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Max Burton induction cooktop design defect(s)

I recently purchased a new Max Burton Induction Cooktop #600, hoping to use it as a real "Slow Cooker" for conventional "crockpot"-type dishes (typically slow-simmered in the 4-8 hour range), and in addition, for home "sous vide" or confit-type slow-poached dishes, typically poached at temperatures well below the simmering point (in the 130-140F range, for beef and pork), for times in the 12-24 hour range.
Because of some unexpected (and unadvertised) serious design defects, however, the Max Burton induction cooktop is totally useless for such work, and indeed is inferior to a conventional (gas or electric) range, or even a hot plate, for such routine tasks as making a beef stock, or a boeuf a la mode.
My workhorse "slow cooker" (a rice cooker, controlled by a sous vide temperature controller with a thermocouple probe) recently expired, so I began researching possible replacements. The attraction of an induction cooktop (rather than another rice cooker, or a hotplate) is that it has (claims to have) a true thermostat to monitor the temperature of the pot, and in addition to the usual "power" (wattage) settings, also has temperature settings which can be set independently of the power settings. The Max Burton's temperature settings were relatively coarse (140F, 180F, 210F...), but no worse than those of other affordable "residential" induction cooktops intended for home cooking; and since the Burton unit got generally good reviews in various cooking blogs, I took the plunge and ordered one (along with over $100 worth of induction-capable pots and pans, as I had none).
After unpacking and setting up the Max Burton unit, as per the instructions, I began some trials (2 qts of water in 3-qt induction-capable pot), and soon made an amazing discovery: the d***n thing SHUTS ITSELF OFF after 3 hours or so!!!
I could hardly believe it, so ran a series of more systematic tests, at various power, temperature, and timer settings--all with the same result: the Burton unit automatically shuts itself of after 3+ hours (or sooner, if the timer was set at a non-default setting (1-180 minutes). For longer cooking times (to make a beef stock, for example, which is typically slow-simmered for 6-8 hours), one must manually restart the unit, and reset any non-default power or temperature settings (the default Power = 5 Temperature = 250F settings would soon have a beef stock at a hard boil, until the pot dried out and the unit shut itself off--and the stock was ruined.)
I reread the Operating Instructions once again, very carefully; but there was not a hint of this bizarre 3-hour shot off, much less of how to override or fix it.
So I called Customer Service, and was informed by the "Product manager"--evidently a marketing guru, certainly no cook--that that's the way it is, this "safety feature" was built into the unit "in case the cook forgets" that it's still cooking; and no, there's no way to override or disable this nutty "safety feature."
This bizarre shutoff behavior makes the unit totally useless for any kind of non-attended slow-cooking work; and the fact this nutty "safety feature" is not revealed in any of the product literature, including the Operating Instructions, that I had read before ordering, is nothing short of scandalous, amounting to false and deceptive misrepresentation of the product.
There may be other design defects as well. Several times, at the 180F temperature setting, when I uncovered the pot I found the water boiling merrily away at a full 212F; and on another occasion, after a long time at the 140F temperature setting, the water seemed to have reached equilibrium in the 175-180F range—hardly better that a conventional crockpot.
So the (lower) temperature setting may be totally useless as well. These are only impressions at this point, as I was primarily testing the shutoff behavior; but I'm now going to run some more systematic tests at various power and (low) temperature settings, and could post the results here, if anyone's interested.

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  1. It's possible that the automatic shut off exists to comply with UL 1026. While I understand your dilemma, the maximum temperatures that can be achieved with the induction burner are much higher than a crock pot or a steamer. I own a Max Burton 6000 and though I am happy with the performance I would never leave it or any stove top unattended for 3 hours no matter the setting.

    1. Hi. moonbeamer:

      Well, you put your finger on one of the huge issues with induction appliances--the electronics. You might get what you need, or you might not. They might work right, they might not. You might get things that you neither want nor need. They might CATO on you. They might deem themselves smarter and safer than you. They might even click and hum.

      But they're sleek, modern, easy to clean, won't heat your kitchen (much), require that you give up (or clad) the best two materials for cookware, provide uneven heat, and save you about $5 per year in utilities. Oh, and you have to replace them in about 5 years.

      Since you're doing more tests, try doing a skillet scorchprint with flour or parchment.


      10 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        Perhaps for a portable burner unit, but certainly not for the 30 or 36 inch induction cooktops.
        These don't have the features that the portable ones claim to have, as they function like gas does in terms of temperature control. And mine (Thermador) even has a warm feature which is lower than the lowest cook setting (my old gas one certainly didn't have that).
        Heating is absolutely even, doesn't need replacement, and I use the heck out of it.
        Glad you're just referring to those 100 dollar units from the hardware store.

        1. re: freia

          Hi, freia:

          No, I was referring to induction in general.


          1. re: kaleokahu

            LOL...so not true, but never mind...those with no direct experience with owning a 30/36 inch induction cooktop seem to be the biggest critics and look to the internet for validation of their uninformed opinion...as a thought, you just might try one out, you just might like it! LOLOL

            1. re: freia

              Hi, freia:

              Tell me, who makes the electronics in your cooktop? What are the size of the coils under the glass? Have you seen the coils? Is a 30/36 built any differently than a single-burner?

              I have direct experience with these things. Do you?


              1. re: kaleokahu

                I have direct experience with my cooktop and my 100 dollar portable induction cooktop, which counts for more than your theoretical knowledge based on your internet research IMHO.
                Most, if not all, of modern appliances are run through electronics, and most of them are made in the same place. Don't kid yourself.
                Its like bemoaning the fact that the newfangled fridges are run with crazy electricity and sticking with the ole icebox. But your new electric oven is AMAZING.
                The issues described by the poster don't apply to the 30/36 inch induction cooktop -- I can maintain a very low slow heat with my Warm feature, the cooktop doesn't shut off after 3 hours, and I only have power settings not temperature settings, So to equate the capability and functioning of the two is ridiculous. The issue isn't with the manner or method of induction, its with crappy preset functions for both temperature and time.

                1. re: freia

                  Folks, we're not sure why cooktops incite such strong feelings, but we've removed a lot of posts that were getting personal from this thread. We'd ask that people keep the focus on the cooktops, and avoid psychoanalyzing your fellow hounds.

        2. re: kaleokahu

          Much easier than a scorch print is to simply set a full diameter pan with an inch or so of water in it on the burner, then watch where the bubbles form first. I occasionally poach eggs, and while I'm waiting for the water to simmer, I get a "picture" of the shape/lay-out of the induction coils in my burner. Shows up even better in a cast iron pan than in ss. My unit has a "hole" in the center about the size of a quarter where there are no magnetic coils. When I was curing my new wok, I had to keep moving it around so I didn't get the shiny quarter in the bottom of the wok. Water is by far the easiest way to see the heat distribution pattern. Of course if you're hell bent on burning flour and all that jazz, have fun!

          1. re: Caroline1

            Hi, Car:

            If what you wish to see is just the outline of The Great Oz, then you are right: the boiling will show that easier and without all the mess and scorching.

            However, if what you want to assess is the coil's propensity to hotspot (or not) across the spectrum of heat settings, then I think something that approximates food is best. Real scorchprints are powerfully persuasive because they *are* scorches, and don't disappear when Oz winks out.

            The method that I like the best is a circle of parchment cut to size, and weighted down with clear glass beads. Unless you totally carbonize the paper, then you have a record of what got hot and what didn't.


          2. re: kaleokahu

            would be helpful to "civilians" if acronyms like CATO were explained

          3. I've been using this model for about a year, and am generally happy. However I have never dreamed of using as a slow-cooker. I value it more for its speed and instant change of power, not its long term constancy.

            I haven't hit the 3hr limit, but I'm not surprised. Many modern ovens have an auto off feature (12 hrs or so), and have a special 'Sabbath mode' for people who need to leave it on for longer periods (up to 72 hrs).

            Without a probe, the thermostatic control cannot sense the actual temperature of the pot and its contents. What it does have is a sensor under the glass. In my tests, the temperature in a pot of water is about 20F hotter than indicated on the controls. Of course that only applies to the 3 lowest settings (below 212).

            I use the power settings more than the temperature ones. Default 5 is fine for bringing water to a boil (unless I am in a rush). 3 (800w) is fast sautee, guaranteed to burn onions if I don't keep an eye on them. Mostly I use 2 and 1. both of which cycle on and off. I would like something slower than 1, but for now make do with the 'low' setting on my coil burner, or a slow oven.

            1. I have a Max Burton induction hot plate and I'm pretty happy with it. One of the peculiarities of induction cooking that I suspect is the same, regardless of brand, is that how "responsive" any particular pan is to induction heating directly relates to just how ferrous the metal is. My most responsive pans are cast iron. Temperature changes are immediate. I have NEVER had cast iron respond like this on gas or electric. It is amazing. Ferrous stainless steel varies by compound. I have maybe seven or eight induction friendly stainless steel pots and pans, and while they all work on induction, they do not all respond equally. I figure it has to be the ferrous content of the metals. My wok works well, but it also reflects the pattern of the induction coils. I have no idea whether these peculiarities play into the problems you're having. Overall, I'm very happy with the performance of my hotplate.

              I tried all kinds of "work arounds" to approximate sous vide cooking. I found a very large pot on my cooktop could hold a fairly stable temperature, but I could not get it to hold the really low temperatures required for some sous vide procedures. It was also pretty expensive to use my cooktop for long duration slow cooking. My son is an electrician and patiently explained to me that I am NOT going to get economical and energy efficient slow/low cooking from a cooktop! I was also less than enchanted with the frequent temperature checks that my method required. I also did not want to be bothered with a bunch of separate pieces hoping they would work smoothely. In other words, a thermostat and a stock pot held no enchantment for me. So I broke down and decided that if I want to cook sous vide, I may as well do it right, so I bought a Sous Vide Supreme. I'm really glad I did. It is sooooooooo reliable, holds temperature for days on end, and completely frees me of any responsibility until it's time to remove the lid and take out the food, Initially the price bugged me. Now that I have it and find it so amazingly handy and reliable, I'm so glad I did it. I can sous vide beef for three days and I don't notice any change in my electric bill. That was NOT the case when I used the cook top. Something to think about...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Caroline1

                Adam of the ATK Equipment Corner loves the Sous Vide Supreme as well (on today's spaghetti an meatballs episode).

              2. I'd be very interested in the accounts and results of any tests you do, particularly with low temperature settings. I have a MB 6200 portable induction unit and am completely happy with it. But I didn't get it to use as a slow cooker, much less a way to simulate sous vide cooking, and don't consider its failure to act as either of these devices a 'design flaw'. It's a cooktop, not a self-contained cooker.

                I did learn that there was an auto shutoff before buying the unit, though I can't now remember where. I think it must have been on a blog, or possibly a customer review at some online store. While it's not a problem feature for me, and I can see that it's probably a way to meet some safety requirements, it is just wrong for the auto shutoff not to be noted in the (already fairly skimpy) literature that comes with the unit.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ellabee

                  The booklet does talk about the '180-minute automatic timer'. What isn't as clear as it could be is that the timer is always functioning.

                  I just got a toaster oven with digital controls. The timer is active in every mode.

                2. The automatic shutoff is not a design "defect," it's a design choice — a safety festure. It seems you want to use it in a way that wasn't intended, that's all.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: GH1618

                    "The automatic shutoff is not a design "defect," it's a design choice — a safety festure. It seems you want to use it in a way that wasn't intended, that's all."

                    And how is one to fathom what uses the manufacturer "intended"? As noted in my original post, there many standard uses in the repertoire of any reasonably versatile cook—such as making a beef stock—that require cooking times longer than three hours, and are normally done unattended. The Burton cooktop is therefore not a good general-purpose cooker—a good commercial-quality hotplate is more versatile.

                    As for non-standard applications, such as slow-cooking or sous vide, a professional chef, seeking a suitable cooker for such tasks, will look at the specifications to decide whether a particular unit is (or might be) suitable. But the Max Burton specifications (and even the Operating Instructions) contain no hint of the three-hour cutoff, or of the fact that the temperature settings are (apparently) wildly off. As noted earlier, the 140F setting apparently reaches 175-180 (slow-simmer), and the 180F setting boils water (212F); and moreover, the default 250F setting reaches 350F (see below). In fact, in researching the Burton unit, I came across a blog written by a professional chef, who bought one to try out as a auxiliary/backup in his restaurant kitchen. He ended up returning it, because it couldn't handle a 12-inch skillet, for sautéing fish or browning meat (one of the few tasks the Burton unit probably could do a good job on—but only for pieces shorter than 9 inches, according to the chef).

                    I've had another adventure with it, trying to make an omelette in my newly-arrived induction-capable omelet pan (an 8-inch Sitran Cybernox fry pan). I started the pan at the standard default settings (Power = 5, Temperature = 250F) so the sides of the pan could heat up while I prepared the eggs. Then, when I dropped a pat of butter in the pan, it immediately began to scorch and turn brown/black. A scan with an infrared thermometer revealed the pan had reached 350F.

