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Kitchen remodeling is something that most of us have either done or at least seriously contemplated. It’s an agonizing process and a strain on any relationship. The thought behind this thread is that the more practical help we can get on kitchen remodeling the better.

The inspiration for this thread was when I realized that I know of 5 kitchens that have recently had complete remodels; each is very nice & each is very different. So, I talked to our friends & got their permission to photograph their kitchens and for them to answer a series of questions. I also have their agreement to answer any questions that you may have. (The answers will come through me as I want to maintain privacy for my friends.)

In each post there will be a complete description of the kitchen along with lots of photos.

In addition here is a list of standard questions I intend to ask.

Q. What was your kitchen before it was a kitchen?

Q. How large is the kitchen?

Q. What kind of cooking do you do? Family? Dinner parties? Ethnic? Gourmet?

Q. What were the 3 top goals for your new kitchen?

Q. What was the biggest problem that had to be over come?

In the design phase ? During actual construction ?

Q. What are you most pleased about in your new kitchen?

Q. Least pleased about?

Q. If you were doing your kitchen again what would you change?

What I’m looking for with this initial thread starting post is feedback. How much interest is there in the topic? Are there other questions I should be asking? Would anybody else like to write up their kitchen once they’ve seen these write ups?

I’ll be starting with our own kitchen so here’s a teaser picture.

gallery_22910_3437_6473.jpg

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I am really interested in hearing about your friends' kitchen renos, as my kitchen is currently under serious construction too.

In addition to those issues you have already raised, I think people would also be interested in the Costs issue - did the costs run over budget, what were the most expensive items, etc. I was amazed at the range of costs for almost every component of the kitchen, and how expensive an item like countertops can be.

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I would be seriously interested in this as we are considering a kitchen reno ourselves. Did your contacts renovate all in one go or bit by bit? Love the sculpture on top of the cabinets!

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n addition to those issues you have already raised, I think people would also be interested in the Costs issue -

I agree & I'll do what I can to find out, but people tend to be a bit sensitive about costs.

I can & will give some cost examples from our own experience.

Did your contacts renovate all in one go or bit by bit?

These were all done in one go. Mainly as parts of a larger house renovation or a major remodel. Doing it bit by bit is really tough. It helps spread the cost, but can bbe awfully hard to live with.

Love the sculpture on top of the cabinets!

As with most things there's a story behind the sculpture. We saw it in a field next to the artist's house. He uses old farm machinery as bits to put his sculptues together & then leaves them out in the field. Sort of an open air showroom. Anyway, we bought it & asked if he could deliver which he could. He showed up on time & we said that we wanted it on top of the cabinets. I got a ladder for him & asked if he needed help as the sculpture was pretty heavy. No, no help needed. Well he was puffing pretty hard as he tried to get it up the last bit so my wife fearing he's fall put her hands under this thigh to help push him & it up. He made it, but I think he got the wrong idea about her help. In any case he took hos money & disappeared pretty quickly refusing a drink of water or cup of tea.

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Hello all,

I'm new here and just came across this thread.

As well as being a food junkie, my main occupation is renovations. I have done a few dozens kitchens over the years and I would be happy to offer advice or anwser any questions you may have from a contractors point of view.

I am located in Canada so may not be able to help on specific brand issues, but I'll try.

Cheers

Ted

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Ok, can't say that I've been overwhelmed by the response, but here's the first kitchen.

Here’s the first kitchen remodel which happens to be our kitchen.

gallery_22910_3437_6473.jpg

Background

The background is that when we bought our house we knew we would want to do a new kitchen when we could afford it. While we waited we had plenty of time to ponder what we wanted to do. In this case the most practical & affordable solution was to convert a bedroom with ensuite bathroom into the new kitchen. (We wanted the existing kitchen space to become part of a large living. dining room.) This limited our space; we have about 18’ X 10’ total, but would work.

Limitations

The usual financial ones of course. Physically we had the door in the middle of one long wall and we had two mansard windows none of which were movable. We also had part of a stairwell in one corner. I tried a crude drawing, but I can't get it to post. Maybe I'll work it out later.

The ‘Discussions’

We both cook, but we both have very different styles. The one easy thing is that we’re both left handed. Much of the design discussion centered on having an island vs. having a place to sit & eat. She likes the eating space, I like an island with a prep sink. Since we’ve 3 previous kitchens together the rest of the design wasn’t too hard to agree.

As you’ll see she won this one, we have a banquette. It works well, but I would still have liked my island. Maybe next time.

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Right hand view from door showing worktop & stove.

Essential elements

Here’s a list of things we considered essential. Drawers, not cabinets for storage. Two ovens. Vertical storage. Tough counter tops. An American style fridge. Quality dishwasher. A large gas cook top. Storage, storage, storage. Cookbook shelves. There’s probably more that I’ll think of as I go along.

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Left hand view from door. More worktop & sink. Note the mansard window & just up at the top corner the cut down cabinet.

Again couldn't do the drawing, but the photos should make thing clear. All of the under counter storage is drawers. Above are shallower cabinets. At the right end there is a 12” wide vertical storage unit & at the left end underneath are two book shelves. The banquette has benches with hinged tops & storage underneath. The counter at the left of the door is a narrow set of cupboard & drawers designed for wall mounting, but in this case helping us have just enough space for the table & benches. The big larder unit is terrific, everyone should have one.

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Larder unit with Fridge & wall oven beyond. The other mansard window & dogs bowl.

Equipment

Pretty standard fridge/freezer with ice maker (not so standard here in France), Wall mounted oven with all the latest features, Bosch dishwasher, hood & extractor fan.

The big decision was the stove/cook top. Not having 2 ovens was not an option. After a lot of thought we ended up with a 36”, 5 burner range with full width gas over & electric grill. This was not an expensive stove (about $1,000), but it performs & we’re very happy with it.

We bought everything from one store having given our detailed list of equipment to several. Lowest bid got the order.

