April 27

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Induction Cooktop Reviews: Best Commercial Grade Portable Induction Cooktop (1800W)

By trk

April 27, 2018


Rational Kitchen has a few articles about the best portable induction cooktops (PICs) on the market. This latest one focuses on commercial portables: What are they--and are they better than consumer grade options? How are they different? Are they worth the extra money? Find out all this and more. 

Best Commercial Grade Portables at a Glance

Best Commercial PICs at a Glance

PIC

Features

Where to Buy:

Best Temp Control:

Vollrath Mirage Pro

VollrathMiragePro_150px

-100 power settings (50-1800W)
-Temp range 80-400F

-6-inch burner
-Unlimited run time
-Stainless housing

$$$$

Great All Around PIC:

Vollrath Mirage Cadet

VollrathCadet_150px

-20 power

-20 temp settings
-100-1800W/100-400F
-Unlimited run time
-Stainless housing

$$$

Best Price:

Avantco IC1800 Countertop Induction Range

AvantcoPIC_150px

-15 power levels

-Temp adj. in 10 degree incr.

-Multiple cooking modes

-Up to 10.25" diameter pans

webstaurantstore.com 
(best deal!)

Coolest Technology:

(Breville) PolyScience Control Freak

PolyScienceControlFreak_150px

-Heat intensity control

-Use for sous vide
-Dual fan cooling system
-Stainless housing
-Tritan™ Polymer LCD display
-Color TFT screen
-USB port
-Dishwasher safe knobs

$$$$$

Quick Comparison Chart

When shopping for a commercial-grade portable induction cooker, there are a few things to look for. Here's how the ones we chose stack up against each other. (We include weight as an estimate of the quality of the product: heavier units tend to have more durable housings and better internal components.)

Note: Chart may not be visible in mobile view.

PIC

High/Low Wattage

Temperature Range (F)

Number of Power Levels

Weight (lbs)

Price

Vollrath Mirage Pro

1800/50

80F - 400F, 5 degree increments

100

13.7

$$$$

Vollrath Mirage Cadet

1800/?

100F - 400F, 10 degree increments

20

10.0

$$

Avantco IC1800 Countertop Induction Range

1800/500

140F - 460F, 10 degree increments

15

10

$

(Breville) PolyScience Control Freak

1800/100

86F - 472F, 1 degree increments

397

24.7

$$$$$

Why Buy a Portable Induction Cooktop?

Here's a 30 second video from Vollrath, maker of commercial portable induction cooktops, that gives the high points about how induction works:

What's So Great About Induction?

Induction is fast, safe, and very, very responsive--even faster to respond to temperature changes than gas heat. 

It won't work without induction-compatible cookware. To be induction compatible, a magnet has to stick to the bottom of the pan.

The burner gets hot only from residual pan heat--yes, it's hot, but not nearly as hot as a conventional gas or electric burner. This is the primary reason it's safer than other kinds of heating.

Because the cooktop itself doesn't heat, it makes cleanup easy: you can wipe it right off with a damp cloth, and there's never cooked on foods to scrape off of it. 

In fact, because there's no open flame or heating of the cooktop itself, you can even spread newspapers, paper towels, or a silicone mat to catch grease splatters if you're cooking something messy. This also helps to protect the cooktop from scratches if you're using heavy or rough-bottomed pans like cast iron.

Why Portable?

A portable induction cooker (PIC) is great for when you need an extra burner, such as for holiday get-togethers, parties. If you're serving a brunch, you can have an omelet station right at the table, with the only safety hazard the cord!

PICs are also great if you have big cooking projects that you want to do in the basement or garage. Home brewing, putting up your garden vegetables in the fall, jam and jelly making, maple syrup making, and so much more. There are SO many uses for a portable burner--especially a safe one like induction.

Also, because they don't generate a lot of heat, they're great for cooking on hot summer days when you don't want to heat up your kitchen any more than necessary. 

A PIC is great for entertaining, brunches, big cooking projects, small spaces, hot days, and anytime you need an extra burner. 

Are There Any Cons to Cooking With Induction?

Sure, of course there are--there are disadvantages to all cooking technologies.

For one thing, you need induction-compatible cookware: it has to be magnetic on the bottom where it comes into contact with the burner. If it isn't magnetic, it won't work with induction.

Cast iron, carbon steel, and most tri-ply stainless cookware is induction compatible. If in doubt while you're shopping, read the fine print or ask (either in person or by email). One trick is to carry a magnet with you when you shop so you can test the pan bottoms. For more information, see our Guide to Induction Cookware.

magnetInduction2_300px

A magnet tells you if a pan works with induction.

Full-sized induction cooktops are also more expensive than other cooktops, although the prices continue to come down. (For a review of full-sized induction cooktops, see Induction Cooktop Reviews: The Best Full-Sized Induction Cooktops.)

However, portable induction cooktops can be very reasonably priced. While it's true that the best portable induction cooktop is going to cost more (like the commercial ones reviewed here), you can get a surprisingly well-performing cooktop for $100 or less. It won't be as durable as a commercial grade PIC, but it can still be a useful addition to your kitchen. 

