Electric Induction

What is an Induction Cooktop

Electric Induction - Best Induction Range

Electric Induction or an induction cooktop uses magnetic currents to directly heat your pots and pans. Because the energy is directly focused on the metal of the cooking surface rather than an entire surface, electric induction provides perhaps the fastest and most efficient way to cook. Only the pan is heated and not the surface surrounding it.

How Induction Stove Works

An induction cooktop uses magnetic energy to create electric currents which heat metal pots and pans. With induction, only the metal surface area of the pan is affected, so there is little or no wasted heat or energy. Hence, the benefit of electric induction cooking is ultra-fast heat-up times, and better control of cooking temperatures. While there are pros and cons to any technology, electric induction does have its advantages and disadvantages as mentioned above. Here is a bit more about the pros and cons of electric induction. Let’s get the cons out of the way, first.

Induction Cooktop Cons

If electric induction sounds like the greatest invention since sliced bread then why doesn’t everybody own an induction cooktop? The biggest, initial drawback to the induction cooktop or induction range is probably cost. An induction range costs 4 – 8 times more than a traditional, electric cooking range. Fortunately, there are great deals to be had which I will share with you a little bit later. The 2nd factor that pushes some people away from electric induction is that they require induction-ready cookware. Basically, that means your cookware needs to be magnetic. So, any pan that will attract a magnet will work on your induction stove. To be sure, bring along a magnet with you next time you shop for cookware. Many new cookware will have a label on them stating that it is ‘induction-ready’. Stainless steel and cast iron are the two, most obvious choices when it comes to choosing induction cookware. One important consideration is that there are still many choices which are non-stick such as ceramic and porcelain which are made with magnetic cores and are induction-ready. Really, the only other con I can think of to electric induction is that controlling the heat may not be as intuitive to us. Mostly, this is just a matter of getting used to the ultra-fast and efficient way in which induction works. This brings us to the induction cooktop pros.

Induction Cooktop Pros

Induction cooking is ultra fast. I can boil 500 milliliters of water (see below) in less than half a minute. Because induction only works when there is a magnetic current, this means it is very efficient at controlling the temperature. You can heat things up and cool things down much more quickly than you can with a traditional electric cooktop. Electric induction saves energy over traditional, electric cooking. The other benefit of this is safety. If you leave a burner turned on without a pan touching it, there are no worries about anything burning. Why might you want an induction cooktop over a gas stove?

Electric Induction

Induction vs. Gas

Fire is a very natural way to cook and gas provides you with a real, flame. However, gas stoves have their own problems. From my experience, gas stoves tend to be very difficult to find the lowest flame setting. An induction cooktop provides you with precise, numbers to gauge the temperature. With induction, there is no guessing of your dialed-in temperature. Since gas stoves can be left on without a pan they are not as safe. Even when the flame is out, gas stoves continue to push natural gas fumes into your kitchen and home. Of course, gas stoves also require natural gas to be piped into your kitchen. On the flip-side of that, gas stoves are less expensive, so the extra cost for natural gas installation is more than a wash. Finally, most head-to-head performance tests reveal that you can boil water faster on an induction stove than a gas stove. Electric induction is more energy efficient than gas. With induction 80-90% of the energy is directly focused on the food. With electric stoves the efficiency is just 70%, and only 38% for gas.

Electric Induction

Boiling Water on an Induction Stove

Best Induction Range

The best induction range has to be reasonably priced. When I bought the Kenmore Elite Induction Range last September for just $1,355.00 on Amazon I really lucked out. If you visit the link today, you will see that it is currently unavailable. While I really do like everything about this induction range, I think what I really like best is simply the induction technology. Cooking with induction is fast and fun! One thing that was important to me about this induction range was the knob, heat controls for each burner. The digital, up-and-down arrow keys on some induction models would feel difficult for me to control. The Kenmore Elite has 4-Induction burners, 1 warming zone burner, full convection roasting/baking oven, and a warming drawer underneath. The black-stainless looks really nice.

