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New Kitchen - Can I get away with just 2 induction burners?

We are building a very small house with a small kitchen (L-shaped, about 13' x 9' with a small rolling island in the middle). We're going with an OTR microwave, a wall-oven, and (until yesterday, we thought) an induction cooktop. In reading the NY Times article on induction yesterday, I remembered seeing a cooking demo recently where the chef used 4 single-pan free standing induction burner units set on top of the counter, then removing them when he was done. So I thought ... why couldn't we do that? It seems like it would save lots of counterspace and also $$.

My question: what do you think - can I cook without a traditional range/cooktop? Can I get away with 2 (ok, maybe 3) of those countertop induction units?

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  1. Good luck ever trying to sell the house. Serously, while this idea may work for you, it won't for most people, Oh and before you buy the island, live with the kitchen a bit and make sure you have room for it. I bet you change your mind. Sorry. to be the one to say this, but it really needs to be said.

    Good luck with the new home!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Prettypoodle

      I think you make a good point and I'd like to carry it a step further. Can you even get your final inspection signed off on if you don't have a range?

      As far as can you operate with two burners, sure. I've done it many times, esp. in other countries when renting for a week or so. And I used a two-burner hot plate for weeks when we were remodeling. But I'd say if you're at all into cooking, you're probably not going to be happy long term. BTW, I bought a free standing range with induction cooktop and convection/regular oven for $1750 so it's not all that expensive. Plus your induction cooktop essentially is extra counter space when not in use.

      And, yes, congrats on the new house.

      1. re: c oliver

        The builder is checking into the local code requirements for us. We will likely have the electrician put wiring in the wall behind the cabinet so we could in the future just cut a hole in the countertop and drop in a conventional cooktop (there will be a wall oven so no concern there).

        1. re: c oliver

          My understanding is, lenders will not mortgage a house that lacks working, safe cooking appliance[s] that is "permanent".
          What that looks like is variable. It could be a range w/ burners and oven, or a separate cook top and oven. Not even sure an oven is required.
          I know of NO minimum size/capacity requirement in Code so far---only that appliance[s] exist, are safe/sound/secure to operate to cook with---that look like they belong to the house--not just sitting on the counter loose.
          Just make sure the wiring is there to plug a real stove into, later--that requires at least one 220 volt 40 amp circuit or better, so a future buyer can put in a stove if they want.

      2. Yes, I think most people can survive with two burners. Seriously, how often do you cook with 4 pots at the same time? I usually cook with one and sometime two.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          I almost always use two, frequently use three and rarely use four.

          1. re: c oliver

            :) I guess I just eat less than you do, huh? ;)

            1. re: c oliver

              I also commonly use more than two. Even for a simple meal I might have pasta in one pot, sauce in a second, and a side vegetable sauteing in a third.

              1. re: BobB

                That's pretty much how I thought about it. We spend time in Rio and, although the stove is 4-burner, it's only 24" wide. I can't cook the sauce and boil the water at the same time. So I make the sauce up ahead, cook the pasta, reheat the sauce in the MW. It's a pain, IMO.

            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I very rarely use more than 2 burners. We're thinking of getting a Vollrath high-end large one and two smaller (and way cheaper) Max Burtons.

              1. re: bluegoat

                If you use this Vollrath countertop unit, lack of power won't be a problem:

                http://www.vollrathco.com/catalog_sku...

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  Thanks - that's the same one the cooking demo I saw used. It's about $1,100 though so I'll have to see.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      You're right, I was thinking of the 69520 model.

            3. bluegoat: "Can I get away with 2 (ok, maybe 3) of those countertop induction units?"

              You will be limited much more by the wattage than by the number. Almost all countertop induction units are designed to work on 15 amp 110-120V circuits, and very few deliver more than 1500 watts (those that do deliver only a very few watts more). Many are 1300 watts. That kind of wattage will serve you well for most frying and small saucepan work, but when you need to fix pasta, you are going to want to bring a 3 or 4 quart pot of water to which salt has been added to a rolling boil, and you will find yourself at the outer limits of the capability of a countertop unit.

