Ready to replace the electric stove

Another BIG power hog in our house is the electric stove. It is several years old now. The oven timer quit. The finish is scratched and marred. How about a new electric cook-top? Well, I looked at some of the choices and thought that you may want to hear about them.

I am not going to talk about fossil fuel alternatives like natural gas, liquid propane or even hydrogen because they don’t affect the amount of electricity that I use; at least not directly. That may change if I have to make hydrogen.

The first alternative is a rather simple one and in most cases will work very well for what we need. I would be without an oven, however, unless you consider the microwave/convection oven as an alternative to the electric oven. I’d have to start making smaller square pizzas.

Anyway, it is the portable induction cooktop. It appears that every major manufacturer is into this act; Frigidaire, Fagor, Sears. The price seems to be right also – in the $100 to $200 range for a single unit. This price range does not include the commercial versions for caterers which cost more.

If you have never used an induction cooktop you would be as amazed as I was to find that it can boil a cup of water in less than a minute. Wow. It transfers about 90% of the power to the pan, and it does it rather quickly. Click on the picture below to view a video the Fagor Portable Induction Cooktop Demo. It describes how an induction cooktop works and the advantages. I may not be buying a Fagor, but I will certainly do my homework and find the right one for our house.

Fagor Induction Cooktop Demo

Fagor Induction Cooktop Demo

Why am I not talking about the other kinds of heating elements? Because they just don’t meet my design criteria. I want to USE the energy that the element draws from my power source to cook, not to heat up the room. A lot of heat is wasted in a traditional coil element because it cannot transfer that heat efficiently to the pan. And there are other drawbacks to the other smooth top stoves. Canning for instance.

Canning? Ohhh. That is going to be a problem, not only for getting enough power out of the smaller heating elements but also a problem for some of the newer radiant cook-tops. Check out this comment made on the BestBuy web site.

Q: Can a smoothtop range or cooktop be used for canning?
A: We do not recommend smoothtop cooking surfaces for canning because they may not achieve the optimum canning results. With a smoothtop cooking surface, it is very important for the cookware size not to exceed the burner size by more than 1″ to allow proper burner-to-cookware contact. Since canners are normally much larger than the largest burner, it will be very difficult to maintain the type of boil necessary for canning.

The induction cooktop doesn’t totally solve my problem (how to drastically reduce my energy costs for cooking) but it does improve it. I would use about the same amount of power for normal cooking, but less time for cooking. Supplement one or two induction cooktop units with other stovetop electrical appliances and I think we can handle the power. But I am still on a quest for the perfect Thanksgiving dinner using a totally off-grid power system that I can afford. And I hope that is not an impossibility.

Any comments from someone who has such answers or suggestions?

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