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Commercial Vs. Consumer Grade: What's the Difference?

In general, commercial-grade appliances are more durable. This makes sense, given that "commercial" means an appliance has to stand up to hard, steady usage over a long period of time. In general, commercial-grade appliances are going to be heavier duty both inside and out. Externally, they're going to be stainless or aluminum instead of plastic (for example); internally, they're going to have steel components where consumer grade units can get away with plastic ones.

(Note: This is true for most appliances, including blenders, immersion blenders, vacuum sealers, hand mixers, and more: when one model costs several hundred dollars more than its competitor, it's usually because the internal parts are sturdier--and this often means steel instead of plastic. This is true not just for commercial grade vs. consumer grade, as good consumer grade appliances can be well made, too. But you really have to do your homework to sort all of this out amongst consumer-grade products; a higher price tag doesn't always guarantee a superior product.)

Commercial grade products tend to have simple controls and fewer bells and whistles. They often have fewer options--just turn it on and let it do its thing--but you are paying for the powerful performance that you won't find in cheaper products. They're designed for quick, easy use and, ideally, easy repairs.

This is why, although commercial-grade appliances cost more initially--sometimes a lot more--in the long run, they actually cost less because you don't have to replace them every few years with a new model. Many consumer grade products don't even have replacement parts available, so you can't repair them even if you want to. Almost all commercial grade products are going to offer replacement parts, as well as servicing if you don't want to repair the appliance yourself.

You don't have to buy commercial grade products to get good quality. Consumer grade can be just fine for your needs. You just really, really have to do your homework if you want to get the most bang for your buck. Brand names, cost, and even positive reviews are not always a guarantee of a great product. 

Positive reviews not a guarantee of a great product? Yes, this can be true. Sometimes people mean well when they give a product a positive review, but their lack of experience with the product skews their opinion. Or, they review the product while they're still in the honeymoon phase with it and then don't update the review after they've had a chance to see all of its flaws. This is especially true with technical products like portable induction cookers.

To find out more, see Can You Trust Amazon Reviews?

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What to Look for in Commercial Grade PICs

Build Quality

The difference between a consumer grade and a commercial grade portable induction cooktop is primarily build quality. This means both externally and internally.

Externally, the housing is going to be made of stainless steel. The best ones will be stainless throughout, although some models may have some resin parts on the bottom, where they can't overheat and melt.

Most consumer grade PICs have plastic housings. This means they're more prone to damage from heat, and also that they can't bear as much weight.

If you cook large stock pots full of liquids, you're going to want a stainless housing on your PIC.

Controls will also be heavy duty. If manual, the knobs will be made of steel or aluminum rather than plastic. If electronic, they'll have a heavy-duty, heat-resistant plastic or glass surface with controls underneath. The controls will also be angled away from the heating surface, which serves two purposes: 1) it makes them easier to use and to see from across a busy kitchen, and 2) it protects them from overheating which can happen if they're too near the cooking surface. (Note: If you do decide to go with a consumer grade PIC, stay away from the "tablet" styles with controls on the same plane as the cooking surface.)

Internally, parts are going to have heavy-duty construction, too. The fans, for example, will have ball bearings, which makes them not only last longer, but also makes them quieter. Noisy, rattling fans are a prime characteristic of inexpensive PICs. (They drive some people crazy.)

Most other internal structures are also going to be of heavier-gauge materials whether steel, plastic, or otherwise. 

Overall, because of the steel parts and heavier build quality, commercial grade PICs are going to be quite a bit heavier than consumer grade PICs: compare a consumer grade Duxtop 9600LS--a perfectly fine consumer grade PIC--at 7.5 lbs., versus the commercial grade Mr. Induction 183C at 13.5 lbs. Even though they're approximately the same size, the commercial PIC weighs almost twice as much! 

Temperature Control

While all induction cooktops get very hot very fast, cheaper ones have a tendency to not work very well at all temperature settings. Anything less than "hot as it can go" can have disappointing performance--and at simmer temperatures, well, fuggedaboutit.

Just read the one star reviews on Amazon to see what we mean,

This is because of how PICs are controlled: they pulse on and off as needed to reach the temperature or power setting. Cheaper electronics (found in low-end PICs and even some less expensive commercial or quasi-commercial brands) pulse heat either all the way on (1,800W) or all the way off (0W) with little to nothing in between. Thus, a low temperature setting on a cheaper unit is going to be achieved by pulsing less often, not by changing the amount of the pulsing. This is why you see so many complaints of terrible simmering--from full boil to nothing and back again--or scorched food cooked at a low setting: the pulsing is crude and poorly controlled.

Higher end PICs combat this issue a couple of ways. First, they have more sensitive temperature sensors which react faster to changes and zero in on the setpoint more evenly. Second, they have more sophisticated pulsing techniques that use a wide range of wattage, as needed, to keep a temperature within 5 or 10 degrees of the setpoint. (Anything more accurate than that is going to come at a very hefty price tag--see the Breville PolyScience Control Freak reviewed below: its sophisticated temperature control is the reason for its exorbitant price tag.)

