JWVideo induction range choice?

seashineMay 16, 2014

I hope this isn't an inappropriate post. I've tried searching and can't find the answer.
What induction range did you end up purchasing?
Feel free to forward me on to the post or review rather than rehashing if you'd like.
Thank you!

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It is not innapropriate, but I don't know that I've ever fully spelled out what I got or why, except that I wound up with an NXR gas range instead of the induction range I had been hoping for.

Bear in mind that this was 2 1/2 years ago and I made my choice in a very short period of time when I absolutely had to buy a new stove right away. I've often said that you have to chose between real stoves rather than making abstract choices of induction over gas. I had been planning to get an induction range in a couple of years (like maybe now) but then my old stove died and I needed a new one right away.

For me, with where I live, how I cook, what I cook, and what I cook with, the NXR had a very slight edge over the two induction stoves on my short-list, the GE PHB925 (now discontinued) and the Samsung NE597NOPBSR (still available and possibly discounted down to $1400 over the upcoming Memorial Day sales weekend.) I also took a pretty hard look at a floor model GE Cafe dual fuel range, but that got bid out of my price range.

Choosing a stove is still going to be about a lot of usability factors besides the power source for the burners. After getting my stove (and a new fridge and dishwasher) I started out paying back the research I gathered and the advice and information I got here. One thing led to another, and I somehow wound up staying current and getting consulted.

If I were shopping this weekend and had the same max $2k budget that I had a couple of years ago, my personal choice would be the GE PHB920. A friend of mine is considering getting one to replace her aging and failing old coil burner. (Obviously, getting advice from me.)

She shares a lot the same preferences that I do and what I think favors the GE PHB920 over, say, the similarly priced Electrolux IQ Touch Freestanding would be:

(a) having twin 8-inch burners on the left. If you mostly cook with larger pans, the 8" burners will better match the pan bases. Also, they would work better for burner spanning griddles -- as opposed to the competition's 7" burners -- if you have (as we both do) the 10 x 20 Lodge griddles. If you don't cook that way, the slightly larger diameter burners may not matter to you. (Note that I'm talking about heat spread, not max power. Some folks here -- SeattleLandlord comes to mind --- have has discussed using the Elux 7" burner with 12" frypans (9" base) and said the size difference does not make any difference for them.)

(b) the full-size convection element in the GE oven (2500 watts) seems more capable for evening-out oven heat for multi-sheet cookie baking and such; My friend does a lot of that and I do enough of that and a lot of roasting, as well, so the larger elements seems useful to me. It might not be particularly significant to others. I haven't seen any standardized comparison reports yet, so this might be wishful thinking.

(c) GE has a bit of an edge in reliability and longevity of electric stoves according to the membership surveys at CR. We don't really know how that will translate going forward in time with the proliferation of circuit boards in new stoves, but it seems to provide some sense of reassurance that past reliability has been good.

If it came to economics, I'd probably still be considering the Samsung (esepcially if it really gets reduced to $1400) and would also look pretty hard at the new Electrolux IQ Touch freestanding induction range.

I won't have any direct experience to report on the efficacy of the GE "920" oven arrangement unless and until my friend gets her new stove installed. She does do a fair amount of baking of cookies, biscuits and such, and is considering the benefits of the mutiple convection modes that the GE offers. If she gets the stove, the oven will get a good work-out in short order and I'll try to report back..

I had experience with the previous generation of GE ovens because my former GE dual fuel had essentially the same oven design as that used in the previous freestanding GE model of freestanding induction range, the PHB925 I found that oven design and its various convection modes excellent and useful. Testing of the "925" range by Consumer Reports seemed to match my experience with the similar oven in the old DF range. Unfortunately, we don't yet seem to have any reports of standarized side-by-side comparison testing of the new "920" ovens, so, as I said, we will have to see about that.

