Single Portable Induction Cooktop: What They Won’t Tell You

portable induction cooktopWhen you’re buying a portable induction cooktop there are lots of things a salesperson won’t tell you unless you ask specifically. At The Equipped Cook we provide you with the answers before you’ve even thought of the questions.

The most popular portable induction cooktop is a single induction burner. A single unit offers portability, it is easy to stow and you can always find room for it on your counter or table.

We look at the best features on these appliances and review three of the most popular models.

If you’re short on time and want to go straight to a review please click below. Alternatively, just read on.

What is a Portable Induction Cooktop?

A single portable induction cooktop works the same way as an induction cooktop that is built in to your counter. A range with an induction cooktop also uses the same technology.

Instead of providing a heat source to cook, induction uses magnetic technology to induce vibrations in the pan you are using.

It is the pan that produces heat, not the burner. The top of the burner only becomes hot from residual heat it receives from the pan.

Induction cooking requires magnetic pots and pans. Stainless steel and cast iron are good.

Most pots and pans are labelled as induction-ready when you buy them. If you need to test the ones you already own this can be done with a small magnet.

If the magnet sticks to the bottom of the pan it should be induction compatible.

In addition to the ferrous requirement, the pan should also be flat bottomed. A curved shape or ridges on the bottom will not work with induction.

A portable model means it does not have to be hard-wired into your kitchen, nor does it have to be installed into the cut-out counter. A portable unit can be used in a kitchen as an extra burner when entertaining.

You can use it for keeping a dish warm before serving. Place it on the dining table and you can serve directly from it.

It can be used in an RV or motor home. It can be used in a dorm room or at a holiday house.

When you select a single induction cooktop it is best to get one with 110V power. If you are looking at one which requires 220V, it is not easily plugged into a normal socket.

How Good Are Portable Induction Cooktops?

Portable induction cooktops vary a lot depending on power and features. For an affordable price, it is possible to buy one which delivers similar cooking results to a built-in induction cooktop which costs thousands of dollars.

Features to consider are:

  • the level of power (watts) available;
  • whether the power level (watts) is variable so you can use it in an RV;
  • size of the burner;
  • number of increments on the heat settings;
  • whether the heat settings are graded by temperature or sequential numbering;
  • digital or analogue heat controls;
  • quick function settings to select simmer or sear directly;
  • flat controls for easy cleaning;
  • countdown timer with alert sound;
  • automatic timer to stop cooking after a set number of minutes;
  • is the base made of plastic or stainless steel;
  • continuous cooking or automatic shut off after a certain number of hours;
  • safety features;
  • automatic pan detection;
  • an overheating sensor which shuts the burner off automatically;
  • can it slow simmer for a long period of time;
  • can you use a pressure cooker on it;
  • will it operate with a pan that is larger than the burner;
  • does it work with a pan smaller than the induction burner;
  • how long is the power cord;
  • does it retain the heat setting if you remove the pan.

Which Single Portable Induction Cooktop is Best?

If you want to use a portable induction cooktop as a warming plate you’ll be best with one that goes down to 100 watts on the lowest power setting or about 140 degrees Fahrenheit on a temperature setting.

However, you would only use a heat setting as low as this if the food is already cooked thoroughly and you want to keep it warm until you serve it.

Many portable models do not go as low as 100 watts or 140 degrees so you need to check before you buy.

If you want to cook at high heat you’ll need a portable induction burner that offers 1800 watts of power.

For example, if you want to cook fish on a skillet and sear the skin of the fish you’ll probably need 1800 watts. 1500 watts may do the job but 1300 watts will definitely leave you disappointed if you want to sear at a high temperature.

If you are going to use this appliance in an RV or caravan it is best to get one that has variable power options.

If you know you’ll stow the unit away when not in use, you might be concerned about the base cracking. To avoid this problem the best portable induction cooktop will be a stainless steel one rather than plastic.

The base does not heat up with induction cooking so it is only physical contact with the base that should be a concern for cracking it, not heat.

If you want to use this type of burner in a dorm room it’s best to get one with safety features like overheating protection.

A cooking timer to automatically shut off the induction burner after a specified time is also a great safety feature.

If you are using it in your dorm room you may not want to sear food which will produce smoke and possibly set off a smoke alarm, not to mention annoy your friends.

