Underperforming Induction Anyone?

Xena99August 8, 2013

I have a circa 2002 Jenn-Air smooth cooktop that has 2 induction burners and 2 regular electric ones. The induction burners have never put out much heat; as a consequence we use the regular burners almost all the time. The induction is only good for low heat like eggs or simmering. We have induction cookware.

Well, to my surprise reading this forum, induction is supposed to be MORE efficient than radiant electric. I researched the issue and a salesperson said induction needs a 40 amp circuit. I checked and my cooktop and Jenn-Air double electric ovens share two joined 40 amp circuits that can only be switched in tandem. It would seem to be enough amperage, especially if the ovens are not operating.

I'd like to go all induction-- if it would work as advertised. My question is-- has anyone else had this problem? What is the cause? Is the Jenn-Air poorly designed and/or made? I can't read the model number of the cooktop.

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beachlily z9a

The two issues you face is that your Jenn Air is 11 years old and it's Jenn Air. Who knows how efficient it was when it was installed? It may have been excellent--I just don't know. I have to believe induction has come a long way in 11 years.

I've had induction for 4 years. Just replaced the Kenmore (rebadged Electrolux built to Kenmore standards). That range was ok. It was fast and highly adjustable, but all the electronics under the glass were replaced twice and the oven liner was replaced once. When we removed it in Apr., it needed a new oven liner.

With the kitchen update this spring, we installed an Electrolux induction range that is head and shoulders above the Kenmore. Love the new one! You can saute chops at a middle high setting and reduce it (with immediate response) to a much lower setting to finish the cooking.

Does it work as advertised? YES!!!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 5:08PM
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beachlily, which one did you get? Do you know why the slide-in is so much pricier than the free-standing version?


    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 5:40PM
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beachlily, one more question - I'm as interested in how well the cooktop on this range simmers as I am in the high-output burner (I could never simmer properly on my Viking gas cooktop). So, how does it do?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 5:52PM
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Xena - Initally I was going to get a hybrid but most of the reviews were terrible.
I went full induction and the power is awesome. And as beach says - sizzle away and then simmer away - it does it all!
I even used it as a "crock" pot to cook a pot roast...
(Wolf 36)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 10:49PM
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The two issues you face is that your Jenn Air is 11 years old and it's Jenn Air.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 5:13AM
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beachlily z9a

OP, I have the slide-in Electrolux. It fits the contemporary vibe of my kitchen. Don't know why slide-ins cost so much more. Experts on this site know way more about that an I do.

You want to know how it simmers???? I can melt chocolate directly on the hob at a 3.5 setting. Don't need a silly double boiler! Also make home-made caramel without a double boiler. The simmer function is awesome--tomato sauce will have lazily bubble on a 1.4 setting and will simmer that way for hours. And yes, it makes a better slow cooker then those junky slow cookers that are available now (they cook too hot!).

Deeageaux, glad I could give you a chuckle so early in the a.m.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 8:34AM
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So what y'all are saying is Jenn-Air makes crappy products?

Is there an inexpensive (relatively) 30-inch induction cooktop that you like?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 11:31AM
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Fori is not pleased

It's not the age.

Before I remodeled I had a Kenmore induction cooktop from 1983 (at least that was when the manual was printed). I replaced it in 2009 with a Windcrest and while the new one was certainly more powerful than the old, the old induction was still able to outboil anything non-induction.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 12:29PM
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Thanks, beachlily. We're "stuck" with electric and a range (size limitations), so I think I'm going to go for the Electrolux slide-in. It's on sale, too!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 12:31PM
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I think you may have mixed up "power" and "efficiency." Induction burners deliver a greater portion of their energy to the pans than radiant burners (efficiency), but that won't be saying much when you've got the kind of small induction burners (power) that the JennAir hybrid had.

Jeez, it must be 13 or 14 years since I saw one of those JennAir hybrid cooktops, but my recollection is that the induction burners on those things were about like what you now see on some of the lower powered portable/countertop induction hotplates.

