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Induction Hob at Costco

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What to my eyes appeared yesterday as I serpentined through my local Costco? An "Aroma" 1500W induction hotplate, for the princely sum of $49.99.

Seems to me this is cheap innoculation against being accused of not having any "real-world" experience with the voodoo that is induction. For that price, I can fool with a converter disk, watt meter, and my new IR gun.

But for the record, is there anyone out there who already has one of these, and/or who already *knows* its coil (as opposed to the electronics) is not representative of the genre? Speak now or forever hold your peace.

Aloha,
Kaleo

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  1. The Aroma is listed on the Induction Site -
    http://theinductionsite.com/north-ame...

    16 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      Thanks, Paul. I wish they had more information with which to compare. Do you think this Aroma model is capable of slow-cooking/warming for more than 3 hours?

      I have also called them, seeking assurances about using converter disks. The online manual mentions using them, but others have said these things cause auto shutdowns because of high heat. So far no answer.

      Aloha,
      Kaleo

      1. re: kaleokahu

        I haven't looked at this in any detail. I wonder if the manual is available online. I was able to find the Max Burton manual before I bought mine.

        I haven't had problems with the MB shutting off due to over heating, though it does have such protection. I did have that problem with the Tautung, and as a result I tend to be cautious, using the induction burner for boiling, braising, sauteeing, but using electric coil or gas butane for hot dry cooking (searing meat, burning peppers etc). A converted disk will get hotter than the pot that is set on it, and if the contact between the two is not great, the disk could get quite hot. It should be less of a problem with a good copper sauce pan (it would be a good heat sink).

        1. re: paulj

          Hi, Paul:

          Yes, I had already read the manual online--not a lot of help.

          I guess with the overheating/shutdown issue I could always avail myself of Costco's liberal return policy.

          Aloha,
          Kaleo

          1. re: kaleokahu

            http://www.aroma-housewares.com/manua...

            has the same sort of ambiguity as the Max Burton when it comes to the timer. It talks about setting the timer up to 180 minutes, but does not explicitly say that it applies regardless of whether you set the timer or not.

            Based on experience with the MB (and my digital toaster oven) I'd guess that the 3hr limit applies all the time.

            I see 6 power settings and not temperature setting. That's fewer than the MB (10). My guess is that 1 and maybe 2 cycles on/off (like microwaves). On the MB the default 5 is good for bring water to a boil, 3 is good for pancakes or french toast, but will quickly burn unattended onions. 2 is fine for sauteeing onions. 1 is a bit higher than I'd like to cooking rice.

            I haven't hit the 3hr limit because I haven't tried to use my induction burner as sous vide or slow cooker. Well, I did experiment a bit with sous vide, but at around 180F for eggs, fish and sweet potatoes - but for times less than an hour.

            1. re: paulj

              Hi, Paul:

              Thanks. Your helpful post caused me to realize that these things, with their numerical settings, are sort of like the old electric hobs with multiple-postion switches--e,g., you may get Lo-MedLo-Med-MedHi-Hi but nothing in between, as with a plain 'ole infinitely-adjustable rheostat. Only 6 discreet settings seems like a real limitation. Maybe the $$ and $$$ units have 1-10 or 1-100 settings to mimick the infinite adjustment?

              I think you're probably right about the 3-hr. max time. Who knows?, it may be pretty much the same electronics in most of these things.

              Aloha,
              Kaleo

              1. re: kaleokahu

                The full-cooktop induction models, as well as the much pricier portable units made for restaurant/catering use, have more gradations in power levels. For example, the Cooktek portable that's $800 or more has 27 temperature settings and 20 power levels.

                The full-cooktop models also usually have power boost (for quick boiling of large volume of water), but their increased precision at lower levels is more valuable for a range of cooking operations. They also have different sizes of elements, which offers more flexibility in pans to be used. The 'zoneless' models that accommodate pretty much any size or shape of pan are just beginning to appear in the US market.

