Trying induction with a portable single-burner unit

yeboJune 18, 2012

I'd like to try induction with a portable (single burner) unit for a while. Any recommendations on good ones - and price-conscious (not $700, for example). In fact, are any of the below $200 units similar enough to actual full induction cooking to be worthwhile?

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I'm a Cooks' Illustrated junkie, and their top-rated portable induction burner is the Max Burton AT6000. I just googled it, and see it's available for about $75, but I bet you could do some sleuthing and find it for cheaper.

I own one and have relied heavily on it for my current in-home camping setup (extensive reno, no kitchen). Boils water in the twinkling of an eye on high, melts chocolate beautifully w/o double boiler at the lowest setting. I haven't done any stir frying (no ventilation right now), but high is pretty high. The one drawback I can think of is that the fan is rather loud. But I like it so much that I've decided to give it real estate in my new kitchen, even though I'll have a gorgeous new gas range!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 7:21PM
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All the portable induction units I have seen are 120 volt units with 1800 watt maximum; capable of generating heat upto 450 degrees.

Better induction cooktops using 240 volts have power hobs of 3000 to 4600 watts.

These 1800 watt portable units are equivalent to 12k btu sealed gas burners. Adequate but not the full blown modern induction performance.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:41PM
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What's your opinion about using a portable single unit as a trial for help in deciding if I like induction enough to change over for my range? I love the induction idea, but I I haven't found anywhere in Manhattan, where I live, to see or try an induction unit. (The Wolf showroom may have, I realize now, and I should try it - but any other ideas also welcome.)

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 6:11AM
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I saw a Kenmore portable unit which was the only induction unit Sears had installed. The demo was not very impressive. All they did was boil a pan of water. At a dealer for several high-end brands, they had a Jenn Air hooked up but again, it wasn't terribly impressive. They wanted to show that the cooktop remained cool while the contents of a pot cooked.

We ended up buying induction based on reviews. It's completely different from either of the two demos we saw. The Thermador has real power, lots of cool techno utilities, and was surprisingly easy to install and get working. So far I'm thrilled with it, and I've only had it for about 10 days.

If you can see a true demo, I strongly suggest you go see it. That's the real test.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 9:23AM
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deeageaux already wrote it out: anything working off a 110V circuit is MUCH less powerful than anything fed by a 220V circuit. So all those who rave about their portable unit will be even more impressed by a 220V induction cooktop.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 10:00AM
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I say go ahead and get the portable. It will not heat as fast as a 240V wired one, and it will probably be more noisy (my Eurodib one has quite a loud fan), but it will certainly give you a feel for the responsiveness of induction. If it has a timer with controlled shutoff, you may find it handy for cooking timed things such as rice or other predictable items. I use mine quite a bit (other present choice is a Viking 4-burner gas range), and will keep it as an occasional 5th burner when I install my induction range in couple of months.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 10:39AM
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While it is true that the maximum power available from a 20A, 110 Vac circuit is one-fifth that from a 50A, 220 Vac circuit, a typical induction cooktop that requires the latter has 5 hobs.

My Kenmore Elite (Electrolux Icon clone) specified as requiring 44.2A maximum at 240 Vac (10.6 kW), has a maximum hob power of 2.4 kW (3.2 kW on power boost, but this is limited in time and by power sharing).

So, one may conclude that while the speed to boiling of a 120 Vac portable will not be as fast as that of a 240 Vac built-in, for extended cooking and cooking at power levels that won't burn foods, it will demonstrate induction features such as the speed of control changes, the easy clean-up, and relatively safe surface temperatures.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 11:19AM
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I came across the tail end of an infomercial on induction the other day. It was called a Nuwave. The cool thing about it was that you set it by temperature. I was hoping someone would be guinea pig (hint) and report back. It was really cheap, $100 or so for two of them. I did Google it. It seems legitimate and perfect for something to play around with.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 5:04PM
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My Eurodib portable can also be set by temperature. I haven't used it much that way, and am doubtful that the temperature control is very useful, accurate, or even repeatable from pot to pot. IIRC, there is a schematic of the electronics in the user manual -- a quick glance will likely show many accuracy shortcomings of the temperature monitoring.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 5:14PM
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Attofarad, if you have a thermometer, would you be willing to check your unit and see how closely it maintains a water temperature to a temperature setting less than boiling? I would get something myself but we are just now remodeling our c1917 house and the wiring still won't accept anything over 1000 watts, so I have to wait.

