Induction Pan Sizes: How Critical??

My4thGardenMay 18, 2013

Here I am all excited about the chance to get an induction range... until I found out about minimum pan sizes. :-(

I was looking at the GE Profile induction range but just saw their minimum pan sizes for the 4 elements (for me the warming element would be useless): one 4 3/4" min, two 5 3/4" min, and one 8" min.

As a retiree living alone, here are the bottom diameters of the pans I use constantly: 6 3/4", 5 1/2", 5 3/8", 5", 4 1/2" and 4 1/4". The biggest pan I normally use is only 7 1/4" diameter!! All my cookware is induction compatible btw, it just worked out that way when I bought them.

With these pan sizes it looks as if only ONE burner (the smallest) would be usable according to the minimum pan sizes given in the GE Profile specs. And the largest pan at 7 1/4" would need to go onto one of the 5 3/4" burners but the problem is that I might use that pan perhaps once or twice a month, if that. I cook small quantities and so I have small size cookware, LOL. Also, hand and arm issues make handling larger pots and pans problematic. So I have to stick with smaller size cookware for that reason too.

The GE manual says that a pan smaller than the minimum will not allow the induction burner to turn on. Is that true? How critical is the pan size? Or should I just go with a really good smoothtop range and forget induction entirely?

p.s. I'm really spoiled because I'll be downsizing from a house that has a Wolf 36" cooktop with multiple expandable burners, so there has always been space for whatever multiple pans I need. I just assumed with induction I could use any pan size no matter how small. Duh!

Obviously I don't want to buy an induction only to discover that only one element is able to accommodate the pans I use every day. Am I out of luck then?

This post was edited by My4thGarden on Sat, May 18, 13 at 19:53

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I have the GE Profile slide in induction range and I LOVE it - no way would I ever go back to a regular electric smoothtop.

I have used a slightly smaller pan on the largest element - it worked no problem. I understand your physical issues as I have fibromyalgia - but there are lots of lightweight pots and pans out there to accommodate your needs. Do not let that stop you from buying this fabulous range - the cooktop, oven and warming drawer are all first rate.

This post was edited by Caya26 on Mon, May 20, 13 at 14:00

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 11:30PM
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Also look for pans that have a wider base than are tall. If too small, it will probably not recognize enough metal and will shut off.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 5:36AM
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There is no way that I can afford to replace my cookware, even if I didn't really love what I have (which I do). The pans and pots that I have are by far the most suitable for me, most of them being all stainless steel with a couple of pieces of the original Scanpan Classic and one Silit pan. The pan I use most often is a 2 quart Farberware sauce pan to make a single 2 ounce serving of small pasta and on another burner I steam ½ cup of a vegetable in a stainless miniature steamer pot which has a base diameter of only 4 ¼”. Both pans are the perfect sizes for how I cook.

I know a lot of people use the microwave for steaming vegetables but I've never been able to make myself like things that are prepared that way. Call me a dinosaur, LOL, but I basically just use my microwave for things like reheating single servings of rice. I don't even like to melt butter in the microwave but instead have a couple of very small pans for that purpose, neither of which are even remotely close to the minimum pan sizes on an induction range.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 9:21AM
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Hmm. I have a GE induction slide-in. My smallest pot is a 1 qt Tramontina and it can be used on either the smallest hob (where I usually put it) or the two medium sized ones--and I just double-checked to be sure. It measures about 5 inches across the bottom.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 9:50AM
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I love my Profile induction! I know I have used a smaller pan on the 8 inch one, though I can't measure at the moment. I am mid-reno and can't even imagine where the pans ended up!

I do notice slightly better performance with a small pan on a small element (small/med vs the large one), but not enough to stop me :-). I would venture a guess that at least the 5 in pans will work on the medium elements, not sure about the 4 inch ones.

