magneflux induction cooktop: first impressions
I just bought a Magneflux Boilerplate countertop induction unit. The main reason I bought it is that Tuesday Morning had it on sale for $149 (retail $400).
It's a single hob unit, plugs in to a regular 110 v outlet. It draws 1800 watts, which is about the maximum you can get from a 110v outlet. Any unit higher than that would need a 220 line. The box says that it's equivalent to 13,000 BTU (more on that in a bit). It has 9 power levels. No timers. The only other 1800 countertop units I know of are the Viking ($499) and Cooktek (around $630). So the dollars per kilowatt ratio is pretty good.
With the unit came a little refrigerator-magnet style timer with the instructions to use that magnet to test the cookware. Of note, it's a pretty wimpy magnet. Don't know the gauss per square meter or however they measure magnetics, but it's pretty wimpy. At any rate, it only stuck to a couple of pots which I knew were marketed to be good with induction (they were the bottom parts of a Fagor pressure cooker set). It wouldn't stick to my Belgique or Cuisinart pots.
Last night I fired it up for the first time. I also did some measurements to see how it compared with my regular stove. My gas stove is a run of the mill Kenmore gas stove from the mid seventies, I think (in lovely Harvest Gold!! Yuck.). I don't know the BTU rating of the gas burner, but it was standard issue stuff back then.
It did an acceptable job of boiling a pot of water for pasta and maintaining a vigorous boil for the entire cooking period.
I then took one of the induction-approved pans and put 2 quarts of hot water from the tap in the pan (starting temp 98 degrees F), and put the pan on the induction hob, and turned the unit on its highest setting. It took 8 minutes and 10 seconds to come to a full rolling boil.
I emptied the pan and allowed it to cool to room temp. I repeated the test with another two quarts of hot water (starting temp 98 again) and put the pan on my gas stove with the flame on its highest setting. It took 7 minutes and 50 seconds to come to a full rolling boil.
My impressions so far (bear in mind I haven't really put it through its paces yet as far as trying to really cook anything, just how well it boiled water):
1. The power of the unit seems to be roughly the same as one of my gas stove's hobs. That claim that it's equivalent to 13,000 BTU's--well, I don't think my stove has 13,000 BTU burners so that evaluation may be a tad generous, or maybe theoretically that's what it's capable of, but in practical terms I didn't see much difference.
2. The unit seems fairly well made, although I would have liked more power levels and shutoff timers.
3. Am I happy I bought it? Yes, because it will fill the need I have for it--I'll be using it on the back porch to cook smelly/smoky stuff like frying fish and searing meat. Is it worth the $149 sale price? I think so. Is it worth the $400 retail price? No, I don't think so.
4. Does it give an accurate reflection of what induction can do? Somewhat. It's only 1800 watts, and it doesn't have the 'oomph' that a high powered cooktop would have. It would be like comparing a Shetland pony to a quarter horse. But I'm sufficiently impressed with induction to make sure that I'm gonna have at least one big honkin' induction hob in my upcoming kitchen redo. And it's gonna be powerful. By my admittedly simplistic scientific tests, I would conclude that you don't get the real benefits of induction (such as bringing water to boil quickly, etc.), until you get the higher wattages. If you're getting an induction cooktop that isn't particularly powerful, I don't know if induction would be that much of a performance advantage over gas--although you would be getting better efficiency and some safety advantages, of course.
Anyway, that's my first take. Will keep playing with it.