                    I cleaned it up and tried again, at lower power and temperature settings--and ended up with scrambled eggs. (I'm a reasonably deft omelette-maker over gas, with my old All-Clad stainless 8" fry pan--which, unfortunately, was not induction-capable.)

                    On present evidence, the Max Burton induction cooktop is a total bust, not only for slow-cooking, but for ANY low-temperature work (in fairness, it is good at boiling water for pasta). But I'm still waiting for my temperature-logging instrumentation to arrive, to plot some elapsed time-temperature graphs at various settings, to confirm these impressions.

                    1. re: moonbeamer

                      Hi, moonbeamer:

                      Good on you for doing and reporting these tests. Such efforts are long overdue and sorely needed--there's much too much Pollyanna.

                      Take your pan, logging and IR stuff, along with a FLIR video camera, down to the local appliance store and see if things are any different on the $$ and $$$ versions. That's what folks claim, but no one's tested it.


                      1. re: moonbeamer

                        About using the 12" skillet - the induction coil is about 7" in diameter. You can see that by the bubble pattern on the bottom of a pan, especially a poor conductor like cast iron. I do, though, get a decent heat distribution in a 10" cast aluminum skillet (with induction compatible base).

                        When you turn the burner on, the default power setting its 5 (1200w); the thermostat is not in control until you switch over to the temperature mode. That is, power and temperature controls do not work at the same time. SO I am not surprised that your pan had gotten up to 350F. I wouldn't preheat a pan at that power setting for more than 30 seconds.

                        I previously had a Tautung induction burner, so was used to some of the quirks of such a device when I got the Max Burton. That includes the limited size of the induction coil (which I have seen), and the limited value of the temperature control. It was also worse at low power settings. I had to replace it because a power capacitor blew - a capacitor like those used in ceiling fans.

                        I believe Max Burton has units designed for commercial use. I don't know if the electronics are much different, but they do have deeper cases (6500), which should provider better cooling. Also commercial units may operate on 220v, providing much more power than the 1800W of this home unit (6530).

                        For something that costs only $50 I not expect the performance of a $400 commercial unit, or $2000 full cooktop. In fact at the current Toolup price I am tempted to get a second unit, just to have a backup.


                        product data sheet for the 6500

                        1. re: paulj

                          "When you turn the burner on, the default power setting its 5 (1200w); the thermostat is not in control until you switch over to the temperature mode. That is, power and temperature controls do not work at the same time. SO I am not surprised that your pan had gotten up to 350F. I wouldn't preheat a pan at that power setting for more than 30 seconds."

                          A very important thing to know--of which, as usual, there is no hint in Burton's Operating Instructions. And it seems to be true: after my experience with the omelette, I now use non-default (lower) settings whenever I start it, and it seems to be behaving somewhat better.

                          1. re: moonbeamer

                            I just realized that the 'manual' has another error. Mine says 'The default temperature level setting is 180F.' But when I switch to Temperature mode, the default number is 250.

                            But without an IR thermometer I can't test a dry pan, much less temperatures about boiling water (unless I want to use oil or a sugar syrup as the medium).

                            Come to think of it, there is another way of testing high temperatures. Cooking for Geeks explains how to use sugar to calibrate an oven. Sugar caramelizes at 367F. So if the oven burns sugar at 375, but not at 350, its calibration is ok.

                        2. re: moonbeamer

                          While I have good success using this burner to make a Spanish style tortilla in an 8 or 10 nonstick aluminum skillet, it is not my first choice for a quick French style. I could manage, I think, using my carbon steel crepe pan, but I would prefer to use an electric coil burner. The problem is that I like to pick the pan up, to swirl the eggs (or batter in the crepe case) around, and at the end to tilt the omelet out. The induction burner squawks when I lift the pan off. Fortunately it resumes power when I return it. My old Tautung shut itself off when I removed a pan.

                          1. re: moonbeamer

                            There are two models of the Max Burton, one in a plastic housing that gets bad reviews on the web, the other (the one I bought) in a stainless steel housing that holds up well.

                            I'm puzzled why the "professional chef" had a problem with pan size, UNLESS it was because the edges didn't heat up as much as the center of the pan that was actually over the induction coils. I have successfully used my two-burner cast iron grill on mine with no problems. I'm not dumb enough to expect the over-hanging ends to get hot, but it did a great job with the steaks that I positioned so they were over the burner at the hottest spot on the grill. But we don't know what kind of pan Mr. Pro Chef was using. Cast iron is the most rresponsive by far, followed by carbon steel, then fferrous stainless steel and other induction friendly metal compounds bring up the rear.

                            When I bought my Max Burton, I was fully aware that I would not be able to cook anything on it for hours and hours unattended. In other words, I was aware there is a cut-off time. When that's reached, I would have to manually restart the machine But that's not something I wanted to be able to do with it. For long and slow, I have two ovens, my regular cook top, a butane hot plate/stove, a Sous Vide Supreme, and a crock pot type (multi-use) slow cooker. They all work!

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              My butane hot plate has the same sort of problems as the induction burner. Its lowest flame isn't low enough to keep the stew in a sand pot from bubbling, and it has to be restarted when the cartridge runs out. But there is always the oven for the long stuff. :)

                              explains how to cook an egg to any desired consistency (internal temperature). You just have to know its starting temperature, the cooking temperature, and its weight. From that you can calculate the time required to bring the egg up to the target.

                              1. re: paulj

                                LOL! Thanks for the link. Who knew boiling an egg could be so complex? But I'm not exactly convinced it's humanly possible to get an egg to that perfect "Japanese Hot Spring" state of doneness without a sous vide machine. I've TRIED to do it with a pot of boiling water, but it just doesn't come out the same. I suspect there is something about taking an egg to an exact temperature, then letting it linger there for ten or twenty (or more) minutes that allows the whites to take on a texture and consistency they just can't capture by being brought to temperature and then taken out of the pot and starting to cool. Or maybe it's just me, but so far out of several tries, if I want "hot springs eggs" I can only get it right with sous vide. Does stove top work for you? Maybe I'm just inept. '-)

                        3. http://www.aervoe.com/techdata/76000.pdf
                          6000 data sheet
                          "The Max Burton®
                          Induction Cooktop features 10 variable temperature settings from 100°- 450°F, 10 power levels from 500 - 1800 watts, and a 180-minute timer that will automatically shut down the unit when time has expired."

                          That 100F temperature setting is lower than the 140 in my product booklet.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: paulj

                            For what it's worth, mine brought 2 cups of water up to 116F in 8 minutes using my dirty Dallas electricity. I checked the temperature with a hand held instant read thermometer with a metal shaft that shows NO interest in any of my refrigerator magnets. It took about 2 minutes to reach temperature. I checked it again at 1 to 2 minute intervals. It does NOT hold temperature within a tenth of a degree ( or whatever) that my sous vide machine does, but tthe variances weren't more than a couple of degrees. This was all done at the power level of 1. hmmmm... I wonder what "2" will do? ... Using the same pre-warmed water and letting it go for eight minutes at the 2 power level the water temperature reached 165F, which could be jogged and jiggled a degree or two by stirring. So..... NO sous vide soft boiled eggs with a Max Burton! It's either too hot or too cold. Pity.

                          2. I've got a temperature logger now, but so far haven't been able to download the logged readings into the computer to graph them; hopefully soon.

                            Meanwhile, I have been cooking (or trying to) on the Max Burton unit, and have some further impressions: despite all its dingbat safety features, it is downright DANGEROUS with an open pan. I discovered this while trying to make French toast, waiting till the pan rose to 300F (IR scanning thermometer) to put the first batch in; then, after getting a second batch ready, I discovered the hard way that the pan had reached a full 400F, scorching the second batch. Playing around with various power and temperature settings didn't yield any satisfactory solution.

                            On the other and, it IS good for making a French omelette--with the right pan. I tried several times with the 8" Sitram Cybernox fry pan described in my earlier post, without success: the sides don't heat up, making it impossible to "roll" the eggs against the sides to cook and be folded over (the Sitram has [encapsulated] aluminum only on bottom, not up the sides); and moreover it's virtually impossible to judge how hot the pan is getting (an IR scanning thermometer is unreliable on shiny pans, like the Sitram).

                            But meanwhile, I had ordered an 8" de Buyer "Lyonnaise"-type fry pan, of stamped-iron (as distinct from cast iron) construction; and it works very well. The induction field heats up the sides as well as the bottom, making easy to judge how hot the pan is getting (by touching the sides); and the eggs can be rolled against the sides to cook, in proper omelette fashion. It's also quite responsive; lift it up to cool off if the eggs are cooking too fast, then set it down on the induction unit again to resume cooking--unless the Max Burton unit has meanwhile shut itself off again, which it does automatically after e few seconds, if it doesn't sense a pan on top--another dingbat "safety" feature evidently designed into the unit by diabolically inclined engineers to annoy and frustrate serious cooks.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: moonbeamer

                              I think it is typical of portable induction units that they shut down after a few seconds when a pan is removed. It would be helpful to know exactly what the delay is. Some are as short as five seconds, which is rather short, I think. Others can be as high as nine, which is sufficient time to flip a crêpe. Also, when it shuts down, what is necessary to restart would be helpful.

                              Are you saying that this unit was programmed to limit the heat to 300° F but went above it? That would be a defect.

                              1. re: GH1618

                                The temperature controls seem weird, if not useless--even Power = 2, Temperature = 140 (the lowest) a covered pot will eventually reach 210-211, a slow boil. But I'm hoping some graphs will shed more light on what, if anything, they do,

                              2. re: moonbeamer

                                My first induction, a Tautung, raised an error, and shut off when I lifted the pan off the burner. But the Max Burton beeps at me when I lift the pan off, but resumes at the same setting if I return it. The manual says I have 30 seconds. (E0 error code).

                                Still for crepes I prefer using the coil burner. I know from experience the correct dial setting, so once it is up to temperature I add the batter, swirl it around, cook etc, without further fiddling, and no beeping.

                                Also the MB does not have fine enough power or temperature gradations to work well for pancakes and crepes.

                                What it comes down to, is that the MB is great for getting pans and contents hot quickly. It isn't so good for keeping them at a precise rate of cooking, whether that is defined by temperature or a specific power setting. The settings are stable, just don't have a fine resolution. As such it complements old style coil burners, which respond slowly, but are good for both low and high heat.

                                1. re: paulj

                                  You're right, and in fairness to Max Burton, I never had this problem with omelettes in the De Buyer pan. But this automatic cutoff is a real problem for French toast, pancakes, and the like, which typically take more than 30 seconds to load the pan with a second batch. Leave the pan on the unit, and it will overheat and scorch the second batch; take it off, and the unit will shut off, making it necessary to restart it, reset your non-default settings, and wait for the pan to heat up.

                                  I agree with your other conclusions: the Burton unit certainly doesn't have enough fine power and temperature gradations for lots of kinds of cooking--great for boiling water for pasta, or coffee, though.

                              3. I almost bought that on myhabit!

                                1. I've been doing a lot of everyday cooking on the Max Burton induction cooktop, and also acquired a UEi 302 two-channel temperature logger to try to some systematic experiments on it. Unfortunately, the bundled (made-in-China) software, which is supposed to graph the recorded temperatures, doesn't work; but the hardware itself does give a useful real-time temperature readout, so I did some experiments the old-fashioned way, by standing by the unit and making notes.

                                  First, open-pan work, with the 10.5" Sitram fry pan mentioned earlier: from a cold start (pan and cooktop at room temperature), at the default Power = 5, Temperature = 250F settings: the temperature in the pan skyrocketed, passing 300F after only three minutes, 400F a minute later, and a full 500F after 6 minutes (at which point I shut the unit off). Temperatures in this range are downright DANGEROUS, causing Teflon-type non-stick pans to emit toxic fumes, cooking oils to disintegrate and smoke, plastic pan handles to melt, and tin-lined cookware to melt its tin lining off. There is no hint or warning of this dangerous behavior in any of the Max Burton literature.

                                  The default 250F Temperature setting is completely ineffective initially. Temperature settings do eventually have some (wild and unpredictable) effect, but only after 10 minutes or so, when enough heat from the pan's hot bottom "soaks down" to the thermostat, buried somewhere inside the unit, evidently well below the pan's bottom (more on this below).

                                  Even at lower (below-default) temperature settings the cooktop still "overshoots" considerably, and then seems to oscillate wildly between higher and lower temperatures. For example, at the P=5 (default) and T=210 (below-default) setting, from a cold start, the 10.5" Sitram pan heats rapidly to a maximum of 360F after 4 minutes, then drops steadily to a minimum of 200F after 10 minutes, then seems to rise well beyond the 210 setting.

