Induction (or any electric) cooktop: selection criteria

ellessebeeDecember 29, 2012

I am trying to select an induction cooktop and, after reading a number of threads, see that there are some criteria that might make someone choose one brand over another. I'd like to compile such a list to to take with me to the various stores where I might actually see some of the cooktops in the flesh, although probably not live. I understand that type of controls is a biggie but I'm not sure about what the issues are. I'd love to hear from anyone who owns an electric cooktop for opinions. I currently own a Thermador electric (smooth top) range so I am familiar with cooking on ceram, but it has traditional knobs like a gas stove. Going from gas to an electric kitchen when I moved was frustrating because of the speed issues of radiant electric and I hope to eliminate that with induction, but now I see I have other issues to contend with. I especially would like to hear from anyone with the Thermador Freedom induction 36" cooktop. That's my first choice but, boy, is it expensive and I think I'd be fine with 30" if they made the freedom in that size. Thanks for all opinions!

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My first induction cooktop was a Kenmore Elite which I ordered before they were available in stores. At the time there were only luxury brands like Diva available in the US. It had somewhat annoyingly insensitive touch controls. It was made by Electrolux. I have no knowledge of the newer generation of KE cooktops. My new cooktop is an Electrolux. It has much more sensitive touch controls which allow you to either go through the levels sequentially or to go directly to a value by touching a ring. It also has finer increments for the lower powers. Although I appreciate the improved sensitivity, I can't see that the other changes help much. I do not have the function that automatically turns off a burner on a timer nor can I see that I would need or use it that much anyway. The only problem that I have had with the E'lux so far is that it failed to recognize my tiniest moka pot. My parents have a Miele and are quite satisfied with it. Any touch control is going to act whacky if water is spilled on it.

I bought the KE because it was about $2K cheaper than the other available options at the time. I'm afraid that I selected the E'lux becaus it was a new, out of the box return at Pacific Sales for almost $1K off the list price. In other words, I'm more sensitive to price than to burner configuration or control action!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 11:51PM
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Thanks for sharing your experience with me. When you say "Any touch control is going to act whacky if water is spilled on it" does it return to normal operation when dried off or is it something that requires a service call?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 10:34AM
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Just wipe it off.
My Electrolux induction cook top seems particularly forgiving as far as getting the touch controls wet or dirty, but a quick wipe gets rid of any errors generated, (Which has been rare).

We really haven't seen many complaints with the touch controls on induction cook tops, regardless of the brand.

There are even induction cook tops that use knobs instead of touch controls (for example) the Gaggenau, but it only has one knob, that you must move around to control the different hobs, and that would "Bug Me" that along with it's Astronomical price!

So main thing is get what you like the looks of, has the features you want and pay particular attention to the controls, Do you want to be able to enter a setting directly
(IE) go to a setting of "5" without waiting for it to count up/down, Do you like a slider type of control?

As I have mentioned many times, download the user's manual for any cook top you may be considering, (You can find most at the AJMAdison web-site). Also download the installation manual, this way you not only know the cutout size for the cook top, but how much "Empty space" is required below the cook top, as well as knowing its power requirements.

Good Luck on your hunt!


    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 10:58AM
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Dry it off. Otherwise I'd need a daily service call after cleaning with ciuntertop spray.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 11:59AM
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No problems with the Wolf controls - I lock the cooktop before cleaning so I don't accidentally turn it on.

I don't have problems with tapping - also, there is a quick way to go to high or power boost.

The one thing that would be nice (and I think the Miele has it) - a countdown timer for each burner.

The Wolf does not have a bridge burner - technically, I could bridge across the burners but iron is not very conductive and the areas between the burners would not cook effectively - just don't go over the controls with a bridge as this is home to the wires.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 12:49PM
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Yes, the Miele has countdown timers for each burner, and also turn off timers. I use them often.

If the controls are covered (say by an errant towel or splash of sauce) it beeps and turns the cooktop off, or just beeps if the cooktop is off. Remove the offending object or wipe off the sauce or cleaner, and all is again well. No service call needed. I've had it shut down due to excessive heat--ie, running cast iron on high for too long...(the grill pan, searing multiple batches of chicken) again, wait a bit and all is well. Really, it's not as fussy as all that.

Locking the cooktop before cleaning would be a way to get around the beeping--but in the end, all that needs to be done to correct it is to wipe it off, so I doubt I'll remember to do it. :-)


    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 8:28PM
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Amount of space, clearance required under the cooktop, was important. For example, GE required 12 inches of clearance underneath. I wanted a utensil drawer under my cooktop and Bosch requires no clearance. They have a thingy(sorry) a flippy thing built underneath. If I had a large kitchen, I think I could have been happy with GE.

I got a Bosch for the price, clearance, reliability, quality of manufacturer, shut off timers. I like the clean modern look. I like the relatively easy learning curve due to the simple one-touch power selection. There's no up or down. You want 8, you tap the 8.

I would have been ok with many different manufacturers as I find the attributes of induction cooktops similar to each other. The alleged negatives are piddly non-issues to me. It wouldn't matter to me if I had had to touch a spot 3 times to get to the power I wanted. In the almost 2 yrs, I haven't had a cleaning, shutoff, or water on the cooktop issue that was ever more than a blip on the radar. Wipe up a puddle-Not even worth mentioning, to me.

When I hear the real problems encountered by those with pro-style gas ranges/cooktops such as inability to simmer, hot-to the-touch ranges, lousy service,difficult cleaning, hot doors, crappy finishes, etc., I think that the differences between induction units are insignificant. Ha, except, of course, for clearance requirements, shut-off-timers, easy cleaning, no knobs.

Miele and Bosch had similar attributes but Miele was $800 more, Thermador was also pricier. There was no reason for me to spend more.

It's not fun but reading the manuals is the only way to see what each model offers. Second best is checking online sources such as AJMadison. No retailer has each brand on the sales floor.

Bosch-Siemens is a huge manufacturer of high quality, scientific, technically sophisticated machines. When I go to the hospital and I see MRI machines and radiology equipment made by Siemens, and I look at the 'films' created by these machines, I can't help but wonder why anyone would buy a stove without an adequate simmer function, or a hot-to the touch unit-just basic, primitive functions.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 12:15AM
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We have a Thermador cooktop, not the Freedom model. My main reason for choosing this brand was the power available. I do a lot of high heat cooking, so wanted a cooktop that would be as responsive as high power gas. The Thermador unit is.

It has timers on each hob, a panel lock, controls which are very responsive without being oversensitive. You can go to any of the 19 power levels with a touch on the panel. You can boost instantly with a single button. Each of the 5 hobs on the 36" unit can be boosted, although only 3 of the 5 can be boosted simultaneously. While I wanted to be able to stir fry with the cooktop, I've gotten used to having water ready for pasta in under 5 minutes by using boost.

We use a cast iron griddle across 2 hobs when we want to cook pancakes. So, while the cooktop does not have a bridge burner, I don't see the need. The griddle warms up fast enough (rough estimate - about 6-7 minutes) for me.

The layout of the hobs and controls makes sense to me. I have no negatives so far in 8 months of heavy use.


    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 12:58AM
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