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Induction wok burners


dtremit
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Curious if anyone out there has had any experience with induction wok burners, for restaurant or home use.

 

Up until recently the only ones available have been pricy restaurant models or equally pricy built-in models.

 

However, I've noticed a few much cheaper options coming to market.

 

For home use, there's this Nuwave countertop model — $169, but it looks like it has sold for $99 at some points in the past. 120v, 1500w

 

I'm also seeing a number of much less expensive countertop restaurant models:

 

Galaxy GIWC18: 120v 1800w, $229

Avantco IWC35: 240v 3500w, $359

Sunpentown SR-34BWC: 240v 3400w, $612

 

Wondering if anyone has any experience or thoughts on any of these new models. I was thinking of adding a 240v outlet when we renovate our kitchen, but one of the 120v options might be a nice stopgap.

 

I can't find any reviews on the restaurant models. The Amazon reviews for the NuWave are mixed, but a lot of the negative reviews seem to be from people who don't have a clue how to season and use a carbon steel wok. There's also a wok cooking teacher in Florida who seems to like the NuWave as an alternative to an Iwatani butane stove.

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Thanks for this.  I do a lot of wok cooking with induction - I have a flat bottomed carbon steel wok that I use with a mid-priced (about $350) high power (3500W) 240V induction unit.  Like a few of the ones above (like the Avantco), it has 10 power levels - from 400W to 3500W.  For many things, I find that I really would like more power levels - and with the thin carbon steel, I don't think I've ever stir fried at a power level greater than what it calls 1200W.  Any more than that and things burn before you can move your hand from the control panel and lift your wok scoop.  One of the issues with the mid priced burners is that to decrease the power from maximum, they just turn the max on and off - but it's not pulsed many times per second, it's pulsed like 2 seconds on, 2 seconds off or something like that.  If I have a small amount of liquid in the bottom or frying something in a little bit of oil at 800W, you can see it boil (or fry) for a few seconds, then nothing, then it starts over.  This burner also has a few hot spots that's no big deal when boiling large quantities of water, but is a big deal when stir frying with thin carbon steel.

 

I actually originally got this induction unit to bring large quantities of water to boil quickly, which it does well.  I was planning to get a high power Vollrath as my main burner since it is adjustable in 1% increments from 1 to 100 with a knob, which they say makes it perform just like gas.  And rather than just cycling on/off, it actually adjusts the power to the coil continuously and has a large expanded magnetic field so you can flip food and lift the wok/pan off for a second and it won't beep at you with an error message.  I've just been waiting to save up a bit since it's kind of pricey.  But I like the idea that I could potentially use it for my wok, but also with standard pots/pans, whereas the wok burner can only be used for woks.

 

I don't have much storage space (NYC kitchen) so it's not like I can have an extra burner that I only use occasionally - otherwise, I would definitely consider one of these wok burners.  Who knows - once i get the Vollrath I may find that it doesn't do a super great job with the flat bottomed wok and will look at these also.  The one thing I didn't like about the Sunpentown is that while it has 20 adjustment levels, it's lowest setting is 1300W, which may still be too high for some things...

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@KennethT - thanks for that! We're also considering various induction options for our main cooking surface, and you make a really good point about looking at available power levels for those as well.


Also good to know that you haven't needed 100% of the output of the burner to stir fry in a flat bottomed wok. I've never had the chance to cook on anything but a low to mid priced 120v induction burner; have been stuck with radiant electric for quite a long time.

 

Might be that we wouldn't end up needing a specialized burner after all. (Or maybe what I need is a butane burner for the occasional non-induction pan!)

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1 hour ago, dtremit said:

@KennethT - thanks for that! We're also considering various induction options for our main cooking surface, and you make a really good point about looking at available power levels for those as well.


Also good to know that you haven't needed 100% of the output of the burner to stir fry in a flat bottomed wok. I've never had the chance to cook on anything but a low to mid priced 120v induction burner; have been stuck with radiant electric for quite a long time.

 

Might be that we wouldn't end up needing a specialized burner after all. (Or maybe what I need is a butane burner for the occasional non-induction pan!)

I have an inexpensive butane burner so I can continue to use my non-compatible cookware - it's ok and powerful (15000 btu) but it slides around a bit on the counter since its so light. Eventually I'll convert more of my cookware to induction.

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On 10/2/2021 at 6:51 AM, KennethT said:

Thanks for this.  I do a lot of wok cooking with induction - I have a flat bottomed carbon steel wok that I use with a mid-priced (about $350) high power (3500W) 240V induction unit.  Like a few of the ones above (like the Avantco), it has 10 power levels - from 400W to 3500W.  For many things, I find that I really would like more power levels - and with the thin carbon steel, I don't think I've ever stir fried at a power level greater than what it calls 1200W.  Any more than that and things burn before you can move your hand from the control panel and lift your wok scoop.  One of the issues with the mid priced burners is that to decrease the power from maximum, they just turn the max on and off - but it's not pulsed many times per second, it's pulsed like 2 seconds on, 2 seconds off or something like that.  If I have a small amount of liquid in the bottom or frying something in a little bit of oil at 800W, you can see it boil (or fry) for a few seconds, then nothing, then it starts over.  This burner also has a few hot spots that's no big deal when boiling large quantities of water, but is a big deal when stir frying with thin carbon steel.