I think your best bet would be to see if anyone has a unit in the showroom that you could try. You could also check out the Electrolux range, which is the other induction in that level that gets great reviews. Not sure what their minimums are though.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 10:07AM
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I have the free standing profile induction range. I just tested my 5 inch 1 qt on the med sized hob with 1" of water. It boiled in under a minute. Tried it on the large hob and it heated but took much longer. I put my 10" swiss diamond sauté, which only has a 7" base, on the big hob and it heated up quickly. Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 10:42AM
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Why not take some of your smaller pans with you when appliance shopping? Go to a shop that has their cooktops plugged in for test driving. Impress on the salespeople that you will NOT be buying unless YOUR OWN pans work.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 11:10AM
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I wish there was a store in my area with "working models" of the induction! :-( So far there are only a couple of appliance stores that have working anything, and they are all high end stuff like Wolf and Viking.

bookmom and berner, Thanks SO much for trying your smaller pans on the mid-size (supposedly 5 3/4" minimum) hobs! The one- and two-quart pans are the ones I constantly use.

So the 7" pan base heated up okay on the 8" minimum hob? That's great news!

Sounds as if my 4 1/2" base stainless mini steamer might actually work on that smallest (4 3/4" minimum) hob too...

From your tests it sounds as if one can actually go 1/2" or 3/4" smaller than the supposed minimums and still have the hobs work they way they should.

I did send a message to GE earlier giving my actual pan sizes and asking which burners they will work on though.

I should probably go farther afield (1+ hours drive) to look for appliance stores with a working model of the Profile. It seems as if there are nothing but places like Best Buy, Sears, Macys etc hereabouts. The few independent stores only have working models of the $$$$$ stuff. :-(

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 2:08PM
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I posted this question in the cookware forum but no responses yet... you guys probably know the answer:

Almost all of my pans have a slightly recessed center "logo" area like this Farberware example; is that area a problem with an induction cooktop because it's very slightly recessed and thus doesn't actually TOUCH the induction surface? Does that central non-touching area not get hot at all?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 2:12PM
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That indentation is not a problem. This kind of thing comes up often enough that GE probably needs to have a FAQ on induction that covers this. Here's a longer explanation.

1. Induction pans do not get heated by contact with the surface of the glass/ceramic top. Heat is induced in the pan by a magnetic field.

2. The field is not confined to the cooktop surface. It falls away rapidly as you get above the surface, of course, but that indentation is what, maybe 1/8" deep? You have to get a pan significantly higher than that depth of that indentation above the stove for the field strength and heating to decline.

3. Think about the folks who put silicon baking mats over their induction burners to catch spatters and keep rough-surfaced cast-iron pans from scratching the glass surface. A search here will turn up numerous posts from folks such as herring_maven and jadeite who have explained about using cast iron pans with casting rings that hold the base of the pan off the surface. Heck, I've used a 10 x 20 Lodge cast-iron griddle-grill pan. (You know, the kind with ridging on the grill pan side and a flat griddle on the other.)

4. Induction hobs produce a toroidal field. (Doughnut or ring shaped). They do not directly heat the center of the pan, anyway. For that matter, neithe do coil electric burners nor most sealed gas burners. But, the bases of pans are conductive. They spread heat. Even noticed a cold spot in the very middle of any pan you've used? No? Won't really see it with induction, either. (Of course, if you put thermocouples all over the pan, or used IR thermometers, you likely would be able to measure some variation in the rapidity which with all parts of a pan base come to the target heat, but that is seriously geeky stuff of no import to most folks.)

Now, on to a couple of other topics.

You said all of your cookware is induction-capable but then mentioned having some "original Scanpan Classic" pans. I have two 14-year old original Scanpans. A magnetic will not stick to the base of either. Scanpan Classic pans are cast aluminum and titanium and have no magnetic metal. Get a magnet and test it for yourself.

If you want to use tiny pans on induction stoves, you can get induction disks (Max Burton makes one that Cooks Illustrated found functional) or use a slightly larger diameter magnetic-metal pan (say a cast iron fry pan). These essentially convert your induction burners into radiant burners. But, if you are going to do that for most of your cooking, why go to all the expense of buying an induction range in the first place?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 5:39PM
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JWVIdeo, thanks SO much for that FANTASTIC explanation! You should write that much needed FAQ for GE, lol

I just went down to the kitchen and tested my two Scanpan Classics and DUH, you are 100% right... they are not magnetic. Luckily only one of the two (the 1 qt saucepan) is a pan that I use regularly. And of all my pans I'd say that one is the most 'worse for wear'.

