Would you bring anything from Germany (to US)?

mudwormApril 4, 2011

We've been planning on getting an induction cooktop for our new kitchen. A Bosch 500 series 36" Induction cooktop is on our list. Then came a twist: my DH is traveling to Germany for business next week.

I wonder if it makes sense to ask him to purchase a couple of items and bring them home. One example is that new Gaggenau zoneless induction cooktop (although I have not found any purchasing info online). Another one is one or two good cookware, although I don't know anything about that either. We'll do it only if it makes financial sense too since we have limited budget for our remodeling.

Anyway, what would you do? Is it worth the hassle? Also, what's the best way to research into the options if we were to purchase from Germany. We can't read German unfortunately. Any great induction cookware (available in Germany) to recommend?

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The new Gaggnenau may not be available yet. Go on the Gaggenau website and choose the German site to see if you see it there. The Gaggenau has the coolest controls but AEG makes zoneless too, and is definitely available in German. Be sure you understand how zoneless works before you make a big bother over it. The biggest advantage is for long and oversized pans.

I self imported a small Gaggenau cooktop by FedEx from England. Before I did so, I checked with our Gaggenau repair service and my insurance agent. There's a letter from my homeowner's insurance in my file that says they're fine with the cooktop so long as it was installed by a licensed electrician. Some insurance companies require UL, which is an American certification that the manufacturer has to pay for when they bring in their appliances. European standards are just as good, but your insurers have to specifically accept them. I don't know if your local Gaggenau service would be up to speed with a design that isn't sold here. Do check with them.

There's plenty of great induction able cookware sold here. It's heavy, and may even be more expensive there, plus when you add duty it probably isn't worth it. I love Demeyere cookware, which is from Belgium but available both here and in Germany as well. It's some of the first and best to have been designed for induction. But it is heavy, and the skillets aren't particularly well balanced. That kind of top line cookware might cost less in the EU, but is it enough? Demeyere never goes on sale, but I've managed to find it when there was a whole department or whole store sale of 25-30% off. They include it in that. The best cookware prices I've found locally, is when they have sales at the outlets. I got a lot of LeCreuset which I wouldn't otherwise have indulged in that way. The real LeCreuset outlet in France where they have items that were designed for all countries is worth a trip, if you're in France and love LeCreuset. Other than those things that you can't find all together elsewhere, or some treasure that's made and sold only where one has travelled to, are the only kinds of cookware I'd consider bothering with carrying home.

You might score just getting the Bosch in Germany. Appliance prices are much better nearer the source. But when you do that, all problems are on you, even moreso than if you buy through the internet. My cooktop came with a few little dents in the stainless rim. My reaction, given how thrashed the box was, was gratitude that the glass wasn't broken, no parts were lost, and it worked right. There's no sending it back when you self-import.

Another thing to look into is the baggage restrictions. If you have to box and ship, will you still be getting a bargain (I don't know if you can FedEx a 36"--mine is 24")? Even if it'll fit on the airplane, will your husband be able to get it properly double boxed amid his business work?

Also, how much time does he have for shopping? Will you, not speaking German, be able to purchase ahead so he just has to pick it up? Or is he going to have to search out a store that has it in stock?

I'm not trying to discourage you, but when I did my transaction with England, I could afford to lose. If the cooktop had been smashed beyond all recognition and the shipping insurance was denied on some technicality, I could have eaten it and gone to plan B, which was buying a 30" Miele locally. Can you afford to have the airline lose it and pay your only their standard per bag fee?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 5:29PM
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pllog, thanks for taking your time to write up your experience. It sounded that you took some risks by going the route you did. I'm glad to hear that it all worked out.

Yeah, I'm convinced that getting a cooktop from DE is not a good idea, not to mention that we could get a Bosch cooktop at a discounted price anyway (through DH's work).

I still wonder if there is some good saute pan my DH can bring back for me. Of course, I'll do the research here and may even order from an European site and have it shipped to his hotel to save him the headache of shopping. For example, I had been eying a Gastrolux non-stick saute pan (before I was introduced to induction). But it is very expensive if I purchase through its Canadian website or a UK website (and pay shipping). It would have been a lot cheaper if purchased in DE. But now that we are going induction, and they don't make the right size of induction saute pan (I needed the deep and wide kind), I won't get that pan now. But that was an example of an item that might make sense to transport from DE.