Another benefit of more sophisticated temp controls is a broader temperature range. Many less expensive PICs have a low-end temp of 140F, but better quality PICs go as low as 100F, 90F, or even 80F. This isn't true for all commercial PICs, but the ones reviewed here all have impressive low temperature control (with the exception of the Avantco, which is included as a budget option with a commercial grade build quality). 

You can get decent low temp control in some consumer grade PICs, as well: namely, the Duxtop 9600LS, Duxtop 9100MC, the NuWave Gold PIC, and several inexpensive PICs made by SPT, such as this one. However, they won't have the sophisticated temperature controls of a commercial grade PIC, so you'll still have some of the simmering/scorching issues you get at that price point.

When buying any PIC, pay attention to the temperature range. Most start at 140F, but a few start at 100F or lower. This is a significant difference which you will appreciate, whether you buy commercial OR consumer grade. The wider range allows you to do things like melt chocolate without burning and other low temp feats that aren't even possible with full-sized gas or electric cooktops.

Dials Vs. Pushbutton Controls

Commercial grade PICs are going to have easier-to-use controls. Most of them have manual dials, which make temperature changes easy in comparison to scrolling through a digital menu. 

While you will get accustomed to whatever controls your PIC has, dials are still the faster, easier type of control. 

Look at these two models: which looks like the best portable induction cooktop for ease of control?

Duxtop9100mc_350px

Unlimited Run Time

Many consumer grade PICs have limited running times. Some are as short as 2 hours, after which the PIC will shut itself off. Not all have these, but many do. (This may be due at least partly to cheaper internal components--the short run time puts less wear on the components and cooling fan.)

This is not the case with commercial grade PICs, most of which will run indefinitely. In a commercial kitchen, an appliance with too many automatic features can be hard to use. Thus, very few commercial PICs are going to have limited run times. Instead, they'll run until you shut them off. (Although many will have a timer feature, which turns the appliance off after a certain time if desired.)

If you only use your PIC for preparing meals, this may not matter to you. However, if you'll use your PIC for long cooking projects (such as stock making), be sure you don't buy one with a short run time.

Fans

As mentioned above in the Build Quality section, commercial PICs have heavier duty fans that are going to last longer, be more effective, and run more quietly. 

Fans are an important feature of a PIC because without them, the units can easily overheat and shut down (or worse, burn themselves up). Therefore, you want a good fan. While some consumer grade PICs are going to have good fans, most are going to be cheap and annoyingly loud (often "rattly"). A fan on a commercial PIC might be loud as well, but it won't have a cheap, rattly sound--and you'll know it's doing its job.

Fans_250px

Cheap fans will wear out quickly.

ball-bearing-fan_250px

Ball bearing fans run quieter and last longer.

"True" Commercial Grade

As with all other products, you have to pay attention to the details if you want to buy wisely. Not all PICs that call themselves "commercial" are actually commercial grade products. Rather, they use the word "commercial" as a marketing ploy that doesn't speak at all to the quality of the product. Even worse, these PICs are often higher-priced than other consumer-grade PICs with little or no difference in build quality or performance.

How can you tell you're getting a true commercial grade PIC? First you have to understand the differences (e.g., build quality, weight, temperature controls, temperature range, fans, etc.). Then you have to read the specifications to see past the marketing jargon to what you're really getting. Reading user reviews can help, but you have to be thorough, making sure to read the unhappy reviews carefully.

In short, you have to do your research.

This can be a tricky proposition. For example, some PICs might have a steel housing, but poor quality internal parts. And some might be no better at all than competitors that cost a hundred dollars less! 

The only other alternative is to find a reviewer you trust, and take their recommendations. (Like us!) But even here, you have to be careful. A lot of review sites, in particular those that don't specialize in induction technology, simply don't know what to look for. They base their reviews mostly on performance--but when they compare only to other PICs with similar performance, how can they make a good recommendation? Especially when they don't know those other options exist! 

See the problem?

PICs are a particularly difficult product to understand, much less give recommendations on. There are thousands of different models on the market, all with different performance claims in a huge price range. It requires a lot of research to know what to look for, and to figure out what makes one PIC a better choice.

So whatever type of PIC you're looking for, be sure you trust the advice you're getting, because there really is a lot of bad advice out there. 

(phew--got off topic there a bit--but it's important stuff. If you want to buy well, it's all stuff you need to think about.)

A trick to figure out PIC quality quickly:

One spec almost always included is the weight of a product. Use this to determine a product's overall quality:
-If a PIC weighs 6-8 lbs, it's got cheap internal components.
-If a PIC weighs 9-10 lbs, it's probably got a stainless housing and cheap internal components (the price will tell you).
-If a PIC weighs 12 lbs and upwards, it's probably a solid, well-made, most likely commercial-grade product.

Burner Size

Commercial grade PICs probably have slightly larger burners than consumer grade PICs, but the size varies among brands. On average, the consumer grade burner size is probably about 4 inches, while the commercial grade burner size is more typically around 6 inches.

