Cookware 111

Max Burton induction cooktop design defect(s)

moonbeamer | Feb 8, 201208:32 AM

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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