bluestar/culinarian vs. induction for high heat cooking

blackbrandywineJuly 13, 2012

I am in the process of building a house and have been lurking here for a few months. First, thank you to everyone who posts here -- you are an amazing resource for the rest of us! We had settled on either a BlueStar or Culinarian rangetop based on my research here, but now we are wondering if we should go the induction route.

I've searched and read all of the posts I could find on this forum (and elsewhere). Here is what I'd like to know: my husband does most of the cooking and high heat is very important to him for searing and sauteeing. Our current range has about 15k BTUs. It is good, but we are really looking forward to more power. I know that induction will boil water faster, but how does it perform for high heat cooking? Caramelization is imporant to our style of cooking. (I am aware of the drawbacks and workarounds with using a wok.) I really just want to know how induction will perform as compared to a 22k BTU burner for purposes of searing protein and for bringing a pan back up to heat after adding ingredients. Will the induction burner get the pan as hot (or hotter) as a Culinarian? And will it bring it back up to temperature quickly when we dump a bunch of stuff in there? We are going to go try one out, but I value your opinions and would like to hear about real-life experience.

I have read about other pros/cons of induction. We live in southern california and rarely have power outages, so that is not an issue. I am not concerned about the safety of a gas rangetop. We are focused on energy efficiency, but that is not a determinative factor for this specific decision. We've never been bothered by the heat thrown off by a gas range, and the easy cleanup of induction (while nice) is not a game-changer for us. I also know that induction is more precise. That sounds great, but that has not been a huge issue for us in the past.

The other concern I have about induction is that the different "burners" have different power. We were hoping for several high heat burners. If we go induction, we may consider the new Thermador Freedom Zoneless. We would probably also consider the Gaggenau 36-inch (not zoneless).

Thank you in advance!

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Caramelization and searing requie high heat and it does not matter how that heat is generated.

Gaggenau has one hob that will slightly outperform the Culinarian,another that will match it, and the others that underperform it. When powerboost is used one hob can get 20% more power for about 8 minutes but it takes power from the other hobs.

From what I read the Thermdor Zoneless will be similar but not 100% sure. You can put enough power to one pan that will slightly outperform the Gagg power hob,one sligtly outperform the Gagg secondary hob and so one. It will also have a powerboost option.

The advantage of the CC is that they are all power "hobs" and you can go 23k btu all day long. You can put a 24 griddle/grill and have two 23K full power burners going at the same time.

Re Efficiency. Induction is mechanically more efficient, by a large margin. But gas is more resource efficient when you consider the natural gas or coal that has to be burned to make electricity,loss in transmition,then finally ariving at your house. Nuclear energy has its set of problems with waste disposal and impact of mining for nuclear materials. Gas is also cheaper to operate but both are a very small percentage of typical househould energy cost.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 4:03AM
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My experience is that induction can make and keep things plenty hot, and maybe even way, way too hot if you are not paying attention to the cooking. The only problem I've ever had with serious searing on induction is getting a pan too hot. Using that 3400 kwh induction boost is more likely to carbonize rather than caramelize.

You asked about heat level recovery after dumping a bunch of stuff in the pan. With the caveat that a "bunch" is hard to quantify --- I might have in mind half as much or twice as much stuff as you are thinking about --- my experience is that the heat recovery is more related to pan construction than the burner. I've never found it any worse on gas than on induction or vice versa. I find that with induction, I tend to do less adjusting where, with gas, I might briefly kick-up the heat to full to help bring the heat back up where I want it.

I should say that I'm looking to buy an induction stove but do not currently have one. It has been a while since I had regular use of an induction stove. I have never tried using a wok on an induction stove, either.

So, for your question about burner size, large pans and high heat searing (and wok style cooking), you might try messaging luv2putt who had the recent posting about the "racing red induction stove" and offered follow-up info to anyone with specific questions about induction cooking.

I am not quite sure what you are asking with the question about comparing induction to a 15k btu/hr. gas burner and a 22k btu hr. burner. There are formulas for converting gas btu/hr numbers to equivalent electrical kwh and vice versa, but those numbers will not really tell you anything useful. With gas, you've got about 30% to 40% of the energy going into the pan and the rest goes around the sides into the air. With induction, it is more like 85% to 90% goes into the pan. So, what happens when you run those percentages against your numbers? Well, your 2500 kwh induction burner (with its 3400 kwh boost) seems far more powerful than your 22k btu/hr burner, right? And maybe that 1800 kwh back burner seems to have as much effective power as the big gas burner? Well, sorta. A lot of other things affect cooking results. Maybe your cooking style needs to have the heat spread going up the sides of the pan. You get more of that with a big gas burner than with induction. My experience with induction and large diameter pans is that the heat tends to fall off once you get much beyond the diameter of the burner. Again, however, the extent to which that makes a difference with an oversize pan depends a lot more on pan construction and materials and things like the degree of preheating.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 4:12AM
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I had exactly the same concerns when we were considering induction vs Bluestar 36" rangetop or cooktop. My cooking style involves a lot of searing or stir-frying. We ended up with a Thermador 36" induction cooktop, mainly because of the power available.