For home use, it doesn't make all that much difference. Sure, a bigger burner is nice to have. But if you think about how a gas stove works, the diameter of the flame ring is what, about 4-5 inches? Yet nobody ever voices concern about whether it can heat a 10-inch skillet.

The truth is, all decent cookware is made of metal with heating properties designed to spread heat evenly throughout. Whatever size the burner is, heat will conduct throughout the pan bottom and up the sides. Sure, the larger the pan, the longer this will take. But most burners will work well with pans from about 4-inches in diameter to about 10 inches in diameter (across the bottom, of course). And no matter how great a pan is, you're always going to have some hotter areas where the burner directly touches it. 

With a larger burner, you can go up to 12 inches without issues. However, at this size, you begin to run out of room on the sides of the induction burner. 

The point is that burner size isn't really all that big a deal. When you read reviews, you'll see a lot of complaints about "small burner size" being a problem, but that is a misunderstanding of the real issue, which is actually heat distribution. Between poor quality cookware and inadequate heat pulsing (remember, PICs are powered by pulses of power), hot and cold spots can really be a problem--but with decent cookware and a PIC with decent heating capabilities, uneven heating is rarely anymore of a problem than it is on a gas hob.

Do you have to stir food to distribute heat evenly? Do you have to wait for the pan to reach heat equilibrium? Sure you do. But this is true for all cooking technology. It's unfair to single out induction when induction is not the real problem; the physics of heat transfer is.

inductionburnerinsides3_300px

Inside a PIC: The coil is small compared to the entire cooking surface--yet you are not limited to cooking with pans equal to or smaller than the burner diameter. 

A Word About Wattage: 1800 Vs. 3500

Commercial-grade PICs require either a 120V outlet or a 240V outlet.

120V outlets are the standard (used on most small appliances for the consumer market), with the familiar three-pronged (or sometimes two-pronged) plug that looks like this:

120v-plug

The maximum load on a 120V outlet is 1,800 watts. If an appliance needs more than 1,800 watts to run, it's going to need a 240 volt outlet.

240V plugs are used for large appliances like stoves and refrigerators and look something like this:

240V Plug

The maximum load on a 240V outlet is 3,500 watts. Therefore, if you buy an appliance that uses more than 1,800 watts, it will have a 240V outlet.

There's a common misconception that all commercial grade PICs are 3,500 watts and require a 240V outlet. This is not true. You can get commercial grade PICs with 1,800 watts of power that plug into standard outlets. 

What would be the advantage of buying a 3,500 watt unit? In our opinion, not that much. They don't get twice as hot. They don't have more settings. The fans are likely to be louder (because there's more power driving them). The advantage is simply that they're very, very fast--so they might be a good choice if you're using a lot of large cookware (the extra wattage will heat large pots and pans faster). 

But with 1,800 watt PICs being lightning fast to begin with, this isn't an advantage worth the extra hassle of wiring a special plug-in, unless you're buying it for a very specific purpose: for example, if you're a home brewer and want the extra power for heating large vats of liquids.

Also, needing a special outlet takes the "portable" out of "portable induction cooker." You can only use it where you have a 240V outlet. Most homes only have these for specific appliances, like the fridge, range, washer, and dryer. 

Thus, although there are impressive 3,500W commercial PICs available, we are restricting our choices in this review to 1,800W models only. For most people, this is the best portable induction cooktop option.

If you're buying a commercial-grade PIC for home brewing or some other specific application that requires a ton of power and you have a 240V outlet or can install one easily, go for a 3,500W PIC. Otherwise, the 1,800W that plugs into a standard outlet is the best choice. It's more portable, easier to use, and still provides a tremendous amount of heating power.

For 3,500W commercial grade PICs, we recommend the CookTek, (high end) and the Avantco (economical end).

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Warranty/Extended Warranty (Read this Section Carefully!)

All consumer-grade PICs come with a warranty; unfortunately, many commercial-grade PICs do not. At least not for home use. 

Yes, it's true: if you buy a commercial grade PIC for home use, the warranty may be automatically voided. This is because of the difference in wiring between commercial kitchens and home kitchens: most 1,800W appliances require a dedicated 15 amp circuit. If you use the PIC improperly, you can damage it. 

This is true for most commercial grade PICs. In fact, if it isn't an issue, it may not be a true commercial-grade product, even if claiming to be. 

This doesn't necessarily leave you high, dry, and out of luck. If you do decide to buy commercial, try to buy an extended warranty from the third party dealer (such as Amazon). That way, you're covered if something should go wrong and the manufacturer won't honor their warranty. 

You may think this is a stellar reason to NOT buy commercial grade, but we disagree. The advantages in quality and performance are so great, we believe you should be willing to take this risk--especially if you can purchase a third party warranty for the product. 

Buy a commercial grade PIC at your own risk:

Most commercial-grade PICs of 1,800W require a dedicated circuit to run properly. This means it should be the only appliance on its outlet. Sharing an outlet may damage the unit and void the warranty (if the warranty covers home use at all). If a third party warranty is available, we strongly recommend that you buy it.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Commercial Grade PIC

If you're just talking strictly quality, the best portable induction cooktop is going to be a commercial grade one. 