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The stove top. 36", simple, space for big pots. Love the oven; big enough for a turkey & extras

Cabinets

Here’s where you can blow a ton of money so we came up with a strategy. We bought all IKEA cabinets with the cheapest possible fronts. The quality of IKEA hardware, fit and range of cabinets is second to none. BUT, you don’t get the best choice of fronts. We just never unpacked the IKEA fronts & took them back for credit which was happily given. At this point we worked with Gerard (see here for more about him) to choose our wood & the design we wanted. His prices were reasonable, we got exactly what we wanted and the quality of his work was excellent. We conservatively estimate that we saved over $5,000 by doing this. Consider searching out a retired cabinet maker or individual craftsman to try this yourself.

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The table & banquette area.

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Looking towards the banquette area.

Worktops

Another area where you can eat up money. We’re lucky in that in our area granite is fairly cheap so it was our obvious choice. If affordable, the best worktop in our humble opinion. We’ve done laminates in the past; Ok but not for the long haul. Tiles are our second favorite and have always worked well for us & at reasonable cost.

Flooring

We opted for tiles and they have worked out very well. They look good & are very easy to keep clean.

gallery_22910_3437_47953.jpg

Drawers, beautiful drawers. Can't have enought of them.

Ok, I think in the course of this long winded essay I’ve answered most of the questions I posed.

What kind of cooking? We do lots of entertaining, dinner parties for 8-12 & a few larger holiday events. See here for some idea of how we cook.

gallery_22910_3437_5875.jpg

A few of our cook books. Only the frequently used stay here.

The big design problem was space & the big construction problem was fitting cupboards into a sloping ceiling.

We’re most pleased that the kitchen works; it’s a great place to cook in. We’re least pleased about the amount of work space, it’s a bit crowded when we’re both cooking.

We wouldn’t change anything serious in this kitchen. Given the space & the budget we’re very happy. Now! Give us another 100 square feet to work with & we’d be off again!

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OK, Dave - not only do you tease us with your proximity to great cheeses, now you also seem to have a to-die-for kitchen.

Life certainly seems to be good in France!

I am embarking on a kitchen reno next month - never have done one before, so I am crossing my fingers. I tried to be careful about balancing good values like subway tiles and good, but simple cabinets with a couple of splurges like a full farmhouse sink and soapstone counters.

Not having a camera, I can't post a before pix, but it is a typical 50s ranch kitchen - dark, horrible vinyl floor, and boxed-in layout. I am going for a bigger window over the sink, pulling out an old island that divided the room and replacing it with a smaller one, and white cabinets and tiles. All I want is something clean, bright, and uncluttered.

I'll keep you posted.

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Hi Dave

A timely topic for me as I am just about to start replacing 1/2 of my kitchen.

I am interested in decisions made involving appliance (sink, stove, oven if built in, fridge, dishwasher) placement: where placed and why there in particular, any problems they needed to solve around appliance placement, and are they happy with their decision(s).

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Ok, can't say that I've been overwhelmed by the response, but here's the first kitchen.

dave-- please don't be discouraged by the lack of response. i've been mostly offline for a couple of days, but have a kitchen renovation coming up later this fall. this thread looks like a great summation of things, if you can keep it going. i'll be reading with interest!

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Ok, can't say that I've been overwhelmed by the response, but here's the first kitchen.
Sorry, that going-to-work-and-raising-a-family-thing really interferes with eG time.
How much interest is there in the topic?
I’m very interested, even though we just completed a kitchen renovation and don't plan another for many years.
Are there other questions I should be asking?
I'll toss out a few suggestions:

Q: How much of the design did you do yourself?

Q: How much of the construction did you do yourself?

Q. How long did the renovation take? How long was it supposed to take?

Q: By what percentage was the final cost over or under the budget? Percent deviation avoids delving into personal finances, and also avoids the problem of converting international currencies.

Q. Did the relationship between life partners suffer any permanent damage?

Would anybody else like to write up their kitchen once they’ve seen these write ups?
Sure, we stripped the old kitchen down to studs and subfloor, and would be happy to share what we learned if anyone is interested.

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OK, Dave - not only do you tease us with your proximity to great cheeses, now you also seem to have a to-die-for kitchen.

Life certainly seems to be good in France!

I am embarking on a kitchen reno next month - never have done one before, so I am crossing my fingers.  I tried to be careful about balancing good values like subway tiles and good, but simple cabinets with a couple of splurges like a full farmhouse sink and soapstone counters.

Not having a camera, I can't post a before pix, but it is a typical 50s ranch kitchen - dark, horrible vinyl floor, and boxed-in layout.  I am going for a bigger window over the sink, pulling out an old island that divided the room and replacing it with a smaller one, and white cabinets and tiles.  All I want is something clean, bright, and uncluttered.

I'll keep you posted.

Thanks for the kind words. Life is definitly good in France.

Sounds like you're just about to start your own kitchen adventure. You realy should get a camera, an el cheapo digital will do nicely, and document your renovation. I'm sure there would be lots of interest. This is especially true as it sounds as if you have some great ideas AND are budget concious. The cost of the camera will get lost in the noise as you add up the kitchen cost!

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I am interested in decisions made involving appliance (sink, stove, oven if built in, fridge, dishwasher) placement: where placed and why there in particular, any problems they needed to solve around appliance placement, and are they happy with their decision(s).

Good questions & I will ask & try to get answers. I can say that in our case the sink went where it is for 2 key reasons. First it was just about the only logical place given our layout; secondly, the plumbing was already nearby making installation easier. The dishwasher went to the right of the sink for similar logical reasons.

Unfortunately I couldn't get my drawing to post so the layout isn't as clear as I would like, but because of the protruding stairwell the fridge pretty much had to go where it is. The built in oven fitted nicely next to it with space for good storage of baking trays & so for that above & below it.

Again, the stove had to go across from the fridge & oven from a layout point of view. All of this is not perfect. The sink should be closer to the stove to make a neater working triangle. But we are happy that we've done to best layout within the space/shape limitations.

I'll toss out a few suggestions:

More good questions to be asked. Here are my answers for us.

We did all of the design ourselves. Experience says that 'kitchen designers' have too many vested interests & we've been unhappy with them.