                                  A smaller 8" Sitram fry pan (cold start at P=5, T=210) overshot even more, to 381F after 3 minutes), then plunged down even lower (to 186F after 12 minutes)—-and then began a long rise again, to 250F after 15 minutes (at which point I ran out of patience; it's unclear whether it (or the larger pan) would ever stabilize in some narrow, useable temperature range).

                                  In any event, this wildly oscillatory temperature behavior make the temperature settings completely unreliable and misleading, and render the Max Burton completely unsuitable for most unattended fry-pan or deep-frying tasks.

                                  After the unit is well heated (e.g., by bringing a large pot of water to a boil), the temperature setting has SOME effect: e.g., turning the default 250F setting down to 180F will cause a rapidly boiling pot of water to quiet down, for a few minutes; but with a covered pot, it always seems to creep back up to the slow-boil (210-212F) range, no matter how low the temperature setting.

                                  The Max Burton induction unit is certainly NOT a good general-purpose cooktop: gas, or even an electric hotplate, is more versatile and predictable, and less dangerous. The one thing the Max Burton unit is good at is boiling water rapidly, e.g. for coffee, or pasta. It's is also possible to make a decent omelet or crepe on it, by constantly scanning the temperature (an IR scanning thermometer, and a non-shiny pan (non-stick, or cast iron; no stainless steel) are essential), and lifting the pan off and back on again to control the temperature. But that one-at-a-time procedure is impractical for cooking multiple batches of pancakes, French toast, and the like. As noted in my earlier posts, the Burton unit is quite useless for crockpot-type slow-cooking, because of it's nutty 3-hour shutoff "safety" feature; and it also can't be controlled by a sous-vide type controller (at least of the simple "bang-bang" type), because of another "safety" feature: the unit shut itself off (permanently) if there in any interruption in the power supply (which is what a "bang-bang" type controller does).

                                  At best, the Max Burton cooktop is a specialized unit for a well-equipped kitchen with enough counter space for a dedicated unit for boiling water for pasta and the like; and it's no bargain even at the current street price of $60 or so, if you have to buy a new set of induction-capable pots & pans.

                                  31 Replies
                                  1. re: moonbeamer

                                    Your comments raise a whole bunch of questions in my mind, but I'll try to keep them down to a few:

                                    WHAT TYPE OF SITRAM PAN? I don't own or use Sitram, so I googled it and found, based on their Sitram France website, that they make all sorts of pans ranging from aluminum, cast aluminum, stainless steel in several configurations, enameled carbon steel (as opposed to enameled cast iron), copper exterior with ss interior, all sorts of configurations, with a large number of those available in non-stick finishes, so telling us you're using a "Sitram" pan doesn't tell me much.

                                    THERMOMETER With the "open pan work" of your second paragraph above, I looked up the thermometer you're using on Amazon.com, and assuming it's the same one, I'm not quite clear whether it has to be used with a probe exclusively, or if it can also be used as a gun to measure surface temperatures, but the big question in my mind is why you think the software is doesn't work but the thermometer is unflawed?

                                    TEFLON/NON-STICK PANS I assume your Sitram pan is non-stick. 500F is a safe temperature for Teflon, according to several sources cited in this Ask.com article:
                                    but there is some alarming news about PFOA, the chemical commonly used to make Teflon stick to metals used in cookware. PFOA is supposed to be eliminated for such use in cookware in the USA by 2015 (three more years of a known threat being openly marketed!), but who knows what department will be in charge of enforcing the ban and what about all of the stuff in private use already? Frankly, I jettisoned Teflon years ago and only have ONE Swiss Diamond non-stick pan I use exclusively for omelets, which are NOT on my daily menu, and it is not induction friendly.

                                    Well, I could go on and on, but to cut to the chase:

                                    1. For such an "experiment" to be truly useful it would have to be performed with several Max Burton identical models sitting side by side with several identical pans used on each. WHY do you think there is no flaw with your particular Max Burton induction hot plate? You've already said the software that came with your instant read thermometer is not working. In this day of super mass production, that very process of mass production GREATLY increases the risk of buying a "lemon." Detroit has known that for years in the manufacturing of cars, and I feel fairly confident the number of induction hot plates and instant read thermometers outstrips their annual output. So why aren't you running your horse race with more than one horse?

                                    Another major problem I find with your effort is that, at least in this report, you are only using pans made of the same induction-friendly material. I too have a Max Burton, mine is the stainless steel 1800W model that currently retails on Amazon.com for $$96.00 with the interface disk for non-induction friendly cookware, or for $80.00 without. I've been using it for maybe three months(?) and even I have figured out that not ALL metal cookware performs equally on MY Max Burton. I have no idea whether a full built-in milti-burner induction cooktop would produce the exact same results across the board that I get with my $80 wonder, but I would hope they do not! But based on my own experience with my own Max Burton, if I were cooking with it all of the time, I would only own cast iron cookware because NO OTHER cookware that I own is as responsive and cooks as well. I used the interface disk with my Swiss Diamond cast aluminum non-induction friendly omelette pan and it sucked! It took forever to heat up and took forever to cool down, and the one critical thing I need to make a great omelette is INSTANT responsiveness.

                                    Based entirely on my personal experience with MY Max Burton, MY Max Burton adaptor plate, MY brand of induction friendly stainless steel, MY carbon steel wok, and MY cast iron pans, I have concluded that the purity of the content of ferrous metal in any given pan will determine how well it performs with MY Max Burton induction hot plate. The TOP performer in my arsenal is the solid, uncoated cast iron, hands down. For some curious reason, I have not yet tried any of my Le Creuset pans on it. Mine are old enough they have a ringed ridge around the bottom of the pan that would hold the bottom of the pan a little distance above the hot plate, which is probably why I haven't tried it yet. I'll have to remember to give it a shot.

                                    Now, I have one critical question for you. You say that you've been using your Max Burton for everyday cooking while doing this testing. So my question is how did your everyday cooking turn out? Were you satisfied with the results? Were you able to adapt to the idiosyncrasies of your particular Max Burton well enough to produce some good tasting food?

                                    I have to add that I think these "investigations" into the evenness of surface temperatures in cookware using instant read "cowboy shoot and read" thermometers (or ANY thermometer for that matter) is a guy thing. I've been cooking at an advanced level since 1958 when I was drilled on how to cook properly by my personal master chef, and in all of those years I have cooked regularly with an alcohol stove, a wood stove, a kerosene stove, butane, propane, natural gas, coil electric ranges, radiant electric ranges, a butane hot plate, and now an induction hot plate. Never once have I had a pan that heated 100% evenly on whatever medium I was cooking with. Part of cooking is knowing your burner's hot spots and other idiosyncrasies and ADAPTING your cooking to the stove and cooking vessels you have at hand. These types of "experiments" are useless to someone like me.

                                    Carry on.... And thanks for trying!!! I really mean that, but I also mean what I've written above. And finally, have you ever seriously investigated whether your particular Max Burton could be a lemon? Just a thought... '-)

                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      Caroline1 raises some interesting questions. To answer the first few:

                                      "WHAT TYPE OF SITRAM PAN? I don't own or use Sitram, so I googled it and found, based on their Sitram France website, that they make all sorts of pans..."

                                      As explained in my earlier posts, I was using two older Sitram "Cybernox" fry pans that I picked up on ebay. These are highly-regarded, commercial-grade pans with encapsulated-aluminum bottoms, simiiar to their current "Profiserie" line, except for the handles (the "Profiserie" pans have all-metal handles, whereas mine have "Stay-cool" plastic inserts). I've also been using an 8" De Buyer "Mineral B" stamped-iron fry pan, which seems to behave similarly to the 8" Sitram pan (and is easier to scan with an IR thermometer, because it's not shiny), but I didn't run any high-temperature tests on it, as I didn't want to destroy the seasoning.

                                      "THERMOMETER With the "open pan work" of your second paragraph above, I looked up the thermometer you're using on Amazon.com, and assuming it's the same one, I'm not quite clear whether it has to be used with a probe exclusively, or if it can also be used as a gun to measure surface temperatures, but the big question in my mind is why you think the software is doesn't work but the thermometer is unflawed?"

                                      For actual cooking, I use a Taylor 9506, which has a thermocouple probe for inserting into the meat, or cooking broth, or whatever is being cooked, similar to the "Thermapen" probe favored by many, but in addition, also has an infrared scanner, which can measure the temperature of a BBQ grill, or a roasting chicken, or the cooking surface of a (non-shiny) fry pan, from a few inches away, without making direct contact with it. A very useful, practical kitchen gadget, which I use almost every day.

                                      The DEi unit I mentioned is a scientific instrument, not a practical cooking device, which is intended to not only measure temperatures, but also to record and store them, for later analysis, graphing, etc. My two-channel version has two K-type thermocouple "probes" (wires, actually, without any sheathing or shields for inserting into food), and a dual LCD readout. I checked the DEi unit for accuracy against my Taylor 9506 (and also against a couple of other thermometers, and in boiling water, etc.), and it seems quite accurate. The software, however, was a dud--didn't load a proper driver ("Unrecognized USB device"; I'm an experienced computer user, and know how to use the Device Manager and the various Wizards to find & load drivers, but I still couldn't get it to work.)

                                      "TEFLON/NON-STICK PANS I assume your Sitram pan is non-stick..."

                                      No, the Sitram pan has their "Cybernox" finish, which is a surface finishing of the stainless metal cooking surface which supposedly imparts permananent non-stick properties to the pan without potentially hazardous Teflon, PFOA, or other volatile chemicals (like Caroline1, I stopped using non-stick pans long ago).

                                      To be continued...

                                      1. re: moonbeamer

                                        Hi, moonbeamer:

                                        You keep up the good work.


                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                        Caroline1 wrote:

                                        "For such an 'experiment' to be truly useful it would have to be performed with several Max Burton identical models sitting side by side with several identical pans used on each..."

                                        NO ONE--not Consumer Reports, or the car magazines test-driving cars, or the even the most careful of the photography blogs and magazines which test new cameras and lenses--goes to the expense and trouble of always testing several units simultaneously before drawing "truly useful" conclusions about a product. This marketeer-friendly "counsel of perfection" simply places an unrealistically high burden of proof on potential critics.

                                        She also wrote:

                                        "WHY do you think there is no flaw with your particular Max Burton induction hot plate? ...In this day of super mass production, that very process of mass production GREATLY increases the risk of buying a "lemon."
                                        "...have you ever seriously investigated whether your particular Max Burton could be a lemon? Just a thought..."

                                        I spoke with the Max Burton Customer Service several times to ask if my unit was doing something it shouldn't be (and was told no, that's the way it was designed to behave). I also read various other blogs (some in CHOW, some elsewhere) and compared my experiences with others'. I'm quite confident I have a representative sample, not a "lemon"; and that is clearly the conclusion that Max Burton Customer Service also reached, for they never offered to repair or replace my (brand-new, under warranty) unit (realizing, of course, that any replacement unit would exhibit exactly the same kind of disfunctional or dangerous behavior I was complaining about).

                                        I also think we're being given an unrealistic view of typical sample-to-sample variation in theses days of modern "super mass production." Another Max Burton unit, with the 10.5" Sitram fry pan, might reach the critical 500F temperature in only 5:45 minutes, rather than the 6:00 minutes mine took (typical sample-to-sample variation); but reach 500F it would, in roughly the same time; which is DANGEROUS.

                                        1. re: moonbeamer

                                          I guess the bottom line is that I have a LOT of trouble with your logic. You start this thread off by stating that you bought an induction hotplate in hopes of using it as a "slow cooker." If that is the case, why did you seek out the MOST POWERFUL 120V 1800W single burner counter top induction unit available in the market place? Fagor makes one that is only 1300 watts, Eurodib makes one that is only 1600 watts, Tarrison makes one that is 1500 watts. So WHY did you go looking for the most powerful induction countertop cooker you could find if you wanted to use it for slow cooking? I don't understand that at all!

                                          And then why are you heating a used (eBay) stainless steel pan that is EMPTY? As paulj has pointed out, the flyer that came with his Berndez saucepan says NOT to use it on an induction burner when it is empty. Okay. So you bought yours on eBay and it didn't come with instructions, right?

                                          UNLESS you're using a pan with a non-stick interior, I don't see ANY problem with 500F *IF* you know what you are doing. Don't walk away and leave ANY stove unattended! And if I can get 500 degrees with one of my cast iron skillets, kiddo, you've got one happy camper because it will work GREAT for searing my sous vide steaks!

                                          You've been bitching about how terrible and dangerous the Max Burton 1800 watt induction countertop appliance is since the get-go. I've been using mine for three months now with NO problems! Well, the only problem is that I can't make risotto on mine, but that's not the hotplate's fault. It's because my stainless steel induction friendly saucepans are too shallow to use my StirChef battery operated automatic stirrer! So I use my copper saucepans on my butane countertop burner and everything works just fine. The concept is simple: Appropriate equipment for the specific job. It's not rocket science.