Plus, it sounded cool if I could tell my guests (in my new kitchen) that my pan was brought back from Germany. :) Or something...

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 7:28PM
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Don't forget you might also have to pay duty.

So here's a less expensive idea and something that your DH might enjoy too. While he's in Germany tell him to go to a beer spa and bring back back a stein. When your guests ask about the stein he can tell them about his experience soaking in a vat of yeasty beer. He just needs to make sure his returns with photographic evidence.

Here is a link that might be useful: beer spas

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 8:16PM
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I had to chuckle regarding this message. Everytime my DH goes there to see his family, he brings something back that maybe difficult to get in the USA.

Last time, DH bought door stops that you just put on the floor. Most Germans now use these doorstops rather than little things that you screw onto the baseboard. They are heavy and stay put and are stylish. I did not want to pay the US prices. They are sold in German drugstores for about 3 Euro. (versus $50 in the US!) DH bought about 10...

My husband carried them back on one of his trips. The securities guys were a bit puzzled, but they knew what they were since they are so ubiquitous in Germany.

Once my kids had toy Trabant (a little former East German cars that were death traps in 1960s) in the carry-on bag, a souvenier from former East Germany. The security guys had a lot of fun trying to guess what type of car it was just by looking at the x-ray!

Here is a link that might be useful: door stops

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 8:33PM
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quilly, great idea! I'll make sure to pass that beer spas link to him!

kaismomo, thanks so much for that great idea! Our current plastic door stop is shot. I would think my DH can find some time visiting a drugstore. Love the sleek look of those door stops!

Oh wow, guess there are many things I don't know about! Keep the great ideas coming....

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 9:17PM
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Plllog, your local zoning codes didn't object to a non-UL appliance?

Re: zoneless induction, Bosch, Neff, & Siemens all have a flexInduction. I want this in the worst way.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 10:12PM
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Someone posted recently about an AEG oven they wanted but couldn't get locally.

I think it was model AEG KB 9810 or something close. (because there is another one which I researched: AEG KB 9820 E-M, a Multi-Function Steam Oven which may be available locally if you order it from the Canadian distributor and promise not to expect servicing... or something like that.)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 10:56PM
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Enmmm, no problem. I don't know how they'd feel about something unknown, but they were fine with Gaggenau. Euro standards are a little more stringent than UL. The important thing was getting it wired correctly, which actually took a little help from GW since Gaggenau had given me German rather than British conversion instructions. Good point that besides the insurance and repair, one should check with zoning. My GC took care of that end of things for me, so I didn't think much about it.

Mudworm, best with assembling the shopping list.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 11:54PM
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Schulte Ufer is no longer sold in the USA (Home Goods and TJ Maxx gets some randomly). The Eco line Schulte Ufer is my favourite. It is well made cookware, that does so well on induction. Light, versatile and not very expensive!

Most Home ware stores in Germany will have INDUKTION Kocktoepfe.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 12:08AM
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So, what did he finally bring?

Just curious.

Too late for the PP, of course, but I'd bring good wooden (and other) toys from Germany.

Almost all European toy companies, except for HABA and a few others, left the US b/c of the 2009 regulations that meant well but totally screwed up.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:38AM
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Be careful with electrical requirements - remember the US has funky electricity that's different than what most of the world uses. Be sure it can run on American 60Hz as well as European 50Hz. Also, North American 208/240V is split-phase (but still single-phase, not 2-phase) delivering 240v over two hot live wires whereas European 230V (which is also single-phase) usually looks more like American 120V devices and outlets in that there is just one wire or prong for hot (230v), one for neutral, and one ground (called "earth" elsewhere in the world). On newer American-made 240v appliances, there's also a fourth prong for a neutral, but that's just so the appliance can access 120v from one of the hot wires and the neutral to power 120v light bulbs, motors, and fans. European appliances sold in the US often don't have a neutral prong, or if they do, don't actually use it.