First off - to convert induction watts to effective BTU/hr, the factor is 7185 BTU/hr = 1000 W. This conversion factor comes from the induction site ( The Thermador (specs given in link below) has 5 induction elements.

In normal operations, the power for each elements is: 1.4 kW, 1.8 kW(two of these elements), 2.2 kW, 3.3 kW. These convert to: 10060, 12930, 15800 and 23700 BTU/hr. You can cook at this power level all day. On boost, the maximum power, only for about 8 minutes, is 13000, 18000, 23700 and 33000 BTU/hr. This is greater than anything the BS rangetop can put out. I don't know the specs for CC.

In practice, I have only tried the boost when I wanted to boil a large pot of water for pasta. On the 2.2kW element, a pot with about 4 qts of water came to a full rolling boil in under 5 minutes.

I have stir-fried using a flat-bottom carbon steel wok, and the 2.2 kW hob did an excellent job. I have also seared scallops on the 3.3 kW hob and it performed better than any gas cooktop I have used.

The precision and speed of induction have to be experienced. If you change power levels, the response is instantaneous. This was a revelation to me. On gas, even when the level is changed, the grates retain so much heat that there is residual heating for a long time. Induction uses ceramic for the cooking surface. This only heats from the pot being heated, not from the power source. The surround is always cool.

Like you, I dismissed the easy clean up aspect of induction. But when I was making a big pot of jam which boiled over, I rushed to clean up with bad memories of carbonized disasters in my past. There was NO mess because the cooktop was cool. I have spent umpteen hours taking grates apart to scour off burnt-on gunk. This can't happen with induction. Another revelation.

I know I sound like a born-again convert, but I really love this cooktop. I'm only a month into working on it, so there may be more revelations, both good and bad, in the future. But for now, I'm extremely happy with it.


Here is a link that might be useful: thermador CIS465GB specs

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 9:23AM
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I am a fan of gas. I feel more "connected" to gas cooking. I also like the look of gas ranges better. Induction is too modern looking for my taste. I would say woking on a bs or cc would probably give better results than induction. BUT there are a lot of advantages to induction. As you realize faster boil, easier cleanup, more efficiency, less hot air emmitted into your home (Although during my canadianwinters the heated air is actually a benefit). I would say searing would give you at least as good a result as gas maybe better. Saftey you said isn't a big issue, but induction is the king here as well, particularily if you plan on doing any deep frying. To tell the truth, while deep frying it is the one time I do wish I was using induction. The live flame of gas make cooking with oil much more dangerous than induction.

Blackbrandywine: you sound quite educated already in the pros/cons. I am not sure there is much we can say here to sway your decision. Its nice to have options.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 10:06AM
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Thank you for the responses so far. It sounds like we just need to try induction, but it is very useful to hear about people's experiences. I was struggling because so much of what I read about the performance of induction focuses on how quickly water boils.

Cheryl -- it sounds like you had the same concerns we have, so I'm glad to hear that you are happy with your induction decision and that stir fry and scallops come out well. We'll definitely find a place where we can give it a try.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 11:10AM
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If you are considering zoneless (and who wouldn't - it sounds fabulous!) look into the AEG 36" zoneless available in Canada. It works fine in US kitchens. Morgne, who used to post all the time last year, has two in her kitchen, and she loves them. They are, I believe, less than $2000, and they are proven technology. I don't know how they compare powerwise to the new $5K Thermador.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 11:24AM
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blackbrandywine - I also found most people's accounts of their induction experience not relevant to my way of cooking. Most told of how fast water boils, or how evenly it simmered so you can melt chocolate or butter very easily. I don't care much about any of this. I want heat! Now! Then I want it to stop!

My experience with searing scallops on induction is that once I have a good sear on the first side, I flip them over, cook them briefly and then turn the heat off. There's some residual heat from the pan, but much less than over gas. So the scallops don't overcook. Yes, I could move the pan, but I don't have to. Ditto with stir-frying, or anything else you want to get to a good char, then stop.

Have fun experimenting,

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 11:53AM
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Heat is heat. I own the comparatively "underpowered" KE induction cooktop and sear meat quite nicely on a less than maximum setting. You don't need to use the power boost to make oil smoke.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 11:58AM
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I did some math on this a couple of months ago for a friend.

The Capital Culinarian produces 23k BTU/hr. This is equivalent to 6,741 watts of power. BUT, gas is a very inefficient heat source, with a roughly 40%[1] conversion rate. This means you're getting 2,696 watts of actual heating.

Induction is much more efficient at 84%[2]

This means that you need an induction burner rated at 3,200 watts to get the equivalent heat from the Capital.

So, if my math is right, you should be able to get more heat out of a high power induction than you would out of a CC or Blue Star.



