Induction Cooktop Temperature Control

il_homeMarch 29, 2008

I've read most of the posts in this forum regarding induction cooktops and did not see any detailed posts regarding temperature control.

I currently have a 7-year old Dacor electric (not induction) cooktop and my biggest complaint is that although it has 10 settings, I only use settings 1-4 and 10, so I don't have enough control over the temperature settings between 1-4. Settings above 5 (other than max) re unusable.

On my current cooktop, the ideal temperature for a frypan (e.g., pancakes, hash browns, eggs) is between 3 and 4. When I'm boiling water (with a lid), 2 will hold a boil, but will eventually boil over. 1 will not keep a boil going, but is the only setting I can use without boiling over. Boiling without a lid will usually use 4. Setting 5 can only be used briefly to sear meat or fish. I have never used settings 6-9.

Product documentation for several brands appears to suggest the following numbers of settings:

KitchenAid: 9 settings

Thermador: 10 settings (10 on lowest 25% of power and high--pancakes recommended at 6-7)

Wolf: 10 settings (the manual suggests 16 bars, but I believe pressing + or - moves in 2 bar increments--frying recommended at 10-12 bars)

Electrolux: 15 settings

Gaggenau: 17 settings

GE: 19 settings

What settings do you use most often?

Do you often wish you had greater temperature control (I wish I had 1.5 and 3.5 settings on my electric cooktop)?

What settings are unusable (too hot)?

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The new Miele has 12 settings with additional 1/2 settings for 21-22 increments.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 3:53PM
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Yeh, some of them have low number of settings. But note that if the burner is lower power, then those steps are smaller too.

We are planning on buying the new Cooktek Induction units (commercial) and the Appogee line has 100 steps! Note only that, it has instant access to the range so that you can quickly go to say, low or middle range. The only other one we have seen with something close is Diva although they only have 12 steps.

By the way, we ruled out a number of Induction cooktops because they seem so slow to use. On some, you have to first select a burner, then attempt to adjust it one step at a time. By then, the whole house has burned down! So be sure to find a unit to play with or less idealy, download the manual. They definitely are not all created equally.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 12:39AM
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Hmm, the Cooktek units appear to largely be stand-alone units that fit on top of a countertop. You can't build them in to look flush to the top of a countertop, can you?

I can't find any useful info on Miele's US website regarding their induction cooktops...which should now be available in the US.

Also, how responsive are you cooktops, in terms of quickly reaching the desired temp. My Dacor starts at 5 when I turn it on and then I have to move up or down by pressing + or -. I'd much rather have a range of levels that I can select with one press.

Also, in looking at models in stores, it seems like certain brands (e.g., Bosch) require very deliberate pressing (and holding--perhaps for 1/2 a second) of the touch controls, and aren't as responsive (e.g., Wolf seemed responsive, but limited in number of temperature settings). I haven't found any Thermador, Miele, GE, or KitchenAid units actually hooked up to electric yet. I'm particularly concerned that the Thermador would have similar reaction delays as the Bosch (the Thermador and Bosch oven controls were also not very responsive--Electrolux and Miele oven controls were very responsive).

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 7:47AM
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Last I looked Cooktek has free standing singles and single or double drop-ins. At least at the time, Apogee was free standing only.

I'm glad this thread came up. I wouldn't have thought to consider ease of making temp adjustments.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 10:02AM
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You need to look again Fenworth :). Actually, looking won't do you any good. You need to send them email and they will give you info on the Apogeee units that are drop-ins which are the same as the "buffet" but now all have new software to allow them to be used as normal cooktops.

They also show a way to route out an edge and drop in the unit so that it is totally flush with your counter surface. But we are just going to let them sit on top of it. 1/8 of an inch doesn't bother us.