Then there's the wire color differences. The ground is usually the usual green, but sometimes is yellow or both colors. Hot is brown - connect to the US black supply wire. Neutral is blue, but because US 240v is delivered on two wires rather than one, you'll need to combine the appliance's blue neutral wire to the US red hot supply wire. If you have a white US ground wire in your supply cable, cap it off as the Euro 230V appliance doesn't use it; the ground is for US 120V equipment. Actually, don't do any of this without a qualified electrician around who understands the differences between US and rest-of-world electricity. I'm not 100% sure what I just wrote is even correct in all circumstances, especially older Euro appliances that used different color schemes.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 3:54AM
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Way back when there were a bunch of special circumstances involved which centered on market share battles/price wars among induction cooktop makers going on in England and a few other spots around the world. The choice in the US was almost nil and outrageously expensive so it was possible to buy a no warranty unit from an overseas official reseller for less than half the estimated American price if available.

What with European and domestic companies officially entering the American induction cooktop market in greater numbers complete with warranties, the change in exchange rates, plus the manufacturers stomping on grey marketers, there is no real economic advantage to self importing now.

Self importing some otherwise unavailable compatible induction cooktop today would likely be a strictly personal preference.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 10:56AM
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Is there anyone offering a zoneless induction cooktop in the US though? That is, no demarcated lines for where to put your cookware and what size it should be; it just figures it out and adjusts accordingly? Other appliances not sold in the US include several oven and range ("cooker" in UK/Europe) sizes, large 240v washers and dishwashers that heat the water much faster (and sometimes to higher temperatures), large 240v washer/dryer combinations that wash and dry faster than their US counterparts, a good selection of small refrigerators and freezers, and an SxS fridge with a built-in clear ice machine.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 6:16PM
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Thermador is selling a zoneless induction cooktop. They announced it way back at CES but just started shipping it a month or two ago.

The cooktop is 36" wide and can handle up to 4 pots. It auto-senses the pan locations, lets you move them around, and so on. There are some catches, though. The two halves (left and right) are kind of, sort of zones, since you can only have two pots on each side. And if you have a big pan in the middle it counts as one each on the right and left, so you can only have one additional pan on each side. And 4 pots/pans is itself a limitation: most of the 'zoned' 36" units have 5 positions.

Another issue for me is that I haven't seen one of these units anywhere and haven't seen any forum posts -- here or elsewhere -- from anyone who has one. I definitely wouldn't buy something this new and expensive without trying it out first. A showroom near me says they may get one later this fall, so I may get a chance then.

Finally there's the price: about $5,000 USD MSRP. Wow. I can get it for the dealer price, but that's still a lot of money.

I'm thinking of getting one anyway, but fortunately I don't have to decide for a while. Being able to put a big griddle on one side and a couple pots/pans on the other side is attractive. As is the ability to use huge pans anywhere on the unit rather than just on one special burner. And I suppose I could use the griddle as a sort of french top if I wanted lots of little pans on one side.

I hope other companies come out with more zoneless models by the time I need to order mine (5-6 months?) so I have more choices. I've heard rumors that Gaggenau may release one, but since they're owned by the same company as Thermador and Bosh I'm guessing it won't be much different from the Thermador model.


Here is a link that might be useful: Thermador Freedom Induction

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 7:06PM
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In my earlier post, I should have said the fourth prong on newer American 240v appliances is the neutral, not the ground. Old 3-prong US 240v appliances have hot, hot, neutral (and are grounded through the neutral wire since 1947 along with some current from the 120v parts; newer US 240v appliances have hot, hot, neutral, ground.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 10:15PM
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Would there be a Customs Tax on bringing a new appliance into the U.S.?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 7:15AM
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FlexInduction from Bosch/Siemens is actually older technology. The company also makes zoneless induction units, which are identical to the Thermador, I suppose.

Miele showed its version of it a month and a half ago at the IFA here in Berlin - much like your CES.

But the coolest idea so far comes from Panasonic. They showed an indiction cooktop that can also power small appliances - like a toaster, juicer or blender - by placing them on the cooking surface, which is zoneless and lit by LEDs. It's only a concept for now, though. Okay, my electric toothbrush is also charged via induction but it just looks too cool when the woman places the blender on the cooktop and it starts working. Panasonic Wireless Power Concept


    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 9:19PM
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