One point of aesthetics: I and my friend both prefer the gray and steel styling of the GE to the black and stainless that most of the other induction ranges have in this price range. My style preference for kitchen appliances is actually old fashioned porcelain white but I tolerate stainless and industrial chic a lot better than black casings. To me, all that black makes the stoves look like large microwaves, which is not a look I care for. I may be more fussy about this because my old-house kitchen requires that the stove have an exposed side. If your stove can go mid-counter, then this may be much less of an issue, assuming you share my preferences. Other people find the black appealing. It is very much a a personal preference for which YMMV.

Hope this answers your question even though I do not currently have an induction range.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Sat, May 17, 14 at 11:39

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 11:48PM
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Thanks very much for replying! I was curious...and thankful that you reply so often with information.
I have a partially working gas range in a extremely small kitchen that needs and entire remodel. I think I've decided to buy the induction range I want now instead of waiting for the kitchen project and instead of fixing (if possible) the gas range.

I'm debating between the Samsung NE597N0PBSR with the bridge on the left or the GEPHB920.

Thank you!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 4:12PM
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seashine, do you mind if I hijack your post to JWVideo for a moment? ;) i'm a lurker and he mentioned something i've been wondering about.

JWVideo, i'm strongly considering an induction range (frontrunner, unsurprisingly, is your GE recommendation - thanks for all your hard work, btw!) and you mentioned using "lodge" griddles on an induction. i read somewhere on the forum that non-coated cast iron skillets/griddles like Lodge, rather than Le Creuset, can scratch the surface of an induction cooktop. know anything about this?

the reason i ask is that, although not pricey, my husband has a lodge cast iron skillet he received upon high school graduation and has carried with us across the country and many moves...i'm pretty sure he does not want a new range he can't use his beloved, one piece of cookware upon!

thanks for all the help!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 3:25PM
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A silicone mat under the skillet will protect the glass top. I bought a 13" round mat from Amazon for around $8 that I put under my Lodge round griddle and it works great. I have also seen rectangular mats that might fit under a griddle.

I got the GE range a little over a week ago and so far I am very happy. The steepest part of the learning curve is making sure all of my ingredients are ready to go before I turn on the heat.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 6:27PM
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What jebrooks just said. Also, parchment paper and paper towels, too. Lots of previous discussion of this here and I've linked below to a thread from a couple of years ago which, in turns links to other such threads discussing this subject and the varying experiences folks have had with ceran tops.

FWIW, I've got a couple of rough-bottomed, decades old Lodge CI frypans -- probably a lot older and and just as rough as your husband's pan. I use them regularly at parties on a portable induction burner. This allows guests to fry their own "perfect" burgers, toast tortilas, cook lefse, etc. The ceran top is pretty tough. Also, the old pans are too heavy for folks to shake and slide around they way they do with, say, nonstick omlette pans. I've mostly skipped the paper thing without any apparent ill effects. YMMV, though, as indicated by the discussions in the links.

Here is a link that might be useful: Causing scratches, breakages on Induction Cooktop

This post was edited by JWVideo on Wed, Jun 11, 14 at 17:33

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 9:29PM
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I hope you don't mind another intruder, OP.

JWVideo - or anyone else - I've found past references (can't remember where) to not being able to cook on all hobs at once on some induction units. Is this the case for the GE PHB920 or other GE induction units? I'm leaning toward a free standing range because of cost - seeing as it seems nearly identical to the slide-in unit (except styling). Please correct me if I'm missing an important difference.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 10:24PM
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I suspect some concepts are getting mixed.

So, first thing, you should have no trouble using all four induction burners at once for normal cooking on any currently available induction range that I know about.

What may be confusing is the people who say you can't cook on all four burners at once often do not understand the difference between normal cooking and "boost" functions. "Boost" functions are something you get with induction but mostly not other kinds of electrical stoves. It basically lets you run a burner at a higher than high setting for a time so you can get large kettles and stockpots to boil even more quickly than they otherwise would. If you had an 8 - inch coil burner rated at 2500 watts, which will boil large amounts of water pdq, you could make that come to a boil more quickly if you could run the burner at 3700 watts, right? Well, you can't do that with radiant and coil burners but you can with induction.