                                          In my opinion, you are doing inappropriate things with your poor little Max Burton, and doing inappropriate things with your poor little EMPTY Sitram pan! Did you do no research on induction cooking and how the wattage impacts the temperature range that high and low wattage hobs can achieve? I think the biggest problem here is "pilot error."

                                          Sorry to be so blunt. I think you think you're doing something important, but all I see you doing is possibly scaring people away from trying induction and as one who is interested in any energy efficient move that will help reduce our energy supply problems on this poor overcrowded planet we live on, I resent that. There is nothing wrong with the 1800 watt Max Burton hot plate if you use it sensibly. But that rule applies to everything in a kitchen, right?

                                          1. re: moonbeamer

                                            Hi, moonbeamer:

                                            What I see you doing is warning people away from this particular scary (and disappointing) appliance. Thanks.


                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                              I've been using it for three months and have NOT found it scary and disappointing. What is your experience with a Max Burton 1800 watt countertop unit?

                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                Hi, Car:

                                                Oh, you already know the answer to that one... But I did have one in my shopping cart until it came to light that the sensors and temperature settings are all catty-wompus. Thanks to moonbeamer and others, I didn't waste my money.

                                                I'm glad your MB works for you. Will you be buying more in search of lemons? The burden of inductive [rimshot!] logic you put on poor moonbeamer would seem to cut in both directions, right? Otherwise, don't we have to talk about confirmation bias along with the appliance?


                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  I think the main thing that moonbeamer has demonstrated is that this burner is not suitable for heating an empty pan to a specific temperature. Having used that model for a year, I am not in the least surprised. Nor do his results reduce its usefulness to me.

                                                  At the moment I am quite happy to have access to 3 types of burner, induction, butane, and electric coil.

                                                  I like to use induction where rapid response is needed, especially around boiling temperature. I like to use the butane hot plate at the dinning table, and outside (for steaks and roasting peppers). I like to use the coil where steady heat is needed, whether for pancakes, or slowly simmering corned beef in a clay pot.

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    Hi, paul:

                                                    Do you think that a full pan set to "250" will go there and stay there on the MB? If a full pan zeroes at the setting, that's one thing. If it doesn't, moonbeamer's proof is a little more practical. And it *is* a problem if a cook cannot set and gauge the temperature of even an empty pan, right?

                                                    I get you completely about the "Boils Water Fast" use--that's a decent argument for buying one of these (as opposed to a $3,500 unit). But if that's ALL a purchaser uses it for, there wouldn't be much of a wide demand for it, and you could have a simple ON/OFF switch.


                                                  2. re: kaleokahu

                                                    Well, if ANYBODY is expecting a Diva de Provence performance out of an $80.00 Max Burton, they're wildly unrealistic. Check out what other buyers say about their experiences with it here at the bottom of the page on amazon.com:
                                                    The majority of buyers are happy with it, some are thrilled, a couple had problems. When you buy things through Amazon.com, they have an amazing return policy! No problems, no hassles, and they're prompt.

                                                    NO pan should be heated empty, with the possible exception of a heavy cast iron pan or grill when you're preheating it to sear a steak. Heating an empty pan Is a good way to warp it. Again, cast iron is the exception. Induction stainless steel is not.

                                                    In MY experience, the Max Burton 1800 watt 120v induction hot plate is an excellent way to investigage whether you want to go full-stove with induction. It's cheap. It has hot spots in it. I've never had a buner of any sort that does not have hot spots.

                                                    If you think moonbeam's reports in this thread is some sort of service, I think you're way off the mark. I have no problem with you not buying a Max Burton hot plate. Buy what you want. But I do have a poblem with ANYONE not buying one because of these quazi-scientific "experiments" that moonbeamer is doing in the guise of public service. It is not. And if you will note, he has yet to answer my question about whehter he has cooked anything on his Max Burton that tasted good and came out as a fairly successfful dish. I don't even know if he can cook. When I cook, I ALWAYS put food in the pan!

                                                    Enough said. I'm not trying to be a witch. Just fair.


                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                      Hi, Car:

                                                      I think moonbeamer's a messenger, and you all have been shooting at him/her. If what's been reported is accurate, it's a service. Until something better is done, I think it's nice to know what the MB does and doesn't do. IMO, those who have these and aren't satisfied with his/her tests ought to run their own.

                                                      Seems like I remember a nice lady from Plano who made some scorchprints in an empty pan...


                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                        No, no,no, no, not me! At least I don't recall ever making a scorch print. As I've said before in other threads, I have and do use about an inch of water in the bottom of a fry or sauté pan to find out where a burner's hot spots are; tiny bubbles will form on the hottest areas before anywhere else, and I've used this method with new stoves/burner for years when a stove/burner first enters my life as part of the "getting to know you" process. I rarely, if ever, bother with it with a new pan or vessel. The critical information is gained with where the hot spots are on the burner, then it is a simple matter of adjusting to it by rotating the pan a few inches or even a quarter turn regularly during the cooking process. But I only do that when I am frying or sautéing. It doesn't matter if I'm cooking something in liquid, whether it be a stew, a broth, or a pot of water for pasta. The volume of liquid will compensate for any hot spots on the burner. There is one exception: on those rare occasions that I make a paella, then the rotating is important if I want the crust on the bottom of the finished paella to be even.

                                                        Neither do I ever use a thermometer of any sort to check the temperature of an empty pan. I use the very old, very traditional, very reliable method of flicking a few drops of water on the surface of a grill or frying pan I'm preheating and then determining whether it is hot enough for my purpose at hand. To sear a steak, the water must stay in a round form and dance into vapor almost immediately and never spread out and simply sit there and simmer. For pancakes and such, I do not want it that hot, but the droplet of water should vanish in three seconds or less. I also use the old trick of simply holding my hand about two inches above the surface of the pan and judge the heat by how long I can hold my hand there before "self preservation" forces me to withdraw it. This is also an old and reliable kitchen trick that chefs have been using since man first began cooking on the blade of a shovel or on his battle shield. Hey, when something has worked that long, why spend money on a gadget that demands counter space when not in use, right?

                                                        In one of the threads about scorch prints and "you guys" trying to find a pan that would dissipate heat evenly and distribute it uniformly over the entire surface of the pan, I suggested that the ONLY "pan" that will do that is the top of a double boiler when it is placed over boiling water and STEAM delivers even heat over the entire bottom of that pan. I even went on to speculate whether a "permanent" double boiler could be created, and I believe one of the gentlemen suggested mercury sealed in some sort of metal, but allowed that that would be highly toxic should it break open and release the mercury. But I do not remember ever doing a scorch print. But hey, at my age, who knows? If you can find a post in any thread where I talk about a scorch print that I have made in the last five years, I'd LOVE to read it!

                                                        My problem with moonbeam's original and subsequent posts are as I have already stated in other posts in this thread. No need to rehash it here. '-)

                                                  3. re: Caroline1

                                                    You need to understand, Caroline1, that kaleokahu doesn't like induction cooking. Period. I've hit that particular wall before. So just know that it doesn't matter how you present your argument, you'll run into an anti-induction POV which unfortunately gets "personal" at times. Which is fine, it is just another POV and it is an entrenched POV. Just so as you and kaleokahu don't waste valuable pixels debating an issue that has no resolution....

                                                    1. re: freia

                                                      Hi, freia:

                                                      If these things worked dependably and as advertised, I'd like them more. But you're right insofar as they're over-hyped given the returns. Car and I have sparred over this before; she can hold her own.


                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                        I know, just trying to keep things in perspective for everyone, that's all. Sometimes we don't know the backgrounds of others on the Boards, so just trying to acknowledge both POVs. I personally love induction as you know, but I do miss using copper bottomed pots. Pluses and minuses to everything I think?
                                                        I know that had I some background info on POVs with respect to certain knife/cookware loving posters, I would have approached some conversations a bit differently, that's all. No disrespect intended.

                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                          You're saying induction is "over-hyped" because of the "returns". I assume this data came from your local appliance store.

                                                          I have came across an extremely reputable appliances store. I don't know how well this fact that I provide will register with you, but as an amusement for the rest, I've talked with the sales people over there and they are very excited about the new zoneless induction cooktop that is arriving this July. I've subscribed to their email newsletter and they've been pushing induction.

                                                          They love induction.

                                                          AND they provide their own extended warranty.

                                                          Just providing statistics. ;-)

                                                          1. re: cutipie721

                                                            Hi, cutiepie:

                                                            No, I meant returns on investment. I think when an $80 hotplate sort of works/quirks, people are likely just to throw it away. When an $1,800 cooktop does it, IMO they make themselves love it anyway.

                                                            Yes, there are zealot purveyors of induction, the most messianic of them being theinductionsite.com.

                                                            I really do hope the manufacturers work all the bugs out of induction cooking. Frankly, the vid that someone linked here of the zoneless 'top ("Piano"?) makes it look like you have to do 200 hours in a flight simulator to run the thing. And zoneless is entering the market before the sensor bugs have even been worked out of the "old" zoned 'tops. I just thing we're getting ahead of ourselves, is all.


                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                              I never make myself love anything, regardless of the cost. I've used electric coil, electric puck, ceramic, gas and induction. Induction is my preferred. Not because I spent the money, but because I love it. If I didn't, I would replace it immediately, as I do have the means with which to do so.

                                                              I think you just need to open your mind, and I suspect the anti-induction bent is because copper pots won't work on it...I'll bet if they did, you'd be just as enthusiastic.


                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                Hi, freia:

                                                                Oh, but copper pots *do* work on induction. You just have to use a converter disk or crepe pan.

                                                                And I do have an open mind. But the laws of physics aren't changing anytime soon, so barring some major future advance, induction's appeal will be all about newness and gimmickry (and boiling water fast).


                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                  I'm not sure what you mean by "laws of physics aren't changing soon" and concluding that induction is a giimmic. Induction has been around for nearly 100 years, is proven, and uses the laws of physics to work and work well.
                                                                  Have you ever used a proper, 36inch induction cooktop for an extended period of time? It's easy to criticize based on internet research and the opinion of department store appliance salespeople, but until you actually try it out, you really don't have any basis for criticism.
                                                                  I can post that it does work, based on my experience. And you will post "no it doesn't not for what I want to use it for" without even having tried. Crazy.

                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                    "Newness?" Kaleo, you're usually better informed than that! There are a lot of people who participate on these boards who were not even a glint in their fathers' eyes when induction cooking was being used in many European restaurants. Induction hit the Euro market in the 1970s. However, the first induction cooker patents were issued in the early 1900s, and in the 1950s Frigidaier sent a demo model on a public promotional tour. For someone my age, it's "new" technology. For most of the rest of the world, it is not.

                                                                    Oh, and every new car on the road today is "gimicky." Do you drive a car or ride a horse?

                                                                    And one final rim-shot: The laws of physics are constantly "changing." Well, not the actual innate laws that determine how the univere and all that's in it work, but just try to resolve Newtonian physics with quantum physics, and Honey Bunch, Sweetie Pie, Angel Pudding, we AIN'T there yet...! Not even close. So in that sense, the laws o physics certainly are changing. Every damned day!

                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      Hi, Car:

                                                                      Careful... The few times *I've* argued in court that my opponent is usually right, I've lost...

                                                                      Yes, relatively and economically speaking, we are still just coming out of the Dark Ages for induction (although our "friends" in the Far East are whittling away at the production aspects of the latter). I really do have hope for the future, though.

                                                                      Car analogies here are fun. Politeness used to argue that induction "radioed ahead, and caught Bonny & Clyde before they made the state line", as if that informed anyone about cooking or its appliances. But hey, I'll go that way... I think headlight wipers on cars are silly, and an invitation for expensive repairs (when they fail) and internal dishonesty (when they fail and we don't do anything about it).

                                                                      I'm especially smitten with you for 'Angel Pudding' (and thank you for that expression, I must use it). Newtonian physics have always worked fine for me (as have Copernian, FTM). What I meant by that prior remark was that, until a lot more bugs are worked out, we will not have all-metal induction available to us, and until we do, we will have to trade down in cookware to make induction "work". What we await is not a change in the laws, but a change in regimes, or in what Paul Feuerabend called "paradigms" in science. We're not there yet, and we *certainly* haven't made anything remotely resembling a quantum leap. .


                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                        Based on my very limited first hand experience with induction cooking (3 months or so), but then throwing in the extensive reading I've done on the subject, I am more prone to invest in the DeBuyer line of 99% pure iron cookware from France than hold my breath waiting for the efficacy of all-metal induction to achieve the peak efficiency I already get with my Max Burton and cast iron! I do not own any of the 99% pure iron, but that grade of iron is as soft as aluminum and something like 20 to 22 per cent less susceptible to rust than cast iron. I like that! Why? Because none of my other pans are as responsive as my Lodge cast iron. It's amazing.

