The 10 Best Hot Plates
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in June of 2015. When space is at a premium, such as in a dorm room or studio apartment, or you're preparing a five-course gourmet dinner and need an extra burner or two, one of these energy-efficient hot plates will come to the rescue. They are also good for use in RVs and at power-equipped campsites. Our selection includes traditional electric coil, infrared, and induction models to suit your preferences. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best hot plate on Amazon.
What Is A Hot Plate?
In homes or living arrangements where a stove would be impractical, a hot plate allows the residents to heat up their food and beverages.
Because hot plates do carry the risk of fire if they’re not attended properly, however, many university officials have banned them in dorms.
A kitchen hot plate is a small, standalone heating device that takes the place of the burners on a stove. Most have one burner, although they can have two or more. In homes or living arrangements where a stove would be impractical, a hot plate allows the residents to heat up their food and beverages.
On a hot plate, you can cook just about anything you could make on a stove, although in many cases, other constraints limit what people cook on these devices. A student in a dorm, for example, most likely doesn’t have the cooking tools necessary for making a mousse; he or she would probably use the hot plate for boiling water or making grilled cheese sandwiches. Because hot plates do carry the risk of fire if they’re not attended properly, however, many university officials have banned them in dorms. You needn’t worry, though. As long as you are careful with the hot plate during use and be sure to turn it off when you’re done, a hot plate is a perfectly safe appliance.
Hot plates are so practical, in fact, that you’ll find them not just in kitchens but also in scientific labs. They’re used to heat substances, often taking the place of Bunsen burners, which don’t offer as much control over heating. As you might expect, these tend to be both more advanced and more expensive than kitchen hot plates. Some feature a built-in magnetic stirrer, the invention of Arthur Rosinger, who received a patent for this stirrer in 1944.
Although most kitchen hot plates don’t need to be as sophisticated as their scientific brethren, that doesn’t mean these at-home devices are dumb or not evolving. Bluetooth-controlled hot plates are on the horizon, as are those activated by cookware embedded with RFID tags. Innovators are determined to make sure that the humble hot plate keeps up with the smartest of smart appliances, so a stress-free yet complicated meal might just be possible in the dorm or micro-kitchen of the future.
Types Of Hot Plates
Kitchen hot plates come in several different styles, but the three most common are electric, induction, and gas. Of these, electric units are probably the most popular, as they’re widely available and come with a stunning range of features. All three types vary in price from pleasantly inexpensive to high-end and costly, so no matter which kind strikes your fancy, there’s one out there for you.
All hot plates, whether electric, induction, or gas, offer a variety of features.
Electric hot plates fall into two broad categories: exposed coil and integrated coil. When you picture a hot plate, it may just be the former that you imagine. These have a distinct coil-style heating element that usually sits atop a drip tray for easy cleaning. An integrated coil, on the other hand, is encased in some kind of material and provides a completely flat, unbroken surface on which to cook. Commonly, this surface is ceramic glass or cast iron.
Induction hot plates heat via electromagnetic field instead of through a traditional heating element. Their magnetic fields quickly generate direct heat and allow them to cool down much faster than other models. To use one, you’ll need to select induction-capable cookware, such as cast iron or magnetic stainless steel, or place an induction disc under a non-compatible pot.
Gas hot plates resemble camp stoves, although the fuel is often housed inside the body of the former and not attached on the outside as with the latter. Because this type of hot plate uses an open flame, they tend not to be the go-to for dorms or indoor use, although they work well for disaster preparedness kits.
All hot plates, whether electric, induction, or gas, offer a variety of features. Some include timers or auto-off functions, which have a dual purpose: First, they let you cook your food for a predetermined amount of time, and second, they prevent you from accidentally burning down the house (not a good outcome when cooking supper). Some hot plates have digital temperature control and others manual; if you want greater exactness, you’ll probably want to go with digital. And some models incorporate carrying handles or quick-clean surfaces, making them easier to use in general. Wattages vary, as well, with high-powered models using 1,800 watts or more.
Not Just For Bachelors
While it’s true that hot plates are commonly found in small kitchens and dorm rooms, these nifty little devices have plenty of other uses. After all, they balance convenience with portability, giving you an affordable way to add extra heating and cooking capacities to your home, office, or workshop.
If you’re a survivalist or prepper, you may also want a hot plate in your emergency gear.
If you live in a hot climate, for example, you might use a hot plate on your patio or deck during the scorching summer months. You won’t have to add to the heat that’s already inside or force your air conditioner to work harder just because you wanted some macaroni and cheese. The outdoor hot plate is excellent for cooking those items that stink up the house, too. Fish? Fried onions? Boiled cabbage? No problem — take your compact hot plate out in the fresh air and keep the smells out of your home.
Or perhaps you have a studio for handicrafts or a workshop where you need to heat or melt items. You might prepare wax for candles or chocolate for candies; either way, having a dedicated craft hot plate will save you from making a mess in your kitchen. When it’s 6 p.m. and you’ve got a hungry family, you’ll be glad you don’t have to clean up before you can cook.
The hot plate makes a great addition to RVs and campsites, too. Of course, you’ll have to make sure you have an adequate power source, but being able to quickly boil water for coffee could be worth it. If you’re a survivalist or prepper, you may also want a hot plate in your emergency gear.
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