In this case consider a 1300 watt or 1500 watt model rather than the more powerful ones. Also consider the length of the power cable because you may only have one power outlet it has to reach.

If you are going to use a portable induction cooktop in your kitchen at home you’ll need to consider what you want to use it for.

If you want to use a large saute pan you’ll need a larger cooking surface. For large pots of soup you will want a sturdy appliance that can take the weight of a heavier pot.

Consider whether your main purpose will be as a warming plate before serving food. For warming you should choose a model with a very low setting (usually about 140 degrees Fahrenheit and/or 100 watts of power).

If you are going to use it at the dining table you may want to look at the aesthetics in more detail.

If you want to cook for long periods of time you’ll need to make sure your portable induction cooktop does not have a permanent safety feature which automatically turns it off after a certain number of hours.

Some models have this as a safety feature but with the option to turn it off for long cooking times.

This may apply if you want to spend a whole day canning or simmering bone broth for an extended time or cook a corned beef for a few hours. Give some thought to how you will use your portable induction cooktop before purchase.

If you are buying an appliance for an elderly relative you may want to consider safety features as top priority when selecting a single induction cooktop.

With an overheating safety shut-off you can ensure your loved one doesn’t let a pot boil dry or accidently set fire to the kitchen by leaving a burner on.

The safety features are also important if you are leaving your children with a baby sitter. To give you peace of mind, choose an induction cooktop with an automatic overheat shut-off along with pan detection so the burner does not activate if there isn’t a ferrous pan on top.

If someone leaves another item on the burner it won’t operate and therefore won’t catch fire. You can also choose a model with a lock so children don’t accidentally turn the burner on.

Are There Reviews On The Best Portable Induction Cooktops?

There are a million different reasons why people buy portable induction cooktops but you’ll need to decide on your own reason before choosing the best model for you. To help you short-cut the process on research we’ve included detailed reviews on three of the best portable induction cooktops available.

Review 1: NuWave PIC Titanium 2016 – Model 30342DR

Portable induction cooktop

If you want to use a portable induction cooktop in an RV, caravan or boat you’re going to benefit from owning the NuWave PIC Titanium 2016 Model 30342DR. There are special features to control power usage and it offers a large cooking surface which is important if this is your only cooktop.

How many watts of power?

This model offers variable power output. You can choose from 600 watts (5 amps), 900 watts (7.5 amps) or 1800 watts (15 amps) of power. If you are running multiple appliances or your power usage is limited you can vary this portable induction cooktop to fit in with your needs.

To change the wattage it is very simple. It is just a matter of pressing one button. Each time you press it the power will toggle through the different settings. Your selection is indicated by a light above one of the three settings you’ve chosen, that is, 600 watts, 900 watts or 1800 watts. It couldn’t be easier.

This appliance plugs into a 110 volt socket. There are 94 temperature settings available in 5 degree increments. When you turn the induction burner on the default temperature is 375 degrees Fahrenheit. This model can be reset to show the temperature in Celsius if you so desire.

To change the heat you press and hold the + or – button until you reach the correct temperature. There are also six preset heat settings for convenience. You can select Low (100 F), Med Low (175 F), Medium (275 F), Med High (375 F), High (425 F) or Max Sear (575 F). Being induction, it can boil water in 60 seconds.

How big is the cooking area?

The cooking surface of the NuWave PIC 2016 Titanium 30342DR is 12.3 inches. This is much larger than previous NuWave models. Perfect for a large stock pot or skillet.

The actual induction element in the centre of the appliance is smaller in diameter than the overall surface top. This means the outer edges of your 12 inch pan will take a little longer to heat compared to the centre. For the best results use a pot or pan with very good heat conductivity so the outer rim heats more evenly.

The maximum weight the cooktop can take is 50 lbs. This is a total weight including the pot and what’s in it including liquid. This is a very good weight compared to other single induction cooktops.

Are there any safety features?

This model offers several safety features.

It will only operate if you use induction compatible cookware on the top. If you turn it on and there is something else on the top it will cease to operate. This is a safety feature. Non-ferrous items will not heat up and hopefully you can avoid an accidental fire. Items such as a piece of paper or a plastic bag will not activate the induction element.

