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Thoughts on induction cooktops

Jesse_Lackman's picture

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We are thinking about CookTek induction drop-in induction cooktops or the Fasar induction cooktiles. Any pros or cons?

http://cooktek.com/SITE/index.html

http://www.inductionsystems.com/fasar.htm

Jay_West's picture

(post #53637, reply #1 of 12)

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I had a chance to work with some induction cooktops overseas and was impressed. I'm not familiar with the Fasar induction cooktop, but looked at the CookTek units a year or so ago. For drop-in units (meaning permanent installation like a cooktop), I'd skip the 110/120v unit and go for the 2500 and/or 3500 units, which run on 220v. The 110/120v unit will spin the meters much as using electric space heaters, laser printers, and the like.
Are you going to be using the induction units in place of a cooktop or rangetop? To assemble these things into a usable stovetop, you'll need to build some kind of bus with a connection to your electric panel. That means, you'll need either: (a) a good working knowledge of and skills in home electrics and wiring; or (b) a competent contractor to assemble the things into a cooktop you can use. Have you checked out the induction information at www.owlcroft.com? They have a lot of links to other sites with good information on induction cooktops.

Jesse_Lackman's picture

(post #53637, reply #2 of 12)

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Thanks Jay.

Was induction more popular overseas than here in the US?

I'm leaning heavily towards the CookTec drop in units. This is new construction in our home which we have been working on for a few years now. >GROAN< I can do the wiring and have got information and installation instructions from CookTec.

The Fasar units are meant to be installed in tiled countertops, something we were having doubts about (tiled countertops). They are older technology, and operate in the power mode only. Fasars are made as four 1800 watt units with a common control panel, and power supply. If something goes wrong with the control panel or power supply all four units go down. The CookTecs can be bought seperate, or as double drop ins. CookTec has just come out with a drop in or freestanding wok unit. That would be neat.

How did you like cooking on the induction units? How do they compare to gas and conventional electric?

jwresearch's picture

(post #53637, reply #3 of 12)

Sorry to take so long to respond, but I've been out of commission with the awful flu that's been going around town.

Induction is more popular overseas because the units are available.

Basically, the units I saw were covered with the same kind of glass surfaces that are used on smoothtop electrics. You need very flat bottomed pans that are roughly the same size as the "burner" (which those folks called a "hob"). As I recall, they were using Sitram and Kuhn-Rikon cookware, but I think that there is a lot of high qaulity cookware that will work well on induction surfaces. The cooking process was a lot like using gas burners, with the amount of heat going up or down very quickly. To me, the two most immediately obvious differences are that: (a) when you bring something to heat quickly and then turn down the heat, you have to pay close attention to what is happening in the pan because you do not have the visual clues that a gas burner can provide; and (b) there seemed to be less fumes and grease, and the area around the stove was much cooler than with gas. (The owlcroft web site will give you some links and info on this, but it is basically because something like 80% or more of the induction energy goes into the pan as opposed to around 30-40% with gas). I'm told that the glass surface is like any other smoothtop, which means the makers advise against using uncoated cast-iron pans and also recommend against shaking the pans around. OTOH, if you've seen any of the early Ming Tsai cooking shows, you've seen him whack all kinds of things around on an induction cooktop. No observed ill effects.

Jay West

BondFBond's picture

(post #53637, reply #4 of 12)

I believe you can use All Clad on induction. What's the repair rate on these things, and how expensive are they to repair?  Are you sure you don't want to go with maybe 1 or 2 drop-ins and a regular stove/burners, too? My instructor in school has a couple induction burners and never uses them - don't know why - she didn't seem all that impressed...

The taller the hair, the closer to God.

jwresearch's picture

(post #53637, reply #5 of 12)

All Cladd's stainless steel line uses magnetic stainless steel so that these pots can be used on induction cookers. The other lines (MC, MC2, Limited and Emerilware) are mainly aluminum and won't work with induction cookers. Jenn Aire has a half-and-half cooktop (two induction burners and two ribbon burners) that were demonstrated at some home improvement expos last year and I think they used All Clad SS pots for the demonstrations.