I also have a pair of Scanpan Steel (the 1 qt and the 1.5 qt) which I love and wish I'd bought more of before I discovered they'd been discontinued. Those are VERY magnetic, lol

Thanks for the tip on the induction disk for the times when I want to use one of the really small pans to brown butter for things like my favorite Vanilla Browned Butter Cupcakes for instance.

The alternative to induction would be a smoothtop range that has as many expandable hobs as possible but even so, the smallest section I have found is still 6" which is anywhere from 1/2" to 1.75" dia larger than five of my six most-used pans. That'd be a lot of radiant heat wasted around the edges when those pans had to be used. I will miss my Wolf cooktop with the 4 3/8" and 5" burner options, but I'm going from a big kitchen to a tiny one, LOL

This post was edited by My4thGarden on Sun, May 19, 13 at 18:56

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 6:55PM
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I was just reading some older threads about cookware (circa 2012) and was very surprised that several posters say they had to replace their Farberware Classic when they got an induction range/cooktop. Now I am really confused, because I tested all of my FWare Classic bottoms and they are all why would they not work with induction?
(since the center section is not an issue, as JWVideo so thoroughly explained)

I was under the impression that if the base is magnetic, then the pan is good to go for induction. Farberware Classic bases are magnetic so why should anyone NEED to replace them with Farberware Millenium?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 7:04PM
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If a magnet sticks it will work. I always carry a magnet in my purse when I'm at TJMaxx or one of those type stores so I can check pans that are on sale. One brand will have pots and pans that are, and pots and pans that look almost identical that are not, able to hold a magnet.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 8:33PM
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The problem you run into with pans that have a slight recess in the middle is tha the induction burner sensor is located in the very center of each burner. The sensor is there to monitor the pot heat to keep it from over heating. With the recess, your pan is not sending the true temperature to the sensor. If the pan over heats it could potentially damage the electronics.

The best induction pans will have a completely flat bottom.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 1:25PM
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If you've got any links discussing the recessed logos being a problem, I'm interested in cheking them out. My initial reaction is that I sorta agree that, in theory, yes, it is possible that a recessed logo could confuse a sensor. But, to me, that seems unlikley to be a practical problem, Maybe if you've left a dry pan on high heat for a long time? Maybe then the recessed logo pan might cook the electronics a little sooner that a flat-bottomed pan?

Still, jakvis's point does jog my memory on a more subtle problem that I have run into a few times when using very small pans on induction burners on very low induction heat settings. I've noticed that some induction hobs have trouble holding a small pan at a very even low temp, like precise 110F or 130F. Not a problem with larger pans, but I've seen small pans cycle a bit higher to the point where the temps will momentarily get hot enough for bubbles to break the surface of the liquid and then cycle back down. Note that this was not even remotely close to being a problem with overheating the burner electronics and would not be a problem for most daily cooking. It was only a problem with maintaining a precise very low temp in the very small pan. I know that at least one of the pans that had this problem did have a recessed logo. I've just assumed it was th e pan size that was the problem. But, maybe not.

As far as the best pans having a flat base, I think that's true generally and not limited to induction.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 3:27PM
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The problem comes from ceramic glass being a poor conductor of heat.
The sensor is supposed to sense the heat coming from the bottom of the pan so it can cycle the power lower if the sensor indicates there is too much heat.
Since the pan is not in direct contact with the glass above the sensor a false reading will occur.

I tell my customers that there are a lot of pans out there that are induction compatatible however for top performance they should look for Induction tuned pans.