              Built-in induction cooktops and ranges, on the other hand, usually operate on 30 amp or 40 amp 220-230V circuits, and typically have at least one burner that delivers over 3000 watts. Sometimes you need that.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Politeness

                There are several 1,800 watt units on the market & you can get a 2,400 watt unit for around $700 (you will need a 220 outlet, though).

                1. re: JayL

                  But I got a four burner cooktop with my convection oven for $1750. And the cooktop acts as counter space. That math doesn't work for me.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I don't think I'd use the cooktop as counter space, is my point. I see what you mean about the math there - it's more a matter of which set-up is more convenient.

                    1. re: bluegoat

                      Ah well. Your OP stated that one concern was counterspace so I just thought.... I guess you mean you're looking for few linear feet of counterspace. But you'd still need room for all those stand alone burners if you got them. I don't see where you'd save any room. And when you're cooking, then you'd have even LESS counterspace. I guess I'm just confused is what I am :) Do you just not cook very much and very often? In that case, then you're probably fine. But if you're going to install a cooktop later, then why not now? Again, I'm just having a confused morning :)

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Good point about the storage issue for the burners - I figured they'd just fit in a shallow-ish drawer right under the spot where I'd use them (under the hood). I should have been more clear on the use of the counterspace - I need space to roll out dough and make pasta, etc. I was thinking the small rolling island would be helpful but I don't think it can be big enough and still fit in the small space.

              2. I think an induction range is the best choice for a small kitchen. It provides extra counter space when it's not in use, it's safer because there is no open flame in a cramped area, and it doesn't heat up a small kitchen nearly as much as other types of cooktops.

                Maybe as a compromise you could get a 2-burner built-in induction cooktop and supplement it with 1 or 2 extra portable induction pads.

                1. This is slightly off-topic, but (and I know you're dealing with space issues) I have always felt that the micro over the range is a really bad idea. For two reasons:

                  If you're vertically challenged - as I am - it's never a good idea to lean over burners to reach and remove something from the micro, esp if it's a container of hot liquid or whatever.

                  Second, I've never seen them placed high enough to allow for easy access to the back burners. I know so many people who now regret doing the OTR because they didn't realize it until it was installed. If you raise it up to standard height for a vent, you're again creating a risk for anyone needing to use it. Especially children.

                  My sister just contracted to completely re-do her kitchen and the designer, yes, you guessed it - put the micro over the range. I told her don't...do...it....uh oh. She then had the designer do the same thing I have: 30" convection wall oven placed a bit lower and the micro above that. No worries about gas flames or leaning toward a full pot of boiling water, etc.

                  Just my two cents. (I also have a smaller kitchen - pretty challenging.)

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: breadchick

                    I have an above the range microwave. We use the back burners with ease. Ours is a smooth top electric range. An induction would be even safer. Our microwave replaced the original hood. Plenty of clearance for big stockpots on back burners. I'm about five-four and have no problem getting stuff into or out of the microwave. Of course, I don't cook the Thanksgiving turkey in it.

                    1. re: breadchick

                      I think you're two cents are worth a nickel easily. We were determined not to do a full remodel of a kitchen that was only done five years ago. I got lots of good advice from a Chow-buddy. What I wound up doing was buying the induction range and then a HUGE MW/convection oven. It could have been installed over the range but, as it's convection also, I DO want to safely put heavy things in it. We already had that 6' tall, metal shelving unit that Costco sells for $100. The MW has always been on it so that's where we put the new MW/convection. So I have the equivalent of an induction cooktop, two ovens and a MW and it was all about $2300. It works like a dream.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Hi, c oliver. Mind if I ask the make and model of your MW/Conv oven?

                        1. re: KansasKate

                          It's a Samsung, model SMK9175. After using it for a year, I really, really like it. I don't use the convection aspect ALL that often, but when I need it I need it. And the inside is really large and the turntable is programmable to not rotate so I can MW large containers.