To get a practical view of the difference between that old JennAir and current induction cooktops, I'd suggest finding a store that can demo a current unit. Probably will be a high-end appliance store that will have Wolf, Thermador or Kitchenaid hooked up, but a polite request will often get you a demo. The higher priced ones mainly give you better styling and more features but the burners will be typical for the size you will see on other cooktps.

>>> "So what y'all are saying is Jenn-Air makes crappy products?" Well, back when you got your cooktop, JA was owned by Maytag which was in a downward spiral. JA is now a Whirlpool brand (acquired with Maytag in 2006) and has improved somewhat. IIRC, six years ago, JennAir electric cooktops and ranges were running about a 20% defect rate according to Consumer Reports annual membership surveys. Now, it is down around 15% That's nearly double the rate of leading brands.

>>> "Is there an inexpensive (relatively) 30-inch induction cooktop that you like? " "Inexpensive" and "induction" are still pretty much exclusive requirements.

Depends on how you define "inexpensive."

Lately, the largest number of postive reviews of 30" induction cooktops have been for Bosch units. The 300 series induction cooktops are the least expensive in the line. Just checked and they seem to be running about $1600 right now although I've seen them as low as $1300 during holiday weekend sales. (I think that was at Lowe's over the last Memorial Day weekend. Might see similar pricing over Labor Day weekend, too).

IIRC, There are a couple of Kenmore models that go for around $1k, but do not recall seeing much about them recently. AFAIK, these are made for Kenmore by Electrolux. Apparently, most of them are reasonably durable according to what I've seen here at GW. Of course, the few postings at the Sears site are a mix of 4 or 5 extremely pleased owners and 4 or 5 people who received a DOA units and want to say how terrible Sears is and how they will never, ever buy anything from Sears again. Seems like most buyers never report anything.

Electrolux has a couple of Frigidaire models that go for around $1200 at the likes of AJ Madison. (They seem to be a lot more expensive elsewhere). Folks have been pretty positive about the Electrolux made induction units. The Electrolux-branded "Icon" and "Wavetouch" units start at higher prices ($1500 and way up from there).

IKEA sells a rebadged Whirlpool induction cooktop (called a "NUTID") for around $1k, as well. Search on that, though, and you may get an earful about warranty service and the lack thereof. Whirlpool has some units starting around $1250, but Whirlpool and Kitchenaid seem to have had more problems with noise issues than other brands. Do a search.

Seems like I've seen favorable write-ups on LG and GE induction cooktops, too, but these are no longer what I'd call inexpensive as pricing seems to be starting around $1750 now.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Fri, Aug 9, 13 at 14:09

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 2:06PM
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Wow, thank you JWVideo, that is exactly the information I needed: someone who knew this particular Jenn-Air cooktop. Since it's the cooktop, not the wiring I can buy a new cooktop!

Interesting that Electrolux makes induction units for Frigidaire. I will have to check that out.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 2:33PM
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beachlily z9a

Xena, Electrolux ownes Frigidaire. My experience with a Kenmore induction range made by Elecrolux wasn't good, because the range was made to Kenmore standards. That should not be true for a Frigidaire cooktop

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 3:32PM
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A Kenmore Elite (slightly modified Electrolux Icon) 36-inch induction cooktop purchased at the end of 2007 at Sears has worked fine ever since. It certainly doesn't under-perform. Cost was about $1800 then-year dollars. It was cost-effective then for Kenmore to get in the induction game by taking the Electrolux cooktop as it was without meddling beyond adjusting trim appearance.

It is possible that by now Kenmore's MBAs have figured out how to build a lower quality unit with a statistical failure rate through the warranty period just low enough to maximize profit.

It is not a given that the higher priced, longer lived appliances are the most cost effective for all buyers. Such appliances should be most cost effective for persons intending to stay in the same house for a long time who also do not intend to renovate their kitchens every several years. Lower lifetime throw-away appliances may be more cost effective for persons intending to move or renovate every several years. The value of one's time spent dealing with repairs may bias this perspective.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 6:12PM
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It really is a shame that the Kitchenaid clicks so annoyingly, because I like everything else about it, and it was not expensive. I think I got it for $1300 in 2011 by showing the local appliance store the price on AJMadison. But it does click. I am used to it, and I can't always hear it, what with CD's playing, food sizzling, water boiling, and the hood blowing, but still, better not to get one if you're at all sensitive to repetitive noises.