I was once told by a rep from BSH that they only use the iittala Hackman Technology pans in all their induction test labs.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 5:58PM
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Related to the metals and heat conduction topic, I have been curious as to whether the magnetic field from the induction cooktop also affects stainless steel utensils such as spatulas, spoons, whisks etc. that are used to manipulate whatever is being cooked.

Because most of my pots are stainless, stainless utensils are what I use during actual cooking. And my stainless utensils are also all magnetic (yes I just tested them, LOL) . Does the induction field exert any pull on stainless utensils that are used to manipulate the food being cooked, if the utensil comes into direct contact with the bottom and/or sides of the pot?

I also came across this article on the Livestrong site which claims that induction users should “Avoid using metal cooking spoons, which may allow current to flow through your body”. (though exactly what “current” is being talked about doesn't quite make sense to me, LOL! sounds like one of those urban legends ....)

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 7:21PM
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jakvis: "The problem you run into with pans that have a slight recess in the middle is tha the induction burner sensor is located in the very center of each burner. The sensor is there to monitor the pot heat to keep it from over heating. With the recess, your pan is not sending the true temperature to the sensor. If the pan over heats it could potentially damage the electronics."

Think of what you are saying there: The sensor is itself part of the electronics; if the sensor gets too hot, the unit's thermal shut-off will be triggered. If the sensor does not get too hot, then the "electronics" are not getting too hot, either.

"The best induction pans will have a completely flat bottom."

In our experience -- and daily we have been using induction cooktops for all of our cooking for 13 years now -- that statement is simply untrue, an urban legend, a false meme. There are some pots and pans that do work better than others on induction, and some of our pots and pans have curved bottoms -- and some even have tiny feet that hold the pot an eighth or a quarter inch above the cooktop; but our better pots and our flatter bottom pots are not the same pots, and our curved or footed bottom pots are some of the best ones for cooking on induction.

We have used one or two iittala Hackman pots on induction and they are superb; BSH is onto something there. But Demeyere pots -- even the lower-end Resto line -- are superb, also; that is, all Demeyeres except Sur La Table's exclusive Industry5 line, which is a kind of sick joke.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 7:25PM
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My4thGarden: "Does the induction field exert any pull on stainless utensils that are used to manipulate the food being cooked, if the utensil comes into direct contact with the bottom and/or sides of the pot?"

Contact has nothing to do with it. Induction (it does not work by "pulling," incidentally, but by inciting oscillations in molecules) is not transmitted by contact. The mass of implements (spoons, spatulas) is typically too small to be affected significantly by the magnetic field, and most the length of a spoon or spatula is going to be positioned several inches above the inductor in the cooktop, far enough away that the field is quite weak. Stainless steel is a fairly poor conductor of heat, so even if the bowl of a ladle, for instance, at the bottom of a pot were to be significantly heated, not a lot of heat would be conducted up the long stem of the ladle over the typically short period of time that the ladle would be in the pot.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 7:37PM
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herring_maven cooktops/ “Avoid using metal cooking spoons, which may allow current to flow through your body."

Yes! And especially wear a tinfoil hat to dissipate the current so that the Black Helicopters cannot zero in on you.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 7:45PM
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Hi Herring _Maven,
Maybe you misunderstood what the sensor is and I should have explained it better. The sensor is a PTC. A PTC changes its resistance value as it heats or cools. It does not sense if a pot is in the proximity. The interurption in the magnetic field created by the coiled copper is interpreted by the main control board as sensing if a pot is sitting on the element.

The PTC is used as a safety device that measures heat and send this measurement back to the control board to lower or shut off the power to the element if the heat it senses is too high.
This PTC touches the bottom of the glass in the center of each element and if the pan is in direct contact with the glass above the PTC it will measure the heat of the pan. However with glass being a very poor conductor of heat if the pan is not in direct contact with the glass over the sensor a lower than pan temperature measurement is taken.

While I've only been working on induction appliances for the last 15 years I am pretty familiar with how they operate. As anyone who is as familiar with glass cooktop cooking they notice how the glass right next to even a radiant burner does not feel hot but only warm. Again this is the thermal dynamic properties of glass and its poor conductivity. This is why glass is used.