                                                                        What I have found is that I have to use higher settings with my induction stainless steel cookware, and the one time I tried to make an omelette using my Swiss Diamond non-induction 8" frying pan and the Max Burton adapter plate that I bought with the hot plate was almost as slow as if I'd try to use one of my copper pans on the MB! NOT a performance that came anywhere close to what I get with my Lodge pans. Simply no comparison!

                                                                        Sooooo... If I ever do decide to kick out a grand plus for the GE induction cooktop with 19 presets, I think I'll also look for a full set of that 99% iron. Good luck to me on that one! At present they only make fry pans, sautoirs, and crepe pans. No saucepans. Oh well... I still haven't tried my Le Creuset on it... Now why is that? CAUSE ITS SO DAMNED HEAVY...!!!

                                                                        Just for the record, they do now make AND market all-metal induction cooktops in Japan (Japanese market only at the present), and if what and how I'm reading the information I can glean from multiple sources about that, they use a set of double magnetic induction coils that set up a harmonic field against each other that they interacts with non-ferrous metals. You have to switch the second set of coils on when you want to use a copper or all aluminum pan to make it work. Otherwise, if you don't throw that switch to excite the second set of magnetic coils it just works the same as the induction cookers now marketed in the rest of the world. So based on my experience with my cast iron and induction, I'm no longer convinced all-metal induction is worth waiting for. But wow, throw me in that briar patch that has the full surface induction! EXCEPT I want the maximum possible number of presets! (Picky! Picky! Picky!)

                                                                        I think you need to get your feet wet, Kaleo. I think if you get yourself a nice cast iron or 99% iron pan to use with a Max Burton, you'll fall in love...!!! Really!

                                                                        Oh...! And I'm sure DeBuyer has made this with YOU in mind! Get some of these AND a Max Burton, and I'll be able to hear your heart sing clear from Texas!


                                                                        Amazon.com has it WITH prices. Not that attorneys ever need to think about things like that. '-)

                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                          Hi Caroline --

                                                                          I tend to agree with you about the All Metal induction cooktops. Although they are readily available here in Japan and the price is pretty reasonable, I feel that using copper or aluminum on an All Metal induction cooktop isn't really an ideal solution. Basically, it hobbles the main strengths of induction: efficiency, speed, power, and a cool operation.

                                                                          However, given how popular induction is in Europe and here in Japan, I personally don't feel particularly constrained with regard to cookware choices. And I'm sure that many more manufacturers will jump onto the induction bandwagon in the future.

                                                                          Sure, you can't use vintage copper cookware, but induction-capable copper cookware (or at least cookware with a copper inner layer) is available. De Buyer Prima Matera, which you mentioned in your post, works great on my cooktop. All Clad Copper Core is induction-capable. So is Anolon's Nouvelle Copper line (available in SS or anodized aluminum versions).

                                                                          With regard to aluminum, I am very happy with my De Buyer CHOC Induction frying pans. I also have a Swiss Diamond casserole (as you may know, they have an induction-capable line). Scan Pan CTX is also induction-capable. So is Infinite Circulon.

                                                                          If you want SS-Al-SS clad cookware with 3, 5, or 7 layers, the list is even longer. I have had good experience with:

                                                                          All Clad SS (3-layer)
                                                                          De Buyer Affinity (7-layer)
                                                                          Mauviell M'Cook (5-layer)
                                                                          Viking V7 (7-layer)
                                                                          Le Creuset (3-layer)
                                                                          Geo (7-layer, might be available only in Japan)

                                                                          You can also add Cuisinart and Demeyere's 7-layer line.

                                                                          For induction-capable aluminum disk bottom cookware, there are many, many more choices, including Fissler and Demeyere Atlantis/Apollo.

                                                                          I also regularly use Lodge Signature and Iwachu cast iron, Le Crueset enameled cast iron, Silit Silargan ceramic-coated stainless steel, and carbon steel cookware on my cooktop.

                                                                          If you've made it this far in this boring litany of cookware, my point is that you can easily outfit your kitchen with a wide range of high-quality induction-capable cookware -- without having to install a new All Metal induction cooktop. Actually, one of the only reasons I can see for choosing the All Metal path is if you have a big collection of lovely copper cookware that you inherited from your French grandmother. On second thought, in that situation, I'd switch back to gas.

                                                                          1. re: tanuki soup

                                                                            LOL! Yay French grandmothers! But even if I had one (my grandmothers were 1 English and 1 American mongrel), I still couldn't have gas. My house is all electric, but the city will allow me to pay them to bring gas to my house from the nearest gas mane.... For $70,000.00 USD! For that kind of money I can fly to Japan and smuggle an all metal induction cook top back home with me!

                                                                            Thanks for the detailed information about induction friendly cookware. Much appreciated! My only first hand experience with induction cooking is about three months with the Max Burton portable. While it is the most powerful portable on the American market, I still have no idea whether it is typical in how it performs compared to other manufacturer's induction coil patterns and such. I *DO* know from first and second hand experience with nuclear magnetic resonance mass spectrometry via my ex-husband's job in the chemistry lab at UCSD that based on how the magnetic coils are wound and how they are placed, you can get some pretty wide variances in how well they perform. He adapted 2 NMR mass spectrometers to highly improved resolution through winding additional copper coils and adding them to the manufacturer's array with happy results for both University of California at San Diego, and for Carnegie-Mellon University. Word spread and next thing you know the manufacturer of the NMR mass spectrometers did it at the factory! I don't think the difference between creating a pattern of magnetic field harmonics between a chemical sample, or a human body (in the case of MRI), or heating close proximity metals through sympathetic magnetic wave harmonics in a cook top are all that different, in that they seem to me to be different applications of the same principles of physics. And if my surmises are true, then I might get a variant result with my Max Burton than someone else would get with a Suppentown or whatever other brand name.

                                                                            So after that long winded preamble, the question: I find a noticeable variance in the performance of my cookware on the Max Burton, and it seems to relate directly to the quantity and quality of the ferrous metal in the compound metals my pans are made of. My cast iron is the most responsive, and to my GREAT surprise, it also cools much quicker once the induction unit is turned off than it ever did on either my electric or gas cooktops of the past. The induction friendly stainless steel that I have is MUI of France that is manufactured in China. (I have no issues with Chinese manufacturing of stainless steel cookware.) And the performance of the iron impregnated aluminum Max Burton adaptor plate is very disappointing if it's supposed to give non-induction pans the same performance level as my Lodge cast iron! Do you find the same kinds of noticeable performance variances between your induction cookware on your specific induction unit? I'm also curious what brand your unit is with the lovely and wonderful tempura setting!

                                                                            Thanks for putting up with this long winded slightly technical question!

                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                              Hi again, C --

                                                                              To answer your questions, my unit is a Mitsubishi, but the "tempura" button seems to be a standard feature here. Even my portable Panasonic units have this button.

                                                                              I haven't really noticed much difference in the performance of cookware of the same basic design, but I have to say that the De Buyer Prima Matera copper frying pan leaves everything else in the dust in terms of responsiveness and even heating from center to rim. It really is quite noticeable.

                                                                              My multiclad SS-Al pans and induction-capable aluminum pans also work very nicely. The latter are great for omelets.

                                                                              IME, cast iron and carbon steel work fine, but tend to heat up at the center more than at the edges. I suspect that's why you've noticed that your cast iron pan cools down faster. Since the edges tend to stay cool, they suck the heat from the relatively hot center when you turn off the heat.

                                                                              I haven't used an adaptor plate. Based on the reviews I read at Amazon a couple of years ago, it seems that there are issues with overheating and shutdown of the cooktop, poor heat transfer to the pan, and (of course) the inconvenience of having a super-hot metal disk to deal with afterwards. Frankly, I'd rather buy new cookware than deal with an adaptor plate.


                                                                2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                  I bet you still haven't gotten yourself a hot plate. You think there's a voodoo spell that makes you love it? I respect those who have tried it and then say no thank you.

                                                                  Recently I have to leave my induction cooktop for an extended period of time. I have to learn to use an electric stove, again. Is it possible - absolutely. Is my quality of life going down at the same time - yes.

                                                                  I used to be able to make myself a cup of tea in under a min. Now I have to resort to using a microwave.

                                                                  Making soup is particularly painful. Not only I have to deal with the slower heating time, I also have to deal with the slower cooling time. After the pot of water is brought to a boil and then I switch it to low, I have to be there to monitor it to make sure that it doesn't boil over for the next 10mins because it takes forever to reach the right temperature.

                                                                  Remedy? Pre-heat another burner! What a great way to save energy and to get yourself seared by accident on the now-empty burner that was on high just moments ago.

                                                                  If I have less things to juggle, I can make dinner more efficiently and effortlessly. Let alone the fact that I have more cleanup to do because I can't put a liner underneath my pot now.

                                                                  You must be a genius to be able to do so many things at the same time. To be honest with you I have been overwhelmed by the extra time-management effort and work just to put dinner together. Well, I'm deeply cursed by induction and I bought myself a MB hotplate to tie me over! When I'm back home I can use the MB to cook smelly food outside.

                                                                  I also don't understand your problem with the sensor. I assume you're talking about the temperature sensor? I don't have that on my full-on cooktop (doesn't look like it'll be available on the shiny zoneless either). I think it's there only for portable units. If IR guns can't measure the temperature accurately of a shiny object, what realistic targets do we have here from a <$100 burner to measure heat accurately in real-time coming from above? Granted, it's a provided feature and hence it should work. How about treating it as an engineer brain-fart and hoping the manufacturers to scrap this so-called feature altogether and concentrating on making more power levels in the control? But to say that this sensor "bug" is a caveat of induction - I think it's a little bit overboard.

                                                                  I saw the video of the Thermador cooktop (which is available this coming July), and it doesn't look all THAT bad. I haven't seen the flight-simulator video that you saw, but since that unit not available in the US yet, I don't really care.

                                                                  The reason I brought up my appliance store is, as you probably know why, that multiple times you've argued "even the sellers (the folks at your local appliances store) hate it and they are not willing to provide customer service on the units." I hope this settles that. Of course, I can't change the way your people feel about induction, but as a future reference, not all mom-and-pop sellers hate them and hence should not be generalized.

                                                        2. re: kaleokahu

                                                          This appliance is not scary, at least no more so than any cooktop, and considerably less than most. An attitude of respect is more useful than one of fear towards any heat-producing device.

                                                          Whether or not it's disappointing depends on what the buyer expects of an under-$100, auxiliary cooktop, and what kinds of cooking s/he wants to do. The original poster wanted to use it as a sous vide, a job for which it is neither suited nor marketed; disappointment seems inevitable if expectations are unrealistic.

                                                          Many posters have given concrete examples of the kinds of cooking for which they find a portable induction cooktop useful (non-disappointing), and those for which they prefer other heat sources. So has the original poster, to some extent. In another thread recently, I did the same:

                                                          :: For the most part, I use the induction for boiling-water jobs [get to boil with power level 7, turn down to 3 or 4 to maintain boil] or the pressure cooker [get to pressure with level 7, turn down to 3 for a minute or two, then to 1 to maintain pressure]. And to do long reducing-cooking like carnitas [level 2 for almost 2 hours; come back in and keep an eye on the evaporation/browning at an hour and a half], and ketchup [level 2 for an hour or so with periodic stirring].

                                                          What [the induction unit] does do, it does well: provides another cooktop than my stove, allows me to deep-fry on the porch, gives more precision in pressure-cooking than my flaky-pressure gas stove, lets me boil big pots of water with maximum speed and minimum discomfort :: ... and allows long simmers on the stovetop with a smaller carbon footprint and greater safety than using the gas burners here.

                                                          1. re: ellabee

                                                            Hi, ellabee:

                                                            We disagree if the MB's temperature sensors cannot distinguish 250F from 500F or pick a place to come to rest. I have no problem setting an electric or gas hob to a certain level when I know it will stay there, and in some cases I can and do walk away. If moonbeamer is correct, doing so on the MB might be dangerous, and I find that scary. If your dish, set to "2", went past the flash point of the oil when you were away (believing it would stay at 2) ...

                                                            Yes, people like induction for boiling water most of all. Shaving that 30 seconds off the boil makes them feel very wise for having spent their money, but the 7-to-4-3-to-2 is done on hobs of all kinds. I can't comment on your flaky gas pressure fluctuating, except to say that I've never had that problem; I've always thought that the pressure was regulated.


                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                              It would be an unwise cook who'd walk away from oil heating on any source. But for the other kind of leave-it-alone cooking, my experience has been that the induction unit has no problem maintaining a low, slow bubble for an hour or two without runaway boil-ups (at the 2 setting for thin liquids, or 1 in thick liquids).

