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You can put a pan anywhere on Thermador's flexible cooktop

You can put a pan anywhere on Thermador’s flexible cooktop

Thermador claims that you can place a pan anywhere on the surface of its Freedom induction cooktop and start cooking. There are no set elements, just a smooth surface and color touchscreen. At $5,000 it’s the most expensive cooktop Consumer Reports has tested. When a product this innovative comes along our experts quickly get to work—this time putting Thermador’s bold promises to the test.

The claims. Beyond the promise of speed heating and an intuitive interface, Thermador says the Thermador CIT36XKB 36-inch wide induction cooktop has the largest fully usable cooking surface on the market, accommodates up to four pots/pans/griddles, and adjusts automatically to shape and size. There’s more. “If you need to move your pot to another location, the cooktop will transfer all of your programmed settings to the new position of the pan.”

The check. No matter where we put our pans on this cooktop it provided heat fast, and even when we lifted a pot and moved it to another spot the cooktop transferred the programmed setting originally selected. The touchscreen is fairly intuitive but there’s no simple off touch, you have to scroll down to zero. This cooktop does offer flexibility, since the pots and pans can be any size or shape that will fit on the surface. Thermador claims the market’s largest fully usable cooking surface, and that’s true if you consider there’s no dead area. On the other hand, it only handles four pans maximum. “I thought this 36-inch cooktop would be designed for five pots because the 36-inch electric smoothtops we’ve tested are. But the cooktop allows for four heating areas, at most,” says Tara Casaregola, the engineer who runs our tests of cooking appliances. And if you have four pots going not all can get that PowerBoost, which is the highest setting.

CR’s take. This is the first 36-inch wide induction cooktop we’ve tested and it was excellent overall and recommended. It delivers fast heat and superb simmering. That’s also true for all of the 30-inch induction cooktops in our tests and they were even faster. Induction uses electromagnetic coils under the cooktop’s glass-covered surface to deliver heat that was about 25 percent faster in our tests than radiant-electric smoothtops and even faster than gas models. Induction also offers precise simmering and control, but usually costs more and requires magnetic cookware.

The Thermador has a handy timer that shuts off the heat at the selected time—up to 59 minutes—and a child safety lock. Watch the video to see this $5,000 cooktop in action, or consider one of our recommended 36-inch electric smoothtops, such as the top-rated Maytag MEC7536W, $830, or the top-rated 30-inch induction cooktop, the Kenmore 43820, $1,600. In our tests of dozens of electric cooktops the Kenmore 43820 induction scored an impressive 99 out of 100.

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