    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 1:49PM
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I'd like to be able to get something like this:

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 1:49PM
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hey Eve how about this ...I have Viking induction and it works great !!! you i luv to saute foods !!! The heat control on induction is lightning fast in both directions!!! If im cooking on med , add some more ingredients, i can push up to med hi to get sizzling hot instantly if i need to .. ive never had to use hi other than to boil water ...its that hot !!!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 3:37PM
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Eve72 ---

what is that thing?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 3:46PM
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The range Eve72 posted is a Bertazzoni induction. You can also get Lacanche induction and Rangecooker (Aga) induction ... in europe.

Drives you nuts.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 4:42PM
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JW ...european spec induction ...not imported to US as of yet

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 5:03PM
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My heart says yes to the Viking, but my pocketbook.....

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 5:55PM
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Aint that the truth.

I really want one, too, but I seem to have an auto-locking wallet . . .

Also, there is a howler in the owners' manual that really gives me pause. Viking warns against using cast iron pots on induction because they might overheat and damage the cooktop. Here Viking makes all that effort to overcome their past quality control and service issues and then somebody tells you that your warranty will be void if you use cast iron pans. Sheesh. It would be like Ferrari saying that the warranty is voided when you drive on asphalt rather than concrete highways.

And speaking of cars, you wouldn't buy one without test driving. (So, we're not totally off topic here.) There is nothing better for Blackbrandywine to find out how induction will work than to test cook on some of them.

If you can find a zoneless unit to test, please let us know how it works for you and how it compares to any other induction units you get to test.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 6:57PM
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We are working on scheduling a test cook and I will post our thoughts after that. Especially if we can find a zoneless unit to take out for a spin.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 9:28PM
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1. I would not WANT to use cast iron on induction because cast iron retains heat and is therefore slow to change temps while the induction cooker itself changes temps instantly. I want instantly responsive cookware, not cookware that has a mind of it's own.

2. It is not easy to find an induction stove or cooktop for testing. Americans are uninformed or wary about induction. Try Miele, but way difficult to find zoneless demo's.

3. There are a surprising number of people who just love the flames of gas. And they love grates, love, love, love grates. And they want the ability to char over a flame. So they claim they want the btu's and heat of gas, when you tell them that induction produces higher heat, they will tell you that they need to char 3 times a day.

4. Induction is more easily controlled heat. The heat is steadier.

5. Induction does not have the 'kaboom' factor.

6. Get gas.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 10:25PM
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1. Westsider is correct with this warning for induction newbies. When some of us talk about cooking on cast iron, some people feel that we are saying it is somehow mandatory to use cast iron or else you are not a good cook. It is just not so. Cast iron pans are simply tools. For those whose cooking style is all about very rapid responses, cast iron pans will be the wrong tools for the job. They will be wrong whether you cook on induction or on gas or on the more common electric burners. If you have not been using cast iron pans on gas or electric cooktops, you probably will not want to use them on induction, either. If cast iron pans are tools you use on other kinds of stoves, you will use them happily on induction. (Even on Viking's stoves.) Putting a cast iron pan on induction does not change what it is and what it does any more than copying your fuzzy old old VHS tapes onto Blu-ray disks will turn them into pristine high-definition video. Sometimes, folks need to be reminded of that.

2. All too true. If you live in a rural area like I do, it can be hard to find any place to demo anything, let alone induction.

3. Yup. Induction is simply an option. Subjective personal preferences are important.

4. Agreed.

5. So, induction dies with a whimper rather than a bang? Apologies to Mr. Eliot but I couldn't resist ;=)

6. Again, agreed that subjective personal preferences matter.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 12:39PM
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If your kitchen gets involved with around the clock, day in, day out, marathon canning episodes come harvest time, gas is the more bulletproof option. Also a big gas burner on a range or a stand alone induction wok burner is needed for bigger and better wok action. Beyond those two caveats, personal preference for either cooking method will produce great results.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 3:19PM
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We went house shopping again today. I never like houses with big fancy gas ranges because it seems like such a waste to replace them. DH never likes any of the houses (that we can afford, anyway). He always sees every flaw. Today we walked into one house and Mr. Monk shocked me by ignoring all the wear and announcing that he really liked it. I was so shocked that I didn't really pay attention to the seller's realtor as we walked into the kitchen and she started making excuses. "Of course, nobody likes to cook on electric, but natural gas is already in the house and it would be easy to run the the line for a new cooktop." I looked over at the cooktop and there, gleaming from amongst the aged appliances, was a frameless, black, 36" Thermador Masterpiece induction cooktop. Sold.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 10:10PM
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Great story! Did they accept your offer?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 1:10PM
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jxbrown- Clearly, it was a sign. You have found your home.

That realtor is just as ignorant as many other people who should know better - appliance salesmen and kitchen remodelers, for example. All of them should know about induction by now, but many have no idea.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 2:08PM
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Good for you jrbrown! Love it.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 2:24PM
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We're making an offer today. Unfortunately, the supply of houses in the area is low, so the offer has to be high which means that I would have to live with a well-used kitchen for a few years, but at least I'd have a decent cooktop!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 5:11PM
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