                      2. re: breadchick

                        We've had OTR units in almost every place we've lived in, and have been very happy with them. My husband and I are both over 5'8" though so maybe that's more of a comfort thing. We find it a huge space saver in a small kitchen. Good point about kids though ... not currently an issue in our house but perhaps some day.

                      3. Others have at least touched on these points, but...

                        Saving counterspace shouldn't really be an issue. Especially if you install a frameless unit, the cooktop (or any portion of it) can function as usable counterspace when it's not being used for cooking. But if you're really dead-set on minimizing your cooktop's footprint, install a built-in 12-15" "domino" unit that has two burners or one that's 24" wide and has 3 or 4 burners.

                        Emphasis on "built-in." You're going to want several thousand watts of power, and the only way to do that in a typical American kitchen is with a dedicated 220-volt circuit.

                        One of the major advantages of induction is the ability to put a lot of heat in the pan in a hurry. Most built-in units have at least one 3000-4000 watt element. That's more than double the power of the typical portable unit. When you're waiting for pasta water to boil, that extra power will be extremely welcome. And you have to have a built-in unit to get it.

                        The reason that portable units (with the exception of commercial stuff) are lower powered is that they run on 110 volts. So your maximum power draw is 1800 watts. But even the most anemic of the bunch are rated at 1200 watts, which means that you can only run one burner at a time on a typical residential circuit. Try to run two off the same receptacle and you'll trip the breaker. You might be able to avoid this problem by running several circuits to the cooking area, but that seems like an inelegant and expensive solution to a problem that shouldn't exist in the first place.

                        That's not to say that you can't supplement whatever cooktop you end up choosing with a portable burner or two. But the portable burner(s) shouldn't be your main cooking surface.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          Thanks for the thoughtful reply. We've ordered a portable unit from Amazon and once it gets here, we'll give it a spin and see how it compares to our current electric range. I think the building code requirements here require that any two electrical outlets that are closer than 3' to each other must be on separate circuits ... I guess I can see if they can wire a 220 circuit in one of those at the same time.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            I know what you are saying about power usage is wise. Our ancient house was rewired, and not very well. There are quirks.
                            But even so, I was well able to use a short-cord HD power strip with a surge protector, into one wall outlet on a 20-amp circuit, and plugged [2] max. 1300 watts induction burners into that. Usually we only use one at a time, or 2 on lower watts. Occasionally, we do use both at same time, on max. 1300 watts each---with NO trouble. No overheating, now blown breakers, no overloads.
                            Now, if I tried to also use the high-speed blender on that circuit, there'd be a shut-down [yep, tried it].
                            We'd love to find a built-in 2-burner induction unit that uses 220, but can't locate them.
                            Also trying to locate a compact oven, and haven't found one yet.
                            2 burners do very well for 2 people; we've handled 4 for Thanksgiving, and probably could handle 6 or 8 with good planning.
                            Induction burners, even the cheap, low-watt ones, make cooking safer, more efficient, easier clean-up.
                            I call it well-worth it.