Pros

  • The quality is better than consumer grade PICs.
  • Designed for heavy duty use over a long period of time.
  • Unlimited run time (no auto shutoff).

Cons

  • The manufacturer warranty probably won't be honored (buy the third party extended warranty).
  • Requires a dedicated circuit to run properly.
  • Expensive.

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Review: Vollrath Mirage Pro

Best For: Precise Temperature Control, Low Temperature Applications

See it on Amazon

See it at webstaurantstore.com

VollrathMiragePro_500px

see our full review of the Vollrath Mirage Pro here

If you want what's arguably the best portable induction burner on the market, the Vollrath Mirage Pro is the one to get.

It's performance specs are nothing short of amazing, outclassing every commercial PIC in its class, and even beating out induction cookers that cost hundred more, like this CookTek model.

At around $460, the love doesn’t come cheaply. But it is so much better than anything you’d get for less--and many people even believe it’s better than units you’d pay three twice as much for (like this guy).

What makes it so much better than other PICs? According to the Vollrath website, it's the Mirage Pro's "G4 Engine." According to Vollrath, "The Mirage® Pro induction ranges feature the G4 Engine, using four IGBTs so the workload is shared across four parallel switches. This increases the efficiency, control and longevity of the Mirage® Pro induction range."

And what are some of those cool features? 100 power levels--more even than full-sized induction cooktops. A temperature range of 80 - 525F. A low-end power of 50W, resulting in stellar low-end temp control. 

But wait, there's more! In addition to its impressive power and temperature specs, the Mirage Pro has some fancy features that really put it over the top. See more in the Features section below.

Features

  • 100 Power/Temp Levels
  • Temperature range from 80 - 400F in 5 degree increments (525 listed in manual)
  • Approximately 7-inch burner
  • "G4 engine" that shares workload, increasing efficiency, control, and longevity
  • Temperature memory--goes to last temp used when switched on
  • Overheat warning: Display flashes "hot pan" until surface is safe to touch
  • 180 minute timer with 1-minute increments and auto shutoff
  • Unlimited run time if timer is not used
  • 60-second delay auto-shutoff when pan is removed
  • Quiet fan
  • NSF certified, UL listed, and FCC compliant
  • Designed in USA; manufactured in China
  • 2 year manufacturer warranty (may not be valid for home use).

In addition to its impressive standard features, the Mirage Pro has a few extras that you'd be hard pressed to find on any other induction cooker:

  • Sophisticated heat control: The Mirage Pro has sophisticated controls that can use split-second pulsing as low as 50 watts (as opposed to the all-or-nothing pulsing of less expensive models). It also goes as low as 80F. So if you plan to use your portable induction burner for delicate kitchen jobs like melting chocolate (which burns above 105F!), butter, or even cooking eggs, this is an important feature.
  • Full Power to Any Size Pan: Another unique capability of the Mirage Pro is its capability to use full (or almost full) power to any pan size. Most portable induction burners use less wattage with small pans, even if you set them to full power, which means slower heating times. But the Mirage Pro can scale wattage level for any pan size.

We don't know why these great features aren't shouted from the rooftops; in fact, they're not even on the Vollrath website. We only found out about them through extensive research and use. But they truly set the Mirage Pro apart from the rest of the crowd.

check mirage pro price and reviews on amazon

check Mirage Pro price and reviews at webstaurantstore,com

Display/Controls

The Mirage Pro has a three simple buttons--On/Off, Power/Temp, and Timer. It has a green LED display, and a dial to adjust power level or temperature, depending on what mode you're in. You can also select Fahrenheit or Celsius temperature mode.

The screen is covered with tough plastic and angled away from the surface area, which is a great safety feature.

VollrathMirageProSideView_500px

Specifications

Vollrath Mirage Pro Specs

Feature

Specification

Wattage

1,800W max/50W min.

Voltage/Amps/Hertz

120/15/60; requires dedicated 15amp circuit

Power Levels

100

Temperature Range (F)

80 - 400F in 5F increments (note: actually goes to 525F or more)

Display/Controls

Green LED display/push button mode settings/dial to select power/temp level.

Timer

180 minute timer with auto shutoff; unlimited run time w/out timer

Dimensions in inches (W x D x H)

14 x 15.25 x 3

Weight (lbs)

13.7

Burner Size

Approximately 7"

Pan Size*

Accommodates pans from 4 - 10.25" bottom diameter

Cord Length

6'

*Note: The Vollrath website gives 14-inches as the max pan diameter, but this doesn't seem right since it is the entire width of the unit. Pans with 12" and less bottom diameters will work best.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Precise temperature control with 100 power levels and a temp range of 80-400F (5 degree increments)
  • Manual dial--fast and easy controls
  • Unlimited cooking time if you don't use the timer
  • Durable build quality 
  • Many extras such as adjusting to pan size, 60-second shutoff delay, a low of 80F, and more (see above).

