Overland Posted January 11, 2017 Share Posted January 11, 2017 (edited) Mostly cons, as it turns out. If you're a cooking nerd like me - i.e., your counter space is taken up with sous vide circulators, chamber vacuums, etc. and dinner is rarely cooked without a blow torch being involved - then you've probably lusted after an induction range, or already have one. So when you see that induction cooktops are the new thing for RVs and trailers, you probably, like me, are ready to hop on board. Our plan was/is? to eliminate the gas cooktop all together and just use a couple of portable induction units instead. So I've been doing my due diligence and I hate to say that I'm a bit disappointed in what I'm learning. It's not that induction itself doesn't work well, or work well for a trailer, but rather that the affordable options available all seem to be poorly made rebadged junk from the same few factories. The models that are offered are completely confusing, and the pricing is all over the place. Is a $100 Duxtop 9600 better than a $60 Duxtop 8100? Who knows? They look different, but the specs are identical. Why is a True cooktop worth three times a Max Burton? No one can say. The only thing that I can say for sure is that a $400 Vollrath is definitely an order of magnitude better than any of the the sub-$200 models, and is probably worth every penny - if you can afford it. And it's probably the only unit that actually works well. Well, I'm sure you could pay more. The biggest problem I see with the portable units is that all of them but the Vollrath have a lower limit of 500 watts or so. That means that they essentially can't produce a low heat, and instead turn on and off at different frequencies to achieve lower temperatures. This can be a real problem because if you look at some of the videos on youtube, what you're cooking will literally go from boiling to off every few seconds, which can surely burn or otherwise ruin what's in the pan. The other problem is that the portable units have relatively small induction coils, and can create some raging hot spots even in heavy pans like cast iron. There are some videos you can find where they try to fry an egg and the center gets completely cooked while the outside edges are still cold. Then there is the practical issue of current draw. Two induction cooktops at maximum is 3600 watts of power, which will outpace our inverter by a wide margin. The double burner units, like the True or Furrion, use a power balancing trick where they will only draw a maximum 1800 watts for the whole unit. The problem with that is that if you're cooking something on one burner, then start something on the other, it will automatically lower the heat on the first one. Then you raise that, and it lowers the heat on the second. So you play this little dance with the temperatures whenever you change the heat settings. Then there are issues with poor heat sinks and cheap fans that are noisy and often break after only a few uses. Poor temperature sensing. Whistling or screeching from the coils. Melting or unresponsive controls. Etc. It just seems like a minefield of hurt for a marginal gain. So...if you can't tell, we think we're going to pass for now and stick with Oliver's standard gas cooktop. I am asking them, however, to give us a couple of high amperage outlets, one inside and one out - just in case we want to add a portable induction in the future, or go crazy and buy the Vollrath. At least, that's my take on the situation so far. I think a few of you do have and use a portable induction unit in your trailer so I'm really interested to hear if I'm totally off the mark with my conclusions. I'd hoped to limit our dependency on LP, but in truth, cooking is a small portion of the total usage, compared to the furnace and water heater - and we'd have an outdoor grill regardless. The one use I can still really see a portable induction working well for is when cooking outside. Trying to maintain a low flame on a portable LP or butane cooktop when there's any breeze to speak of is pretty difficult, and an induction in that situation would be ideal. And there are things like bacon that I'd rather not cook inside, just to avoid the splatters and the lingering smells. Particularly when camping in bear country. That $400 would seem like a small price to have paid when we're woken in the middle of the night by a bacon-crazed bear scratching at the door. Edited March 29, 2021 by Overland 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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