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Camping Induction Cooktop; our initial thoughts

Some of you will know that we recently replaced our AGM batteries in the camper trailer with lithium ones, and while we were at it, we purchased a big inverter and a portable induction cooktop.

Induction cooktop for camping

Using our portable induction cooktop when camping

The batteries were done out of necessity, and wanting more capacity, but the inverter was done to allow us to cook on 240V electricity while off grid, instead of using the gas stove when we had plenty of power and sun available.

On a recent trip up to Shark Bay, we checked in at Shark Bay Caravan Park in an unpowered site, and we gave it a decent workout over 6 nights. If you want to know more about the system, you can check it out here – 12V Lithium Battery Upgrade.

It’s worth mentioning that we still haven’t installed the 600W of panels that I ordered for the top, and we were running off a 120W fixed panel, a 200W Kings solar blanket and a 180W portable folding panel, giving us a total of 500W, all running through the Enerdrive DCDC charger, which does a pretty good job.

Different solar panels

Running a variety of different solar panels

I did also plug the 200W panel in from the Dmax at one stage, when the Victron monitor jumped from 75% to 100% due to a voltage setting that was a bit lower than it should have been, just to get the batteries fully charged again.

To give you an idea, an average dinner uses about 14% of our battery capacity. In actual fact its 14% of 80% of 340aH, so roughly 38 amp hours consumed.

That’s re-heating pasta for the kids, cooking fish for us, and then boiling water to do the dishes. Power consumption varied between 600W for the pasta all the way up to the maximum of 2000W for the boiling of water.

What do we like about the camping induction cooktop?

It’s super fast

I actually laughed at how fast we boiled a pot of water on full steam, at 2000W. It really is remarkable, and it will do this even when its blowing a gale.

Wind is almost irrelevant

As above, the wind was a big factor for us looking at an induction cooktop. With gas, you lose so much heat from the wind just blowing it away, but induction transfers the heat directly to the pan, so wind makes very little difference. It also doesn’t blow your flame out, which can be quite frustrating.

Pack away if its windy

Cooking on a gas burner when its windy is absolutely horrendous

It’s easy to control

Being able to inch the power up 200W at a time, from 200W all the way to 2000W makes for pretty easy, repeatable cooking, and we are really enjoying it.

Its super easy to clean

Seriously, wipe it down once its cool, and you are laughing. There’s no little nooks and crannies to try and scrub baked on bits of food off; its super easy.

Camping induction Cooktop

Induction cooktops are so easy to use, and clean

What do we not like about the induction cooktop?

There’s a learning curve

With anything new, you have to learn how to use it, and live with it. I burnt the steaks the first time I used it at home, and then was worrying too much about the battery level on the first night, only to learn that the solar easily replenishes it the next day and it is just a case of getting used to the new ‘norm’

You have to watch the battery levels

It doesn’t really matter if you run the gas bottles out on the camper trailer. The flame goes out, you swap the lever over in the front and turn the gas bottle on, and fire it back up again. Its not so simple with an induction cooktop; if you run out of battery, your fridge stops, and everything else does too.

You do have to keep an eye on the battery voltage, but if you are smart its not much of an issue anyway.

It’s something you need to get used to, and I’m still wondering whether our system is large enough to run an induction cooktop permanently. If its not (I’m OK with that), we’ll alternate as needed between gas and electricity.

178 amps from lithium batteries

Drawing huge power from our lithium batteries

The pots slide easily

One weird anomaly we noticed quite early on is that the pots tend to slip, and move really easily on the induction cooktop. Its perfectly flat, and seems to have very limited friction, which means a tiny knock from you, and your pot starts to move off the burner, and away from you.

We didn’t really notice it as an issue, but it was certainly interesting to see, and not a problem we’ve had with the gas burner.

Our kettle doesn’t work on it

I didn’t expect our kettle to work on the induction cooktop. I did try our parents, which works on gas and says induction, and it did too. We might be replacing our kettle with one that can do both, so we don’t have to bother with a 240V electric kettle to lug around with us too.

Boiling a kettle

Our kettle only works on gas, so we’ll either ditch or replace it

Overall thoughts on the new camping induction cooktop

I’m really pleased with the induction cooktop. It wasn’t the purpose of the lithium battery upgrade, but being able to run it is pretty neat, and will make our life easier when we are on the road long term.

I’ll do a thorough gas burner vs induction post soon, that will look at the costs of both, and whether its really worth it, and why, but for now, happy cooking, however you go about it.

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