Saturday, April 07, 2007

Induction Cooktops by Diva de Provence

Diva Induction CooktopWhen Andrew and I took our cruise last October I attended a cooking demonstration where the chef had a portable induction cooktop. We're now remodeling our sadly distressed kitchen and in the process I've discovered more information on induction and the more I know the more excited I get. It is seriously the biggest thing to come into the kitchen since electricity.

Induction cooktops look like regular smooth-top appliances but they have copper coated iron coils that create a circulating electromagnetic force when electricity is sent through them. The current flows through the coils and then flows through any ferrous (iron) metal cookware sitting on the glass surface. Instead of the coils themselves generating heat the way an electric stove might do, the magnetic current of the coils causes the molecules of the pan to rub together and friction heats the pan--only the pan and nothing else.

What does this mean? Wow! It means all sorts of things: First, it's terribly efficient. Induction cooktops take more AMPs to power (anywhere from 35-60 AMPs, depending on the brand and size) but energy isn't lost the way it is in an open flame or a heated metal coil. Instead of heating the air around you, you're only heating the pan. Less energy used, lower air temperatures in the kitchen, less ventilation requirements, lower electric bills, a happier environment for everyone.

Diva de Provence CooktopsNext, it is amazingly fast. Fine Cooking magazine reports induction can boil water nearly twice as fast as electric or gas, which is gonna cut the wait time for my macaroni and cheese in half, and the heat is nearly instantaneous--faster than even gas. As soon as the power is on the pan heats, as soon as the pan is removed from the induction zone (it can't be called a "burner" any more) the heating process stops and the pan instantly starts to cool. Automatic shut off features ensure that even if you remove a pan and forget to turn off the power, after a certain period of time the power will shut off automatically.

Safety? We have an island with a cooktop in the center and the kids will sit at the counter near the burners and watch me cook. With induction there is no danger of them burning themselves as the cooking surface doesn't heat--only the pan heats. You can put a piece of newspaper between the pan and the glass cooktop surface on the highest heat setting and never scorch the paper. If you take the pan away and immediately touch the cooktop surface it wouldn't be hot enough to burn you. Of course the pan may still be hot, so be careful if you feel like touching that.

Plus, induction temperatures only go to about 482 Fahrenheit so you can't burn out an empty pan or get a flash fire from grease. Many models have safety features that sense when a pan is empty and then automatically shut down.

Cleaner? Induction means that if I boil a pot over it won't burn onto my stove, leaving a charred nasty mess. If something splatters I can immediately clean it up. The design itself is sleek--with Diva, the brand I favor, there aren't even dials and knobs to get dirty, the touch controls are incorporated into the flat glass surface.

Our local retailer, Allen and Petersen, carries Viking, Diva de Provence, Thermador and Electrolux brands but as far as I've been able to deduce Diva is by far the best. Diva, in white or black and with four or five burners, ranges from $2700-$3600, depending on the size and color (Viking is quite a bit more). This sounds pricey until you figure that high-end professional cooktops are about the same price but are outperformed in every way by the induction cooktops appliances.

As for cookware, you can't use glass, copper or aluminum on induction cooktops. Cast iron and stainless steel--which usually isn't really pure stainless steel but stainless steel wrapped around another ferrous (iron based) metal--are fine to use. If you want to know if you can use a particular pan, grab a kitchen magnet and see if it sticks to the pan. If it sticks, it's good to use, if not you can't. The stronger the attraction the better the cooking surface will be.

I'm sold. I'm getting a Diva.

If you have any questions (and after my research I'm a bit of an expert on this) leave me a question in the comments and I'll answer it there.

Technorati tags:

35 comments:

my4kids said...

I don't know that I could afford one of those right now but that looks pretty awesome! I'd love something that I wouldn't have to worry about the kids burning themselves touching the burners and cleaning up a mess seems really simple since you can wipe right away instead of waiting for it to cool down, which by then it is burned to the stovetop..

Erica Douglas said...

Wow! I want a new kichen now.

Perhaps you could get a job as a sales rep :)

(littlemummy.com)

Kim from Hiraeth said...

Where has this been all my life?

How new is this?

Lauri said...

Very cool! I had no idea this kind of thing was out there!

maggie said...

Wow that is amazing stuff. I could actually use my front two burners again which have been off limits since the twins were born!!! I guess specialty pans are in order how readily available are they?

Macoosh said...

i want one.

hey check out my blog...there's a post w/ a neat and cheap science experiment you can do w/ the kids. i thought of you as i wrote it out; you might like it.

Author Mom with Dogs said...

Sounds like heaven! I know what I'm getting for my next stove...

Julie Pippert said...

How do I get enough money to remodel my kitchen? Because I am sold!

G's Cottage said...

I have to play devil's advocate on this one. I have been doing research for my own kitchen remodel and saw this serendipidously on cable's "Off-Beat America".

So I starting Googling related keywords and found that while people love it when it works, when it wears out or breaks it is difficult to find parts and not economical to repair even if it is warranteed. I would not wait more than 2 weeks for a part that means my stove does not work at all and I found accounts of people waiting months.

I am not out to rain on anybody's parade but thought you might want to check out the underbelly while the commissioned sales guy is distracted.

chelle said...

hehe what I love about this post is that you are talking up the fancy stove because you want to make Mac & Cheese faster! hehehe

I does sound fab!

Babystepper said...