                          2. YES. Caveats:
                            Individual induction burners only use maybe up to 1300 to 1800 watts each.
                            Electric supplies MUST handle that load.
                            Those low watts are NOT going to boil a teakettle of cold water in one minute, but will do a 2 qt. kettle in about 9 minutes on 1300 watts.
                            We 1st tried a Berghoff dual-burner unit--nice lines. but their "1800" watts is a TOTAL of what's used on one or both burners: one can ONLY use a total of 1800 watts at any time [BedBathBeyond was lowest cost for that one; great return policy].
                            We returned that; found [2] Mr. Induction units [Amazon][very cheap] that top out at 1300 watts each.
                            We plugged both into a protected HDappliance power strip, which is plugged into a single 20-amp outlet with the standard Code Ground-Fault plug compliances.
                            We have used them simultaneously at 1300 watts each, no problem. I LOVE being able to set the temperature reliably. Have even done some canning in our large pressure cooker on these things.
                            Some folks don't like the ventilation fans that keep the electronics cooled--they are a bit noisy--we don't care.
                            We also have a small toaster oven, that's about 30+ yrs old, for baking and toasting.
                            At Thanksgiving, we added an ancient, propane RV oven outside on the porch for additional baking capacity, and made T-day dinner for 4: could have been 6 or 8. Recipes adapted to cooking in small spaces---pieces of turkey, instead of whole turkey, for instance.
                            The 2 of us use the basic 2 burners and toaster oven for daily use--easy.
                            We replaced the bulky old electric stove with a rolling cart that holds pans, etc. pantry items, which rolls under a new section of countertop where the burners sit.
                            We REALLY like the efficiency of even these low-wattage induction burners: especially the timers.
                            We now cook at lower temps, there's far less over-cooking or burning anything. The timers are a GREAT safety feature. This brand has a lock-out button, which prevents kids or pets accidentally turning them on--and even if they did, unless there was a pan on there, the burner would auto-shut-off.
                            Even though these are low-end efficiency, they are far more efficient than regular electric burners, and far better than gas, even. When they are on, they immediately cook, and immediately off when turned off--can't ask for faster response than that!
                            Cleaning is a breeze, too.
                            Sure, some folks would not recognize it as familiar--hey! It's new tech---if you have to sell that, point to new, more efficient tech / energy savings/ less burned food/ healthier. Even professional chefs like induction burners and convection ovens!
                            It's a learning curve, sure--we've been sheepled to think a stove must have 4 to 6 burners and a huge oven--we really don't. People would be amazed to learn how many families DON'T use their stoves beyond one or 2 pans, or, rarely use the oven. The old, standardized house paradigms need changed--we're helping them do that.
                            So are all those choosing to live in tiny houses.
                            IF you think you might need more burners, get a couple more cheap portable induction burners and keep 'em in the cupboard. Bet they don't get used much, if at all!
                            Beware of marketing scams like used for a certain as-seen-on-TV induction burner--they say 2 units for $100 and the pans to go with them, but you pay nearly that in shipping for the 2nd unit--and it doesn't cook any hotter than the Mr. Induction units we bot.
                            We also learned, many of our old pans were already induction ready--magnets stick nicely to their bottoms. FLAT bottoms are kinda important--so if your old cookware has warped bottoms, you might need new ones. But we also learned: we need far fewer pots and pans.

                            1. We two have been getting by w/ 2 cheap, 1300 watt Induction burners for over a year, very nicely.
                              Those + an old toaster oven to bake small things--works great.
                              Tried other solutions that cost more, but returned to this configuration.
                              We did add a recycled old propane RV oven on the porch, for a bit more baking capacity on a couple occasions.
                              Otherwise, 2 burners are fine! It encourages prioritizing cook tasks; even did some canning on just these.
                              Think about it:
                              How often do you really use more than 2 burners in daily life?
                              How many do you cook for daily? What's your level of complexity of most cooking?
                              If you only use more than 2 burners once or a few times / yr., and don't cook for dinner parties or a larger family often, why even have a stove/range?
                              When we reevaluated our use-patterns, it was easy to ditch the stove! Saved us money on power bills and cleaning effort, too.
                              IF we absolutely have to use more burners or big oven, the church or a friend lets us use there--but so far, have not needed to.
                              AND, the limited size cooking gives us a perfect "out" when solicited by social groups to cook or bake large amounts of something for them--sorry--no stove...! ;-)

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: chimonger

                                <If you only use more than 2 burners once or a few times / yr., and don't cook for dinner parties or a larger family often, why even have a stove/range? >

                                Well, the obvious reason for homeowners is resale. No buyer wants a house that doesn't have a cooktop/oven or a range. Still, it would be no big deal to place a couple of PIC units on an existing but aged appliance.

                                1. re: DuffyH

                                  "Well, the obvious reason for homeowners is resale."

                                  Suppose younger home-buyers no longer think the way you do though...

                                  1. re: pedalfaster

                                    <Suppose younger home-buyers no longer think the way you do though...>

                                    Is there any evidence that they don't want ranges and ovens?

