magneflux induction cooktop: first impressions

arley_gwOctober 23, 2008

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.

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Thanks for the product report. I just bought an induction cooktop for our new house. I won't get a chance to try it out for a couple more months.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 9:25PM
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My hobs have much higher wattage (3200 on the larger ones) and, when I use the "boost" setting, water boils very quickly, much faster than 7 minutes, altho' I've never timed it. I've learned to not start the water heating up until I am almost ready with whatever I'm going to put in it (like peaches or tomatoes to loosen the skins, or green beans to blanche before freezing). Otherwise, the water is boiling and steaming up the room for nothing.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 1:42AM
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So nice of you to post all this. I'm looking for a portable induction burner for a summer kitchen area, but I've been put off by the prices. My 60" range with 6 32,000 BTU burners was only $2500.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 12:27PM
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8 minutes and 10 seconds, eh? I suppose I should boil 2 quarts to see how quickly our Wolf does it. I won't start at 98F, though. Why did you choose that temperature? Am I the only person who starts with cold tap water?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 12:39PM
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Chipshot: Just laziness on my part: 98 degrees is what I got when I put two quarts of hot water in the room temperature pan. So I did it identically for the second test.

Kitchendetective: If you go to the induction site (see link) they list all the available portable induction burners. If you're willing to run a 220 line to that kitchen area, there are several portable induction units that really have some power to them--the Cooktek Apogee looks great (3500 watts, 100 power levels, true shut-off timers) but it's around $1200 or so. When you go to the induction site, be sure to look at the commercial as well as the residential equipment. Some items such as the Cooktek are listed at the commercial page but not the residential, although Cooktek is happy to sell to individuals.

Here is a link that might be useful: induction site

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 1:25PM
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After playing with this new toy for a month, here is some more followup:

The item works pretty well. I do a lot of pressure cooking, and I find that the 200 degree setting is plenty to keep the pressure cooker up to pressure without it fizzing and spitting.

One drawback: the induction coils are pretty concentrated in the center of the unit, so the center of the pan heats more quickly than the periphery of the pan. You can get some hot spots.

Another (minor) drawback: the glass surface is solid black and shows every little fingerprint/grease spot, etc. Cleans up okay, though, using Simple Green followed by 409.

Final comment: I paid about $150 for it. Definitely worth that price. No other unit in that price range has 1800 watts. I don't think I'd pay the full retail ($400) for it, though.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 11:06AM
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You stated the following-

" I'm looking for a portable induction burner for a summer kitchen area, but I've been put off by the prices. My 60" range with 6 32,000 BTU burners was only $2500."

I have never heard of a gas or electric range with over 18,000 BTU burners--except for restaurant commercial gas range tops. What brand and type of range is this?

I used to own an Italian made gas rangetop that had one burner of 18,000 BTU's that I mostly used for wok cooking and other high heat tasks, but it wasn't nearly as powerful as my induction 3,600 watt burner. Also, when I cooked on highest heat with my gas rangetop it would often severely scorch the stainless pan bottom---leading to warping and not being able to totally clean the bottom. This never happens with my induction burners--even on their highest settings, which are much higher than my former gas rangetop.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 10:29AM
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I have a Viking portable cooktop ($300 refurbished) and the thing I like best about it is the ease of heat adjustment, and the instantaneous change in heat when you do adjust it. I also do a lot of pressure cooking, and it's very easy to do on the induction cooktop--much easier than on my Jennair Glasstop. I bought it to give induction a trial run, and I like it. It also simmers beautifully. I would like to have the shutoff timers. As to power, I figure if I like the 1800 watts, then 3600 oughta blow my socks off. That is, if I ever get the kitchen remodel going... :-)


    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 6:42PM
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