Are KA and Whirlpool related? I wonder if Whirlpool clicks, too.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 10:16PM
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Whirlpool owns the Jenn Air, Kitchen Aid, Maytag and Amana brands and sells stuff under half a dozen other brands plus makes some appliances for re-branders like Kenmore and Ikea. I think www.appliance411.com has a list of who makes what for whom.

When I was stove shopping last fall, I ran across posts complaining about clicking on Whirlpool induction units including the IKEA Nutid version. Haven't searched since then and cannot find any current links. Sorry. Must not be my day for search engines.


When you said "wiring," something did occur to me. In many places, so-called 220v electrical supply (standard appliance lines) is actually up around 240v while a few places only supply around 208v. (If memory serves, some of those palces are around Chicago, but my memory is failing and I don't keep up on this stuff any more.) If you are in an area where the power is lower, you may be getting less than optimum performance from 220v appliances of all kinds. I doubt that is the problem with your Jenn AIr. We've always had 240v here and my recollection of the demo I saw a dozen years ago was that the Jenn Air was very wimpy. Kind of Mustang with a Yugo engine, if you know what I mean.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Sat, Aug 10, 13 at 0:12

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 12:03AM
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I think that one of the reasons the Elux slide-in is more expensive than the freestanding is that the slide-in has more stainless steel in it. The top of the freestanding is black enameled steel while the top of the slide-in is all stainless (well, the part surrounding the glass).

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 12:29AM
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Thanks everyone for all the great information! I have been shopping on-line and a Frigidaire 30-in can be had for $1030 at plessers.com and goedekers.com. The Bosch 300 is on sale at Lowe's for $1399 plus there are rebate gift cards.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 10:58AM
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if you live in mixed residential commercial district you may be wired for 208v. In a low rise to high rise with elevators almost certain to be 208v.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 12:59PM
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208 is three phase, i.e. commercial, 440 volt service. Regular residential is 220 volt service. You don't lose any power with a 208 commercial wiring vs. a regular 220 residential. It's just wired with a different pigtail and plug.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 1:10PM
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For loads that are primarily resistive (which are most loads in the kitchen, even induction loads when a pan is present), the power used, and hence supplied, is proportional to the square of the voltage supplied.

The reason for 208 Vac is roughly as follows. Power is generally propaged as three-phase high voltage. Usually in residential settings, only a single phase is carried high on the poles, and a properly designed center-tapped transformer is used to derive 120 - 0- 120 Vac power for household use. Here, the phase-to-phase voltage is 240 Vac.

However, in commercial settings where power to three-phase motors is needed, the power is supplied as three phase, where the voltage to neutral on each phase is 120 Vac. (Higher voltages are also used for larger motors.) Because in this case the phase angle from phase to phase is only 120 degrees, not 180 degrees, the voltage from phase to phase is 240 times the square root of 3 divided by 2, or 208 Vac. Because the appliance is hooked across the two phases, it sees 208 Vac instead of 240 Vac, with a power reduction to 75% of what a 240 Vac circuit would supply to the same resistance.

Deliberately reduced resistance would be needed by an appliance to use and deliver the same power at 208 Vac than its counterpart designed for 240 Vac, but this design would be dangerous if inadvertantly hooked to 240 Vac.

Induction cooktops use high frequency power, and a sophisticated enough regulated circuit generating the high frequency power could be designed to have the same output for 208 Vac input as for 240 Vac input. (It would draw more current at the lower voltage.) I am not aware of any such units, but they may exist.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 7:34PM
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Yowser- y'all crack me up sometimes!!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 10:06PM
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I did not really understand all that electrical stuff from kaskei, but on the Frigidaire induction cooktop spec sheet, the voltage rating is listed as 240v/208v/60Hz. So it seems these should work in most locations.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 3:20PM
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I would expect it to work at both voltages; the question is whether the hob power is rated the same at both voltages.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 9:12PM
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