                                                              I haven't used the temperature settings, and really don't think they're particularly useful or meaningful, as the temperature sensors are beneath the ceramic surface. Instead I've observed how different foods respond to the power levels. I made the assumption that the 'temperature settings' are not meaningfully different from the power levels on the Max Burton unit, and used the temperatures to guesstimate a power level for deep frying.

                                                              In the comment I excerpted from another thread, I was specific about the settings of the induction unit in connection with pressure cooking, for the benefit of some commenters who were focused on that, not in order to make the descending power settings sound like something possible only with an induction unit.

                                                              I am not one of the people who likes induction for boiling water most of all. I like induction most of all for pressure cooking, most of which takes place at a lower power setting. That's the original reason I got it. I like it next most for long simmers, which eliminate the risk of the flame going out. (Yes, I probably should have a gas tech out to see if some work on the stove's regulator can end the syndrome of one burner going out when another is turned on, but I doubt that will eliminate all risk of guttering -- gusts of wind through a window, opening and shutting the back door quickly, etc.}

                                                              As portable cooktops go, induction is attractive for its lower fire and burn risk compared with a traditional hot plate -- for situations where cooking is being done outside a normal kitchen temporarily, or for entertaining. In my case, the relatively small size and weight of the unit allows me to sit it on a cookie sheet and do pressure cooking and boiling/blanching on the rear of the stove where the steam can be easily vented by my not-large-or-very-powerful exhaust.

                                                              It's indisputably safer to deep fry on an induction unit than on an open flame, and somewhat safer than on a hot coil. That's a bonus, as the main reason I'm much more likely to deep fry now is that I can do it on the porch (the not-powerful exhaust, again).

                                                              In short, there are a whole lot of reasons for people in different situations to find induction useful -- even a crappy $80. Max Burton portable. And those who are enthusiastic about full induction cooktops are not necessarily just stoked about the speed of boiling water or trying to justify the extra cost: most of those full cooktops offer lower settings than on the portable, which I agree with paulj would be a plus.

                                                              I'd never willingly give up gas; it's what I've always cooked on, and I don't think I'd ever get skillful enough on induction to duplicate the results I get for most skillet and saute-pan cooking. But I'm very gratified to be able to supplement it, especially at such a low cost, with technology that greatly expands my cooking possibilities.

                                                  4. I was looking at the flyer that came with a Berndez SS sauce pan. One care instruction is 'Do not use empty pan on an induction hob.'

                                                    1. This evening I made a classic French peas with lettuce on this induction burner. I used an induction compatible nonstick aluminum fry pan. I started it on 5, but did most of the cooking on 3 and 2. Mostly I cooked by ear - using the sizzling sound as my guide to the right power. The temperature setting, even if accurate, would have been of little use.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        I used mine with a relatively new cast iron grill pan. You know, the kind with the raised bars that leave char marks on whatever you cook? A couple of months ago I oredered a case of Black Angus grass fed "steakburger" patties. Black Angus is not my favorite breed of beef, and I've been less than happy with the way it turns out when pan broiled because grass fed beef goes over-the-top to tough and dry VERY quickly if you try to cook it like corn/grain fed beef. I was beginning to think grass fed ground beef should be reserved for meat balls and meatloaf, but I love a really good burger! I put the grill pan on the Max Burton and allowed it to preheat at the 5 start preset. I don't use a "ray gun" instant read thermometer. I just use the very old chef"s method of holding my hand an inch or two above the surface to sense when the temperature is right. (Hey, one less tool taking up counter space!) When I set the pre-formed burger on the grids there was a very satisfying sizzle. I turned it a total of three more times, ending up with "cross-hatch" grill marks on both sides when through. With the last two flips I seasoned with a little Fusion black truffle salt. The burger came out an absolutely perfect medium rare and hyper-delicious! The ONLY other way I've ever been able to come close to this is wth a charcoal or gas barbecue, and call me lazy, but I should go through all of that for ONE burger? I don't think so! The raised grids in the grill pan and the high heat the Max Burton can achieve with cast iron seems to be the answer to getting a great stove top grilled burger. Now, how many times a week can I allow myself this guilty pleasure? '-)

                                                      2. Caroline1 wrote:

                                                        "...I have a LOT of trouble with your logic."
                                                        "...why are you heating a used (eBay) stainless steel pan that is EMPTY?"
                                                        "In my opinion, you are doing inappropriate things with your poor little Max Burton [pet rock?] , and doing inappropriate things with your poor little EMPTY Sitram pan!"
                                                        "NO pan should be heated empty, with the possible exception of a heavy cast iron pan..."
                                                        "If you think moonbeam's reports in this thread is some sort of service, I think you're way off the mark. ...I don't even know if he can cook. When I cook, I ALWAYS put food in the pan!"

                                                        Has Caroline1 ever made an omelette? or pancakes? or French toast? or sauteed a biftec au pauvre? All ot these procedures begin by heating an EMPTY pan. James Beard's recipe for "A Perfect Omelet," for example, instructs the cook to "Heat your omelet pan over high heat until a drop of water bounces when flicked on the surface. Add the butter and swirl until it melts and foams... If it browns or burns, the pan is too hot..." [Theory & Practice of Good Cooking, p. 204]

                                                        The point is, that with the Max Burton unit at its default settings, the pan will pass from the "melts and foams" stage to the "browns and burns" stage in just a few seconds, and unless the pan is being monitored with an IR thermometer and watched like a hawk, and the eggs are added at just the right moment--a very narrow window of only a few seconds--the omelette will be ruined.

                                                        I actually like using the Max Burton cooktop for making a one-at-a-time French omelette, because it's so fast; but for more mundane tasks like making up a batch of pancakes, trying to use the the Burton unit is too demanding (one hand for the pan, one for the spatula, one for the IR thermometer, and yet another hand for the ladle to add a new pancake to the pan), and too accident-prone (if a little kiddie distracts the cook for a moment or two, the pancakes will incinerate) to be worth the trouble.

                                                        And it's not only EMPTY pans that skyrocket past 500F; in several of my experiments I filled the pan with an inch of cooking oil, as one might do to make up a small batch of deep-fried onion rings, or tempura. The pan still skyrocketed past 500F, which is beyond the smoking point of most cooking oils, and would impart off-tastes to anything subsequently fried in them.

                                                        And even with a warmed-up pan & cooktop, I was unable to find any combination of settings which stabilized the oil at a useable temperature of 350F or so, rather than continue to oscillate wildly--which was the "logic" behind my earlier statement that "this wildly oscillatory temperature behavior make the temperature settings completely unreliable and misleading, and render the Max Burton completely unsuitable for most unattended fry-pan or deep-frying tasks."

                                                        40 Replies
                                                        1. re: moonbeamer

                                                          Well, you see? There are other factors here that may be at fault. If you're using your infra red "gun" thermometer to measure the temperature of the oil, oil is a reflective surface and are you sure the readings you're getting are accurate? And is the oil actually smoking? If you've read my last post, I used mine with a ridged grill pan tonight to "broil" some grass fed beef with remarkable results.

                                                          What I'm extrapolating from what you write is that you are VERY unhappy with the technical results you get with your super ray gun and all that high tech jazz but that you're happy with the cooking results you achieve. As for me, I'm VERY happy with my cooking results, and I don't have (nor do I want) a super-tech infra red ray gun thermometer. I have some pretty well developed sixth sense methods I use in cooking that have served me well, even with my super-cheap Max Burton! Have you priced a Diva de Provence cooktop lately? sheesh! Eighty bucks is good...! '-)

                                                          EDIT: Do NOT leave ANY fry pan or deep fry cooking unattended. EVER! Even if you have a totally committed deep fryer with a super duper 100% accurate thermostat, DO NOT LEAVE IT UNATTENDED...!!!!! You didn't already know this? And your family lets you pllay in the kitchen? DO they know about this????? HEY, YOU GUYS...! LOOK WHAT MOONBEAMER IS DOING!!!

                                                          1. re: moonbeamer

                                                            All kidding aside, why don't you take your Max Burton back and buy another brand? Life's too short for the amount of hassle you're going through.

                                                            1. re: moonbeamer

                                                              I take the default power on setting not to be an indicator of where you should be cooking at but the median point of the unit. This allows you reach the desired setting in the least amount of button pressing. For example, if you want to go to 10 it takes 5 presses to reach that point. If the power on setting was 1 then you would have to press the up button 9 times.

                                                              Many electric stoves recommend starting on HI then reducing the selector to the desired setting. The Max Burton appears to perform a similar function of warming as much of the pan in the shortest time possible and then controlling the heat.

                                                              Most cookware manufacturers use a sizable amount of oil when performing non destructive tests of the pans. The amount is normally much more than any cook would ever use in a pan be it professionally or at home. The reason is that they want to know how the total pan distributes heat and not just the bottom. Empty pans are used for destructive tests, for example Vollrath performs their handle rivet test on a gas burner set to high for 15 minutes and the pan reaches a temperature of 850 degrees Fahrenheit.

                                                              Remember also that when cookware manufacturers are testing pans they are doing so in a lab that is designed to insure the safety of the testers. Cameras can catch more than the human eye, mounting jigs, fire suppression and other techniques are used to accurately test the pans and protect the testers.

                                                              I have a Max Burton 6000 and enjoy it. But like every other cooking device I have used I know there is a sweet spot for every pan depending on what I am cooking. Only through trial and error and making adjustments can I determine these settings.

                                                              Regardless of what any manufacturer claims, I value life and property more than I do the notion that nothing will go wrong. Unattended cooking fires is the number one cause of house fires.

                                                              1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                "The Max Burton appears to perform a similar function of warming as much of the pan in the shortest time possible and then controlling the heat."

                                                                I think by default the MB just powers the induction coil at the level you set. So at the default 5, it sends 1200w (2/3 of the maximum). That level is fine for boiling water, though I'll go up if it is a larger amount of water). It is also ok for starting to saute vegetables, though I usually reduce it after a few minutes.

                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                  Hi, paul:

                                                                  Do you know what the MB's wattage output is at the various numerical settings? I tried to get this info on the Aroma unit COSTCO was selling, and even the Aroma front office in California couldn't tell me. It's 110V, so a Kill-A-Watt unit would probably measure it. Next time you make peas and lettuce, it'd be interesting to see if the wattage oscillates as moonbeamer suggests.


                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                    From 1-10: 200, 500, 800, 1000, 1200, 1300, 1400, 1500, 1600, 1800 watts.

                                                                  2. re: paulj

                                                                    True, I probably shouldn't have tried to apply a logical reason for the results, my bad.

                                                                    Like I said before I don't have any problems with how mine functions. It excels at some things and is weaker at others just like gas and electric.

                                                                    My feeling is that either the unit is faulty or the method of testing is faulty.

                                                                  3. re: SanityRemoved


                                                                    I completely agree on the value of life and property, and the dangers of "unattended cooking fires." But by "unattended fry-pan or deep-frying tasks" I certainly didn't mean the cook could go in the next room and start watching TV, or something; only that having gotten one dish started, she could turn her attention to other tasks, like preparing a sauce or side dish, while checking periodically with the main dish to make sure the pot was still at the right temperature, or hadn't dried out and begun scorching the first dish, etc.

                                                                    Most professional deep-frying is "unattended" in this sense: the (thermostat-controlled) deep fryer is fired up in the morning, and checked periodically during the day to make sure it's in the right temperature range and that the oil doesn't need refreshing; but only when actually cooking a new batch of fries (or whatever) does it need constant, watch-like-a-hawk attention. (The same is true for the grill in a typical fast-food restaurant: it's fired up in the morning, but not monitored continuously, and expected to be ready and at the proper temperature whenever a new order for eggs over or hash browns comes in.)

                                                                    So how would the Max Burton induction cooktop do in such use? Below is a graph of its temperature behavior from a cold start, with a hefty (all-metal, riveted handles) pot with some fresh Canola oil in it, at the default (P=5,T=250) settings. (I finally got my DEi logger software to work, with some help from DEi tech support--though it turned out to be a hardware problem [cranky USB connection].)

                                                                    As you can see, the temperature immediately skyrocketed up to 600F. As it passed 500F it began smoking and them emitting acrid-smelling fumes, and continued to do so until I reset the Temperature control to T=210 and the temperature descended below 400F. This behavior is DANGEROUS, and even if the pot (and cook, inhaling the fumes) can take it, the oil will have been ruined for subsequent deep-frying.

                                                                    The oil did eventually stabilize around 300F—way above the nominal T=250 setting, but potentially useful for some kinds if deep frying (if the oil hadn't been ruined). Whether there's some way to tweak the settings to avoid the disastrous initial skyrocketing, and stabilize it in a useful range, is a task for another day.

                                                                    1. re: moonbeamer

                                                                      Disappointingly small image. To get a (slightly) better view, right-click it, View Image, then hold the Ctrl key and hit the +/= key a few times; but the captions are still barely legible.

                                                                      1. re: moonbeamer

                                                                        I need a little bit of clarification - did it take 10 seconds or 10 minutes for the oil to reach 600F.

