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I was just wondering if leaving pans unattended on an induction stove while it is turned off is actually safe? Could any external factor turn the stove on?

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Last evening, I left one empty (but dirty) sauce pan unattended on the induction stove top as the dish washer was full. The stove was turned off, but dirty as well, and the pan was slightly touching the controls.

During the night, there was a small power outage (2 computers were powered off this morning while one wasn't) and apparently, that was enough to have the stove turn on by itself, start cooking and burnt the left-over sauce completely black.

Moral of the story:

  • Even when you're tired after a late meal: clean the stove before going to bed.
  • Leave dirty pots in the sink and not on top of an induction stove!
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    That sounds like a serious product safety issue. I would report it to the manufacturer. You're lucky it didn't start a fire! – ElmerCat Jan 7 '16 at 17:41
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    Oops! I wouldn't have expected such a turn in the story. Thank you for sharing it here. And sorry to hear about the pan, must have been quite some trouble to make sure everything is all right and get the kitchen back to normal. – rumtscho Jan 7 '16 at 17:42
  • @ElmerCat: It's not mine: it happened while I stayed over at friends and it's 15 years old... – Fabby Jan 7 '16 at 18:13
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    @rumtscho: my friend woke up at 05:00 because he needed to "wash his hands" so no great harm was done as it must've been not much later then the power outage: extra cleaning of the stove as the pan was Teflon-coated and doesn't look like a loss... Worst it did was make me look like a newbie. ;-) – Fabby Jan 7 '16 at 18:16
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Always assume that anything that does not use a mechanical on/off switch - something that is manually actuated and physically connects or interrupts the metal path carrying electricity - can turn itself on. RF interference, cosmic rays and background radiation (sounds esoteric but it does happen, it is one of the reasons why you need memory error correction in server grade computers), voltage spikes on your power line ... all these things can confuse electronic devices in unpredictable ways, and while something decently engineered is unlikely to be affected, it is never impossible.

Technically, even your mechanical switch can fail in a way that makes it permanently "on" - but that will likely happen while trying to turn it off, and you will notice; it would take an event like a direct lightning strike to turn a switch on that is off.

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    All true, but it's just not something you expect to happen, so that's why I shared this. +1 for the direct lightning strike "turning on" a mechanical switch in the "off" position! :D (Probably permanently too!) ;-) – Fabby Jan 8 '16 at 10:42
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    If a lightning strike arcs through a switch and either vaporizes metal, or burns plastic material into carbon/soot, enough of either of these depositing in the wrong place can indeed make exactly that happen. – rackandboneman Jan 8 '16 at 10:51
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    I've had that happen to a customer of mine: their metal gate was struck by lightning and was hooked up to a modem, which was hooked up to a PC, which was hooked up to a LAN and fried all of their hubs, servers, PCs, printers and laptops that were plugged into the LAN... ;-) – Fabby Jan 8 '16 at 11:17

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