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I just ordered an Anova Precision Cooker. Most of the pictures I have seen show the cookers being used in large cooking pots of water, like Dutch ovens.

Does it make more sense to cook in a small beer cooler, like an Igloo?

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Doesn't cooking in mostly-aluminum pots with one of the highest heat conductivities of any metal commonly used in a kitchen cause the cooker to have to work more, and waste more electricity?

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People do beer cooler cooks with a sous vide circulator (in fact, its noted by Anova, one of the most common sous vide tool manufacturers) -- primarily for going past the ~20 liter specification of the circulator to say 40-60 liters (e.g. by cutting a hole in the top of a cooler lid and sticking the circulator down in it; spray some insulation in the hole as well).

For a small container (e.g. a stock pot, dutch oven) at room temperature, the common circulators have more than enough power to heat and circulate the water. But, you could wrap the thing with towels (as in the Anova link above) or something to help prevent heat loss. This can help with reaching higher temps too if you're losing a lot of heat. But yes, the circulator would have to work less hard at heating if you prevented evaporation loss and insulated the container.

I normally do meat/eggs, and in my stockpot which I use for sous vide, my Anova (the current bluetooth model) doesn't have a problem maintaining temps. So, I don't use any towels or anything, just because its one more thing to deal with. I suspect most people use dutch ovens or stockpots or cambro containers just for convenience, and also get fine performance from the circulator.

  • I thought I had an old Igloo Playmate hanging around, but I cannot find it. Walmart seems to have them at about US$13. I may pick one up. Thanks. – Ralph Jan 2 '17 at 19:36
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    @Ralph - You might as well try with a stockpot or something to start; bring it up to the temp you need and see if it holds it. If not, then you can go to gutting a cooler and what not, and using spray insulation and stuff. Simplest cases first. – Batman Jan 2 '17 at 20:16

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