Didn't do much. I put together the IKEA units ready for mounting & I heped Jacques with the mounting as sort of a carpenter's assistent.

It took about a month once we started actual work. We'd spent a lot of planning time & had ordered things so that materiels were not a hold up. We didn't have a schedule as this is after all rural France & schedules can be very disappointing things. Suprisingly, this came together a bit more quickly than we thought. Lucky I guess!

Since didn't have a set budget until we had decided most things its hard to answer. From when we first started planning until the finish I'd estimate the cost overrun at about 10%. This was primarily due to having quite a bit of extra oak panelling done. Once we actually started we were pretty much on budget. French craftsmen are very good at sticking to their quotes.

No perminent damage. There was enough comprimise that we both feel we got our key needs & we both like the results. As I think I said this is our 3rd or 4th kitchen together so 90% is common ground by now. The heat comes as we struggle to live with the inevitable comprimises.

Ok, sapidus, your turn now! Given the quality of your questions I'm sure we are all in for a treat when we see your write up.

Meanwhile, I'll be taking pictures of kitchen #2 tomorrow & try to write it up by the end of the week.

Thanks to all for the comments & encouragement.

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I am very interested in this topic and discussion. I've been renovating my kitchen in my dreams for five years. :smile: Hopefully some day... It wouldn't be my first dream to come true!

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We did a our kitchen make over last year. After living in an old 1970 kitchen for 10 years we final had to gut it. We had looked at doing this a couple of times before but it was always going to be way over my budget. Needless to say it was almost twice as much as when we priced it 5 years ago. I can't say it was easy. It took way longer than it should, cost way more than anticipated and was a general PIA. One of the problems is that one project leads into another and we removed all the old tile and slate floors and replaced it with wood. I kept tile in the kitchen, kitchen bath and laudry room. I just couldn't see wood in wet areas. Walls and ceilings were retextured and new lighting was installed. These are the things that really are the budget buster.

Here are a few photos of our old kitchen with everything cleaned out just prior to demolition.

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And after the remodeling.

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Edited by scubadoo97 (log)

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Wow! scubadoo97 what a great kitchen.

One can see your budget issues given the top quality of everything you've used. Beautiful.

How about commenting upon some of the questions posed earlier please.

Is your relationship still intact after a project like this, for example.

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Q. What kind of cooking do you do? Family? Dinner parties? Ethnic? Gourmet?

A. We alternate with my brother for Friday night dinners so we get together as a family once a week. My wife and daughter, (son is in college), try to eat dinner together each night even if it's late due to my daughter's dance schedule. I do all the cooking except baking which my wife still does. I enjoy making anything ethnic.

Q. What were the 3 top goals for your new kitchen?

A. Here my wife and I had big philosophical differences. In fact one of the reasons we could never do this earlier was we have fundamental differences on what a kitchen is. To me it's a work place and to her it's a show place.

Q. What was the biggest problem that had to be over come?

A. Poor workmanship. Having to be on top of everything even with a general contractor. Other than that, there was the usual problems of remodeling in an old home and having to bring some things up to code and deal with uneven floors and walls that may not be at right angles or be bowed. Things like that.

Q. What are you most pleased about in your new kitchen?

A. Love my new rangetop and the double ovens are great. Hate the counter depth refrigerator. I knew I wouldn't like side by sides but they came out with the freezer on the bottom with ice and water in the door right after we purchased ours.

If I had it to do over I would also change my hood/vent motor to a remote. I do love the overall look of the kitchen, thanks to my wife it is a show place.

Q. Least pleased about?

A. Quality in the cabinets for what I paid for them.

Q. If you were doing your kitchen again what would you change?

A: Contractors

Q: How much of the design did you do yourself?

A: We did the layout our selves Our old island ran the other direction but we picked it up and turned it so we could see if we like the new orientation. We lost the space for our eat in table and chairs but still like the feel better this way. Eating at the Island okay. A double leveled Island would have been better for eating at since you separate the eating space from the food prep space. Here cost and already being over budget kept me from doing it different.

Q: How much of the construction did you do yourself?

A: I installed some new light switches, receptacles and wall plates around the house and did some touch up work but in the kitchen I really didn't do anything except find flaws and point them out to the contractor that should have been seeing them before me.

Q. How long did the renovation take? How long was it supposed to take?

A: We were told it would take around 6 weeks but in took almost a year to get the last of the small details taken care of. The majority of the work was done by nearly 12 weeks. We are still waiting on having some of the wood floor boards replaced due to a haze which has developed in one area and since it's Brazilian cherry we have a problem getting a good match with new wood. This is not kitchen related but part of the project and part of the headache.

Q: By what percentage was the final cost over or under the budget? Percent deviation avoids delving into personal finances, and also avoids the problem of converting international currencies.

A: how about 80% over but that is also because the project expanded to other areas of the house.

Q. Did the relationship between life partners suffer any permanent damage?

A: No we really didn't fight as much as we thought we would over things. Maybe it was because we were on the same team. Us against them.

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I love this topic already. We, like everyone, have been talking about a remodel with the greatest of trepidation. Our kitchen has already been remodeled once by the original owners, so it looks nice cosmetically (except for the pale blue laminate countertops) but there's still not nearly enough counter or cupboard space for a serious cook, only one oven, and no walk-in pantry.

You're a better man than I Dave (maybe because I'm not one) but I would have fought to the death for an island over a banquette. Your final result is cute, but an island would have had a different beauty, one I'd prefer. That's a brilliant idea about the sans-fronts IKEA cabinetry. I would never have thought of that. I wonder whether they'd let one return the fronts here in the US.

Now scubadoo, that is a major island! Can you tell I'm countertop obsessed? I actually want stainless, but am unlikely to get it. Will you say more about the work place/show place question? Do you not care about the aesthetics at all, or is it more a matter of degree between you and your wife.

I notice that you both ended up with something I have now, and don't want. That's a stovetop that faces directly into a windowless wall. With all the time I spend at the stove, I really want something to see besides the wall. Is it more a matter of practicality, that you both ended up with that stove orientation, or am I alone in caring about that?