Basically, most induction ranges and cooktops have burners paired together into zones. A zone will typically have two burners paired on a power supply. (Some of the 36" induction cooktops may have three zones with the largest burner in a zone by itself. From what I've read, I think the GE PHB920 and PHS925 also have the largest burner in its own zone.) Let's say one zone has two 8" burners each of which is rated at, say, 1800 watts. (That, by the way, is a pretty fair amount of heat for most cooking.) So, let's say you've got a big stockpot for pasta water on the back burner and a frying pan on the front burner. You decide that you want to get that pasta water boiling as fast as possible. The boost function basically allows you to "borrow" 700 watts from the front burner to run the back burner at a much hotter 2500 watts. The front burner can only go up to 60% power while you are doing this.

Now some folks hear this and think, "OMG, I've got no more power on the front burner." Not so. Most induction cooking (and frying in particular) is going to be done less than 60% power, Often much less than that.

Think about it this way. If you were using a gas stove or a regular electric stove, how often do you cook things with all the the gas burners full open or the burners all dialed to absolute max?

Now. to make it even more confusing, some manufacturers don't use the term boost. Some just call it "high" or "speed boil" or some such thing. But it amounts to the same thing. What you are doing with a boost (or whatever) function is borrowing some of the power from another burner in order to run a lot hotter for a period of time.

This is no big deal unless you are trying to boil four large canning kettles of pasta water all at one time, or want to run four woks at lead-melting temperatures all at once, or maybe trying to help save Alamo by melting many pounds of lead as fast you can to make bullets for the defenders. :>)

FWIW, you can do gonzo activities with commercial induction ranges but you need industrial strength three-phase power supplies plus an $8k check for the range. :>)

Now, that said, there are a some induction ranges with a zone that pairs a very large burner with a very small burner (say, an 11 inch or 12inch hob with a 6 inch or 5 inch hob.) The front hob might be rated at 2500 watts and the back one at 1300 watts, and allow you to boost the front one to 3700 watts. When you "borrow" 1200 watts for the big burner, there isn't enough left to do much with the 1300 watt burner. You have to read the product manuals to find out if that is how it works with the stove in which you are interested.

It isn't as though you can't boil water with the front burner running at "only" 2500 watts. That's still plenty of power. Think about this: a 2500 watt induction burner will be about 20% faster than 2500 watt coil burner and, for the better part of a century, millions of folks have found 2500 watt coil burners perfectly satisfactory way to run 5 gallon water-bath canning kettles.

If you like automotive analogies, try this one: boost would be like having a nitro-injection in your family car -- how often do you think you need to mash the throttle and switch on the nitro when pulling away from a stop sign in you neighborhood?

My recollection is that the PHB920 has the big burner in its own zone and capable of 3700 watts with a boost of some kind (Power Boil, IIRC), the two 8 inch burners on the left at 2500 watts apiece with no boost function and the back 6" diameter 1800 watt burner in its own zone, as well.

Does this clarify things for you? Or, maybe it is more info than you wanted? ;>)

This post was edited by JWVideo on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 12:58

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 10:00PM
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Let me simplify about 'power sharing' and 'boost'. To boil water very quickly on induction, you select the 'boost' function. On Bosch,' boost' shuts itself off after 10 minutes.
Once it reaches a good boil, 2-4 minutes or so, shut off the 'boost' and use, perhaps, 7 or 8 to MAINTAIN the boil. 'Boost' is to attain a boil but not to maintain a boil.
'Boost' is extra heat, beyond heat levels of 1 thru 9.

Induction cooktops feature 'power sharing'. In a 30" cooktop, two hobs share a power source (zone). The other two hobs share an additional power source(another zone). The fifth hob, in the case of 36" cooktops, does not power share (a third zone).

'Power sharing' only comes into play when using the 'boost' feature. Power sharing does not affect the use of any other heat level. I could have 4 hobs at blazing heat, say 8 or 9, and power sharing would not be engaged. I rarely have anything over 7, and that's for a very short time.

I have never had more than one hob at boost(big rolling boil) level at one time. But I could have 2, theoretically. By the time I get a second pot ready to boil, it is time to lower the heat on the first pot, to maintain, and not attain, the boil. Otherwise it would boil over.