                                    Sales are often won or lost based on the kitchen and it's appliances. It's the most important room in the house for most buyers. Until surveys begin to show preferences for different kitchens, the smart home seller will cater to the widest possible group on an issue of such importance. That means providing a range or cooktop.

                                    There's another reason, and that's loans and taxes. VA/FHA and most other conventional loans, the kind many young people use, require a stovetop of some kind. Also, for loan interest to be tax deductible as a home mortgage, the home it must have toilet facilities, a cooktop, and a bedroom area. That's an IRS requirement.

                                    I'm not suggesting we shouldn't arrange our homes to suit our own tastes, we should. But before adding cabinets and countertops to an area formerly occupied by a free-standing range, we should consider the cost to convert it back to a range cubby. If the numbers make sense, I say go for it. If cost to convert is an issue, then keep the range and place your induction units on top of it.

                                    Or ditch the old range, stick a table or island block in it's place, then purchase a builder's grade range prior to selling. There are ways to make it work while preserving resale value and keeping costs down.

                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                      DuffyH, Are you a banker/lender, or in appliance biz?
                                      MANY other countries allow substantive variations ...USA virtually forces everyone into limited-lock-step-average-everything, with only some cosmetic differences allowed...decided by lenders.
                                      [don't get me started!!!]

                                      It sounds like you want some evidence of great enough need, per population, to warrant drastic changes?
                                      How many millions per population would that look like to you?
                                      Please read on....

                                      I do advocate keeping the means to put back 'standard' equipment [even if it is less efficient], in most houses, to keep buyers and lenders pacified;
                                      that does not preclude reducing [or enlarging] appliance sizes and changing configurations.
                                      It still provides what's needed to live.

                                      Residents should be able to retrofit what works best for them, while still keeping it 'safe, sound and secure', as the VA likes to require.
                                      Technology can change substantively, over the usual 30-yr. mortgage....
                                      ....would you prevent early-adapters from installing newer tech and other beneficial changes, instead force them to wait for industry to get off their collective butts and actually re-tool their lines with more than 'bench-testing' and lip-service after decades of delay tactics???
                                      [don't get me started!!!]

                                      Those ppulations who might prefer, and benefit from, more compact, massively more efficient kitchens and bathrooms, may include:
                                      .....those involved in the tiny house movement; the increasing populations of disabled people currently swamping all systems; elders; the poor; those who live in RV's;...well, EVERYone would benefit from using massively more energy efficient appliances...! There's soon to be 9 Bn people on the planet--big enough numbers?
                                      Examples:
                                      1. IF we'd had these 2 induction burners while sheltering our elder here, instead of the old, average electric stove, there never would have been hidden spilled grease nor the subsequent stove fire; the elder would have been able to use a timer to auto-shut-off the burner in case she forgot [often], and cook at lower temps easily read and set, and, when she got to where she couldn't grok how to use them, she no longer would cook--safety features!
                                      2. Our disabled adult kids barely cook--individual, cheap induction burners are perfect for them--they cannot manage a regular stove. MANY w/ASD cannot manage a stove or do much cooking.
                                      We now have, conservatively, about 1:80, per population, affected by that--that's a Tsunami of epic proportions of humanity, in real numbers...where/how's most industry doing anything to accommodate THEM? [don't push those buttons, unless you have god news!].
                                      3. Growing numbers of general population can't afford to live in a house/apartment, so opt for RV living to avoid being homeless. Count them?? Not even gov't does that--they fall of unemployment rolls and are no longer counted.
                                      RV's are tiny; often may rely on one or few solar panels for power--they need drastically more efficient appliances on a smaller scale than average kitchen appliances, and could benefit by having 'multifunction' units.
                                      4. More people are being forced to share a roof, due to economics as they are.
                                      That may require separate, moveable kitchenettes that are plug-and-play units--those require TINY appliances engineered into a wall-unit or other cart on caster wheels, with stub-outs to plug into base systems at locations.
                                      These could be used in single-room rentals, divided houses, renovated RVs, or even help helpers assist homeless populations more easily.