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but I would have fought to the death for an island over a banquette.

Let's put it this way; which is more important? An island or a marriage?

I wonder whether they'd let one return the fronts here in the US.

I'm pretty sure they would. Just make sure to keep reciepts & not to unpack the fronts. If you get a savvy sales person you can probable order everything without the fronts in the first place. We were afraid to try that because of the language barrier; not sure our French was up to it.

That's a stovetop that faces directly into a windowless wall.

Agree & wish it had been possible, but it wasn't in our case.

To me it's a work place and to her it's a show place.

Looks to me as if you've achieved both goals.

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I notice that you both ended up with something I have now, and don't want.  That's a stovetop that faces directly into a windowless wall.  With all the time I spend at the stove, I really want something to see besides the wall.  Is it more a matter of practicality, that you both ended up with that stove orientation, or am I alone in caring about that?

I'd have placed the stove into the island.

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In earlier plans I had a range placed between the two windows. The problem for me having a range or rangetop in front of glass is cleaning the oil splatter off the glass. I would be doing this every day. I had originally wanted a range instead of the cooktop and had first priced out a 30" Thermador, Wolf or Decor range. After thinking about it I realized that 30" was just too small for the big price tag and looked into a 36" range. At that size the price just got too high. The reason why I kept the rangetop where it was is that in having a rangetop, the ovens were going to be placed on the opposite wall. I didn't want to expand the work triangle any larger than it already is. I do a lot of pan roasting and I didn't want to walk around the island to take something from the stove to the oven. Another reason I didn't do the stovetop in the island is that it would necesitate a large hood over the island and I have wanted to keep this area more open since this is where people gather. I have never liked the visual intrusion a hood over an island creates. I would have like the major prep area to be adjacent to the stovetop. Sometimes you just have to make choices.

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That's a brilliant idea about the sans-fronts IKEA cabinetry.  I would never have thought of that.  I wonder whether they'd let one return the fronts here in the US.

Great topic. We did a major kitchen renovation last year (small things still not done) in which we actually moved the kitchen to a different part of the house. When I have more time, I'll try and post pics and details.

For now, I wanted to answer the Ikea question, since I've become somewhat of an expert on Ikea cabinets. In the U.S., you don't even have to buy the fronts in the first place. All of the cabinet components are sold separately - boxes, shelves, drawers, hinges, etc. You can get any combinations of these things. I love the fronts we got (natural birch, slab front), but it is easy to stubstitute. The guts of the cabinets are terrific. I've had many people with custom cabs express jealousy over all our cool fittings, and they were so much cheaper! :biggrin:

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That's great news about IKEA cabinets.

As for the hood, I've been amazed over the past few years when I was working as a personal chef in other peoples' kitchens at the progress that's been made in the downdraft vents used on island cooktops with no hoods. At first I thought it would be a recipe for disaster, but the higher end ones work amazingly well.

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Apologies in advance for the length of this tome.

Background We bought our house two years ago. The house is well-built, close to work, and we plan to live here for a very long time. When we purchased the house, we knew that we would redo the kitchen and add a bedroom, bathroom, and office.

The old kitchen was a walk-through galley, and the kitchen door serves as the main entrance to the house. Opening the kitchen door blocked the main food preparation area. The refrigerator facing the peninsula created an annoying bottleneck. The range was crammed in a corner, so my left-handed spouse could only use two burners. I could go on, but you get the idea. Here is the old kitchen, with the upper cabinets and soffit removed on the right side.

gallery_42956_2536_26133.jpg

Limitations The kitchen is relatively small, and we decided against moving any walls. We were not willing to borrow money for the kitchen renovation. We also had a critical time limitation. My step-son in law is an engineering student and incredibly talented carpenter. He agreed to install cabinets and do finish carpentry during his two-week semester break.

The ‘discussions’ Our biggest ‘discussion’ concerned countertop depth. I wanted 30-inch deep countertops for extra prep space. My wife wanted 24-inch deep countertops so she could reach the upper cabinets. Eventually we compromised and installed a mix of 24-inch and 30-inch deep countertops. I can joke about it now (I think).

Essential elements

Here’s a list of things we considered essential. Drawers, not cabinets for storage. Two ovens. Vertical storage. Tough counter tops. An American style fridge. Quality dishwasher. A large gas cook top. Storage, storage, storage. Cookbook shelves.

Our list was identical to Dave’s except for the double ovens.

Equipment 36-inch, 6-burner Blue Star range top, Vent-A-Hood exhaust, no-frills GE oven, and Whirlpool dishwasher.

Cabinets Ikea slab-front birch cabinets in medium brown.

Worktops Engineered stone (Cambria) – cost comparable to granite, but harder and less porous.

Flooring Hardwood flooring to match the dining room.

Q. What was your kitchen before it was a kitchen?

A kitchen.

Q. How large is the kitchen?

10 feet long x 12 feet wide (3.05 meters x 3.66 meters). The kitchen and dining room are essentially one long room, 21 feet long x 12 feet wide (6.40 meters x 3.66 meters).

Q. What kind of cooking do you do? Family? Dinner parties? Ethnic? Gourmet?

We cook for a family of four and frequent hordes of visiting children. Occasionally, we host casual dinner parties and holiday meals for groups of 8-12 people. We cook a lot of Asian, Indian, and Mexican food and stir-fry frequently in a wok. Neither of us do much baking.

Q. What were the 3 top goals for your new kitchen?

1. Provide efficient work space for three cooks. To eliminate bottlenecks, we removed the peninsula and moved the refrigerator into the corner. To reduce collisions, we added a small prep sink, installed a six-burner range top, and provided space for a future under-cabinet refrigerator (if needed). This enabled us to design three non-overlapping work triangles.

2. Maximize usable counter space. By framing in a useless door, we were able to add three crucial feet of countertop. Installing an out-swinging kitchen door freed another three feet of countertop.