If you are interested in an induction range, below are some other models that might suit you just as well:

Does Nest Thermostat Save Money?

Does Nest Thermostat Save Money

It’s a fun and cool technology gadget, but does Nest thermostat save money? Truth be told, I had my heart set on buying one of these regardless of the answer to the money-savings question. There are lots of things I already knew I liked about the Nest thermostat. Before we talk about the possibility that Nest might save money on my energy bill, let me delve into these:

What I Like about the Nest Thermostat

For one thing, I like the looks of the Nest. I like the large, round display. I like the round appearance with easy-to-grab, hand dial for turning temperatures up and down. I also like how I can change the display to analog clock, digital clock, weather, actual temperature, or set temperature. I like that I can adjust the temperature from any room in the house. Installation of the Nest thermostat was very logical and straightforward with the included instructions. The Nest company took every care and precaution to make sure all steps are followed. They even were smart enough to recommend taking a picture of the wiring before removing anything. I installed mine without having to turn off my main breaker. I simply took Nest’s advice, turned off only the switch to the thermostat, then verified the power was off by attempting to turn up the heat. I was very comfortable removing and reinserting wires and the installation was simple. Using the basic features of Nest was equally simple to learn. I grabbed the large outer dial and turned it to 70 degrees and voila. I was set. Next, I downloaded the app to and set it up for my iPhone. No problem there either. It is also very clear how to program a set schedule for the Nest. What isn’t so clear is instructions that tell me how Nest is actually going to learn my habits and program itself? How many days must I turn he heat down and up before it recognizes the pattern? After a week thus far, my Nest is still not adjusting temperatures by itself. What is also not clear in the instructions is whether or not I can use the manual programming setting and auto-learning feature at the same time. I setup a schedule and the Auto-Learning is still on and informing me that it is learning. Will the manual schedule disrupt it or will it continue to learn adjacent to my manual schedule that I have already set? This leads us right back to the question: How does Nest thermostat save money?

Does Nest Thermostat Save Money?

I have always used a manual schedule to program my thermostat. My thermostat adjusts according to our habits. I turn it down to 62 when I go to bed at night and warms the house back up to 70 by the time I get up at 5:00AM. At 6:30AM the temperature goes back down to 64 while I’m at work for the day. The house is warm once again when I get back home in the afternoon. That’s me. Well, after talking to a few people, I was surprised to learn that not everyone has a manual schedule setup for their existing thermostats. For this reason, the Nest company can probably truthfully claim that it saves a lot of people a great deal of money. For someone who already has a specific and effective temperature schedule, I see very little ways Nest’s auto-learning can improve upon that. Having the ability and convenience to set temps away from home and in other rooms in the house might play a small role in helping with the energy bill. So, my conclusion (yet to be prove) is that the Nest thermostat can save a household owner some money depending on how they were using their previous thermostat.

Bowflex Max Trainer M7 vs M8

Bowflex Max Trainer M7

The Bowflex Max Trainer M7 is basically the same machine as the Bowflex M8 except for some technology differences and just a slight modification to the console to hold various mobile devices. You will have a difficult time getting a concise answer as to the essential differences of the M7 vs. the M8. In a practical sense, I’ve owned both machines, so I will spare you some time and explain the difference as best as I can: Other than the console layout, the mechanical hardware of the M7 vs the M8 is 100% the same. In a nutshell, the difference is that the Bowflex M8 includes interactive Bluetooth technology. Here’s what that does for you.

Max Intelligence, Console, and Software

Bowlflex Maxtrainer M7 vs M8 Differences

Bowflex M7 vs M8

The M8 Bluetooth technology means you can use the machine with Bowflex’s Max Intelligence software which basically gives you intelligent video and training workouts that are displayed and interact with your workout on your mobile devices; iPhones, iPads, etc. You can also stream the interactive software to your television with the use of an Apple TV or other streaming hardware device. The Max Intelligence App basically takes over the job for your console. For example, when you plug the Bowflex M8 Maxtrainer into your iPad, the display on your console will switch to your iPad. When your are connected to your mobile device, you will no longer see anything displayed on your console. This isn’t necessary, because the iPad gives you everything you need; heart rate, RPM, time, etc.. The console of the M8 is a little bigger to allow you to snugly mount various sized screens for your moble devices. There is also room on the bottom for a remote or water bottle.

