On the recommendation of some folks here I bought a PIC (Max Burton 18XL) to try out induction before committing to a range during my upcoming kitchen renovations. I'm glad I did, because I'm now considering staying with radiant electric in the new kitchen. To test out the PIC I did a simple boil test, and timed how long it took to boil the typical amount of water I use for pasta in the same pan I typically use. I watched it as it boiled and then dumped the water and inspected the pan. The pan I'm using here I can't even remember the name of it, it's something I picked up at BBB at some point, but it's basically a disc-bottomed pan for induction compatibility and an anodized aluminum body. Here's my impressions/observations:
1. It took about 27 minutes to get to a rolling boil compared to around 45 minutes on my current range.
2. Boiling happened sooner in a small localized area around the magnetic field, but didn't break for quite some time after that happened, this area was smaller than I expected, around 6" and it was obvious there was a huge deadzone in the pan.
3. I don't know the right way to put it into words, but the way boiling happened was such that like microbubbles formed. It seemed similar to watching water in my ultrasonic cleaner, and it caused the water to become visibly cloudy just like in my ultrasonic cleaner. I am wondering if there are undetectable movements occurring in the pan due to the magnetic field fluctuating. I put my hand on the pan and couldn't feel it trying to vibrate, it didn't visibly vibrate, the pan is flat and true, and I didn't hear the sounds of vibration.
4. Probably related to #3, there was a gross white residue on the bottom of the pan after dumping water. At first I was concerned that it was something about the coating of the pan but I identified it as calcium/limestone deposits from hard water. This is theoretically possible with any cookware and any heat source, but I've never seen this happen on my existing range. It happened with just one boil in a clean pan. I cleaned the pan with vinegar and repeated the test and again it formed hard water deposits on the bottom of the pan, like the microvibrations were causing the dissolved solids to fall out or something. Definite negative.
5. The fans and the coil whine were both very loud. I would have no need of a light to tell me the burner was on like I have with my radiant range. I /know/ it's on because the fan is running and the coil whine is obvious. I happen to be pretty sensitive with my hearing and can hear the flyback transformers in CRT TVs, and can detect coil whine that most other people can't hear (such as in fluorescent lights with failing bolsters). For that reason it was obviously super loud and annoying for me. I had heard this might be an issue, but also had heard other people basically discount it saying it wasn't a problem and was mostly caused by wobbly cookware, not the electronics. Nope, this was the electronics.
6. When I shut the power off the water fell off of boiling /instantly/. That was super cool to see. Definitely way more responsive.
Since I did two boil tests I had two times, first time it took 27 minutes and 13 seconds, second time it took 26 minutes and 51 seconds. My guess is that the residual heat from boiling the first time meant that the water temperature wasn't the same when I started the second test or it could have been when I did the first test I was still messing with the controls where the second time I went straight to max power.
Long story short:
Does induction boil water faster? Yes.
Does it do anything else better than my existing radiant cooktop.... hmm I'm not sure. It's definitely more responsive, but other than that it seems to have a lot of downsides.
I know gas is "the best" and everyone on CH loves gas. But while I have gas hookups, I am not going to install a gas range. So my question is really to decide between radiant or induction, with the knowledge that I can buy basically the same range in all other ways and the induction version is $1200 more. I don't see the value at this point. I'm very disappointed, as I was expecting a much better experience.
I'm still going to cook some on the PIC and see how that goes, and maybe that will change how I feel about it, but my initial impressions aren't very positive. I'd love to hear some convincing for why I should choose induction over radiant at this point. Only thing that seems a clear win is safety factor...
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