If you lift a pan off the top while cooking this portable induction cooktop will pause for up to 10 seconds. If you replace the pan within the 10 seconds it will continue to cook on the same setting without you needing to reset the temperature.

The NuWave PIC 2016 Titanium offers delayed start. You can control the time you want you’re cooking to start even if you’re not there. There is also a timer function which lets you set the total time and have the unit automatically turn off. This is a great safety feature and it is worth setting a timer if you know you are multitasking or likely to get distracted.

Overall, this is a very easy appliance to use. It has a clear digital display and it offers precise temperature control. It is very powerful offering up to 1800 watts of power if you need it. Once you become familiar with the correct temperature for your favorite recipes you’ll never want to use another cooktop.

Review 2: Max Burton 6200 Deluxe

If safety is your priority then the Max Burton 6200 Deluxe portable induction cooktop may be what you’re looking for. This model is ideal for dorm rooms, people with children or the elderly.

What are the safety features?

This single induction cooktop has an overheating sensor. If the surface of the burner is heated to excess then the cooktop will automatically shut off. This may happen if an empty pan is left heating on the top. It may also occur if a boil-over is left unattended. There are a number of reasons why excess heat may be detected on the cooktop and the advantage of this model is the automatic detection and shut off function if a person is away from the appliance or can’t get to it.

This feature could save a loved one from an accidental fire in their house or dorm room.

Another safety feature is the timer. This is not just a kitchen timer. It is a cooking timer which turns the induction burner off at the end. The timer can be set for up to 180 minutes of cooking. You can even adjust the timer after it has commenced and during cooking time. The timer is easy to set and an advantage if you will be leaving the room or if you might be distracted.

The Max Burton 6200 Deluxe has pan detection and will not turn on if a non-ferrous item is placed on the top. This is a safety feature because it will not heat random objects that are not be intended to go near a cooktop.

Can you use a small pot on this model?

The minimum size diameter of the bottom base of the pan to be used on this single induction cooktop is 4 inches. The recommended maximum diameter is 13 inches. The measurement always relates to the bottom surface which comes into contact with the cooktop and may be quite different to the diameter at the top of the pan.

Like all induction cooktops the pots and pans you use need to be ferrous. Cast iron, carbon steel and ferrous stainless steel will be ideal. The bottom surface of the pan should be flat and smooth. When cooking the pan should be centered on the cooktop for the induction element to work.

Does it show the temperature?

This portable induction cooktop offers 10 power settings or 10 temperature setting, depending on your preference. If you like to gauge the heat by seeing a temperature readout this is possible. There are 10 settings from 100 degrees Fahrenheit up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

The temperature setting should be used if a recipe requires the food to be kept at a particular temperature. Once the pan reaches that temperature the cooktop regulates its output to keep the pan at the selected temperature.

If you do not need to keep your cooking at a particular temperature you should use the power setting alternative.  There are 10 increments and they represent different wattage output. It ranges from 200 watts up to 1800 watts. The temperature of the pan is not regulated and the level of wattage will continue. The high power setting is very good if you want to bring a pot of water to boil rapidly.

This induction burner can be used as a warmer on 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the temperature setting.

Can I stow this induction burner?

If you are living in a dorm room, chances are you’ll want to put this induction cooktop away in a cupboard at some stage or even take it with you for holidays. This model has the advantage of the base being made from stainless steel, not plastic.

Usually, on a portable induction cooktop, the plastic base is not a problem because induction cooking produces only residual heat and the cooktop itself does not heat up a lot. The plastic base is at little risk of cracking or melting. However, if you are going to stow your portable cooktop in a cupboard and you’re worried about it being pushed into by other items you may want to ensure you buy a stainless steel model.

The Max Burton 6200 Deluxe is one of the few stainless steel models available. It can offer you peace of mind if you’re going to stow it. It also looks good.

Overall advantages?

Overall, this single induction cooktop has very important safety features. The overheating protection is great for a dorm room or for a person who may be forgetful. For similar reasons it is also great to have a timer to shut off the appliance automatically at the end of its cooking time.

If you have a babysitter coming into your home there are often risks associated with a gas stove being left on or even an electric stove being forgotten about with children in the house. If you provide a portable induction cooktop with overheating protection for the babysitter to use this can set your mind at ease. Even better, get the babysitter to always use the timer function and you’ve got double protection for your children. This model also has ferrous pan detection so it won’t turn on without the correct pan on top. There is no flame and the hot surface cools down much faster than an electric cooktop providing a safer kitchen environment for your children when you’re not there.