3. Store frequently-used items near their point of use.

Q. What was the biggest problem that had to be overcome? In the design phase? During actual construction?

In the design phase, the biggest problem was to use the relatively limited space efficiently. The key was to measure the space needed for everything in the old kitchen: flatware; dishes; spices; pots and pans; canned goods; dry goods; small appliances; cookbooks; etc. This information was invaluable during design.

During construction, flooring caused the most problems. When we removed the old cabinets, we found asbestos-containing sheet vinyl flooring and water damage beneath the dishwasher. We hired a licensed asbestos abatement contractor to remove the vinyl flooring and sub-floor. To offset this unexpected cost, we eliminated a bow window above the sink.

Q. What are you most pleased about in your new kitchen?

We are deliriously happy with the Blue Star range top. The 22,000-BTU burners provide enough power to stir-fry effectively, and it is large enough for two cooks to work without interference. With continuous grates, the range top serves as a landing pad for hot items out of the oven.

We are strangely delighted with the clean-up area. One side of the kitchen houses (in sequence, left to right): a trash and recycling pull-out; a huge single sink; the dishwasher; flatware drawers; and a tall shallow cabinet for plates and bowls. After meals, we can scrape dirty dishes into the trash, rinse the dishes in the sink, and load the dishwasher without taking a step. Similarly, we can unload the dishwasher and put away most of the dishes without taking a step. Doing dishes is almost a pleasure (and yes, I usually do the dishes).

Q. Least pleased about?

We have been unhappy with the dishwasher. Our previous Whirlpool was great, but this one has required two service calls in the first nine months.

Q. If you were doing your kitchen again what would you change?

Not much. We spent a lot of time on the planning stage, and probably looked at every possible layout (and quite a few impossible layouts). We wanted to be sure that we would have no regrets when the kitchen was finished.

And to answer my own questions . . .

Q: How much of the design did you do yourself?

We designed the kitchen using Ikea’s kitchen planning software. My step-son-in-law solved some key design problems, such as where to put the microwave and how to enclose the current refrigerator while retaining the option of a larger refrigerator in the future.

Q: How much of the construction did you do yourself?

We did all of the demolition, drywall, painting, and scheduling. Our step-son-in-law did the cabinet installation and finish carpentry. We hired electricians, plumbers, flooring installers, and countertop installers

Q. How long did the renovation take? How long was it supposed to take?

As planned, we were without a functional kitchen for two months. Our schedule was driven by when my step-son-in-law was available to install cabinets. We started demolition early to ensure that everything was ready on time. In retrospect, we could have shortened the schedule a little.

Q: By what percentage was the final cost over or under the budget?

We exceeded our budget by about 25%, mostly in electrical costs. Complete disclosure: the 25% overrun does not include replacing the main electrical panel because we planned to replace the panel when we added the bedroom, bathroom, and office.

Q. Did the relationship between life partners suffer any permanent damage?

No, working together on the kitchen probably made our relationship stronger. My wife and I have similar tastes, but we think very differently. Working on a project forces us to hone our communication skills.

Here is an overview of the new kitchen:

gallery_42956_2536_235167.jpg

The cooking wall: note bump-out from 24" to 30", wok and kettle on a shelf above the range top, microwave housed in upper cabinet, and hanging rail system below the upper cabinets, Using wall storage helps keep the countertops clear. There is a small prep sink at the far end near the door. The glass-fronted upper cabinet houses spices and dried chilies.

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The sink wall. The trash/recycling pull-out is to the left of the sink, and the dishwasher is to the right. Note wall-mounted drying racks near the dishwasher.

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Cabinet wall at the far end of the dining room. The cabinets hold cookbooks, small appliances, and dry goods. Note highly realistic dog-skin rug :wink:

gallery_42956_2536_213425.jpg

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Bruce, that's just lovely, a night and day transformation. Kudos to your stepson for the beautiful cabinet work, and to the two of you for getting just what you wanted through superior planning.

Is the kitchen door still the main door? Any way to relocate that, or are you able to live with it?

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Bruce, that's just lovely, a night and day transformation.  Kudos to your stepson for the beautiful cabinet work, and to the two of you for getting just what you wanted through superior planning.

Is the kitchen door still the main door?  Any way to relocate that, or are you able to live with it?

Abra: Thanks!

The kitchen door is still the main door. Removing the bottlenecks, reversing the door swing, and teaching the boys to WALK in the kitchen have solved the traffic problem. We will eventually build a sidewalk leading to the front door :blink: but don't really expect anyone but salesmen to use it.

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    • By boilsover
      I. Introduction
       
      This article reviews the 3500W all-metal commercial induction single-hob hotplate by Panasonic, which I believe is the first “all-metal” unit to hit the U.S. market. Where appropriate, it is also compared with another commercial single-hob, the 1800W Vollrath Mirage Pro Model 59500P.
       
      Some background is in order. Heretofore, induction appliances would only “work” with cookware which is ferromagnetic. Bare and enameled cast iron, carbon steel, enameled steel and some stainless steels were semi-dependable for choices, and the cookware industry has worked hard to make most of its lines induction compatible. But alas, not all cookware, past and present, has worked; copper and aluminum don’t, at least without a separate interface disk or it’s own ferromagnetic base layer.
       
      The reason why non-ferromagnetic cookware hasn’t worked on induction is technical, but it relates to the magnetic field and what’s called the “skin depth” of the pan’s outermost material. With copper or aluminum, the field will not excite the metals’ molecules to the extent that their friction will generate useful heat to cook food. And the way the appliances come equipped, unless the appliance detects something sufficiently large and ferromagnetic, they will not produce any field at all. Therefore, to the consternation of many cooks, pro and amateur, older (and in the opinion of some, better) cookware needs to be retired and replaced if/when they wish to switch to an induction appliance. Some cooks don’t mind, but others who, like me, have invested heavily in copper and are habituated to it and aluminum, would forego induction altogether rather than discard our cookware.
       