Cons

  • Expensive
  • The warranty will probably not be honored for home use (so buy the extended one from Amazon!)

Recommendation

The Vollrath 59500P Mirage Pro is probably the best portable induction cooktop available, with the widest range and the most sophisticated temperature control at the best price. You may not need 100 power levels, but they make it a joy to use--and they indicate how sophisticated the controls of this unit really are. If you want the best of the best, this is the PIC to get.

VollrathMiragePro_150px

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE VOLLRATH MIRAGE PRO ON AMAZON:

amazon buy

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE VOLLRATH MIRAGE PRO at webstaurantstore.com:

Review: Vollrath Mirage Cadet 59300

VollrathCadet

The Vollrath Mirage Cadet 59300 portable induction cooktop (see it on Amazon) is the Mirage Pro's little brother. It isn't as powerful or as impressive, having G1 internal components rather than the G4 of the Mirage Pro. This means it isn't going to have the sophisticated temperature controls, and it probably isn't going to stand up to hard usage quite as well. However, it's about half the price of its big brother, too, so there's that.

The Mirage Cadet is a commercial unit designed for use in the food service industry, though, so it's durable and heavy duty and will hold a temperature down to 100F (although with a less precision than the Mirage Pro). 

In other words, the Mirage Cadet is Vollrath's standard commercial PIC, meant to compete head-to-head (I assume) with Mr. Induction and many other commercial induction cookers with roughly the same specs.

One thing it lacks is a dial control, so you have to use push buttons to set modes and select temperature or power levels. In my opinion, this is a big miss. However, the Cadet is from Vollrath, and it's a decent choice if you want middle-of-the-range power and excellent build quality. If trying to choose between the Cadet and the Mr. Induction, it may just come down personal preference: which one's appearance do you prefer? Is the dial a big miss for you? 

Oh, and the Cadet is going to be about $100 less than Mr. Induction. So there's that, too. 

And always remember, if you buy this for home use, buy from a site that offers an extended warranty (like Amazon), as the Vollrath warranty probably won't honor home use. 

CHECK OUT THE VOLLRATH MIRAGE CADET PRICE AND REVIEWS ON AMAZON!

CHECK OUT THE VOLLRATH MIRAGE CADET PRICE AND REVIEWS at webstaurantstore.COM!

Features

  • 20 power settings from 100W - 1800W
  • Temperature range from 100F - 400F (10-degree increments)
  • 6-inch burner
  • 180 minute timer with 1-minute increments and auto shutoff
  • Temperature memory--goes to last temp used when switched on
  • Overheat warning: Display flashes "hot pan" until surface is safe to touch
  • Stainless housing
  • Quiet ball bearing fan
  • Unlimited run time
  • NSF certified, UL listed, and FCC compliant
  • 1 year manufacturer warranty--may not be honored for home use
  • Designed in USA and made in China.

Display/Controls

The Vollrath Mirage Cadet has a pushbutton control panel, with Up/Down arrow keys to adjust whatever mode you're in (e.g., power level, temperature, or timer). 

The panel is simple and intuitive, as you can see here:

VollrathCadetCP_500px

We prefer the rotary dial on the Mirage Pro and the Avantco, but if you want all digital controls, the Cadet is probably your highest-quality option.

Specifications

Vollrath Mirage Cadet Specs

Feature

Specification

Wattage

1,800W max

Voltage/Amps/Hertz

120/15/60; dedicated 15amp circuit

Power Levels

20

Temperature Range (F)

100 - 400F in 10F increments; will get up to 525F

Display/Controls

Large LED display/pushbutton mode selection

Timer

180 minute timer with auto shutoff; unlimited run time w/out timer.

Dimensions in inches (W x D x H)

12 x 13 x 3.1

Weight (lbs)

10

Burner Size (in.)

Approximately 6"

Pan Size

Accommodates pans app. 4 - 1" bottom diam.

Cord Length (ft)

6

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Half the price of the Mirage Pro
  • Many of the same standard features.

Cons

  • All digital control panel (this may not be a con if you prefer digital controls)
  • G1 technology not as sophisticated as the G4 in the Mirage Pro, but still competitive w/other brands
  • Warranty may not be honored if purchased for home use.

Recommendation

The Vollrath Mirage Cadet isn't the best portable induction cooktop out there, but it's a solid choice at a reasonable price point. If you hate the idea of pushbutton controls, go with the Mr. Induction. If you want the Vollrath name but don't want to pay for the Mirage Pro, get the Cadet for half the price. It doesn't have the cool features of the Pro, but it's more than adequate for basic use. It won't have quite the low temp control of the Mirage Pro, but it will be better than any consumer-grade PIC.

If you do go with the Cadet, our recommendation is to buy from Amazon and get the extended warranty, as Vollrath is unlikely to honor the manufacturer warranty if you buy this cooker for home use.