As to pans used with induction there will always be classifications of Good, Better and Best.
Some may be satisfied with Good or Better but others are looking for Best Performance.
Therefore while you feel my statement is made of urban legend. I was mearly pointing out the quality does make a difference when it comes to superior performance.

I do agree that the Demeyere pans with the full flat bottom run a very close second to the iittala's but you're right even the Demeyere have a Good, Better, Best performing class of cookware so the buyer should beware.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 8:31PM
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JW - nice explanation.
My induction has 4 magnets, so even if the indent was a problem (which it is not), they would work.

4Garden -I am glad you are testing your pans. My old Farberware pans were not induction capable but others were.

Herring - I must be electrified by now - my utensils are metal and I have not felt anything when using them - no tingling, no sensation of something abnormal - wait - maybe I can transport myself across the room. My watch works fine and has not reset - unlike a friend who had her watch reset when lightening struck a bit close.

I will have to see what I can find about this issue - OTOH - there is a current research topic looking at health issues with gas stoves - so nothing is safe or sacred....

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 9:22PM
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The closest thing I've found to an actual risk from induction is with pacemakers. Mainly in theory. And it would have to involve a specific kind of pacemaker that is not the commonly used one. And you would have to cook with the pacemaker in the induction field, so almost laying on the hob while it is on. And then, in theory, you -might- run into an issue.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 11:43PM
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Wow, that site is just a font of information.

"The website explains that induction coils are connected to electronic power that generates a magnetic field."

Geez, and I've always tried to run my induction units with ordinary electricity from the wall outlets. Who knew you could get "electronic" power at home? And, here I always thought it was an electronic device in the induction unit that generated an oscillating magnetic field. (And, somebody had better correct Circulon's web site which says the latter, too.)

"Food cooks as much as 50 percent faster with induction."

Who knew? Maybe boiled water is what they consider food? I've probably never seen this because I've been using electric power rather than electronic power.

"induction cooktops produce extremely low frequency radiation, similar to microwave radio frequency."

Yeah, I always suspected that extremely low frequency ELECTROMAGNETIC radiation (a/k/a radio waves) are really just like ionizing radiation from nuclear waste. And microwaves must be mis-named because if they really were "micro" waves, then they would not have extremely low frequencies. I suppose that tea kettles boil water by whistling and those low frequency vibrations make the water molecules rub together to produce heat. Do you think that maybe I could communicate with our nuclear subs by using the extremely low frequency signals generated by my induction burner? Hey, maybe I'd better double up on the tinfoil in my hat.

"An article at reports pacemakers do not cause induction cooking unit interference.

Now, that is reassuring. I just hate it when pacemakers interfere with my cell phone, tv and radio. At least they don't interfere with induction stoves.

"Avoid using metal cooking spoons, which may allow current to flow through your body.

Now, I'm really confused. I thought they just said that induction cooks by radiation not current? OMG, it must do both! Induction will irradiate you and electrocute you at the same time! Maybe we'd all better go back to coil burners and use only wooden sppons lest we get electrocuted by touch a pan with a metal spoon!

Stay safe, space rangers.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Tue, May 21, 13 at 10:57

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 10:53AM
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LOL. Great commentary JW

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 11:14AM
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Tim Sutherland

I have the GE PHP960DMBB Profile 36" Black Electric Induction Cooktop and I can use an All Clad Butter Warmer (4.5" wide base) and Sur La Table 5/8 qt / 0.56L (4.875" base) on all but the largest burner. The largest burner will work with three of the small pots on it.

Visit The Induction Site for more information than you need to know about how induction cooktops work.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Induction Site

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 12:04PM
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OMG, I never thought of putting multiple pots on a big hob. Now that is clever. It makes the big hob "zonefree," in a way. I'm going to try that. Does it work with only two, or must it be 3 in order to register as "enough" pot?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 9:22PM
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All of my Farberware from circa 2001 (Millenium, at that!) isn't magnetic, and needed to be replaced when I bought an induction range. I wasn't sorry to see them go-- I had been dreaming of lovely pans for years and finally had a range that could use them to their full capability.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 12:58AM
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Wow! I didn't know I own a zone less cooktop. I can't wait to test this out!
My giant hob should be able to hold 3-4 small vessels!

