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May 8, 2014 02:53 PM

Portable induction burners shutting off when boiling water


I'm experimenting with two different relatively inexpensive portable induction burners (Max Burton 6200 and Update International IC-1800W). I live by myself and often like to cook a small portion of pasta. So tried boiling 6 cups of water in a Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless 4-quart saucepan, uncovered.

In particular, the Max Burton unit kept shutting down several times as the water was heating up. The Update International only did it once. Both units are supposed to give error messages when they shut off, but I didn't see them.

Reading the instructions, it appears that the unit shuts down when there's the wrong type of cookware or the pot is too small - that shouldn't be the case with the cookware I was using - it's definitely induction-compatible and the diameter of the sauce pan is about 7 inches.

The units' instructions also say they will shut down when the internal temperature of the unit is too high or the heat of glass cooking surface is too high. With the Max Burton cookware, I did the old school "crank-up the wattage as high as possible to see how fast I can get the water boiling"-approach, and started the unit at 1800 watts, which might have caused the problem, but I'm not sure.

My bottom line - are there optimal setting for boiling a relatively small quantity of water with these burners? I realize I may have unrealistic expectations of the ability to quickly boil water with these portable units - the Cook's Illustrated reviews suggested they are not really better than a gas burner in terms of speed.

Finally, the reason I wanted to get an induction burner is that I live in an apartment with a very old electric stove top that works terribly. I've tended to do all my cooking with a butane portable burner, but there are some drawbacks with that being my only heat source, so I wanted to try something new.

Thanks in advance for any advice.


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  1. The pot has a 7" diameter but what's the diameter for the ring on the unit? That's the important part.

    1. Hi, Roz:

      It's not the pan size. The MB's maker claims you can go up to 13" in diameter.

      It's likely a overheat sensor issue.

      Unless you cook with a stopwatch, I think you'll find that any setting past "5" should boil a small quantity of water quite fast. This is one of the problems with these things (and some higher-end units, too)--you effectively get about 4-5 useable settings at the low end.

      I say start at 5 and see what happens. If it doesn't crash, goose it a notch the next time.


      9 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        I used a Max Burton for a bit for boiling water and started it on its highest setting. And I do the same with my Samsung range. And have for four year with no problem at all.

        1. re: c oliver

          thanks - do you remember what kind of pot you were using? again, I appreciate hearing about your experiences.

          1. re: roz

            On the "hot plate"? We were doing a whole-house reno so we were in the basement. I was likely using a small sauce pan. If you're interested in induction fulltime, you may want to do a big search. IIRC, there's not a single person who went with induction who would ever change. Certainly I wouldn't.

            1. re: c oliver

              I tested induction cooking by using a portable Fagor unit. It got so that I used it and a gas grill for almost everything but baking. Never had any issues with the Fagor and I bought it primarily to boil quantities of water more quickly.
              I've upgraded to an induction range and would never change. I've cooked on gas, coil electric, smooth top electic and wood stoves. Nothing comes close to induction in my view.
              I wonder if the OP has inadequate electric service and that is causing her induction units to turn off. How do those units work when cooking other foods and with other pots?

              1. re: swanton

                CH Candy is using a Fagor and is loving it also. They're moving in the not too distant future and she's definitely going induction.

        2. re: kaleokahu

          I appreciate everyone's perspectives about this. The issue isn't the pot size - for both units, the minimum pot size is about 4 and 1/2 inches, and the diameter of the bottom of my saucepan is definitely 7 inches.

          I called Max Burton, and the person I spoke to indicated that perhaps the Cuisinart cookware I was using wasn't optimally induction compatible. This seems odd because the MultiClad Pro line has a stainless exterior and interior, over an aluminum core, and my refrigerator magnets had no problem sticking solidly to the bottom.

          I'm inclined to agree with Kaleo at this point, because the performance is better at the lower power settings - around 4 or 5. I may see what happens if I set it to 3, and whether I can get water to come to boil without the unit shutting off at all, and how long that takes.

          thanks again, your advice is very much appreciated.

          1. re: roz

            I'm really sorry you're having this experience. After four plus years you couldn't yank my induction out of my hands :) For any amount of money. Truly.