                1. re: ellabee

                  Hi, Ellabee:

                  That's good (that the $$$ ones have more discrete settings). I'm still somewhat mystified, however, that ALL of them don't have 1-100 numerical settings for control. Even the cheapest plug-n heaters and AC units have like flexibility. Whether it's 6 or 20, it's a little like only being able to use your microwave in 1 minute increments.

                  Do you find that the temperature set is the same as the temperature reached inside the pan/pot?

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    The cooktop can't know what the temperature is inside the pot as its sensor is under the glass, and the temperature inside the pot could be different depending on what material it's made of. On our cooktop that has temperature settings water will still boil when it's set to 80 degrees (Celsius). The inside pot temperature also goes down slightly after a while of cooking, probably because of the time it takes to heat up the glass and the sensor behind it.

                    1. re: ecclescake

                      Hi, ecclescake:

                      You are right that the sensor below the glass cannot measure the temperature inside the pan. This much is blindingly obvious.

                      My question to ellabee was aimed at whether *her* $$$ stove's temperature settings were true. One would expect that the $$$ models would be closer to true, or would be programmed with an average allowance X degrees lower/higher than the desired in-pan temperature.

                      If what all of them have is sensors that are as wildly divergent as yours (and others reported here), then under-glass temperrature settings on an induction appliance are a complete and total waste. I have a combination MW/convection/broil oven that has temperature settings, and that feature is a joke.

                      Seems to me the only realistic way to set hob temperatures to specific in-pan levels would be with a wired immersible thermocouple probe. Do any induction appliances have this feature?

                      Aloha,

                      Kaleo

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        I thought the temperature settings were a joke too when I first discovered how far out they were but now that I understand their limitations I appreciate and use them more.

                        On my model (which has 17 power level settings and temperature settings in 10 degree increments from 60 degrees to 240 degrees Celsius) I have fond that the temperature settings give a more consistent temperature than the power levels because it cycles on and off more frequently. So I use the power levels when I want a simmer rather than a boil for a bit, stop for a bit, which is what I get if I use the lowest power level setting.

                        The power cycling is it's own problem, both of my cooktops (different brands) cycle the power noticeably on and off on the lower power settings. So I'd love to see an affordable induction cooktop that uses pulse width modulation and cycles so quick that the temperature remains fairly constant even at the lower power levels.

                        I think you're right about the probe being the only realistic way to tell the temperature I don't know if such cooktops exist but they're probably out of my price range.

                        1. re: ecclescake

                          Ecclescake,

                          Have you by any chance come by burners that use PWM?

                          Thanks

                          1. re: rerodrig

                            My current burners do do pulse width modulation but it's very low frequency (i.e. the cycles are about 10 seconds long). I have not looked around at other options and am now living back in NZ where induction technology is still rather hard to come by. We were rather disappointed to find that not one of our pots (bought in the last 5 years) is induction capable although it seems that all our other stainless steel cookware is (roasting pan, lasagne pan, mixing bowls, cake tins etc.).

                        2. re: kaleokahu

                          I don't have a pricy full cooktop induction, just the portable Max Burton 6200. And I haven't used the temperature settings except for deep frying. That seemed pretty accurate (with the oil slightly hotter than the temp setting).

                          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].

                          I don't think that an inexpensive induction unit is a suitable tool for sous vide, even if there were no issue of the auto-shutoff. The lowest setting is just not low enough. What it 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, and lets me boil big pots of water with maximum speed and minimum discomfort (because I can put the induction unit right under the vent hood, where my most powerful gas burner is too far to the front, and the only heat produced is what comes off the pot itself).

                          1. re: ellabee

                            Hi, ellabee:

                            Very sensibly expressed.

                            Do you use it for making stock?

                            Aloha,
                            Kaleo

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Yes, but in the pressure cooker.

                            2. re: ellabee

                              And I haven't used the temperature settings except for deep frying. That seemed pretty accurate (with the oil slightly hotter than the temp setting).