I was so excited when I overloaded my cooktop with all 5 burners running and a waiting line for cooking spots. (Overloaded in number of vessels not power)

I guess I will have to stop flying. You get more radiation flying across the country than from dental x-rays.

Got to stop texting as the predictive text does me in.

This post was edited by a2gemini on Fri, May 24, 13 at 19:59

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 3:42PM
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I am sitting here open-mouthed at the response I received from GE to my question regarding the use of my specific pan sizes on the Profile induction hobs. I sent them a message several days ago via their website, saying that I am considering purchasing the induction range but have some concerns about the minimum pan sizes not corresponding to the specifications. I included the list of my most used pan base diameters just as I provided them at the beginning of this thread. Today I received their response:

"The induction range is very nice and the cooking technology is awesome. There is a minimum diameter pan size that can be used on each burner. Your pan sizes would limit your use of the burners. I would not recommend choosing the induction range. Even if purchasing larger diameter pots and pans were an option, your individual cooking needs would not be supported by using larger cooking vessels.

Although induction technology is great, I suggest choosing another range which would better meet your individual cooking needs and pots and pans sizes.”

I am shocked that GE would actually say that I shouldn't purchase the induction range, especially in view of the real world experiences of the other posters on this thread who have used the same size pans as I have, successfully on their product. What I actually expected GE to say was something along the lines of "using pans with diameters smaller than the recommended sizes could result in less than optimal performance of the induction range" or something like that. What I absolutely didn't expect was for them to flat-out advise me not to buy it at all.

In view of the successful use of such pans by owners here, I thought you would be interested in seeing GE's official response, LOL

Yes, I too got a kick out of all of the crazy misinformation on the Livestrong site! I guess it is essentially a Wikipedia clone, LOL.

Using several small pots on a large burner is a very interesting workaround! For instance if I wanted to use one of my very small diameter butter warmers to melt or brown butter, I could also put one of my other very small pots on the same burner (with a small amount of water in it, to prevent any heat damage to that pan) thus giving the burner the required amount of metal needed in order to operate properly.

As a last comment on GE's response, I found it ironic that their standard smooth top ranges don't have any burner zones smaller than 6 inch diameter, which I guess is what they were suggesting I should use my 4 3/4, 5, and 5 1/2 inch pans on instead of the induction burner. I guess they don't think very creatively over at GE, LOL

This post was edited by My4thGarden on Thu, May 23, 13 at 9:02

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 9:00AM
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Oh, for pity's sake! No wonder induction isn't catching on with the general population if this is the attitude of the manufacturer! Maybe they have bigger profit margins on their other ranges.

I have the KA induction cooktop. I can use 4.5" bottom diam pan on 6" hob. On the 11" hob, I use pans that have 8" contact on the bottom. My only caveat is that I'm measuring the actual area of contact on the bottom, not the diameter of the top of the pan. I think that you will be able to regularly use the small and two medium hobs, and maybe the large hob with multiple pots.

Have you considered the zone-free AEG from Canada? They're not expensive, but they are 36".

Here is a link that might be useful: AEG zone-free induction

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:07AM
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I have an entirely different reaction.

I do not see why GE's response should be surprising. The manual for the induction ranges clearly says that minimum pan size for the six-inch burner is 4.75" and the minimum pan size for the two 8 inch burners is 5.75." If they put that in the manual, why should a customer service rep say something different in what will be a public posting on their web-site?

And look at it from the perspective of the GE customer service reps. My4thGarden is looking at spending $2900 for a GE Profile slide-in induction range or $2600 for the freestanding one. A decent and serviceable smoothop electric range can be had for half of that from GE or, for that matter, from LG which is the subject of My4thGarden's other thread. No issues with using small pans on those stoves, although there certainly will be waste heat around the edges of the small pans. When someone says that they cannot afford to replace the present battery of small diameter cookware and doesn't want to, it makes a lot of sense to say to them: "why don't you consider a different stove that seems better suited to what and how you like to cook?"

