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my long fagor induction review (ifa 90 bf)

Posted by fencesitter (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 14, 10 at 3:02

First, apologies if this is a duplicate, it didn't seem to post from a different browser.

I'm not really a regular here on GW, I just come and go depending on what I'm planning on doing to my house at the time, however, it was this forum that turned me on to induction cooktops, so here's the longwinded feedback on the induction cooktop I eventually got.

Everybody's requirements are different, so let me point out what my constraints were- I was replacing an existing 36" electric flat top cooktop that was pretty poor. I assume it was a regular coil element underneath a ceramic top, so it was slow to heat and even slower to cool down. I guess that was pretty much the only thing wrong with it, but after living with that in our new (as they say in the automotive biz, "pre-owned") house for half a year, that was a good enough reason.

I chose the Fagor 36" induction cooktop for a number of reasons:

  • Thinness: There were drawers under our old cooktop that I didn't want to lose. The Fagor was the thinnest and had very little clearance requirements under it.

  • Price- It was relatively cheap and I was able to rationalize why not to get the cheaper units.

  • Power- This was actually a big deal. Though the Fagor does not have a lot of power, it also does not draw that much power. This was one of the few/only 36" induction ranges that only required a 40 amp supply. Though my old cooktop had only a 30 amp feeding it, the oven (which I also replaced) had a 40amp supply going to the same junction box. Since I put in a 30amp oven, I was able to swap lines and get 40 amps for the cooktop without having to run new wires.

  • Presets- Though it only has 12 power levels, it did have three preset buttons to get power levels 6, 10 and 12. Yeah, you could easily hit the buttons up or down the right number of times, but this is convenient.

  • Bonus- Hey, it comes with a free set of pots. Well, I lost the receipt so didn't get around to picking up the pots. I did find the receipt a year later and the dealer is seeing what he can do about getting me something.

  • Dealer- I could have mail ordered it, but I was able to find a local dealer. Yeah, I paid more because of local tax, but I figured it would be easier to have any issues dealt with if I could stand in someone's showroom complaining loudly. As it was, I didn't have any issues.

So, after owning this thing for almost a year, how do I like it?

First, since everyone seemed to be asking before, yes, this thing hums. How loud? Well, that's very hard to quantify and it also depends on the pot. I've got the Emeril pots with the sandwiched bottoms- cheap stuff made in China for All Clad and the lids even rattle on some, making it louder. My previous Calphalon stainless was nicer, but unfortunately, all Calphalon's stuff seems to be non-magnetic. I may have posted before about the noise- maybe a bit louder than my Bosch 500 series (SHE-55) dishwasher which claims to be 48dB.

As it was, all my old pots had warped bottoms (stainless, cast iron, okay, not my Le Creuset), so new stuff was in order anyway.

The center burner claims a 3600W maximum, but most of my pots don't cover the full size of the hob. I'm not sure if there's a double element under the thing since there's an outline for two different pot sizes. Anyway, power does seem to be a bit weak- it does take longer to get a skillet to really sizzle than the (1950's? Wedgewood) gas range at my previous house. But it is still so much better than what was here previously, especially given the response time turning the thing both on and off.

One thing I noticed about the Fagor was there seems to be a hot spot. Rather, there's a ring where the induction seems strongest. Note that with better cookware that spreads the heat better, this is less of an issue. I'm not sure if this is just an issue with my Fagor or if it's common to most induction hobs. My guess is the latter, given how the coils in an induction hob are probably pretty much all the same.
Photobucket
Looking at the picture, it seems more that it's a cool spot in the center and around the edges with a decent size ring/band of heat.

Power use- I barely use three hobs at once, so power sharing really isn't an issue. Power sharing is in a vertical line- on the right side hobs and the left side hobs. The center doesn't share. When one hob is at the max,12, the twin can only go to 6. Rather, if you've got one at the max, if you start to adjust the twin and bring that up to the max, the first gets lowered to 6. But it's not linear- you can have power level pairings of 10 and 11, which I guess means that 12 is really a big boost.

Power levels- the European Fagor units have half levels, as do units from other manufacturers. There is a rare instance where I think, "I need a 7.5 power level," but I'm not that great of a cook anyway. I think I'd prefer the fewer steps I have instead of the finer granularity which would require pressing the buttons twice as much (if it's not on a preset).