In my 3.5 years of using a 30" Bosch IC, I never have had to pay attention to power sharing. I forgot which hobs are in a zone with each other (which I read in the manual). Power sharing is the feature I read about prior to using the IC and it is the most ignored feature when actually using the machine.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 8:45PM
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>>> 'Boost' is to attain a boil but not to maintain a boil.

Very well put. I wish I'd said it that well.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:30PM
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Thanks, JW. It helps for me to talk about using an Induction cooktop because I actually use it. You gather lots of info from the internet, and thoughtfully help others. And this, of course, includes reports from actual users and consumer groups. But a greater amount of Induction users don't review theirs and are not included in any consumer reporting.

I agree that it is not necessary to have first hand user experience to report, it just helps. And you couch your words carefully, avoiding 'never' and 'always'.

I am sure that you are greatly appreciated by the gazillions of people that you so kindly and thoughtfully help. Keeping it simple holds the reader's attention. Helps them to understand too. Thank you for all you do for this forum. Sincerely

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 2:32PM
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Thank you for the kind words and your contributions. I agree that it helps to get first hand experience from those who use induction as you do.

Just for the sake of clarity, I do have a fair amount of direct experience using various induction ranges and cooktops going back three decades, and that even includes some work in commercial kitchens.

Presently, I have managed to temporarily shoe-horn a single hob induction cooktop into my kitchen next to my gas range. It is now my preferred way of working with my pressure cookers, which I use frequently. I use Kuhn Rikon pcs which can be finicky about finding the right heat setting for maintaining correct pressure. Induction makes it easier for me to get the right setting every time.

So, while I try to share internet resources and research, my information does reflect first hand experience with induction cookers of various kinds.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Tue, Aug 26, 14 at 10:57

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 1:40AM
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Hmmm, my previous response never posted.

Thank you both. The explanations made perfect sense & filled in the missing bits of info in other threads.

Thank you JW for being so engaged on GW. You - and the other regulars - make this site an absolute treasure. I don't know where I'd be without it.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 7:08AM
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JWVideo, totally as an aside, do you use only stovetop pressure cookers? I've never had one, and was thinking of getting an electric one. I could get a stovetop one to use on my induction cooktop, but only if its not "finicky".

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 11:37AM
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Yes, I use only stovetop units, although I have experimented with a friend's standalone a couple of times. (I think the brand was Cuisinart.)

"Finicky" was maybe the wrong word and I should have said I was talking about cooking on gas.

Maybe "fiddly" is better because I'm talking about eyeballing flame size and "analog" knob positions. My eyes and memory aren't as precise as they use to be, so it can be a bit fiddly for me to find the exact heat setting for holding pressure with minimal steam loss. WIth induction, once you've learned the setting, you just punch in the exact numbered setting everytime.

Doesn't your E-lux induction range have additional steps at the low end of the heat settings? It would only take you a few minutes to figure out the right setting for a stovetop pressure cooker.

My personal take is that electric pcs are basically crock-pots on steroids. If the tradeoffs and conveniences of slow cookers work for you, you will like an electric pressure cooker. Other folks will prefer the greater versatility of stovetop pressure cookers with the tradeoffs that choice entails.

For hands on discussion of the tradeoffs between electric pressure cookers and stove top ones, have you checked out Laura Pazziglia's web site, www.hippressurecooking.com?

There was also a recent thread on chowhound that discussed electrics versus stovetop pcs. Check that out if you haven't already seen it.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Tue, Aug 26, 14 at 15:34

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 3:29PM
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For what it's worth, I have both electric and stovetop models. Neither is top-of-the-line, but they are reasonably nice (the electric is actually an Aldi special, but the stovetop is a Fagor). For the traditional sear and cook, there is really no contest, but the electric does a nice job with beans and broths, in particular.

I bought the electric model as a replacement for my slow cooker. The electric models tend to include slow cooker functions.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 5:20PM
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Thank you both.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 6:54PM
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