Plus, you may buy the induction stove and find that your particular small pans don't work. That leads to hassles with returns and refunds. If you work for a company, would you want to start that process?

Now, it may very well be possible to use pans with slightly smaller diameters if they have enough ferrous mass in the base. Induction burners have sensors to identify pan size and ferrous mass -- too little of either and the burner will not activate. Trouble is, there is no way to find out how GE engineers programmed the sensors. All we know is that GE engineers have identified minimum pan sizes that can reasonably be expected to work. GE customer services reps are is not going to tell you, "don't pay any attention to the manual, you can do X____ instead."

berner43's post shows that pans with diameters 10% less than minimum specified diameters work, at least on the mid and large burners and assuming that My4thGarden's pans have similar ferrous bases. Timdeb's post shows about the same for the 6-inch burner. If that relationship holds for the smallest diameter burner, as well, then even My4thGarden's 4.25" pans might work on the GE's smallest (6") burner. Or might not. Again, we do not know how GE programmed the sensors for the burner. Maybe the bases of My4thGarden's smallest pans won't have sufficient ferrous material in the base to be recognized.

Also , bear in mind that a smaller pan is using smaller amounts of energy. If you cover, say, 70% of the burner, you will be only getting 70% of the power. (That is not exact but it will do for this dicussion.) Depending on what you are cooking in those little pans, that may or may no be considered optimum. If I'm manufacturing and selling stoves, and I'm training customer representatives, m I going to have them telling customers that they should use my stove for less than optimum conditions and then want to deal with warranty complaints from customers who may or may not understand what "less than optimum" means? What if the customer is using pans with "less than optimum" ferrous content and the pans don't work? Do I really want to have my engineers testing every possible line of cookware and then publish advice on less than optimum use? If I have to manage that kind of situation, I will be thinking I don't want that expense or headache.

The unfortunate reality is that the only way to know is to run a test with the particular pans on an actual GE induction stove as berner43 and timdeb did.

Can't find a GE to test your pans on? Then, it seems to me to make a good deal of sense for GE to recommend options other than induction for My4thGarden.

"Buying and trying" is an option, of course, but only if you can buy from a vendor like Costco which has an absolute satisfaction guarantee: "I don't like it" is enough for Costco to take it back after a month or so. No restocking fee, either. Those kinds of guarantees are hard to find these days.

The only induction range that Costco sells is the Maytag freestanding range and it only carries them in the online sales department. The Maytag is far less costly than the GE (about $1500, delivered). It has twin 6" burners in front with a 9" and an 11" burner in the back. Maytag/Whirlpool has not published minimum recommended pan sizes but apparently have marked them on the cooktop. My recollection from the one I saw last fall when I was stove shopping was that the six inch burners would take pans down to at least 4.75" and the nine-inch burner would handle a 7" pan. (But that was months ago and the memory is faulty on such details.) Virtually every brand of induction on the market will operate pans slightly smaller than the minimum recommended diameter. (Heck, I recall a post from a year ago where somebody here reported using a 5.5" diamter pan on the 11" burner of a Samsung induction range.)

Anyway, the Maytag/Whirlpool burner arrangement, with twin 6" burners in front, seems well suited to My4thGarden's cooking preferences. Of course, there is the apparently lame "Aqualift" oven self-cleaning method which may be an issue. (This issue will not matter if you are somebody who avoids running self-cleaning cycles and, if you do, at least you don't need to worry about the self cleaning cycle toasting the control boards.) I noticed a Maytag on display recently when helping a friend shop for a stove. Might have been our local Lowe's or Home Depot that had one on display and mIght have been the identical Whirlpool model. I live in a very rural state, so maybe one of the big box stores in My4thGarden's area might have one, too. Worth looking at.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Thu, May 23, 13 at 16:06

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 2:02PM
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JWVideo, you've pretty much encapsulated my appliance dilemma, LOL! I guess I was surprised at GE's response because I am so used to representatives of any company responding with a knee-jerk Pollyanna "of course you can do that!" response to any question regarding their product…. Whether the answer is true or not. Guess I've grown too cynical over the years, LOL.