M7 vs M8 – is it worth it to Upgrade to the M8

Here’s my little secret. I didn’t actually own both of these Maxtrainers. I bought a Bowflex M7 back in December when I stumbled upon a really enticing online deal. Having had it a month I was disappointed to learn that the bluetooth technology was not interactive. In other words, I would never be able to use 3rd party apps that could actually control things like speed, resistance, and workout performance etc. When I called Bowflex to ask them about this, they informed me of an upgrade that would essentially turn my M7 into an M8 for $299.00. I didn’t mind paying this too much because I had only paid $1,400 for the machine. My net cost with the upgrade is sitll well below the retail price of a new M8 and there is virtually no difference. The upgrade even came with a new front panel that says, M8 on it. The bulk of the package was the entire M8 console which took some assembly, but it was not too difficult. The upgrade includes a 1-year subscription to the Bowflex Video trainer. I was also pleasantly surprised that it included an arm-strap heart monitor which is far more convenient and works much better than the chest strap that was included with my original M7. Whether or not this arm strap is included with a new M8 purchase I don’t know. I do not see it listed anywhere on the Bowflex site. The main thing is that I was ready to experiment with some 3rd party apps to test how well the bluetooth interacts.

Third Party Apps to use with the Bowflex M8

Run Social

Run Social is one such iPhone/iPad application that is compatible with the bluetooth functionality of the Bowflex M8. I couldn’t wait to try it .RunSocial allows you to choose various virtual scenery and compete with other runners, bikers, etc from around the world. Unfortunately, I did not notice that the bluetooth did me much good other than to detect my speed. The routes I ran didn’t seem to adjust incline for going up and down hills. The big other big problem with RunSocial is that the scenery is very unrealistically repetitive. How likely is it on a run across the country that you will pass the exact same 1997, white Subaru legacy 12 times? On to other apps.


BitGym for M

I discovered BitGym when I first purchased my Bowflex M7 and it remains my favorite exercise scenery app. BitGym does not require the Bluetooth interactive functionality of my machine. Rather, it uses the motion from your device’s built-in camera. This is amazingly accurate which makes my whole reason for requiring the M8 vs. the M7 pretty much worthless. At least, until I find another app that actually interacts with things like resistance. Oh well. It’s nice to know I have the best elliptical Bowflex makes. But, how good is the actual machine?

Bowflex Max Trainer M7 vs M8

Brief Summary and Review

Basically, I bought this machine in order to keep myself in good cardio shape. I replaced an old, recumbent bike that served me well the last 10 years. What impressed me at the Bowflex Maxtrainer M7 I tried at a local sporting goods store was how sturdy it felt; just like a commercial elliptical trainer. Also, I felt that ergonomics of the Bowflex M7 felt good for the core of the body. It does not put too much emphasis or overwork any parts of the body. The Bowflex M7 is a 300lb machine with 20 levels of resistance. It has built-in, heart-rate monitor grips which project your heart rate on your screen or on your mobile device.

What’s not so Good

What I don’t like about this machine is that after 3 months of use it has developed a very annoying clicking and rattling noise inside of the flywheel. It worries me that something is going to fall apart. I’ve taken the flywheel apart and did not see anything loose. It somewhere deep inside. You shouldn’t pay $1,400 for a machine and have issues like these. I will end up contacting Bowflex about this. I was not real impressed with the online support and troubleshooting instructions for locating noises and squeaks – they were not real helpful. This machine has very positive reviews, but most of them seem to be coming from the Bowflex website. They heavily sell their products direct online. For this reason, I would be inclined to look up other brands besides the Bowflex Max Trainer M7. Here are some other highly rated Elliptical Trainers on Amazon: