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I have used a Kenmore Elite induction stove after moving about 6 months ago from a gas range and it has many good qualities but no matter what I try I can't get it to heat evenly when frying food. Like when I try to sear a steak with some olive oil or stir fry something the pan ends up with a hot spot in the middle and a cool outer rim. This applies not only when heating up the pan but also in the middle of cooking it maintains this problem. This happens no matter which heating circle I use. I have tried cast iron, steel, induction element pans of various sizes, and yes they are flat,and always have this problem. I desperately need advice at this stage.

  • Are they still flat when hot? Does the hot spot move if you put the pan in a slightly different place? – Chris H Jan 12 '18 at 12:37
  • I would test a pan on another induction stove. – paparazzo Jan 12 '18 at 15:16
  • And are you sure that your pan size matches the coil size of the cooking field? Or do you use larger pans the way you are accustomed from gas? – rumtscho Jan 13 '18 at 12:55
  • The hot spot does seem to move a little toward the middle of the circle when I push the pan to the edge but it never directly follows it. I initially used the footprint circle closest in size to the pan in question but I then tested it on all 4 this merely changed the intensity of the heat. I have used 4", 5", 6", 8", and 9" pans to check. I have 4 pans specifically for induction and 8 cast iron or steel legacy pans that worked perfectly for heat distribution on a gas stove. – Brady Sundquist Jan 13 '18 at 23:23
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    And if you don't have an IR camera, I've seen tests for ovens where they spread flour evenly on a (sheet) pan, and then bake it to see what areas brown first. I would think it'd work with your case, too, you'd just need a consistently thick layer. (maybe use an icing comb like a notched trowel, then shake it gently to level it out?) – Joe Apr 17 '18 at 6:22
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What I would do is invest in a $30 - $50 single induction hob that can be put on your counter, and see if the problem persists there. At the worst case, you just have an extra hob for stocks or something, but it could very well be that you'll have some success there, which gives you a hob that you could use for searing and such. It helps you to eliminate the range itself as the culprit.

The other thing you could do (again, any action here is going to cost money) is invest in some 3 or even 5 ply cookware from a vendor like All Clad. They have steel / copper / steel / aluminum / steel 'sandwich' pans that are tested to conduct heat perfectly evenly.

Given what you've tried, I tend to think the range itself is the culprit. Some induction ranges (especially earlier ones) just didn't perform very well for cooks that ventured beyond basic boiling and frying. This is why getting an extra hob might be the best course you could take.

If it is the range itself then high-tech / high-performance layered cookware is going to probably help a little, but it's not going to fix the fact that the rings aren't functional comparable to the dispersion of a flame (which modern hobs can mostly claim, even the cheaper ones).

While cast iron isn't guaranteed to be an even conductor and can have its issues, those issues shouldn't be nearly as bad as what you're seeing, which strongly points at the range itself as the likely culprit.

Good luck, unfortunately this is one of those problems that requires a little spending to figure out.

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Your problem here is that the induction coil is too small for your cookware. Basically, if the induction coil is 6" but your pan is 10", then you will have more heat in the middle, hence why you have noticed a hot spot in the middle.

Some types of cookware, like the All-Clad 5-ply copper core, should theoretically get around this by being very good at conducting heat and spreading it evenly. I haven't had the opportunity to try this out on an induction hob, but I can assure you that while it does conduct heat decently on an electric hob, you still need a pan that fit. I still my All-Clad cookware regardless ;)

While induction has many things going for it, you still need to consider the size of the pots/pans you will be using...

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    In comments, the OP specifically says they've tried pans as small as 4 inch and as large as 9... It may be part of the concern but I don't think it's the only issue. – Catija Apr 17 '18 at 2:21
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I have the same issue with a countertop single cooktop. I returned the unit thinking it was deffective only heating a 5" spot in the centre of the cooking surface of my 9" cast iron pan. New one does the same thing. The hot spot moves with pan position on the cooktop. My pan's bottom is flat, and same deal if I'm boiling water, you can see the heat is only coming from a 5" circle.

I now believe that the problem is that the coil size in the induction cooktop is just too small. I have not found a unit with a larger coil that is still 120v.

Cooking pancakes, omelettes, or even bacon if your not constantly repositioning it is so frustrating that i have gone back to my coiltop.

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A lot of induction stove tops cook unevenly you should try to find reviews of it before purchasing in the future, any good review will cook a pan of sugar to show where the browning occurs and whether of not the product is worth its salt.

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Cast iron and stainless steel are both poor conductors of heat, if the pans are not thick enough you will get hot and cold zones, I think you should aim for something with aluminum in it(maybe the stainless-aluminum-stainless type) and try to go for a thicker pan.

That is just my general knowledge, I didn't try induction ovens before.

edit: ignore what I said about aluminum, as JAB pointed out aluminum doesn't work with induction

  • Thanks for responding, some of the pans i have used are very thick, the big cast iron is about 14 lbs. The problem is not to the extent of hot and cold spots I would have a scorched spot in the middle with oil on the rim not hot enough to cook with. – Brady Sundquist Jan 11 '18 at 23:29
  • Like I said cast iron is known to be a bad conductor of heat even with thick designs and the problem with oil staying to the rim can probably be fixed with more oil, I am still suggesting you try a thick aluminum pan before assuming the problem is with the stove. watch this if you want proof youtube.com/watch?v=BcSqJ7sZiAQ – Ahmad Hani Jan 11 '18 at 23:34
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    Be careful as well, even some pans that mix aluminum and steel aren't usable on an induction surface according to thespruce.com/… (and of course all-aluminum is right out). – JAB Jan 12 '18 at 0:42
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    Ok to clarify I have tried some aluminum with induction element pans, same problem. I can't just try every variation of a pan type to see if just one works right. Are induction stoves supposed to be this finicky? – Brady Sundquist Jan 12 '18 at 6:06
  • Some aluminium pans have an iron core in the bottom, also creating a mix of thermal behaviours... – rackandboneman Jan 12 '18 at 9:08

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