I actually did research smooth top ranges last week, looking for photos of the actual burner size layout and trying to find the ones that had the smallest minimum size coupled with the largest number of expandable burners. The LG model seems to be the one that had the greatest number of multi-size burners on a smoothtop. Unfortunately I didn't find enough reviews of it to give me any sense of whether it is a good product or not. The question of whether I use the self-cleaning function is going to be one that is new to me, because this will be the first time that I have had a kitchen that did not have a double wall oven. Because each oven was getting only 50% of normal use, much less for things like roasting and none at all for broiling, I have literally never had to use the self-cleaning function on the oven that was used for baking and I could count on the fingers of one hand the times over a 10 year period that I had to use it for the non-baking oven. But now going into a kitchen where there will only be one oven for both functions, I suspect that I will be using the self-cleaning function much more than I ever have before.

LG has a sort of midrange cleaning function called EasyClean which would probably be something that I would use more than the full blast traditional high-speed self-cleaning cycle. Not sure how well it works well or whether it's just a design gimmick.

I too have been wondering about the difference in performance between the pans that I have versus others here which are (with the exception of the two Silit pieces that I own) not considered high-end. Which means that the thermal mass in the bases are indeed probably less than something like AllClad or Circulon and their ilk. I had forgotten the age-old sage advice of YMMV, lol.

By the way, I realize this is a silly question but is there a way to find out what threads a specific user has created? I stupidly forgot to bookmark the one that I wrote asking about user experiences with the LG range and I was wondering if there is a quick way to locate it again, to see if there are any replies. I tried doing a search for both "LG range" and "LG smoothtop” but it didn't appear in the results. I also tried searching under my username to see if it would pick up all posts that I made, but apparently the search function does not look for member names.

ETA: Just a p.s. on the pricing I got for the GE induction ranges: $2100 for the freestanding and $2450 for the slide-in. Not including sales tax of course.

This post was edited by My4thGarden on Thu, May 23, 13 at 16:16

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 4:11PM
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Ginny20, I'm limited to a range rather than a cooktop, unfortunately, and the AEG looks like they are cooktop-only.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 4:13PM
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You could have a 36" cooktop with a 30" wall oven installed under it, but I can see that that starts to get pretty complicated. It would be better just to find a nice range that you like, as you're trying to do.

To find your own threads, try googling (or bing-ing, if you prefer) "gardenweb my4thgarden LG." You're right - as far as the GW search is concerned, none of us exist.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 5:07PM
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Try "Lg smoothtop + my4thgarden + gardenweb" as your search string.

I wouldn't worry about "performance" of those 4.5" and 4.25" pans. It's a binary thing. They'll either work or they just won't be recognized at all.

Also, if any of those high end stores have demos, you might call them up, tell them that you've owned a Wolf cooktop and are thinking about induction for your new place. They'll probably let you see how well you small pans work (or don't work) on whatever they have hooked up. It may be Thermador, Wolf, VIking or maybe Kitchenaid. MIght be something else. But, if one or both work on a 6" burner, it will very likely work on any other brand's 6" induction burner.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Thu, May 23, 13 at 18:39

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 6:37PM
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The minimum size is a safety issue. If I have a piece of ferrous jewelry on my hand, I don't want to accidentally start cooking my hand. No problem for adults but 8 year old Suzie puts her toy pots on the stove and pushed buttons and the pots overheat. You get the picture.
Definitely find a test center to know your answer.
Good luck- induction rocks!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 8:06PM
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Someone should be supervising Susie much more closely if she is putting her toys on the cooktop. I'm sure most parents would freak if she did so on a gas cooktop, but apparently folks are taking the supposed "safety" aspects of induction cookers much too casually.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 9:51PM
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