The Max Burton 6200 Deluxe portable induction cooktop offers great features for many people. It looks good in stainless steel and offers good control over your cooking with the temperature setting feature. If you are looking for a safer method of cooking, this model is for you.

Review 3: Duxtop 8300ST Touch Sensor

portable induction cooktop

When you use a portable induction cooktop at home there is a good chance you’ll want to use it on the dining table or for a buffet. If you are entertaining you want your induction appliance to look good. The Duxtop 8300 Touch Sensor portable induction cooktop is aesthetically appealing and has all the functions you need.

Why does this model look so sleek?

Compared to others this induction burner has the controls located beneath the glass. It offers a touch sensor control panel which is different from the others that usually have blister buttons to press.

The advantage of the touch controls is that there is only one smooth surface over the top of the induction burner. There are no buttons to wear out and cleaning is very simple. Wipe over the top and you’re done.

With touch sensors it looks stylish and you’ll be happy to have it seen on a buffet table to keep food warm.

Is it powerful enough to use at home every day?

The Duxtop 8300ST offers 1800 watts of power. It is powerful enough to sear meat, poultry and fish at a high temperature.

It is capable of being used on either temperature mode or power mode operation. This means you should select temperature mode if your recipe requires the food to be cooked at a constant temperature. You can use temperature mode on the lowest setting to keep food warm on 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you want to boil a pot of water fast it is best to use power mode. Power mode does not keep the food at a constant temperature. Rather, it keeps the wattage constant. If you set the appliance to power level 10 which is 1800 watts it will keep operating at this wattage even if the food continues to get hotter.

I have children, can I lock the burner for safety?

Yes. There is a child/safety lock on this model. There are also additional safety features.

There is overheat protection. If the single induction burner becomes too hot at the surface it will automatically shut off. This may be caused by a block in air circulation around the appliance or from a pot being placed on top without anything in it.

The timer can be used to “set and forget”. You can set the timer to a desired cooking time and have the induction burner automatically turn off once finished. The timer can be set for up to 170 minutes. This is a great safety feature for families multitasking cooking with homework or other activities in the house.

The induction burner will detect if you are using magnetic cookware. If you do not place an induction-compatible pan on the burner within 30 seconds it will not turn on.

If you remove your pan from the surface for more than 30 seconds it will turn off. To lift the pan off with the intention to continue cooking after you pour out liquid, be sure to return it to the top within 30 seconds to keep the settings operating.

Are there limitations to this portable induction burner?

The weight limit for the Duxtop 8300ST is 25 pounds. If you need to place heavier pots on your induction burner the NuWave model mentioned above can take up to 50 pounds weight.

The circle on the top of the surface that indicates the heating area is 7.25 inches in diameter. The induction element within the Duxtop 8300ST is 6 inches in diameter. The cooking area on the top surface requires a pan with a minimum of a 4 inch diameter but, at the other end of the scale, 12 inch skillets have been used on this model successfully. If you are using a larger pan you’ll need to move the food around regularly to ensure even cooking. The center will obviously heat more quickly than the edges. It is important to use a pan with good heat conductivity if it is large.

Who is this cooktop best for?

This portable induction cooktop is very popular and suits a lot of people. There are plenty of safety features for families or people with pets such as cats. The child lock function can also be used to stop a cat accidentally turning the burner on!

The shut off timer function is not only a safety feature but adds convenience. You can put a pot of oatmeal on while you take a shower or set the pasta to cook while you sit down and become distracted by your favorite tv show.

The low temperature warming feature is great for entertaining and the high 1800 watts of power is good for high temperature searing.

This single induction cooktop is particularly good for anyone who wants to leave it out on display either in the kitchen or on the dining table. Because it has touch sensor controls under the glass it looks good, flat and shiny.

If you are going to be using it regularly in your kitchen to cook meals for a family there are no blister buttons to wear out. The continuous glass top is also very easy to clean because there is only one surface to wipe.

The Duxtop 8300ST is ideal for a family kitchen or on your dining table for entertaining friends. It offers great value and is one of the most popular portable induction cooktops available.

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