VollrathCadet_150px

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE Vollrath Mirage Cadet ON AMAZON:

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CLICK HERE TO BUY THE VOLLRATH MIRAGE CADET at webstaurantstore.com:

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Review: Avantco IC1800 Countertop Induction Range/Cooker

Best For: Best Price for a Commercial-Grade PIC

See it on Amazon

See it at webstaurantstore.com

AvantcoPIC_500px

Avantco manufactures many kinds of restaurant equipment. It was hard to find information on the company, but it looks like they're an American company that manufactures overseas (probably in China). We're not sure that's true of all their products, but it seems to be true of their portable induction cooktops.

Avantco market the IC1800 as a "midrange" model: made for medium usage rather than heavy duty usage. For a home user, this should provide more than adequate durability.

The IC1800 is kind of a hybrid: it has the build quality of a commercial-grade PIC with the internal components of a consumer-grade model. This is certainly reflected in the price, and why Rational Kitchen recommends it as an economical choice: you get a solid unit, but it's not going to perform all that much better than most consumer grade products.

But at this price, you shouldn't expect it to.

If you buy the Avantco IC1800, we recommend going to webstaurantstore.com as they have the best price by far. However, you may have to forego the security of a warranty because this site doesn't offer a third party warranty. Our advice is to keep checking Amazon, and pounce when the price comes down to the webstaurant price (around $120). 

CHECK OUT THE Avantco ic1800 PRICE AND REVIEWS ON AMAZON!

CHECK OUT THE avantco ic1800 PRICE AND REVIEWS AT WEBSTAURANTSTORE.COM! (best price!)

Features

  • Stainless housing
  • Cook in power (wattage) or temperature mode
  • 15 power level settings
  • Temperature range 140F - 460F, adjustable in 10 degree increments
  • 170 minute timer, 5-degree increments
  • Compatible with pans up to 10.25 inch bottom diameter
  • Automatically switches to standby mode when pan is removed
  • CE listed, FCC compliant, ET listed in US
  • Made in China.

Here's a short video from webstaurantstore.com about the Avantco features:

Display/Controls

Like all commercial PICs, the Avantco !C1800 has easy-to-use controls. Use pushbuttons to select the mode you want, then use the dial to adjust the setting. 

You can see from this close-up of the control panel how easy the Avantco IC1800 is to use:

AvantcoCP_400px

Specifications

Avantco IC1800 Specs

Feature

Specification

Wattage

1,800W max/ 500 min.

Voltage/Amps/Hertz

120/15/60; requires dedicated 15amp circuit

Power Levels

15

Temperature Range (F)

140 - 460F, adjustable in 10-degree increments

Display/Controls

Large LED display/pushbutton mode and setting selection

Timer

170 minute timer with 5-min. increments

Dimensions in inches (W x D x H)

11.75 x 14.25 x 3.5

Weight (lbs)

10

Burner Size (in.)

Approximately 6"

Pan Size

Accommodates pans approximately 4.75 - 10.75" bottom diam.; for best results, use pans from 4.75-8.0" diam. bottom.

Cord Length (ft)

6'

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Stainless housing/durable build quality
  • As powerful as many other commercial grade PICs.

Cons:

  • At 140F-460F and a low power level of 500W, this PIC doesn't offer the control of others
  • Manufacturer warranty may not apply for home use.

Recommendation

If you're looking for commercial grade quality at a price barely more than a consumer grade product, the Avantco is the one to go for. It has a smaller temperature range than other PICs but if that doesn't bother you--if you'll be using it primarily for high heat applications-- it's one of the best portable induction cooktop options out there for the money.

NOTE: For the best price, check out webstaurantstore.com--it's usually much lower than the Amazon price.

VollrathCadet_150px

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE avantco IC1800 ON AMAZON:

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CLICK HERE TO BUY THE AVANTCO IC1800 at webstaurantstore.com:

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Review: (Breville) PolyScience Control Freak

Best For: Most Accurate Technology, with Temperature Probe for Precise Applications (like sous vide cooking)

See it on Amazon

See it at walmart.com

PolyScienceControlFreak_600px

The Breville PolyScience Control °Freak® is "the world's first induction cooker that can set and hold any temperature from 86 DegreeF-482 Degree for any length of time." It came out in early 2016, and as induction cookers go, it's really a bit of overkill. Does any cook really need this level of accuracy? We've gotten along so far with nothing but a handful of settings, thermometers, and our own eyes to guide us, and we've managed to make dishes that require a fair bit of accuracy (e.g., candy, medium-rare steak, and anything baked in the oven). 

PolyScience is a laboratory equipment company that's been making immersion circulators and other lab machines for quite awhile. Since the sous vide craze hit a few years back, they've been making precision culinary equipment, as well. If you want to learn more about their culinary products, click here.

This precise level of control is probably aimed at sous vide users: it's like having a sous vide water oven that you can use your own pot for. Because really, sous vide is the only application where a degree or two of temperature fluctuation can make a crucial difference. Although, at this price, you could buy an immersion circulator several times over and achieve similar results.

However, it does offer a few extra options that regular (with a pan) cooking can benefit from. For example, you can control the rate at which it heats, not just the temperature. This means better control for delicate foods. 

