fast boiling. Induction also conducts up the sides of the pot and the handles don't get hot. I have to use a pot holder just to stir food with gas. Making Bernaise without a double boiler is a snap. Plus the sauce thickens better getting heat from the sides at the same temperature as the bottom. Maybe other gas ranges are better, compared to this crappy Kitchen Aid (the DW, Wall Ovens, & Fridge also suck). Renting new home in a couple months.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 3:52AM
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This is great. Very informative and helpful. I just let my subscription expire, so I may not be able to access the wok info on America's Test Kitchen site. I am intrigued about the flat outside, round inside wok. I do like that blast furnace "wok hee" flavor. Guess I'll stick to the outside gas burner for that and the peppers.

The double boiler is what I have used for pastry cream and Bernaise, etc. Glad to know I can do without it. Don't want scrambled egg custard!

Thanks very much.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 11:08AM
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I am in need of a new range. I am considering 3 options--regular electric downdraft, an induction slide in with a downdraft system we will fabricate thru the wall, or a induction hybrid with the fabricated downdraft. The range is in front of a window so downdraft ventilation is a must. Gas is not available here. The reason I even considered the hybrid was cost-about $700 less than all induction. Because this is an unplanned expense cost is a real factor. Does anyone have a hybrid induction that they like? thanks for any thoughts.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 2:12PM
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I have had an electric downdraft - Dacor. When I needed to replace it I did a lot of research. My conclusion was there are no good downdrafts. I ended up purchasing an electrolux induction range and have been very happy. Electrolux gave me instructions for fabricating a downdraft system and then told me I did not need ventilation. I know most people on this site strongly advocate ventilation - but I have not had a problem. The configuration of my kitchen did not allow for a hood without causing major complications and the downdraft system had to be through a wall - and I did not have a wall. I cook on the range every day and have had no issues. The oven bakes perfectly and after years of suffering with uneven cooking and slow to heat burners I am now very pleased. Electrolux is more expensive then the GE, but I felt its features were worth the added expense. A gentleman from electrolux, Chris, frequents GW and he will answer all your electrolux questions. He is very helpful.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 8:45PM
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Induction almost three years and can't think of any reason for a hybrid cooktop.

What the heck are all of you charring all those peppers for??? I don't have to worry about that -- no one in my house even likes peppers and me -- I like-em raw with Ranch dip!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 10:50AM
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Ikea induction for $999.
That is what I would get today.

I spent a lot more than that.

Induction only is still the best.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 11:26PM
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I've had my induction for almost 5 months.
Don't miss the gas at all. Hated the electric.
If I want flames, I go to the propane grill....but to date, we grill meats and that's about it.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 11:22AM
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