            My Max Burton had a WAY bigger "ring" than what you describe. I'm guessing a 7" pot wouldn't fit.

            1. re: roz

              Hi, Roz:

              You're welcome, good luck.


              1. re: roz

                Roz, I use a Max Burton 6200 every morning to boil water for coffee in a 2 qt Cuisinart Multiclad Pro saucepan. I do it at 5 because that's what the unit defaults to when it turns on. When the water starts to give off steam, I turn it down to 3 (the setting that maintains a boil).

                So don't be afraid to start at 5, and see how that goes.

            2. My one-burner induction cooker is a PowerPac I bought in Singapore. It's a budget model - cost me around USD28 in Singapore (single-burner induction cookers are everywhere here). I've used it daily for two years and have never had the problems you describe. I use it at anywhere from 150 to 2000 watts and everything in between.

              I can use pots with a diameter as small as 3", by the way.

              Mine will shut down if the IC has been on continuously for an hour or the pot has reached the specific temperature associated with the wattage. If the pot is incompatible with the IC, it just doesn't start to begin with.

              Assuming you're putting the wattage up to, say, 1800, there's no way my IC would shut down before the water boiled, and by boil, I mean vigorously.

              I've boiled as little as a half cup of water, maybe less, and as much as, oh, three or four liters of water with nary a problem. 6 cups shouldn't be a problem at all. On my IC, that would take about half the time as it would take on gas.

              Assuming your pot is IC compatible (I check with a magnet - if it sticks and the bottom is flat, it's compatible), then I suspect you have a faulty IC or your pot isn't sufficiently magnetic.

              3 Replies
              1. re: LMAshton

                Again, I really appreciate hearing about other folks' experiences - ellabee, it's good to hear you're able to use a 2 quart sauce pan, because I think that's getting close to the minimum pot diameter the unit says it will take.

                My pots are definitely induction compatible - and I've used a Scanpan fry pan and a Paderno carbon steel saute pan on the units without any problem with them shutting down.

                LMAshton and other portable unit users - I'm curious about the concept that the unit would shut down if the pot has reached the temperature associated with the wattage. I realized I'm confused about the relationship between the wattage settings and the temperature settings on my units. Let's say I set the wattage to a certain level, and then set the temperature to a certain level. Which setting controls? Both units have default for each setting - so let's say I start with the default for one, but adjust for the other, which setting will the unit respond to?

                Finally, a slightly unrelated note - anyone make pancakes on their portable unit, and if so what pan do you use and what settings do you use?

                thanks again.


                1. re: roz

                  Yup, I've done pancakes. Used my cast iron flat griddle pan. I heat it up on 800 watts, when it's hot, low it to 600 watts. Works great. I've had my IC for 2 1/2 years now. For the first two years, I used it exclusively. Now I have gas as well, but the IC is still my first choice. I've cooked darn near everything with it.

                  I don't have access to the same brand names as are in the west, so I'm not familiar with Scanpan or Paderno. I can't comment on those.

                  With my unit, I don't set wattage and temperature separately. I go by wattage only. Mine doesn't have a temperature setting. I'm under the impression that you set one, not both. Wattage controls temperature, temperature controls wattage if you see what I mean.

                  My understanding is that, when the IC detects that the pan is at the temperature associated with that wattage, then it's reached the point where the food in the pan will likely be burning. Or some such thing. Of course, I still manage to burn food anyway. Or maybe it's that at that temperature, the burner can't add any more heat to the pan, so it's a waste of electricity. The manual that came with mine was skimpy and in not great English.

                  1. re: roz

                    Hi, Roz:

                    My advice is to pretend your hotplates don't have temperature settings. These settings are notoriously inaccurate, so much so as to be practically worthless. If you search, you'll find others here complaining about how lame the temperature settings are. They depend on sensors beneath the glass and do not take into account different pan/food combinations.

                    For pancakes on induction, I use a W-S Thermoclad skillet on "3" (my Aroma has 6 wattage step settings after "warm"). "2" works, too, and 2.5 would be ideal.