But yes, they are seperate units and you have to buy multiple. We are getting two. Their prices are much lower than comparable residentail units. In our case, we are augmenting gas so those two units will suffice. The one is a true Wok unit by the way.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 1:33PM
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The Diva units have the 12 settings as stated above the lower the setting the smaller the differance in power. The progression of power is not consistant between each step. On a Diva with about a quart of water 6 will be a low boil with out a lid. 8 is a good setting for frying. 1 or 2 is a great warm or hold setting the steps between 7 and 12 have relatively large jumps. I hope this helps

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 7:34PM
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On Diva, the 3 burner unit only has 9 steps from what I recall. Which was a downer because it has one of the most powerful hobs. The 4 and 2 have lower power. Only the 5-hob unit has similar high power unit.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 11:50PM
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We've got 2 Cooktek drop in units which we installed completely flush with the countertop.

They have 20 power settings and 2500W and it's more than enough. They also have a temperature control system which is supposed to hold the pan temp constant, but it doesn't work at all.

Generally we'll just use settings above 12 to get a pan hot quickly or boil water. Our normal range of cooking is between 5 and 12. 2 and 3 are simmer and 1 is warming. On level 1 it won't burn a piece of chocolate in an 8" fry pan left for an hour.

Response is instantaneous, significantly faster than our previous Jenn Air gas stove.

Unfortunately as I've said elsewhere, while Cooktek service is fast, you need it a lot, we've had 3 failures in 5 years between our 2 units. If it weren't for the reliability, Cooktek would be at the very top of the market.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 3:32PM
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I have had a Kenmore induction cooktop for 2 years. The lowest setting is H (keeps things hot), then has numbers up through 9 with half settings between the numbers and P for the highest setting. I use 9 or P sometimes when I am really in a hurry for water to boil. Mostly I use 4.5-6 and sometimes 1 or 2. I am quite happy with the choices.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 5:05PM
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I have the GE Profile and it has L (for keeping warm), H for high power boil, and 1 - 9 with 1/2 step increments. There is a separate touchpad for each burner and it comes on at setting 5. You can hold your finger on the setting touchpad and it pretty rapidly goes up to H. Or you can press it once for each half step (slower). The thing I've had to get used to is if something boils over and you need to turn it down, the fastest way is to turn off the burner (near instant with the on-off touchpad), then turn back on and lower the temp to what you want once things are back under control.

I think a knob would be better and more intuitive but then you'd be giving up the easy clean of the touch surface. Overall I think it works very well and I don't find myself needing more increments. There's probably still a little room left for improvement in this interface though. A slider with 1 - 10 for each burner that would go directly to the number you press would be nice. I would also make it a little more robust to greasy/wet hands, which some units seem to have trouble with (my GE is not too bad).

One last thing -- why not put some LEDs or other high temperature lighting under the elements? It would be cool looking and give you some feedback at a glance what temperature you have selected.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 1:33PM
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It appears that the KitchenAid has numbered buttons which you can press to reach the desired temp with one push.

Ultimately, I decided to go with the new Miele, because it had up to 23 step increments, autoheat (max heat for a limited period of time (2 mins) then it automatically adjusts to the selected setting), stop-and-go (where you can press a button to switch all burners to low, go answer the phone or door and then press a button when you get back to resume), memory setting (programmable settings most often used), timers for each burner (which can be set to either be a reminder timer or to automatically turn burners off).

It also comes with or without a Demeyere cookware set. Interestingly enough, I discovered that Demeyere has pro-control induction cookware that loses its magnetic properties at a certain temperature, causing the pan to never get above a certain temperature (so food is less likely to burn and so Teflon, if you choose the nonstick pans, doesn't begin to break down like it does at high temperature). How cool is that? I wonder if it works.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 1:40PM
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I have the GE Monogram, and find that the response is so fast that I can see the effect on the food cooking. I don't look at the number, I just press the + and - buttons.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 5:00PM
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Ncaralph's experience with the CookTek units is the same as mine. I never had a problem that wasn't dealt with in a quick and thorough way. The units got shipped back to Ohio and replacements were sent to me the same day.