Each group of hobs has a separate set of fans running them since they're pretty well split into separate modules. But this also means that if you're running two different modules, the fans are 3dB louder. Some cooktops say that the fans come on demand. No, these come on as soon as you turn on the power to the bank and don't turn off for five second to five minutes after you turn it off, depending on how hot the unit is.

There are no buzzers, but if I leave something on the controls, LEDs on the controls blink and the fans run. The fans are discretely loud enough themselves (but not obtrusively so) that I'll usually notice and realize there's something wrong, see the blinking LEDs and pull whatever it is off the controls. I don't know what would happen if I didn't notice.

That said, the specs about the safety features from The Induction Site are a little wrong. The Fagor site does not claim any childproof lockout nor residual heat indicator like The Induction Site does. Also, the Fagor site is more specific about the safety features- overflow detection shuts off power only if there's something spilled onto the controls and the overheating detector kicks in at 575F. But it only has five bullet points for the "7-Point Safety System."

The capacitive controls are pretty robust. Sometimes I'll get a thin layer of water or something else on the controls and they'll stop working (I forget if the hob shut itself down), but just a squeegee with the side of my finger across all the buttons gets it clean enough to start working again.

One quirk about the button layout is that there is a separate power button for each hob instead of a master power button. Not a big deal, but for those who like the single button to power things off when running to grab the phone, this may be an issue.

I was wondering if there were secret key sequences to readjust the presets since the European Fagor induction cooktops seem to have adjustable presets, but I didn't find anything easy to set in ten minutes of trying.

What else did I look at and reject? Well, it's been a while, but when I looked at the Electrolux non-hybrid units at Sears, I looked at the white cooktop since it would have matched better, but the problem was that the LED windows were not a good, flush fit, and the black of those windows was just a bit too distracting on the white background. Maybe I could have gone with the black instead. GE? I guess there weren't many problems besides the clearance issues, which may or may not be that big of a deal. Another clearance issue I had with either the GE or Electrolux or both, was that there actually wasn't enough counter in the front, according to the mounting specifications, but I'm sure there was enough margin of error added that it really would not have been a problem.

If I were to do this all over again, I might have actually looked into fitting a 30" unit into the space since I didn't actually go into the fit issues- the Fagor was wider but shorter than the hole the old cooktop left, so I had to both cut it out and find a way to shim the back and support it. With other 30" units, I might have just needed to find a way to shim and support the side(s), though adding 4" vs. 1" might not be worth it, but almost any 30" unit would be able to use the 40 amp supply.

All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with my induction unit. It didn't require me to add additional wiring or be careful about not running at maximum capacity, it mostly fit, and it's convenient enough to use, but there are a few times where I'd think that a good gas cooktop would be hotter or would be nicer to use a wok on, but I do like how cool induction runs, especially with two children poking their heads over the counter.

Don't fall for that, "induction means the cooktop doesn't get hot," line. The surface is ceramic. That means that it transfers heat slowly, but it also doesn't conduct away whatever heat it gets, so it stays hot. No, it probably won't get as hot as a radiant surface (I measured my old one at over 750 degrees), but if you're cooking for a while, it can get as hot as the pot above it and stay that way for a good time after you remove the pot. Not that bad if you're boiling water, but it'll get pretty hot if you're deep frying.


Follow-Up Postings:

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re: my long fagor induction review (ifa 90 bf)

I don't know why the post title changed to all lowercase. Weird.

Anyway, one more thing to add- someone was mentioning pulsing of an older induction unit. The Fagor also audibly pulses under the 6 setting, probably a couple of pulses a second with the duty cycle decreasing (shorter pulses every half second) as you go lower.


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RE: my long fagor induction review (ifa 90 bf)

The spot in the middle is normal. The induction drivers are round and the center contains the pan detector and temperature sensor.


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RE: my long fagor induction review (ifa 90 bf)

Thanks for posting your review. I've been trying to decide between the 30" GE and the Fagor. Based on your review, I'm now leaning toward the GE.


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RE: my long fagor induction review (ifa 90 bf)

Good to know about pulsing.

I've been reading about induction for two years and have never had so much clear information all in one place.


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RE: my long fagor induction review (ifa 90 bf)

Thank you for the helpful, comprehensive review. 30" for me, with 2 6"diameter hobs and 2 9" hobs on the Fagor. The Fagor price and thinness is alluring, but I haven't decided yet.