Looks great! Someday, someday. It's certainly cost-prohibitive at this point. That's about as much as we're spending on our entire kitchen. (We're remodeling an entire house at one go.)

Coach J said...

Hey! I've been lurking for a few days, and then saw you ventured a guess on my post from yesterday. Can you hear me shoutin' from Mississippi, THANK YOU!?!
I'd love to link you on my sidebar, is that ok?

crissybug said...

This sounds like the coolest product ever! I will have to keep it in mind if/when we decide to remodel our kitchen.

Anonymous said...

THE QUESTION IS ALWAYS: COST?????

scribbit said...

First of all, in the interest of full disclosure--I've known the store manager for years and he approached me about writing for one of their magazines on an unrelated topic. When I mentioned I had heard about induction and was interested in it he asked me to help with an article on that.

Because of all this, I'm getting a big discount on one of these babies and being paid to write for them, so you may think there's conflict of interest however I was sold when I first saw them demonstrated on the cruise ship.

So as for cost, yes--very expensive and I wouldn't get one normally but then blogging is wonderful and this just proves how fun it is :)

As for repair costs--the power for the unit is a power pack that and from what I've read repairs are no more frequent than with a normal appliance. You've got to remember these things have been in use all over Europe and Asia really since the 80s. They use them in restaurants and on cruise ships so it's not experimental technology here, it's just new to the U.S. And they've been around long enough that the bugs have been worked out. In Anchorage Allen and Petersen has their cooktops serviced through a place in the Mat-Su Valley.

Ni uYachen said...

I remember when my aunt got one in her new house back in the late eights. I thought it was the coolest thing.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I have never even heard of this type of cooktop, but when I eventually get my house I know what I want :) !!

Have a fabulous Easter weekend!

Heffalump said...

Sounds like it would be great, and no burner pans for the food to boil over into sounds nice too. We only use cast iron pans, and a stainless steel pot...so we wouldn't even have to change anything. I would love to redo my kitchen with something like that...someday.

Stephanie said...

That sounds like a great stove top. Something to consider when we build.

Great that you are getting a nice discount too! Way to go Michelle!

meredith said...

As someone living in Provence, I like the name!

Cece said...

My sister works for a company that sells high end appliances, such as the Thermador, and she's always drooling over the lovely new kitchens.

Jamie J said...

I saw an article on these stove tops a few months ago and instantly fell in love. They are pricey, but when you think about the energy and time you are saving cooking on one, it would seem to balance out. Whenever we can buy a house, I'm going to try to get one of these!

Jen said...

I...I'm thinking all the other home improvement projects can bloody well wait because, suddenly, a new stovetop seems very very necessary.

scribbit said...

One of the things you might consider is buying a portable unit like the ones they used on the cruise ship cooking demonstration. I read they sell for around $100, and besides being a nice feature for buffets and catered affairs for keeping food warm, they'd be a handy little gadget to have around. You could see how you like it that way.

scribbit said...

Oh, and Kim you asked how new this technology is, it was introduced at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. NASA toyed with it for a while and in the 70s it went to Europe during the fuel-efficiency craze.

It was too loud and didn't have enough power to make it practical until the 80s when the kinks were worked out and it caught on in Europe and Asia. It's been around for years but just hasn't been popular in the U.S. We're just not as cutting edge cool as those darn Europeans I guess :)

Marie N. said...

Sounds like a dream! I hope you are able to love using it soon, (meaning I hope your kitchen remodel does not seem to stretch on forever the way my bathroom remodel is).

Fiddledeedee (It Coulda' Been Worse) said...

Holy technology, batman. That sounds wonderful! If I ever remodel, and I'm not like 95, I will look into this!

Damselfly said...

Ah, I dream.... Dreaming is probably as close as I'll get to this!

Leslie said...

Very, very cool. I hadn't heard of this before. I love this. I think I might have to have this...one day.

Anonymous said...

That's why I love your blog. You are upfront and honest all the way. Kudos to you!!! Damn the torpedoes...full-speed ahead!! Jenna

dcrmom said...

Wow. That is very interesting!

Anonymous said...

Ok, we're buying a new house right now and I have been out looking at cook tops. I really have a fondness for natural gas, but this is interesting to me. Would I have to 86 my entire set of Calphalon pots and pans if I got one?? I love cast iron and all, and frequently use my 10" skillet, but it would cost me as much to replace my cookware as a new stove!

Tracy M (blogger hates me and won't let me sign in)

Roger Wang said...

Heavy duty built-in induction cooktop engineered for use in commercial kitchens and restaurants. It is a perfect choice for professional chefs. Drop-in design, single cooking zone (burner); Heavy duty electronic components; Extra fans on control box for heat exhausting.

C Trudel said...

I have a 5-burner Diva cooktop, and would not recommend one to anyone. Yes it cooks well, but within a few months of having it every part of it except the glass top had to be replaced. The one and only authorized repair company in my area, and the Diva home office in Canada both said that that happened nearly 100% of the time because they are all damaged in shipping. We are now two years in and on our third round of replacement parts. Before you buy make sure you have a good relationship with a competant and responsible repair shop because you will be calling them a lot. I would never buy one again.

Mrs.Zeus said...

Induction cooktop is the future!
And yes they do boil water twice as fast than the ordinary stove. I love my portable one and cannot wait till a own a house to get a full stove.
I enjoy reading your blog, great job!