      But what we’ve really meant—all along--when we say or write that only ferromagnetic cookware will “work” on induction is that the frequency chosen for our appliances (20-24kHz) will not usefully excite other metals. If that frequency is increased to, say, 90-110kHz , then suddenly the impossible happens: aluminum and copper, with absolutely no ferromagnetic content, will heat in a way that is eminently useful in the kitchen.
      While Panasonic has made dual-frequency induction hotplates available in Japan for several years now, they didn’t make it available here until recently (My unit indicates it was manufactured in early 2016!). I speculate the reason for the delay relates to the detection circuitry and the switches that determine the frequency at which the field will operate.

      The introduction of all-metal induction in USA is especially interesting because it allows a direct comparison of cookware of all (metal) types. For instance, cookware nerds have long debated how copper cookware on a gas compares with disk-based stainless on induction. While the veil has not completely lifted (for that we would need extremely precise gas energy metering), we now have the ability to measure and compare copper, aluminum, clad and disk-based on the same induction hob.
       
      II. Dimensions, Weight & Clearances
       
      The Panasonic, being a true commercial appliance, is considerably larger than most consumer and crossover hotplates. It stands 6 inches tall overall, and on relatively tall (1.25”) feet, so that there is space for ample air circulation under the unit. It is 20.25 inches deep overall, including a standoff ventilation panel in back, and the angled control panel in front. It is 15” wide, and weighs in at a hefty 30.25 pounds. Suffice it to say, the Panasonic is not practically portable.

      The KY-MK3500’s Ceran pan surface is 14.25 inches wide by 14.5 inches deep, almost 43% larger in area than the VMP’s glass. Panasonic tells me they have no recommended maximum pan diameter or weight, but the tape tells me that a 15” diameter pan would not overhang the unit’s top (Compare the VMP, which can accept a maximum pan base of 10 7/8”). Common sense tells me that—unless the glass is well-braced underneath in many places, 25-30 pounds of total weight might be pushing it.
       
      For those who might consider outfitting their home kitchens with one or more of these units, in addition to having 20 amp 240v (NEMA #6-20R receptacles) electrical circuits for each appliance, 39 1/2 inches of overhead clearance is required to combustible material (31 ½” to incombustibles) and 2 inches to the back and sides (0” to incombustibles). The overhead clearance requirement and the tall 6” unit height call for no (or only very high) cabinetry and careful design of a “well” or lower countertop/table that will lower the Ceran surface to a comfortable cooking height. In other words, a tall pot on this unit on a regular-height counter might be a problem for a lot of cooks.
      III. Features

      A. Display
       
      The KY-Mk3500 has an angled 8-key spillproof keypad and red LED numerical display. The keys are large, raised and their markings are legible. All but the four Up/Down keys have their own inset indicator lights, which indicate power, mode and memory operation.
       
      The numerical display is large and bright. The numerical display area is divided between time (XX:XX) to the user’s left and power/temp to the user’s right. If the timer or program features are activated, the numerical display shows both the set time and the power/temperature. There is also a small “Hot Surface” LED icon on the panel.
      The Panasonic also actually uses the Ceran surface as a display of sorts. That is, there is a lighted circle just outside the faint positioning circle, which glows red whenever the unit is operating, awaiting a pan, or the Ceran is hot. Panasonic also claims that this display also changes brightness with the set power level, implying that the operator can judge the heat setting by a glance. Thus this display serves three purposes: (a) pan positioning; (b) burn safety; and (c) intensity.

      B. Safety Features
       
      As one would expect, there are a variety of safety features built into this appliance. In most cases, these features are controlled by detection circuits, some fixed, some defeatable/variable. This being a commercial unit, Panasonic has set the unit’s defaults with commercial users’ convenience in mind. If consumers want the full spectrum of safety settings, they need to vary these defaults. For instance, if a home cook wants to make sure the unit powers off if the pan is removed and not replaced within 3 minutes, they have to manually vary a default. Likewise if the operator wants the power to automatically shut off after 2 hours of no changes. But others, like the basic “Is there a pan there?” detection and overheat shutoff, are there no matter what and cannot be defeated.
      C. Settings & Programming

      The KY-MK3500 features both power and temperature settings. For “regular” induction, there are 20 power settings, which range from 50 watts to 3500 watts. For non-ferromagnetic pans, there are 18 power settings, which range from 60 watts to 2400 watts. The display shows these settings in numerals 1-20 and 1-18 respectively. When the power is toggled on, the unit defaults to Setting 14 in both frequencies.

      The temperature settings are the same in both modes, with 22 selectable temperatures from 285F (140C) to 500F (260C). Other than for the very lowest temperature setting, each setting increase results in a 10F temperature increase. Usefully, the display shows the set temperature, not 1-22; and until the set temperature is reached, the display indicates “Preheat”. The unit beeps when it reaches the set temperature. The Panasonic measures pan temperature using an IR sensor beneath the glass; this sensor sits about 1 inch outside the centerpoint of the painted positioning markings, yet inside of the induction coil.

      The timer operation is fast and intuitive. Once the power or temperature is set and operating, the operator merely keys the timer’s dedicated up/down buttons, and the timer display area activates. Timer settings are in any 30-second interval between 30 seconds and 9 ½ hours, and the display will show remaining time. The beeps at the end of cooking are loud.
       
      There are nine available memory programs, which can be set for either power or temperature, along with time. Programming entails pressing and holding the Program mode button, selecting the program (1-9), then picking and setting the power or temperature, then setting the timer, and finally pressing and holding the Program button again. After that, to use any of the entered programs, you simply press the Program button, select which program, and the unit will run that program within 3 seconds.
       
      In addition to Heat-Time programmability, the KY-MK3500 also provides the ability to vary 9 of the unit’s default settings: (1) Decreasing the power level granularity from 20 to 10; (2) Changing the temperature display to Celsius; (3) Enabling a long cook time shutoff safety feature; (4) Enabling the main power auto shutoff feature; (5) Disabling the glowing circle; (6) Lowering or disabling the auditory beep signals’ volume; (7) Customizing the timer finish beep; (8) Customizing the Preheat notification beep; and (9) Customizing the interval for filter cleanings.
       
