Price we paid: $3,040
Date of Consumer Reports full report: August 2009
The Kenmore Elite 9991 electric range uses four induction cooktop elements, which use a magnetic field to heat pots and pans. While induction isn't new to standalone cooktops, this is the first 30-inch induction range we've tested.
Ultrafast heating. The large element brought our 6-quart-plus pot of water to a near-boil in about 9 minutes, about 1½ minutes faster than our fastest conventional range. Like standalone induction cooktops we've tested, the Kenmore also aced our low-heat test, melting chocolate on its lowest-power element without scorching and holding tomato sauce below a boil when we used its large, most powerful element on a lower setting. And because induction elements send nearly all of their heat to the cooking vessel, the cooktop and the area around it stay relatively cool.
There's also some news in the oven. The novel feature called AirGuard, according to Sears, will eliminate up to 85 percent of the oven odors and smoke during baking and self-cleaning using a catalytic converter that works something like the ones on cars. While we didn't test that claim for this First Look, we did find the convection oven generous and the touch-screen controls logical and responsive. Other perks include a temperature probe and a warming drawer.
An intermittent buzz or chirp as you use the elements, a nuisance we've found on other induction cooktops. Also, the right-side elements share the same inverter, as do both left-side elements. So if you turn on both elements on either side, the second one you turn on will maintain its setting, but power to the first might be reduced.
Another gripe concerns the clustered elements. While they have accommodated the pots and skillets used for our cooktop fit test, they seem somewhat cramped. Finally, one of the LED bars that form the numeric characters on the display stopped working.
The Kenmore Elite 9991 ranges bring induction cooking to mainstream appliances. While they aren't low priced, you're likely to pay more for a standalone induction cooktop/wall oven combination, such as the GE Profile PHP900DM[BB] cooktop, $1,650, and GE JTP70SM[SS] oven, $1,600, both of which we recommended. You'll also pay more for many ranges without getting more performance.