I cannot really say anything about repair rates for the units themselves as I simply do not know. The owlcroft.com website has some information and might have links that could be helpful. My recollection is that the complaints they collected about induction cookers were mostly from people who bought GE and Jenn Aire stoves a decade ago (back when GE and Jenn Aire were selling them), and their complaints were mostly about the amount of power (or lack thereof) in those units. There may be something in newgroups about this, so you might try searching Dejanews. I've heard of several movie-location caterers in this area (southern Montana) have used the Cooktek units on location and were happy with them, but I do not know any details. I'd guess that these things would be as reliable as any other modern electric cooking appliance and the glass cooking surface is probably the thing most likely to chip or break or need replacement.

junkhound's picture

(post #53637, reply #6 of 12)

2 months late, haven't looked over here from breaktime since prospero changeover.


Absolutely love induction, would not have anything else, especially as they are "burn safe" enough to let the 2 to 7 year old grandkids use, never dream of that with anything else.


Maintenance is a whole 'nother story!!!- GE, Kenmore, Jenn-air had near 100% failure rate within 5 years due to damage due to hot skillets or cookie sheets* from oven set on the frame, which melted thru the mylar touch panel printed circuit**.  Since I'm an EE, I reversed engineered the control panel and replaced it with homebuilt burnout proof micro switches - obviously not an avenue for everyone.  When I checked out of curiosity in '97, the Kenmore replacement touch panel was $300 by itself, no wonder they quit selling them.


Never had any of the power electronics that run the  coils fail.


* Wife did ours in with cookie sheet on Thanksgiving Day, '97


** the touch panels are also the #1 failure mechanism of microwave ovens.


Hey Jesse, try breaktime again, Gabe has gotten mellow.


Art B.

Ozark's picture

(post #53637, reply #7 of 12)


I have been using it since 1984. I love it. Mine is a Sears model


manufactured by GE. They quit shortly after. Mine is a 220 version on


seperat circuit. One negeative is it pluses at low temp and the bathroom


light will faintly pluse with it. No other lights in the house are


affected. Expensive to replace one of the elements.


Hardest part is finding magnetic pans. You will find a lot of stainless


steel is not magnetic. Take a magnet when shopping.


I ended up buying All-Clad. Some of the enamled steel ones work and of coarse all cast iron.


Much cheaper to operate, don't heat up the kitchen like radiant and I can


boil water in less than two minutes, remove the pan and touch the burner


without burning myself. Greatest is the imediate response time. Full boil


to nothing and back to a boil in 3 seconds.


Edited 5/8/2002 12:21:09 PM ET by Rick

 

Growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional!

UncleDunc's picture

(post #53637, reply #8 of 12)

>> Hardest part is finding magnetic pans.

Are magnetic pans really required? Based on my admittedly limited understanding of electricity, I expected that an induction cooktop would induce eddy currents in any electrically conductive material and that the heat comes from the resistance to the current flow. Do copper and aluminum not work simply because they offer less resistance and therefore don't get hot enough? That I could understand, but I doubt if there's enough difference in resistivity between magnetic and non-magnetic stainless steel to explain different behavior on an induction stove.

I did a Google search and found several references to using a magnet to identify pans that would work, but no explicit statement that a non-magnetic stainless pan would not work. I also found several articles about induction cooktops in 'how things work' type sites, but none that addressed this particular issue.

Ozark's picture

(post #53637, reply #9 of 12)

This does a good job of explaining it.


http://owlcroft.com/garden/induction.html

 

Growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional!

junkhound's picture

(post #53637, reply #10 of 12)

There are industrial induction units that work on eddy currents (similar to a soon in the microwave), but the home cooktops all work on hysterysis loss at 50 to 120 Hz (depending on design and country), hence a magnetic pan is needed.


Rick: Congratualtions on a 18 year lifetime. The earlier Sears units by GE may have had a more robust touch panel, the later units (like I have) were made by Panasonic and the touch panels were junk. I've noticed some of the European makes now have a wall mounted touch panel to avaoid the heat induced failure mode.

UncleDunc's picture

(post #53637, reply #11 of 12)

Rick, thanks for the web site. I don't know why Google couldn't tell that's what I was looking for.

Junkhound, thanks for the hysteresis loss. I don't know what it means yet, but at least it's specific enough that I can look it up.

Marceli's picture

Induction cooker with Interface (post #53637, reply #12 of 12)

Dear Sir

I am looking for induction cooker with Interface bus interface (RS485) so I can connect many in the system. Who can make it for me?

Regards

Marceli Firlej

New Product Development

SONICLEAN PTY LTD

www.soniclean.com.au