      D. Maintenance
       
      The KY-MK3500 has a plastic air intake filter which can be removed and cleaned. This is not dishwashable. This filter is merely a plastic grate with ¼” square holes, so it is questionable what exactly —besides greasy dust bunnies—will be filtered. Panasonic recommends the filter be cleaned once a week. Besides that, the Ceran surface and stainless housing clean just like other appliances.
       
      IV. Acceptable Cookware
       
      Panasonic claims the unit will accept cast iron, enameled iron, stainless steel, copper, and aluminum with two provisos. First, very thin aluminum and copper may “move” on the appliance. And second, thin aluminum pans may “deform”. Panasonic does not address carbon steel pans, but I verified that they do indeed work. They also warn of the obvious fact that glass and ceramics will not work.
       
      Buyers are also warned against using cookware of specific cookware bottom shapes: round, footed, thin, and domed. Trying to use these, Panasonic warns, may disable safety features and reduce or eliminate pan heating.
       
      As far as minimum pan diameter goes, Panasonic claims the KY-MK3500 needs 5” diameter in ferromagnetic pans, and 6” in copper or aluminum ones. My own tests have shown that in fact the unit will function with a cast iron fondue pot, the base of which is only 4 1/8” in diameter, and also works with a copper saucepan, the base of which is almost exactly 5” in diameter. Obviously, the field will be most active at the very edges of such small pans, but they do function.
       
      V. Evaluation in Use

      I can say that not only does the Panasonic KY-MK3500 “work” with copper and aluminum pans, but that it works very well with them. Thermally, thick gauge conductive material pans perform in close emulation of the same pans on gas, even though there are no combustion gasses flowing up and around the pan. I found this startling.
       
      Nevertheless, a searching comparison between copper and ferromagnetic pans on this unit isn’t as straightforward as one might expect. The Panasonic is capable of dumping a full 3500 watts into ferromagnetic pans, but is limited to 2400 watts for aluminum and copper. Despite copper’s and aluminum’s superiorities in conductivity, that extra 1100 watts is going to win every speed-boil race.
       
      I initially thought I could handicap such a race simply by using the temperature setting and comparing the times required to achieve a “preheat” in a pans of cold water. Alas, no—the Panasonic’s IR function signified the copper pan was preheated to 350F before the water even reached 70F! Obviously, the entire thermal system of cold food in a cold pan needs to come to equilibrium before the Panasonic’s temperature readout becomes meaningful.

      A. Temperature Settings
       
      Unfortunately, with every pan I tried, the temperature settings were wildly inaccurate for measuring the temperature of the food. I heated 2 liters of peanut oil in a variety of pots, disk-base, enameled cast iron enameled steel, and copper. I thought it might be useful to see how close to 350F and 375F the settings were for deep frying. The oil in a Le Creuset 5.5Q Dutch oven set to 350F never made it past 285F, and it took 40:00 to get there. I kept bumping up the setting until I found that the setting for 420F will hold the oil at 346F. A disk-based pot didn’t hit 365F until the temperature setting was boosted to 400F. The only pan which came remotely close to being true to the settings was a 2mm silvered copper oven, which heated its oil to 327F when the Panasonic was set for 350F, and 380F when set for 410F.
       
      The temperature function was a lot closer to true when simply preheating an empty pan. With a setting of 350F, all the shiny stainless pans heated to just a few degrees higher (about 353-357F) and held there. This is useful for judging the Leidenfrost Point (which is the heat at which you can oil your SS and have it cook relatively nonstick) and potentially for “seasoning” carbon steel, SS and aluminum, but not much else, since it doesn’t translate to actual food temperature. There’s also the issue of the temperature settings *starting* at 285F, so holding a lower temperature for, e.g., tempering chocolate or a sous vide bath, or even a simmer would be by-guess-by-golly just like any other hob—your only resort is lots of experience with lower *power* settings.
       
      With heat-tarnished copper, a 350F setting resulted in a wide swinging between 353F and 365F, which I attribute to the copper shedding heat far faster than the other constructions, once the circuit stops the power at temperature. Then, when the circuit cycles the power back on, the copper is so responsive that it quickly overshoots the setting. Aluminum, on the other hand, *undershot*, the 350F setting, registering a cycle of 332-340F.

      I conclude that the IR sensor is set for some particular emissivity, probably for that of stainless steel. If true, the Panasonic, even though it automatically switches frequencies, does not compensate for the different emissivities of copper and aluminum. And even if Panasonic added dedicated aluminum and copper IR sensors, there is enough difference between dirty and polished that the added cost would be wasted. Bottom line here: the temperature setting mode is of extremely low utility, and should not be trusted.
       
      B. Power Mode – Pan Material Comparisons
       
      Given the differences in power setting granularity and maximum power between the two frequencies, it is difficult to assess what X watts into the pot means in, say, a copper-versus-clad or –disk showdown. What is clear, however, is that Setting X under disk and clad seems “hotter” than the same setting under copper and aluminum.

      I will need to precisely calibrate the Panasonic for wattage anyway for the hyperconductivity project, so I will obtain a higher-powered watt meter to determine the wattage of every power setting for both frequencies. Until then, however, the only way I can fairly handicap a race is to apply a reduction figure to the ferromagnetic setting (2400W being 69% of 3500W). Given that we know the wattage at the maximum settings, we can infer that Setting 14 (actually 13.8) on the 20-step ferromagnetic range iis approximately the same heat output as the maximum setting (18) for copper/aluminum.

      The boil times for 4 liters of 50F water in 10” diameter pots shocked me. The 10” x 3mm tinned copper pot’s water reached 211F in 36:41. Not an especially fast time at 2400 watts. The 10” disk-based pressure cooker bottom? Well, it didn’t make it—it took an hour to get to 208F and then hung there. So that left me wondering if the Panasonic engineers simply decided that 2400 watts was enough for copper and aluminum. I have a theory why the copper pot boiled and the SS one didn’t under the same power, but getting into that’s for another time.