                              I never thought about using one for deep frying, that sounds like a perfect reason to get one now

        2. You're out on the west coast aren't you? I wonder if they have them in ontario at costco

          6 Replies
          1. re: Dave5440

            Hi, Dave:

            Yep, the Left Coast. I was at a GTA Costco two years ago, and was somewhat surprised by the DISsimilarity of the goods, but I do not know. Have you tried Costco online?

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            1. re: kaleokahu

              Why yes I did, only showed one for 99$ and it was a higher wattage

              1. re: Dave5440

                You saw an induction cooktop on the Costco website? Where? I'm looking and don't see it.

                1. re: shiny

                  Hopefully this link works
                  http://www.costco.ca/Browse/Product.a...

                  1. re: Dave5440

                    Thanks, Dave, that link works. Unfortunately, the US Costco website doesn't have it. Weird, eh?

                2. re: Dave5440

                  I just got back from the hamilton(Ancaster) costco, they don't have any 49$ or 99$

            2. I've got one. So far the timer and heating elements have worked just fine. I bought the Aroma at Costco as a try-out for a possible induction stove top purchase. I really like the the fact that the unit shuts off after being timed.

              3 Replies
              1. re: dizzybird

                Hi, dizzy:

                Thanks. Will it run for >3 hours, or does it shut off automatically? Have you tried a converter disk on it?

                Aloha,
                Kaleo

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  The "technical service" person from Aroma who called me back was very nice, even if she had almost nothing to offer in answer to my questions (At least someone returned my call, which is more than I can say about Chantal. Fissler, Ruffoni, and others). No knowledge of whether untimed cooking is also subject to the 3-hour cutoff, and didn't even know what a converter disk was.

                  The one good bit of information she did have was that this model, even set on "1", is not suitable for warming or slow cooking. Aroma is allegedly coming out with a model with just such a warming function but she couldn't say when.

                  Aloha, Kaleo

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    I don't have that unit, but I do have a cheaper induction hob with similar (not enough) power settings, and let me tell you, it's annoying. I can't use my pressure cooker on it, one setting results in too much pressure, the one below, too little pressure. Simmering can also be annoying, as you often don't get quite the level you're looking for, and toggle between two settings, too high and too low.

                    Because of this, I generally only pull it out on extremely hot summer days where I'm trying not to heat up the kitchen.

                    Induction sure is 'neat', though. You can put a pot on, turn it to full blast and touch the pot where the burner and base of pot meet and it isn't hot at all (at least until the contents heat up).

                    Sorry, never used a converter disk on it.

                    Thanks

                    Brian

              2. I bought this Aroma and think it's fine. I have had two other induction units - one I'm still using, and the other accidentally ruined. The Aroma is a little bit smaller than the other one I own. I've been using it everyday since I bought it. I like it and would recommend it.

                Re-reading the above postings, maybe others need more detailed cooking than I do; i.e., timed cooking. I don't do any timed cooking on this one or the others.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Rella

                  Hi, Rella:

                  Thanks. Since you have one, will it stay on for more than 3 hours?

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    Mine says, "up to 180 minutes."
                    But, I've never used the timing function on any of the 3 hobs I've used/owned.

                    1. re: Rella

                      Hi, Rella:

                      My question was whether you can (without the timing function) use it for >3 hours, or whether it times itself regardless.

                      THanks,
                      Kaleo

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        Are you asking Rella to leave a burner on for 3 hrs just answer your curiosity? Or can you suggest a recipe that would take that long, and not do better in the oven?

                        1. re: paulj

                          Hi, Paul:

                          LOL, no not at all. But Rella still seems not to understand my question, which has nothing to do with *setting* a timer function. It has to do with whether you can just run the appliance >3hrs (i.e., indefinitely) without it shutting itself down at the 3 hour mark, as the Max Burton units apparently do. Since she has the Aroma, I thought she might know, that's all.

                          Aloha,
                          Kaleo

                        2. re: kaleokahu

                          I've never used the timing function on any of the 3 hobs I've used/owned. I just can't answer your specific questions.

                          1. re: Rella

                            Hi, Rella:

                            OK, thanks.

                            Aloha,
                            Kaleo