This year I started a booth at the local Farmers Market in my area cooking chili onsite and serving it with cornbread. Here's my dilemma....I am scheduled to do an indoor event next month and can't use my propane cooktop indoors. What is the best hot plate to accommodate a 20 and/or 40 quart pot? I'm on a pretty tight budget so I'm not looking to spend hundreds of dollars. Any suggestions??
Need Advice For Electric Hot Plate!!!
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This isn't a direct recommendation for a specific electric hot plate, but is rather to help avoiding a snafu later on.
First, is the hot plate use to be a one-time-only use, or will it be part of your back-up (in lieu of propane) for more than one possible event?
Second, you should check with the people who run the indoor physical venue as to what type of electrical service will be available. You need to know what amperage will be available, what voltage (120 V. or 240 V.), and what type of electrical connector (plug/socket) you will need to have available. If it needs to be grounded, that needs to be taken into account as well. Only then can you figure out what type of hot plate to look for.
Third, you also need to know if you will need electrical extension cords - and how long do they need to be. And you should also ask about whether you will need electrical cord floor protector conduits (to minimize the risk of people tripping over your electrical cord). You should also check to see whether the conduits need to be secured to minimize movement (probably double-sided adhesive tape - and a way to make sure that any residual adhesive can also be removed safely from the venue flooring without damaging the flooring).
Hope that helps you in preparation (even if it makes things more complex)
I was using one of these on my food truck to cook my rice in the morning every day. They're dirt cheap. AFAIK, reliable... at least I never had problems with it. It heats up fairly quickly for being just 120v (you gotta understand 120v will never heat up super fast).You can use them anywhere, since they're not 240v. They're really easy to clean, unlike the kind that have a coil. Nice stainless steel construction. I think they'd be really nice for a little omelet station that isn't really busy. I was happy with my purchase.
It'll certainly do to heat up a big pot of chili and keep it warm.
I use a hot plate myself on my boat when it's really cold weather and I need to button up my cabin, and I power it through my shoreside electric power at the dock. However, that's to avoid carbon monoxide. Mine is a measly 800 watts - since I also have to run an electric heater (again, to avoid carbon monoxide - no open flames when I have to seal up the cabin!) and my power is limited to 30 amps total.
Vic's right about being slow to heat up, compared to a flame. The one he lists is 1300 watts - and you will need all the output you can get, which will be the critical factor. I've looked at the various single burners offered through generic brick and mortar places, and most of them are in the 800 watt range or so - very likely not enough oomph for heating up your pot. But maybe you can luck out locally and find one with enough wattage, like Vic's.
Edited by Galley Swiller - 10/5/13 at 11:05am
You should at least take a look at the Max Burton #6000 induction hot plate. It's 120v/1800w with a 10" dia. heating element and is 12-1/2" x 13" overall. That's about as much power as you can expect from a household electric circuit. You have to have a steel or iron pot: if a magnet will stick to the bottom, it will work on induction. This rules out copper or aluminum. Shop around on the web and it's around $80 these days. It has versatile controls - you can pick any of 5 cooking temperatures, set an exact temperature, and time your cooking.
I doubt if this - or any portable hot plate - would be very good for preparing a 40-qt pot of chili, but keeping it hot enough to serve should work quite well.