I recall the one I saw was in 5 degree increments down to, I think, the low-100 degree range. They showed a pot of melted chocolate they had "for hours." My interest was at lower temperatures, below boiling mainly, for slow cooking or maybe even a cheap souse vide unit.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 6:52PM
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The only model Nuwave I see is 1300 watts, which is really getting quite weak -- you certainly won't be wowed by how fast a pot of water for pasta gets to a boil.

I don't have a thermometer, so I can't really check the temperature hold function. Any induction will have no trouble holding melted chocolate for hours on end.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 8:23PM
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Thanks anyway, attofarad. I see also the temperature increment is 10 degrees, not 5. From what I saw on TV, they didn't have any trouble cooking anything on it, so even at 1300 watts it must get the pan hot enough for most things people cook.

It's true, though, two of them for $130 including s&h. Can't beat that.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 9:57PM
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Get the max burton. It made me a induction convert. As our remodel is now more than a year in progress, it has been a hard working appliance feeding my family of 5.. We cook 3 meals a day.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 3:25AM
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I got a Stupentown(sp) years ago. It was cheap and plastic, but it worked.

Don't trust the temperature control to be anywhere near exact. It is trying to measure through both the pan and the surface. It will not succeed. But I haven't seen too many recipes that instruct you to set the pot to 150F.

Oh, wait...the candy thing...

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 3:37PM
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I saw the Nuwave ad too - it even came with some pots, and I think if you didn't like it you could send it back and keep the pots. If I were sending a kid to college, I'd consider getting one. It would be safer than the old hotplate I used to have. Of course, they all have microwaves now, don't they?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 5:47PM
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You convinced me, at least, to try a portable induction burner. I just ordered a (returned or carton damaged) Max Burton 6000 for $67 and a (returned or carton-damaged) Max Burton stove top smoker for $19. With no tax and no shipping (Thanks to Amazon Prime), that is less than $90 for both! And I can try them both out on the deck this summer when it's too hot to cook inside anyway.

Are you guys familiar with Amazon's Warehouse Deals? I think this is where Amazon sells items returned or with minor damage to container and/or item. Some great buys here, but, as my husband says, ''You gotta kiss a lotta frogs before you get a prince,''--or, in this case, search frequently to find a goodie. My fav so far was a new Pillivuyt 3 1/2 quart lion's head soup tureen for $32 delivered. Usually sells for $150 or so, plus tax and delivery.


Here is a link that might be useful: Amazon's Warehouse Deals

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 6:38PM
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Let us know how it goes! I think we'll definitely get one to get us through out reno !

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 8:18PM
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Use my single burner unit all the time...can't wait to replace my current electric range with an induction model. Only problem is that I need a downdraft, and an induction/downdraft doesn't exist.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 12:08AM
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All this good feedback about induction - thank you for the information and the specificity. I hope I'll love it. Then will come the electrician estimates for running 220V line to where the range is. I'm in an apartment building, already have 220V for my AC. But, I'm in an apratment in Manhattan. So cost is up for grabs. I'm rather - not worried, but hoping this part isn't a deal breaker.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 6:50AM
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I don't know how far back in time one would have to go to find ranges that didn't run on 220 Vac, maybe when Westinghouse and Edison were feuding, but your range location should already have a 220 Vac line to its location. Whether it can support a modern induction cooktop is the more likely question.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:17AM
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I, too bought a portable induction burner to try out a year before our remodel started, and it sold me on induction the first time I used it. The small portables are roughly as powerful as the smallest burners on a 'real' cooktop, but the power is only part of the story. What sold me was the superb control that I had over the heat! A true simmer was possible. (not something I could ever achieve with my much hated JennAir smoothtop). I had my 36 inch installed during the remodel and have never regretted it.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 11:34AM
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Kaseki, Where can I find the full specs for the electric needed?
My apartment is a loft that was a gut renovation 25 years agao - and has a Wolf *restaurant* gas range that I think doesn't use any electricity. There is a plaque? up on the wall that people say covers an electric line that could supply a hood. There is no hood.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 1:11PM
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