                                                                        1. re: cutipie721

                                                                          I was using a 1-minute logging interval, and the vertical grid lines on the chart (which are barely visible if you right-click the chart and enlarge it as described above) are at 7-minute intervals (as chosen by the DEi software); so it passed 500F and began smoking after about 9 minutes, and reached the peak temperature of 600F about two minutes later. It remained above 500F and continued to smoke and emit fumes for over a half-hour, until I manually reset the temperature control to T=250, and the temperature dropped below 400F about 5 minutes later.

                                                                        2. re: moonbeamer

                                                                          Woops! My mistake. Just LEFT-click the graph, and an enlarged version appears, in which the captions and grid lines are quite visible.

                                                                          1. re: moonbeamer

                                                                            Thanks! And would you now repeat your experiement with the same frying pand and like amount of oil on you standard stove that you normally cook on and let us know what happens when you allow it to heat for seven and nine minutes? I'm serious! Let us know what you find.

                                                                        3. re: moonbeamer

                                                                          Moonbeamer, I've been to your Chowhound profile page and read every post you're made on Chowhound to date. I think you are an accomplished cook. But I have issues with what you're doing and the way you do it in this SPECIFIC thread. I do resent the title you chose for this thread, indicating that the Max Burton induction hotplate has "design defects" when it does not. You are simply trying to get it to do things it was not designed to do.

                                                                          This current test with graph -- and I'm pleased to hear you got the graph software to work -- is a bad experiment in my opinion and inappropriate because you are only using 1/2 inch of oil. Why do you use the same pan and an insufficient amount of oil for all of your "tests." You mention in one of your posts using a half inch of oil for tempura. Call me strange, but I and every Japanese cook/chef I've ever known or heard of uses more like two or three (or more) inches of oil, even when using a wok. For truly fair testing, try using a bit deeper pan and three inches of oil and see if it shoots up to the extreme temperature range that you're getting with the shallow half inch of oil. I suspect the shallowness of the oil is the reason you're getting these results. Wanna give it a shot and let us know what happens then?

                                                                          If I have reason to cook something in only a half inch of oil such as fried chicken -- I use about that depth in a cast iron pan for buttermilk tenderized and breaded chicken, I never let the pan just sit there and heat up. As soon as it gets "to temperature" I add the chicken without crowding and watch while it browns. Sometimes I want it to brown quickly to finish it in the oven, sometimes I want it to brown slowly to compete cooking on stove top. Never ever would I just let the 1/2 inch of oil heat and heat and heat to see where it goes! If anyone cooks like that, they're a very inexperienced cook. I don't think you are that. I do think you're carried away in the heat of the moment trying to do a "scientific" experiment. But that shallow an amount of oil in the pan does not allow for the oil to develop induction currents within the oil and heat evenly so that the thermal detection devices (such as they are for $80) can kick in and do their job. Have you tried the half inch of oil test with another heat source such as a gas or standard electric burner? I suspect the results wouldn't be all that different. I don't have a ray gun, so if you want to prove me wrong with 1/2 inch of oil in the same pan on a standard gas or electric burner to see how high it can climb temperature wise, I'd be interested in the answer.

                                                                          This morning, out of curiosity, I spent some time on the web checking on whether there is ANY induction cooking device made that has "infinite" temperature control such as you get with the knob on most gas ranges. As far as I can tell, they do not. There is apparently something inherent in the magnetic coil system of an induction cook top that has to function on presets. But of course, the greater the number of presets you have, the closer a simulation of smooth "infinite" control of a gas burner you will have. Here is a list of brands and numbers of presets. Only Wolf does not say what their number of presets are. Because knobs on a ceramic cooktop make it difficult to clean, I would not have any induction or electric cook top that does not include electronic touch controls under smooth glass. Been there and replaced it in six months! Anyway, here is what I found out:

                                                                          BUIILT IN INDUCTION COOK TOPS

                                                                          GE: 19 different power levels
                                                                          Summit: 8 power levels
                                                                          Bosch - 17 settings
                                                                          Electrolux - 15 presets
                                                                          Miele - 9 power levels
                                                                          Kitchen Aid - 12 heat settings
                                                                          Whirlpool - 9 heat level settings
                                                                          LG - 9 heat settings
                                                                          Fagor - 12 heat settings
                                                                          Thermador - 9 heat settings
                                                                          Viking - 10 (not clearly stated)
                                                                          Wolf - Does not state
                                                                          Diva de Provence - 12 power settings

                                                                          PORTABLE INDUCTION HOT PLATES

                                                                          Suppentown Portable - 20 power settings
                                                                          Fagor Portable - 6 power settings
                                                                          Max Burton - 10

                                                                          I find it amusing somehow that the Suppentown portable has the greatest number of presets, thereby giving the greatest illusion of the kind of control you get with a gas knob. I'm also surprised by how limited the temperature choices are on some of the very expensive brands. The Miele 30" built-in 4 "burner" induction cooktop retails for around $2,600 dollars, yet only has 9 presets! Don't think I'll be lining up to buy that brand!

                                                                          And it's also important to know that every one of the built-ins and portables mentioned above has a maximum time before it will cut off. I don't recall for sure, but I think something like three hours is the usual. If you want to cook low and slow, ANY induction cooker is the WRONG choice!

                                                                          So it just looks to me as if you're trying to get the Max Burton to do things it is not appropriate for. Would you be unhappy if you bought a pressure cooker only to find out you can't charcoal broil a steak in it? That's not too far off the mark on what you're asking of the Max Burton. Good luck!

                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                            Hi, Car:

                                                                            Umm, stop while you're ahead?


                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                              Nice to hear YOU think I'm "ahead." Do I get a cigar?

                                                                          2. re: moonbeamer

                                                                            " default (P=5,T=250) settings" - should read " default (P=5) setting" The 250 is irrelevant unless you have switched the function mode to temperature. The fact that it stabilizes around 300 when in the 250 deg mode, is consistent with my experience at lower temperatures.

                                                                            I wonder if 280 or 320 stabilizes the oil at the idea deep frying temperature. (375?). But regardless of the offset (due to distance between pan contents and sensor), the coarseness of the settings (30-40F) limits their usefulness. Most cases where you need a specific temperature setting, you need control within a few degrees (e.g. sous vide, simmer v boiling, pressure cooker (248F), deep fat frying, candy.

                                                                            25F settings are sufficient when baking, but that is with hot air which conducts heat poorly.

                                                                            1. re: moonbeamer

                                                                              Commercial deep fryers to deep frying on a stove top is apple and oranges. UL will never grant a certification to something that sits on another burner. That just adds an unknown variable.

                                                                              While it's true that deep fryers and griddles/grills remain on all day there are generally people in the kitchen and fire suppression is required in many locales and safety features are well tested.

                                                                              Looking at the graph is there really 6 minutes 30 seconds between the first and second time stamp? If so and with using a 1/2" of oil I have to say you are living dangerously. One of the benefits of induction is the speed as to which it can heat food. Under normal usage food would have been added long before, preferably by the 1 to 2 minute mark. Most gas and electric stoves with an empty cast iron pan will hit 400 - 450 degrees on medium heat in 5 minutes. Being that induction is nearly twice as fast as electric the first part of the graph doesn't surprise me.

                                                                              The temperature shutoff point has to do with the glass temperature hitting 450 degrees and shuts off after 1 minute but the pan temperature is affected by metals, construction and food and can be higher. Also the unit is supposed to be unplugged and allowed 10 minutes to cool down before using again.

                                                                              If you began the test using the Temperature mode I think you would have had much different results than using the Power mode. Remember that the temperature is of the glass surface and not the pan or the contents, there is not a 1 to 1 relationship.

                                                                              Also as Paul has stated the power settings and temperature settings are not the same.

                                                                              1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                                I just watched a Hubert Keller episode (CreateTV) with this recipe
                                                                                It's a stack consisting of deep fried eggplant and ratatouille.

                                                                                Working in his restaurant kitchen he cooked the ratatouille on a commercial induction hotplate (with dial power control, and deep stainless steel base), while frying the eggplant slices in a compact Cuisinart fryer. The assembled stack is then baked. If you are serious about deep frying that is probably the way to go - an appliance designed for the purpose.

                                                                                As a kid, breaded fried sticks was the only way I liked eggplant. My parents used an electric skillet (with dial temperature control) for the shallow frying. I have one of those buried in a closet. For steady uniform heat that might still be one of the best home appliances.

                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                  Deep frying is actually one of the things I like best about my induction cooktop.

                                                                                  On Japanese models, there is a special "tempura" button. You press it and can then set the desired temperature in steps of 10C. The default setting is 180C (360F). In tempura mode, the "power setting" bar graph switches to a "target temperature" graph. The center light indicates that the oil is at the target temperature, and one light to each side indicates +/- 10C.

                                                                                  I've checked the oil temperature with an IR thermometer, and it was spot on.

                                                                                  Another great thing about deep frying with induction is that you don't have to worry about starting a major oil fire in the event of a spill.

                                                                                  Finally, I put the pot on a couple of sheets of old newspaper, so cleanup is a snap.

                                                                                  1. re: tanuki soup

                                                                                    And you're one of the ones among us who lives in the charmed land of advanced induction for the Japanese market! I don't think I've ever seen a tempura button on ANY induction cooking device available on the U.S. market! But then, you can also stroll down to your nearest induction vendor and buy an all-metal induction cooktop. Japan is not yet importing that to any other country that I know of. Color me "envy green"!

                                                                                    1. re: tanuki soup

                                                                                      I'm glad to hear that there are induction cooktops whose temperature controls actually work (unlike the miserably-designed Max Burton unit). But is there any reliable Consumer Reports-like website or other resource to find out which ones actually do work?

                                                                                      The English-language website http://theinductionsite.com/ , while helpful on induction basics, is no help in selecting a specific brand or model, since it simply restates the manufacturer's (claimed) specifications, and doesn't do any independent testing of its own (and in fact it repeated some favorable commentary about the miserably-designed Max Burton unit). Many of the "consumer"-type units (i.e., which can run on 120V) it lists seem suspiciously similar the Max Burton unit (same set of widely spaced temperature settings: 140, 180, 210, etc.); it may well be that most of them are using the same internal circuitry, and just wrapping it in their own housings (like laptop computers, most of which use Intel system boards, in their own housings and keyboards). Do any of them work better than the dismal Max Burton unit? Or are English-speakers being ripped off?

                                                                                      1. re: moonbeamer

                                                                                        For your personal information, you CANNOT buy any induction cooker for sale in Japan from the United States. Shipping to non-Japanese addresses is apparently banned, so give up on getting any brand that tanuki soup can buy.

                                                                                        I do not understand why you are not doing any of this research on your own instead of coming here and moaning and crying to get other people to do the work for you. If you don't like your Max Burrton TAKE IT BACK! Simple solution. It's not rocket science.

                                                                                      2. re: tanuki soup

                                                                                        "Deep frying is actually one of the things I like best about my induction cooktop."

                                                                                        I agree, I think it works really well. I use the temperature mode and get fine results.

                                                                                        1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                                          What temperature setting(s) have you used for deep frying on the MB, SanityRemoved?

                                                                                          I started heating the oil (2 1/2") using power settings, starting at lower settings and going up gradually a minute or so at a time both to minimize stress on the pan and in order not to shoot past the frying temp, but I can't find where I made a note of the setting at which I did the frying (small, non-frozen samosas). The oil temp might have continued to rise had I not put the food in.

                                                                                            1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                                              Thanks, SR; I think I was anxious about overshooting the temperature too much and risking the oil, but will ratchet up my boldness a notch next time.

                                                                                              At this point I use the induction unit often enough that I leave it on its cookie sheet on the (otherwise next to useless) tiny rear left burner, but when I was storing it between uses it fit nicely into a shallow drawer beside the flatware tray.

                                                                                              This thread is quite the chowhound classic: a variety of people sharing real-life cooking experiences with the MB and other induction units that go considerably beyond boiling water, while a couple of posters continue to insist on the basis of no experience and/or non-cooking experiments that it's dangerous, a waste of money, etc.

                                                                                              1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                I always check with a wood spoon handle or piece of bread and I know people want different temperatures for different foods so there is always a little experimentation.

                                                                                                Mine cost under $70 including shipping, I think it has tremendous bang for the buck. I really wanted it as an introduction to induction cooking. I don't think it is perfect but I would take it over many of the electric stoves and hot plates I've come across in the US and Europe.

                                                                                                I think it could be a very useful addition to a renter's kitchen as it isn't often that you can get a landlord to swing for a new stove when you don't like the performance of the current stove.

                                                                                                It does a better job of reheating foods than a microwave does and with larger amounts of food the time may even be quicker.

                                                                                                In this age of everyone wanting things now, the ability to take seven minutes off the time to boil 6 + quarts of water for pasta is quite welcome and in my mind has already paid for itself.