 

I actually originally got this induction unit to bring large quantities of water to boil quickly, which it does well.  I was planning to get a high power Vollrath as my main burner since it is adjustable in 1% increments from 1 to 100 with a knob, which they say makes it perform just like gas.  And rather than just cycling on/off, it actually adjusts the power to the coil continuously and has a large expanded magnetic field so you can flip food and lift the wok/pan off for a second and it won't beep at you with an error message.  I've just been waiting to save up a bit since it's kind of pricey.  But I like the idea that I could potentially use it for my wok, but also with standard pots/pans, whereas the wok burner can only be used for woks.

 

I don't have much storage space (NYC kitchen) so it's not like I can have an extra burner that I only use occasionally - otherwise, I would definitely consider one of these wok burners.  Who knows - once i get the Vollrath I may find that it doesn't do a super great job with the flat bottomed wok and will look at these also.  The one thing I didn't like about the Sunpentown is that while it has 20 adjustment levels, it's lowest setting is 1300W, which may still be too high for some things...

Also take a look at the Hatco Rapide Cuisine series if you're considering Vollrath. The 1440W programmable model I have has the same 0-100% adjustments. At 0-9% it will pulse from 4-190W to regulate power. From 10-100% the wattage starts at 190,  is continuous and can be adjusted precisely. The fan is very quiet and only turns on when needed, and there are no annoying beeps except for the timer. When you lift the pan, the LCD will display a flashing pan icon to indicate that induction has stopped, but you can carry on cooking the instant you set the pan back down.

 

I was also considering the Vollrath Mirage Pro, but I read some bad reviews regarding durability and issues with the lack of warranty coverage for residential use. The new Vollrath 4-series look very nice, but again there's no warranty coverage for residential use.

Edited by cgman117 (log)
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7 hours ago, dtremit said:

@KennethT - thanks for that! We're also considering various induction options for our main cooking surface, and you make a really good point about looking at available power levels for those as well.


Also good to know that you haven't needed 100% of the output of the burner to stir fry in a flat bottomed wok. I've never had the chance to cook on anything but a low to mid priced 120v induction burner; have been stuck with radiant electric for quite a long time.

 

Might be that we wouldn't end up needing a specialized burner after all. (Or maybe what I need is a butane burner for the occasional non-induction pan!)

I have a 1440W Hatco induction cooktop and I rarely use it above the 50% setting (700-900W depending on the size of the pan) except when boiling water. Anything above 50% is usually too hot for what I cook (vegetable stir-fries and stews). I think anything above 1800W is more useful for searing meat and fast boiling.

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14 hours ago, cgman117 said:

Also take a look at the Hatco Rapide Cuisine series if you're considering Vollrath. The 1440W programmable model I have has the same 0-100% adjustments. At 0-9% it will pulse from 4-190W to regulate power. From 10-100% the wattage starts at 190,  is continuous and can be adjusted precisely. The fan is very quiet and only turns on when needed, and there are no annoying beeps except for the timer. When you lift the pan, the LCD will display a flashing pan icon to indicate that induction has stopped, but you can carry on cooking the instant you set the pan back down.

 

I was also considering the Vollrath Mirage Pro, but I read some bad reviews regarding durability and issues with the lack of warranty coverage for residential use. The new Vollrath 4-series look very nice, but again there's no warranty coverage for residential use.

I'm looking at the Vollrath MPI series - 240V, probably the 2600W version.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 10/2/2021 at 9:51 AM, KennethT said:

... I don't think I've ever stir fried at a power level greater than what it calls 1200W.  Any more than that and things burn before you can move your hand from the control panel and lift your wok scoop.

 

Interesting. Makes me wonder about old-school commercial wok burners. How many of those 100K+ BTUs are actually making it into the pan?

 

Edited to add: 100,000 btu/hr (typical for a Chinese restaurant) is equal to about 30,000 watts. I'm guessing an induction burner this powerful would turn a wok into a glowing puddle of steel juice in just a couple of seconds. 

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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1 hour ago, paulraphael said:

 

Interesting. Makes my wonder about old-school commercial wok burners. How many of those 100K+ BTUs are actually making it into the pan?

 

Edited to add: 100,000 btu/hr (typical for a Chinese restaurant) is equal to about 30,000 watts. I'm guessing an induction burner this powerful would turn a wok into a glowing puddle of steel juice in just a couple of seconds. 

I think you're right - that much power on induction would turn the steel into slag in no time at all.  I have to rephrase what I said before - I actually cranked my induction unit to 1600W the other day when I was stir frying some marinated chicken that was a bit too wet.  I had to work hard to keep anything from burning, but I got it done!

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I have no first-hand experience, but on an old episode of Cooking Issues they mentioned that commercial induction wok burners can be pretty righteous. The Museum of Food and Drink was doing an exhibit called "Chow: Making The Chinese American Restaurant" and they couldn't use gas in the space so were forced to use induction. Some of the Chinese chefs saw what they'd be cooking on, and being used to high powered gas burners, they raised their eyebrows in suspicion; apparently the chef's changed their tune as soon as they started using the burners. They could apparently take the wok from cold to cherry red hot in no time. This is just an anecdote as reported on a radio show, but that story stuck with me as I was doing research on wok burners at the time. 

 

From photos of the MOFAD event, it looks like they were using Garland units.

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