If you want water boiled up real fast, nothing matches the speed of these things. And simmer, and warming is exactly that. But, these things were originally designed for the commercial kitchen market for use by professional cooks, so they had to be designed primarilly as excellent cooking tools.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 9:18AM
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I borrowed the dealer's Viking portable induction burner to test out induction. The control was great! The knobs are great! I think the knob control is preferable to flat push controls. The settings were comparable to the wonderful continuous and fast settings on my decades-old Thermador electric cooktop. The cooking, of course, is far faster using induction.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 12:40AM
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I have ordered a 30" Thermador induction cooktop for my kitchen remodel and decided I would get a counter top single induction unit to use as a cooking source during my kitchen demo and to get familiar with induction. I decided on a Fagor portable unit and it just arrived today! The unit looks beautiful, sleek and modern in appearance and is a nice sturdy size. I know this does not compare to the commercial and dropin residential units but maybe others might be interested in an "extra" burner unit which can go anywhere you go.

I will admit it took a few tries to get a feel for the amount of pressure and exact placing of my finger tip to get the digital touch pads to respond. It takes quite a bit more pinpoint pressure (more of a brisk tap actually) than you would think. It is not a heat sensitive touch pad like many of the full sized cooktops so it does take more than resting your finger on the control. However, after reading through the manual more thoroughly, they do state this is intentional, to prevent accidental activation of the burners when wiping down the unit or by fingers of a little inquisitive child. In addition to this default setting requiring firm pressure, there is also a child lock mode which will totally deactivate the unit.

The controls are basic. Off/On, Power button which defaults to a medium power level of 4 out of 6 possible levels, plus/minus keys to change power level up or down and the child lock key. The user manual defines the levels as
1= melting chocolate and keeping food warm
2= gentle simmer
3= brings water to boiling point
4= boil or cook
5= saute
6= rapid boil or fry foods

I have already used it to heat up soup for lunch and it performed quickly with a small saucepan, heating about 1.5 cups of soup in under 3 minutes.

I decided to do a little more testing of its ability to boil water. Keep in mind this is only a 1300 Watt unit so it has much less power than the standard dropin induction or commercial cooktop. My Thermador cooktop which is on order has burners ranging from 1400W to 3600W, so I would expect test results to be faster on the higher powered units. But for the sake of getting to know this new portable unit I decided to try boiling 1 qt of water in a 1.5 qt saucepan and then tried boiling 6 qts of water in an 8 qt stock pot.

The 1 qt of water came to a full rolling boil in 5min 30 sec without a lid on the pot. I started the 6qt of water on the burner without a lid for the first 10 minutes but then decided to use my glass lid, which I would normally anyway if trying to boil a pot of water for pasta. The 6qts of water came to a full rolling boil after a total of 20 minutes on the burner (10 min uncovered and 10 min covered). I know... much slower than a standard induction unit will be.

Even though this portable unit is much lower power, I still think it will come in very handy while my kitchen is out of commission following demo. I can see taking a unit like this also to picnics and camping sites for easy cooking plus it will always be available as a 5th burner in my kitchen if needed. I am looking forward to my Thermador though. I have not actually seen the 30" black unit in operation but I do know it has a "slider" bar for the power controls so maybe that will be able to fine tune the temperature control better? I'm hoping the touch pads on the Thermador will not be too hard to get a response from. Thats the biggest downside I see in the Fagor so far.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 3:41AM
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The standard Cookteks have 20 levels. The Cooktek Apogee models have 100 levels. The both come in stand alone and drop-in models. I've seen the Cooktek Apogee drop-ins with only one burner (3500 watt max). The standard Cooktek also comes in 2 burner drop-ins up to 3,500 watt for each burner that are oriented vertically or horizontally.

You can buy a standalone two burner Cooktek Apogee with 100 cooking levels and build it in to your cabinet so it is level with the countertop. The go up to 3,500 watt per burner, but one should leave 9" clearance under the unit for air circulation to keep the units cool.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 12:31PM
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