                                                                                                1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                                                  I've been finding out some AMAZING things about induction by scurrying arround the internet at a national and iternational level in my spare time.

                                                                                                  Firstt off, good news for U.S. based folks interested in trying induction! There is now a price level competitor for the Max Burton, also in the same power range. Amazon.com offers it here:


                                                                                                  AND... In both France and Germany, you can buy a full four hob induction cooktop for around $600 to $800 dollars, VAT included? I LIKE their prices!

                                                                                                  And while the Japanese have veritable miracles of induction available on their national market, you just cannot buy them from here! Nothing induction can be ordered from Japan through amazon.com. Pity! I was SOOO ready for an induction hot plate with a tempura setting! <sigh>

                                                                                                  Also, a really excellent (presumably) commercial single burner counter top induction unit can cost from under two hundred to over FOUR THOUSAND dollars? Boy, for four thaousand dollars I want a chef to come with it to do the cooking for me!


                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                    In the interest of fairness, I will save you all some money. Most of the CH members here do not need an induction cooktop.

                                                                                                    They already have one at hand, or simply need to download the app:


                                                                                                    Amazing !

                                                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                        I've been using the Max Burton induction cooktop daily for over 7 months now, and have learned its quirks and developed workarounds for some of its limitations, which include:

                                                                                                        1. No overshoot protection: if it's turned on with a empty pan (to make pancakes, or an omelet), it will shoot up past 400F or so, enough to produce toxic fumes from a nonstick frypan, or to warp a standard (2mm thick) "blue steel" crepe pan. The workaround here is to always warm it up by heating a pot of water on the desired temperature setting, before swapping the pot for the frypan--which is often a time-consuming nuisance.

                                                                                                        2. It poorly-engineered and too-coarsely-spaced temperature controls: the 180F setting will cook but not brown pancakes, French toast and the like, while higher settings will ofter scorch them. It's impossible to hold a steady, slow-simmer in a covered pot or double-boiler, using the 140F setting: the unit "surges," periodically bringing the pot to to a full boil (and spewing boiling water onto the cooktop, if the pot is nearly full), then dropping down to a sub-simmer temperature. I don't do deep-frying, but I imagine this kind of cycling would be a problem for that as well.

                                                                                                        3. The ding-bat 3-hour automatic cutoff.

                                                                                                        There are more sophisticated Japanese induction cooktops with automatic overshoot protection, automatic cutoff adjustable up to ten or twenty hours, and whose temperature controls are supposedly precise enough for tempura and the like (which presumably can hold a steady temperature which doesn't "surge" or cycle); but, alas, these are unavailable in the USA, or for export to the USA.

                                                                                                        I guess the reason for the export ban is because the domestic Japanese models haven't been UL-approved. Since the domestic Japanese mains current is 110V, same as the US (most of the world uses 220V), a model intended for the Japanese domestic market would probably work OK in the U.S. as well; has anyone tried?

                                                                                                        As for the Max Burton unit, BUYER BEWARE: the $70 street price looks attractive, but if you don't already have induction-capable cookware, you'll have buy a couple hundred dollars' worth; and if in the course of learning the Burton's quirks you ruin a non-stick pot or pan, or crepe-pan, the $70 price will have been no bargain at all.

                                                                                                        1. re: moonbeamer

                                                                                                          I've been using it longer, and feel like it has more than earned its cost. However I do some things different -

                                                                                                          - I rarely use the temperature setting, especially not to preheat a pan
                                                                                                          - I rarely preheat a pan. A skillet is likely to get up to temperature within 30 sec anyways.
                                                                                                          - I use the old fashioned coil stove for pancakes and crepes. However french toast worked fine (mostly on '2').
                                                                                                          - I also switch to the coil on simmer, or butane hot plate for slow simmer.
                                                                                                          - I buy most of my pans at TJMaxx, typically at $10-20 each. I've been happiest with Berndes.

                                                                                                          Yesterday's dinner included:

                                                                                                          mushrooms and garlic, slow cooked in sand pot on butane hotplate. I used a cast iron heat diffuser to slow down the cooking.

                                                                                                          hulled barley in Berndes sauce pan. Cooked that most of the time (about an hour) on the MB, finished it on electric.

                                                                                                          leftover chicken with shallots, poblanos and cream, in a Berndes skillet on the MB. Mostly used the '2' and '1' settings.

                                                                                                          I also burned some bacon. It started fine, but then covered the pan with a spatter guard, and got distracted by a Chow thread.

                                                                                                          Overall it is best for things that need a quick heat adjustment.

                                                                                                          1. re: moonbeamer

                                                                                                            I was a little puzzled about the preheat with boiling water, but I think I know what's going on.

                                                                                                            The temperature sensor is under the glass, probably in contact with (but possibly not). Applying power to an empty skillet could get the skillet quite hot before much of that heat conducts through the glass to the sensor. After all, heat resistant glass can be used as a hot pad. Boiling some water takes longer, and heats the underside of the glass more.

                                                                                                            In effect it's the difference between a transient heating, and a steady state one. Because of the placement of the sensor, it is better at controlling steady state temperatures. Even in that case it seems to be off by 10-20F.

                                                                                                            I have an electric skillet buried in the back of the pantry. My parents used to use one for pancakes. I've also seen one used as a water bath to keep demo food warm (at TJ). Apparently the new Modernist Cuisine at Home talks about hacking a slow cooker. For steady heat, especially low, there's nothing wrong with good old fashioned resistance heating.

                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                              You're surely wise to avoid using the poorly-engineered, too-coarsely-spaced temperature controls on the Max Burton unit, and are evidently blessed with a large, well equipped kitchen with several kinds of heat sources for different tasks. I've been trying to use mine for everything, to discover its limitations, which are many.

                                                                                                              Used only in "power" mode (i.e, not in temperature-control mode), the Burton induction cooktop is essentially equivalent to a conventional hotplate; its only advantage is that at higher power settings it can boil water more quickly than a conventional hotplate (provided you have a dedicated 110-volt outlet for the induction cooktop alone, so you don't blow a fuse). The disadvantages are the Burton's coarsely-spaced power settings (a hotplate's are continuous), and that you must use induction-capable cookware.

                                                                                                              As I think I noted in a earlier post, the Burton unit unit could be useful for an experienced cook with a large, well-equipped kitchen, as a specialized hob for boiling water rapidly. It would be a very poor choice for a novice, or anyone living in a cramped apartment or dorm room with limited cooking facilities. For the latter, better choices for a do-everything cooktop would be:

                                                                                                              1. A good, commercial-quality hotplate with overheating proctection, one- or two-burner, with a continuously-variable power (wattage) controls for each burner.

                                                                                                              2. A good-quality (with a manifold) "suitcase"-type two-burner propane camping stove, with a hose/adapter so it can be fed from a conventional BBQ-type propane tank. (The one-burner models tend to be pretty tippy, and difficult to adapt to a BBQ-type propane tank.)

                                                                                                              Either of these would be much more versatile than the Max Burton induction cooktop.

                                                                                                              P.S. I think you're on the right track on your subsequent post, as to "what's going on": the Burton unit's thermostat is below the glass, and probably in the center. When turned on, the pan heats from the (7", I believe) induction coil toward the center of the pan, and then downward toward the thermostat, with a significant time-lag, which permits the pan to overheat before the thermostat realizes it's too hot. By preheating with a pot of water the thermostat has time to sense how hot things are, and try to regulate the temperature.

                                                                                                              Another advantage of a conventional hotplate (or rice-cooker) is that it can be controlled by a sous-vide-type PID temperature-controller, for very precise control of the temperature (within 1deg C). The Max Burton unit cannot, since the usual souse-vide PID controllers control the temperature by interrupting the power supply (e.g., 2 sec off for every 10 secs, for 80% power), and one of the Max Burton unit's "safety features" is that it shuts down if there is any interruption in the power supply).

                                                                                                              1. re: moonbeamer

                                                                                                                Do you have any any examples of an actually existing :: good, commercial-quality hotplate with overheating proctection, one- or two-burner, with a continuously-variable power (wattage) controls for each burner. :: ?

                                                                                                                I'd guess that if such an item is offered for a 110-volt outlet, it would cost significantly more than the MB induction unit, both to start with and in electricity used. But I'd be happy to learn that my guess is wrong.

                                                                                                                1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                  Hi, ellabee:

                                                                                                                  The overheating protection escapes me (unless it's a fuse or breaker), but here's one in the same price league as the MB: http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/c... And for just a bit north of $100, you can step into solid cast iron burner models, like this one: http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/c...

                                                                                                                  Robertshaw-controlled, infinitely-adjustable output sounds pretty good.


                                                                                                                  1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                    My hotplate is a BroilKing Model PCR-1500, rated at 1500 watts, which I brought some years ago from a big-box internet store, for around $100, as I recall. It has a stainless-steel housing that's easy to clean, and a continuously-variable power (wattage) control. There's nothing on the unit itself about overheat protection, but the original catalog listing mentioned it, and there have been many occasions when a pot ran dry, or I forgot to turn the hotplate off after removing the pot: the unit doesn't overheat and start a fire, so it evidently has some sort of thermostat inside to prevent overheating.

                                                                                                                    Nowadays I use it mostly for "slow-cooking" operations, such as making stock, or, with a double-boiler setup and a sous-vide temperature controller, to slow-cook tough cuts of meat (beef brisket, fresh pork ham, etc.); the Max Burton unit is handier for ordinary quick-cooking tasks as making an omelette or a grilled cheese sandwich (provided you remember to pre-heat it, and have a IR-scanning thermometer handy to check the temperature of the pan.)

                                                                                                                  2. re: moonbeamer

                                                                                                                    My kitchen is small (condo) with a conventional 30" electric stove. The induction burner sits on an inverted half sheet pan covering 2 unused burner openings. While its limitations are well noted, the induction burner is still my first choice for most tasks.

                                                                                                                    This morning I boiled coffee water, fried an egg, and warmed some barley on it.

                                                                                                                    With limited space I have to be selective on appliances. A microwave and toaster oven are in the dining room. A panini press stands upright behind a 2 slot toaster. The butane hotplate is stored in its case, and mostly used outdoors or at the table.

                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                      A cook need not have a large or particularly well equipped kitchen to find an induction unit useful. Like paulj, I use it to compensate for defects in a low-end stove (in my case, a four-burner natural gas cooktop).

                                                                                                                      The MB sits on a 12x13" aluminum cookie sheet, covering the near-useless rear "simmer burner". This puts anything cooking on the induction unit in position for steam and fumes to go right up into the stove vent, even with the underpowered fan on low. From June through August, it's a blessing to be able to avoid the extra heat generated by a high flame when boiling. By itself these improvements justify the MB's purchase, but there are other advantages.

                                                                                                                      Because the amount of gas going to a burner on this stove seems to be strongly affected by other burners being turned on, the induction unit also allows me to operate a pressure cooker with much more confidence about the correct heat levels (and, as a bonus, with the steam produced vented easily away, and in summer, little to no extra heat generated).

                                                                                                                      Because a low gas flame is prone to going out when another burner is turned on, or when there's a breeze from the back door or window, the induction unit allows me to do long & low cooking on the stovetop with greater safety and much less attention and frustration than when using one of the gas burners. With, again, the bonus in summer of no extra heat, a real factor when a flame is going for hours, no matter how low.

                                                                                                                      No new cookware necessary; the same enameled cast iron Dutch oven used for decades for long & low stovetop and oven cooking works quite well for that on induction (though it may help that mine, a 1970s Copco, has a bare iron base that's machined flat. These can be picked up on the big auction site for $50 or less).

                                                                                                                      Given the variety of commonly used and reasonably priced cookware that is induction compatible -- carbon steel, cast iron (bare or enameled), and virtually all stainless produced in the last decade (multi-ply or disk-based) -- few cooks will find they need to buy many new pots and pans to take advantage of an induction unit, or spend much money if they do.

                                                                                                                      For more hands-on kinds of operations, such as sauce-making and almost anything in a skillet, the induction unit seems less suitable in general, and particularly unsuitable for me: After 40 years of cooking only with gas, I'm just too accustomed to the motions and sensory cues of frying and sauteing and sweating on a gas flame to willingly try any other method. And I'd hate to pack away the copper and aluminum pans in which I do most of those jobs.

                                                                                                                      So if I were in a situation where I had to depend on portable cooktops only, I'd want to get an induction unit _and_ a butane unit (along with a Breville Smart Oven). If using flame were impossible, I guess I'd learn to work with the MB's limitations, because I'd be starting from zero with any kind of electric hotplate.

                                                                                                                      You do have a point about sous vide and anything else needing smooth and precise variable controls. The forthcoming 'Modernist Cooking at Home' will probably encourage quite a bit of spending on equipment of one kind or another. But I consider that a very different case than that of the hypothetical college dorm or novice cook.