Stovetop burner alternatives, old ones are too small, crooked, and overheat. Portable stove Q. (Novice Chef)
(Main questions numbered below if you don't want to read all this)
Hi everybody, Im just starting out learning to cook seriously and my old electric stove/oven has 3 really small burners and one that's a bit bigger. Most of my regular sized pans don't even really fit on the bigger one, it's also crooked and trying to alter or realign the burner does nothing (it's a whirlpool electric coil by the way).
The burners also overheat and need repairing but who knows when the owner will get around to having it fixed and how well the stove will even work afterwards given it's age.
Obviously these problems are making it difficult to get anywhere, and I can't afford a new stove/oven.
I was trying to problem solve in my head and I started thinking of how the stove burners "seem" like a fairly simple contraption by themselves and wondered if there was a way to just get some burners without having to get a whole new oven setup as well.
The idea was sparked from hot plates which I've never used and am still not sure how they even work or what they really do.
As you can see Im totally in the dark here, my only conception of cooking is electric coils on a stovetop in the kitchen, so this is all foreign to me. I did a little researching and it came to my attention that there is such a thing as "portable stove burners" Can anybody tell me about them?
1. They always seem to be referred to as being used for camping, is it common to use them at home in your kitchen in place of a conventional stove? Could I just plug it into a regular outlet and put it on top of my old stove? Sometimes they are referred to as countertop stoves but I don't know what the proper name is or if that's the same thing. Does anyone here do this?
2. Are they as good as conventional stove tops, do they work just the same? Some sites mention they are mostly for simple heating while camping and what not, others say there are ones more specifically for kitchen cooking. What do I need to be looking for?
3. How should I choose one for me? I've heard about induction ones and gas burners but Im thinking I just want a simpiler electric one that's similar to what Im used to for now. Should I go for whirlpool coil again?
4. Are there any good brands or types anyone can reccomend? Any to avoid? What stores should I look in to buy one, should I avoid cheaper places like Wal-mart?
5. Any other factors I should consider, anything else I should know? How much should I spend on a decent quality one? Do I need a more expensive one or are cheap ones fine?
What do you mean by "overheat"? Does a heating element on the lowest setting get red as if it were on the high setting? (That would be a serious problem.) Do have hot spots in the bottom of a pan which cause scorching? On what settings? What kind of cookware do you use? If your pans are susceptible to hot spots, you might get a better result with a disc between the heating element and the pan which distributes the heat more evenly. Nordic Ware has them in both 6" and 8" size:
I live in a rented apartment with the same problems. FIRST, fire hazard and fire safety is a primary concern. The area AROUND the stove, such as the laminated countertop, the walls, the clearances between X, & Y, and Z, much of which may not be readily apparent to you, but would be to a contractor, home inspector or the landlord, are very much relevant to the question being discussed here. So get everything you are planning to get altered approved IN WRITING, in every single detail, PLEASE.
Now we can get into the technicalities, which will include gas or electric. In the latter case, please ensure that the landlord knows how many amps are to be drawn and the load on the apartment's circuits, and the kitchen circuits. For example, an 1800 Watt induction plate may draw 14-15 amps, but a 3200 Watt plate significantly more. A high quality induction machine from Cooktek can cost as much as $1500. Try always to get the analog version, NO digital stuff, please, to go wrong. However, these are quality products and are portable, and compatible with house current and truly heavy duty. Again, I am no shill for Cooktek!! Look well before you leap!
CADCO manufactures professional catering electric plates of 2 types, one with coils, the other with a solid surface. Both have their applications, and you may wish to call their catering manager and discuss your needs. The stoves come in a one-burner and 2-burner configuration. I am not promoting CADCO, merely offering them as an example of the type of quality catering equipment available from restaurant supply stores like WEB, Gala & others.
Glass ceramic stoves are not induction, but are also available from the catering specialists, and are of high quality. They do not require induction-capable pots and pans. I always prefer to pay a certain premium, but not too extravagant a one, to purchase from a catering specialist, because their reputation rides on their quality and durability. YMMV.
Northern Tools manufactures a 35K BTU gas burner [propane and natural gas] that can be used indoors. There are many Taiwanese companies selling gas burners because those are the usual way to cook indoors in Taiwan; however their connections to propane cylinders do not match US fittings. Open flames may not be a good idea in many situations.
The heat setting goes from Min-1-9 and when I turn it to exactly 1 it seems to get very hot to me. If I put my hand over the burner my hand gets red very quickly, and it burns to the touch. The burner doesnt get red though.
Is this normal for that level of setting?
I use a lodge cast iron pan for most of my cooking and ceramic coated pan as well.
I haven't used electric for a long time, so don't know for sure, but I would not expect to put my hand close to the element at the lowest setting. One way I would judge it is to fry an egg. I do this at al ost the lowest setting for a gas burner which will stay lit. The egg sits there for awhile before I see it starting to cook. If I couldn't cook an egg so slowly that I get impatient waiting for something to happen, I would think it wasn't low enough.
ONE: It sounds like you are renting. Tell/ask the landlord to lower the rent or replace to stove unit.
Ok. Replacement coils are cheap. Many hardware store carry them. It is a repair you can do. Pull the old ones, and match them up in the store. But since you are renting ( I assume that) you should get the owners permission. It is not your stove. Also, if the coils overheat, and you are not causing it, there may be some serious safety problem here. Notify the owner.
Induction hotplate would be good IF your cookware is magnetic. Place a small magnet, any kind, on the bottom of your pans. If it sticks induction will work. Induction is expensive compared to a traditional hotplate. Hotplates are inexpensive. Or they used to be. And many hardware stores carry them. BroilKing makes several. I would look on ebay under hotplate, induction hotplates, etc and get a feel for what is available. Just make sure you check the new box. Then you can search the manufacturers site. There are also propane burner cookers that caterers use. Using them can get expensive. My advice: See ONE above. Seriously. Basic electric stoves are not that expensive. The "owner" should be willing to make a small investment to keep you happy.