Unfortunately, even with all this control, many users complain that the Control Freak will overshoot set points before settling into its precision-controlled setting. This isn't so much a shortcoming of the unit, but rather an inevitability built in to the science of cooking: whatever method you use, there's always going to be some lag between the set temp and the actual pan/food temp. (Yes; even at this price.)

In other words, the Control Freak is not a magic fix. As with any other cooking technology, you still have to keep an eye on it. 

There are a few other products on the market that do what the Control Freak does: namely, hold temperatures to an exacting accuracy while providing fast, powerful, and impressive performance on pretty much every level. This one, the Hestan Cue, even offers more guidance for the home user. However, none of these products (including the Hestan Cue) have really caught on with the public--which kind of proves our point about "who really needs this much accuracy, anyway?" And if you want it for sous vide, you can get it for a tenth of the cost, and probably better control, too, as there's no feedback loop required to maintain a constant temp.

One serious drawback of the Control °Freak® is that the temperature probe is not replaceable: if you break it, you have to buy a whole new unit to replace it. At this price point, that's absurd--and something the folks at Breville/PolyScience should remedy.

In any case, the Control Freak is impressive and cool, even if unnecessary. We include it here more as a point of interest/comparison than as a real option. PolyScience has hinted about bringing a consumer-grade version of the Control Freak to market, at a much more reasonable price, but that hasn't happened yet.

Here's a video from PolyScience showing the amazing features of the Control Freak:

Features

  • Temperature range of 86-482 degrees in 1-degree increments (396 settings)
  • Exposed temperature sensor on cooking surface for accurate temp readings
  • Probe holds temp within +/- 1.8F
  • Temperature measured 20 times per second
  • Can use probe control or thermometer mode
  • 72 hour timer with repeat, continue, keep warm, and stop functions
  • Probe, probe holder, USB drive, and carrying case included
  • "Create" feature allows saving custom cooking programs for one-touch operation
  • Auto shutoff with incompatible pan or no pan
  • Dual fan cooling system
  • Easy-to-clean stainless housing
  • High-heat resistant ceramic glass cooktop
  • Tritan polymer LCD color display
  • USB port for software updates
  • Dishwasher safe control knobs
  • UL/IEC Commercial Certification, NSF Commercial Certification, IPX3 Rated Water Protection
  • 2 year limited commercial manufacturer warranty (N/A for home use)
  • Designed in USA, manufactured overseas.

See control freak PRICE AND REVIEWS ON AMAZON!

see control freak PRICE AND REVIEWS AT Webstaurantstore.COM!

The Control °Freak® comes with a temperature probe, a probe holder, a USB drive, and an accessory case:

Control Freak Probe
Control Freak Probe Holder
Control Freak USB Drive
Control Freak Carrying Case

Display/Controls

The Control °Freak® has a color digital display and manual dials for fast setting changes. It also has a temperature probe and an exposed (though very durable) temperature sensor on the cooking surface for more accurate temperature readings. 

The Control °Freak® comes with a detailed instruction manual that explains its functions quite well. Here's a diagram from the manual showing the controls:

PolyscienceControlFreakCPDiagram_600px

(Diagram courtesy of PolyScienceculinary.com)

Specifications

Control Freak Specs

Feature

Specification

Wattage

1,800W max/100W min

Voltage/Amps/Hertz

120/15/60; dedicated 15amp circuit

Power Levels

397

Temperature Range (F)

86 - 482F, adjustable in 1F increments

Display/Controls

Color LED display/pushbutton mode and setting selection/temperature probe for liquid applications

Timer

72 hr with Repeat, Continue, Keep Warm and Stop

Dimensions in inches (W x D x H)

13.4 x 18.5 x 4.3

Weight (lbs)

24.7

Burner Size (in.)

Approximately 6"

Pan Size

Recommended pan size 4.5 - 10.5" bottom diam.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Extremely precise temperature control
  • Can use for sous vide applications.

Cons: 

  • Can't buy a replacement probe if you break it; have to replace the whole unit
  • Expensive.

Recommendation

While this is a fabulous PIC, built like a tank and more precise than anyone really needs, at it's exorbitant price, we can't really recommend it. Wait for the home version to come out, or buy a sous vide circulator and a Mirage Pro instead (you'll still spend less if you go this route).

PolyScienceControlFreak_150px

Click here To Buy the Breville polyscience control freak on Amazon:

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CLICK HERE TO BUY THE BREVILLE POLYSCIENCE CONTROL FREAK at webstaurantstore.com:

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Final Thoughts

You don't have to buy commercial-grade products to get top notch quality. But if you want good quality, going the commercial route narrows the options, and the confusion, considerably. If you're going to spend the extra money, you should get: a wide temperature range, better temperature control, and tank-like durability. These are the things to look for in the best portable induction cooktops of the commercial variety.

Our overall favorite is the Vollrath Mirage Pro because of its wide temperature range and precise temperature control, not to mention the manual dial that makes it easy to set. But its warranty won't be honored for home use, so if you want it, get the extended warranty from Amazon.

What are your experiences with commercial grade PICs? If you have any thoughts or questions, please share them in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

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