      C. Evenness Comparisons
       
      The wires which generate the induction field are wound in a circular pattern; when energized, they create a torus-shaped magnetic field. The wound coil is constructed with an empty hole at its center. As matters of physics, the magnetic field’s intensity drops off extremely fast as a function of the distance from the coil; a few millimeters above the Ceran, the field is so weak no meaningful heat will be generated. This means that most induction cooktops heat *only* the very bottom of pans, and in a distinct 2-dimensional “doughnut” shape.

      All of the above can result in a pan having a cooler central spot, a hotter ring directly over the coil, and a cooler periphery outside the coil. It is left to the cookware to try to even out these thermal discontinuities when cooking. Some materials and pan constructions are better at this than others: the successful constructions utilize more highly-conductive metals such as aluminum and copper, but unless the material is very thick, there can be a ring-shaped hotspot that can scorch food.
      Until the Panasonic arrived to market, hotspot comparisons between ferromagnetic and aluminum/copper pans depended largely on comparing induction’s flat, more discrete heat ring with gas’s more diffuse, 3-dimensional one. Dodgeball-style debate ensued, with few clear conclusions. But now, for the first time, equally-powered flat heat rings in two different frequencies allow us to directly compare evenness in ferromagnetic and aluminum/copper cookware.

      The simplest and easiest way to assess cookware evenness is the “scorchprint”, which does not require infrared or other advanced thermal imaging equipment. I’ve posted on how to conduct scorchprinting elsewhere, but basically a pan is evenly dusted with flour; heat is applied to the pan bottom. As the flour is toasted, any hotspots visually emerge, giving the viewer a useful general idea of evenness.
       
      I will later post the photos of scorchprints I made of 4 different pans run using the Panasonic KY-MK3500: (1) a Demeyere 28cm Proline 5* clad frypan; (2) a Fissler Original Profi disk-base 28cm frypan; a 6mm aluminum omelet pan; and (4) a 32cm x 3.2mm Dehillerin sauté. To make it a fair race, I heated all the pans at 2400W until they reached 450F, and then backed off the power setting to maintain 450F. I did this in order not to compromise my saute’s tin lining. As you will see, both the clad Demeyere and the disk-based Fissler did print the typical brown doughnut, with a cooler center and periphery. By far the most even was the thick, all-aluminum pan, which actually was even over its entirety—even including the walls. The copper sauté was also quite even, although its larger size and mass really dissipated heat; once 450F was dialed in, no more browning happened, even after 30 minutes.
       
      I conclude that the straightgauge pans were far more effective at shunting heat to their peripheries and walls (and also to some extent into the air) than the clad and disk-based pans. The latter accumulated their heat with most of it staying in the center of the pans. Eventually, even the “doughnut hole” blended into the scorch ring because the walls were not bleeding sufficient heat away from the floor. This was especially pronounced in the Fissler, the high wall and rim areas of which never exceeded 125F. The aluminum pan, in contrast varied less than 30F everywhere on the pan.

      D. Other Considerations

      The Panasonic’s fan noise at the cook’s position was noticeable at 63 dBA, higher than with the VMP’s 57 dBA. These levels are characterized as “normal conversation” and “quiet street”, respectively. Interestingly, I found two other, potentially more important differences. First, the Panasonic’s fan stays on, even after the unit is powered off, whereas the VMP’s fan shuts off immediately when the hob is turned off. Second, the Panasonic’s fan steps down from the louder speed to a much quieter (47 dBA, characterized as “quiet home”) level until the Ceran is cool to sustained touch, at which point it shuts off completely. I think the Panasonic’s ability to continue to vent and cool itself is a great feature, especially since a cook could leave a large, full, hot pan on the glass.

      The glowing circle is useless for gauging heat setting or intensity. And while it works to indicate a hot surface, it remains lit long after you can hold your hand in place dead center.
       
      VI. Summary and Lessons
       
      The Panasonic KY-MK3500 is a solid unit, well-conceived and rugged. It is extremely easy to use. It works well with both the common 24kHz frequency used with ferromagnetic cookware, and the 90kHz frequency chosen here for copper and aluminum. It effectively and automatically switches between the two.

      In my opinion, it points the way to expanding the worldwide induction appliance market to include dual frequencies. It also obviates the need to: (a) junk otherwise excellent cookware merely to have induction; and (b) retrofit designs to bond on ferromagnetic outer layers. In fact, in my opinion, my tests indicate that, in a dual-frequency world, adding ferromagnetic bottoms may well be a drag on pans’ performance.
       
      I also consider the Panasonic Met-All to be ground-breaking in what it can tell us about *pans*, because all metallic pans are now commensurable on induction. Clearly (to me anyway), watt-for-watt, the copper and aluminum pans performed better than did the clad and disk-based pans on this unit. Boil times were faster, there was less propensity to scorch, and the conductive-sidewall pans definitely added more heat to the pans’ contents. We may ultimately find that 90kHz fields save energy compared to 24kHz fields, much as copper and aluminum require less heat on gas and electric coil.
      In terms of heat transfer, the copper and aluminum pans came close to emulating the same pans on gas. And at 2400W/3500W it has the power of a full size appliance in a relatively small tabletop package.
       
      The Panasonic is far from perfect, however. It can’t really be considered portable. There are far too few temperature settings, and what few it has are not accurate or consistent in terms of judging pan contents and attaining the same temperature in different pans (and even the same pan unless clean). The luminous ring could easily have been made a useful indicator of intensity, but wasn’t. And it lacks things that should be obvious, including a through-the-glass “button” contact thermocouple, more power granularity, an analog-style control knob, and capacity to accept an external thermocouple probe for PID control.
       
      Most importantly for me, the Panasonic KY-MK3500 portends more good things to come. Retail price remains $1,700-$2,400, but I jumped on it at $611, and I’ve seen it elsewhere for as low as $1,200.
       
      The manual can be found here: ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/commercialfoo...
       
      Photo Credit:  Panasonic Corporation

    • By haresfur
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    • By &roid
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      A little better electrical system.
       

       

       
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      This Started on September 8th. They've had approximately 25 days on which work was done.
       
      Proceeding along nicely, I'd say.
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