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RE: my long fagor induction review (ifa 90 bf)

Very nice review, fencesitter. I'm sure there are many that will benfit from it.


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RE: my long fagor induction review (ifa 90 bf)

In my induction cooktop (an AEG bought in 2008) I hear a pulsing noise, too.
There was NO noise to be heard at the retailer (in 2008) when their working demonstrator heated a pot there.

At high power I hear another noise, not a pulsing noise.
So far, it's noisiest with low-cost cookware, and almost imperceptible with expensive cookware.

Here is a link that might be useful: vibration noise in induction cookware


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RE: my long fagor induction review (ifa 90 bf)

davidro1-

I find I do have physical vibration of the pots- as I mentioned, the lids will rattle on some. If you get a very high pitched rattling (without the lid), I'd assume there's flex in your cookware such that it's hitting the ceramic surface.

As others have suggested- a silicone mat would help not only in cleanup and slip prevention, but it may also damp the vibration a bit.


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RE: my long fagor induction review (ifa 90 bf)

I tried padding underneath, and it never changed the noise.

I guess I should conclude that it's got to do with the induction cooktop, and secondly, with some other factor in the cookware, like perhaps the mass of magnetized steel. Cast iron makes no noise at all. It is interesting that the most expensive of the stainless steel products make less noise. I'm still purchasing and returning products, every month.

Perhaps my noise is not your noise. The lids don't rattle, or if they did I didn't notice it because the irritating buzz was so strong.


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RE: my long fagor induction review (ifa 90 bf)

fencesitter- Love your username by the way, feel like it should be mine! Do you have any cast iron cookware? If so, does the Fagor make the same noise with cast iron? Just wondering...


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RE: my long fagor induction review (ifa 90 bf)

fencesitter- another thanks for your review. I have gathered info on the Fagor units and am glad to see a review posted here. I haven't found retailers locally so a lot of what I've looked in to is online.

Some of your considerations match exactly for the research I am doing for a family member (mom). I don't see it as a negative against Fagor at all.
In addition to your thinness, price, power, presets - I would add layout. In realizing the habits of how someone cooks it is important to see what layout would match that. For instance, if someone uses the big burner the most, the Fagor is one of the few I've seen that offer that on the RH side front.

Knowing some limitations of the unit the user can then make accommodations accordingly. (In our case, new pots is a given!)
Hard to say without actually using an induction range but power sharing wouldn't be an issue because she rarely uses more than one burner at a time - period. Timers - don't have them for burners now - so wouldn't miss not having them. Sep power button? Don't see that as a negative here. I guess where this is going is for folks considering this as an alternative - how do they really cook on a day to day basis. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the "best of" discussions here.

Do you have any feedback on the simmer? If it is pulsating as mentioned earlier does it hold the temp adequately?

Again - thanks!


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RE: my long fagor induction review (ifa 90 bf)

numbersjunkie- I wasn't to sure whether to got with this username or "vacillator." I'm still not sure I made the right choice :)

Cast iron- yes, I've got a few pieces of cast iron, both bare and enameled. The hobs all hum to a certain extent. I assume it's more the power going through the coils than anything else- sort of like power lines hum. The hum might be a bit more muted with the cast iron, or it's just cognitive bias.

Interestingly, I noticed that on max with the cast iron, the hob pulses for a few seconds before going to a steady drone. With my Emerilware (sandwiched stainless bottom pots), it goes immediately into a steady drone. I assume this is the same for levels 6 through 12 but I'm not at home to verify right now.

plumorchard- as I mentioned, sometimes I feel that a half setting might be nice, but I attribute that to lack of skill more than anything else. As for the simmer and pulsing, since the pulsing is about a couple of times a second, I don't think the temperature has that much time to vary.

I assume the simmer is not as bad as on some gas hobs that turn the gas on and off over (I assume again) the course of many seconds (tens of seconds? a minute?), allowing more time for the pot to cool.

Even then, for my long slow simmers when I'm making a big pot of stew, gumbo, or whatever, the thermal mass of the whole pot is so great that even pulsing the power on and off over the course of thirty seconds probably wouldn't cause the temperature to fluctuate that much.

Also, I don't think I've ever used the lowest power setting since my big pots have so much surface area they'd radiate more heat than the lowest setting puts out. But again, I need to add the caveat that my cooking isn't that adventurous, so I haven't really explored the lower limits of the range (pardon the pun) like others might.


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