                                      We're limited by our imaginations--or lack thereof.
                                      When faced with problems, think outside the proverbial box--otherwise,the solutions to those problems will only result in repeat issues...that is, no real solution, just changed window dressing.
                                      The WORST thing governing bodies could do, is micro-manage people the way it's been being done.
                                      America has been micro-managed into a Piracy.
                                      [stepping off soap box...you have plenty info here]

                                      1. re: chimonger

                                        Hi chimonger,

                                        I'm neither in the appliance, banking or lending sector. I'm retired. I have worked as a real estate agent.

                                        I don't promulgate nor enforce rules, no one is forced into lockstep, no one is forced to purchase a home or take out a mortgage to do so. No one is being micro-managed, as you say. People can rent. People can build a tiny house with private money. Buying a home using a commercial lender are choices we make. I offered some advice, suggestions to preserve resale value. That's all.

                                        It's not about what I think and certainly I don't require anything of anyone. In the USA, surveys are done by the building industry to find out what features people want in a home. Home building then follows those trends, because they are in the business of building homes that people want to buy. Your argument seems to be with most people in the USA. Take it up with them.

                                        I know that portable kitchens are common in Europe. They are not the norm in the USA. That's not opinion, it's a fact. Prospective buyers want to see a kitchen that either has appliances, or is ready to receive them. Again, your gripe is with the buyers, not me.

                                        I don't understand why a home loan lender is out of line to require that the home have a toilet, cooktop and sleeping area. These seem to be minimal requirements for a home. They need not be built-ins. Certainly a free-standing range isn't a built-in. Lenders don't require that homes be large, or have lots of rooms. Tiny houses can qualify for a loan, provided it meets minimum requirements. RVs can qualify as homes, just as a boat can.

                                        My only point is that homeowners, if they ever plan to sell the home, should keep in mind that the next buyer will likely need a loan, and the home needs to meet minimum loan requirements. Having no stove and no place to put one would disqualify the house for a conventional loan, severely limiting the buying pool. Most people want to preserve value. Standard or better appliances do that, portable units do not.

                                        Duffy

                                  2. re: DuffyH

                                    While I live in the house, I have only the equipment I want.
                                    ONLY when planning to move out or sell, THEN a stove can be put back in there--then one could get a cheap refurbished used unit to leave behind.
                                    One of my posts included words about that, if someone wants only 2 burners and little else, and is remodeling for that, to at least put in the minimum required power connection for a regular stove which can be average size or even a 24" unit], and have a place for it.

                                    1. re: chimonger

                                      <... at least put in the minimum required power connection for a regular stove which can be average size or even a 24" unit], and have a place for it.>

                                      I think that's a smart strategy. I didn't see your prior post upthread.

                                2. This is an older thread.

                                  But I am old... and I have given this some thought.

                                  If I were to completely redesign my kitchen, from the ground-up, with no thoughts to "resale"...it would be small...yet with tons of countertop.

                                  I would have ONE induction unit, AND one gas. Gas is still a fabulous cooking invention.

                                  I would have an inside oven (it gets cold here in the Midwest USA) and an outside wood-fired oven and grill.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: pedalfaster

                                    I wouldn't mind that set-up. I might make my oven a small commercial convection unit, table mounted with a pair of side-mounted doors. Or perhaps one of the rare residential ovens with a side-mounted door. I purely despise standard residential oven doors. They're ridiculous, and dangerous too.

                                     
                                     
                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                      Exactly! But commercial units are horrifically costly--well beyond most people's reach.
                                      Really like side-open oven doors;
                                      would really like to see ovens which do not stick out into room so far---base cabinets are too deep--stuff too hard to access/maintain.

                                      1. re: chimonger

                                        <base cabinets are too deep--stuff too hard to access/maintain.>

                                        Base cabinets determine counter depth. 12"-18" counters are a pain to work on, for me. I once had a home that to my surprise came with 30" bases. Loved the counter space AND the cabinet depth. I could store all my china in the kitchen.

                                        Different strokes for different cooks.