RV Propane vs. Induction Boil-Off! (And, James’ need to constantly tinker with the RV.)

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I don’t know how this happens, but James has a way of sucking me into his insanity.

Case in point: this video.


Now let me just say Lance was a perfectly wonderful RV the day he was born. Heck, we took him out for those first few weeks without doing a single mod! Everything worked great, and we had a blast!

That was over a year ago. James, and his OCD (Obsessively Clean but still Dashing) over-the-top need to take things apart, has since then tinkered with pretty much every part of Lance.

He’s running out of DIY projects, and is clearly working in desperation mode.

THAT’S why we’re having a boil-off. James’ latest big scheme is to replace the propane cooktop, which we’ve always enjoyed and appreciated, and install an induction single burner cooktop instead. It’s a totally unnecessary project, but means he gets to DESTRUCT something. Destruction seems to make him very happy.

And I’ll admit, he sucked me in when he said I get to pick out a new countertop. I mean, who can blame me? New stuff is way cool.

Just to mess with him, I’m going to pick out something REALLY crazy for the countertop.

Bright-Lance-yellow, maybe? Meh.

Or OOOH! What about a counter with little bikes all over it, some sort of laminate! Wait, he’d probably love that idea.

OMG I’ve GOT it. I’m picking a countertop that mimics the look of sand…


At any rate, if you’re like us, and you’ve not experienced how efficient induction cooking is versus traditional propane cooking, you might find this video interesting. I have to admit, seeing that water boil so quickly was impressive. Oh! And if you stick around long enough, you’ll see Mel’s first official video appearance!

So, yeah, this project isn’t necessary. But if induction cooking means coffee more quickly in the morning, I’m sold.


After 15 years as an educator in both the public K-12 setting and the University level in Special Physical Education, Stef made the leap to her true passion… the fitness world. She’s currently a personal trainer and wellness coach specializing in seniors, medical conditions, and injuries. Stef loves running, cycling, and being “Mugga” to her two favorite mini-humans — Punky and Marshmallow. ❤️

    70 thoughts on “RV Propane vs. Induction Boil-Off! (And, James’ need to constantly tinker with the RV.)

    1. Stu

      Great stuff ! You might want to try a variable temp electric kettle like the Aicok or Epica. Making your coffee with lower temp water avoids some of the acid and can, depending on the coffee and method, make it taste much better. In addition to bring the water to only 175 degrees saves a bunch of power. 175 degrees is recommended temp for Yerba Mate or AeroPress coffee. It would be interesting to know how much less time and power are used.

      1. James

        If we had a bigger RV, then we might look at something like that. But bringing another (larger) appliance isn’t in the cards for us. We actually looked for the smallest kettle we could find, and that’s what we take with us.
        (And you’ll cringe when you hear this, but we just drink instant on the road…)
        The power saved by heating 16 oz of water 40 degrees less is going to be really minimal.
        In fact, since we are literally talking about heating water, you can calculate it, since that’s one way to define energy.
        I haven’t verified the calculations on this site, but they seem in the ballpark: https://bloglocation.com/art/water-heating-calculator-for-time-energy-power
        So heating two cups of water from 175 to boiling uses about 11 watt hours of energy. Our lithium battery holds 7,000 watt-hours.

    2. Patti Jessup

      It would be great if you could do a video on how to replace the propane cooktop with induction. There are no videos on how to remove the propane cooktop and refit the opening and vent the induction cooktop.

    3. Tom Boles

      James & Stef,

      I know that the induction cook top is old hat now but we just picked one up at IKEA for use in our trailer. The first thing I did was put our steel teapot on the beast and turned it on. What I was surprised by first is the fan noise…it’s really kind of obtrusive. I watched/listened to your clip again and yes, you can hear it whooshing in the background. I imagine it’s much quieter when mounted with the fan under the counter top, any comment?


      1. James

        Yes, it’s true there is some noise.
        I imagine that what we hear is probably less with it mounted recessed in the counter top. As a point of reference, I usually get up before Stef, and can boil water for coffee without waking her up. Me clanging pots about is more disruptive than the fan on the induction cooktop. I imagine others might be more sensitive though. We don’t seem to mind, and are actually looking forward to getting induction cooking in our home!

        1. Jessica Hood

          Hey guys,

          Jess with True Induction… I just wanted to take a second to reach out and assure you that IKEA is not an authorized reseller of the True Induction cooktop, as seen in your video. (In friendly reference to Tom’s comment)

          We are thrilled that you’re looking into induction cooking for your home as well!


    4. Jess

      Hey Stef & James!

      I am the Brand Manager at Sequoia Brands. I want to let you know that myself and the True Induction team think your video review of our TI-1B is awesome!
      I see that this video is from 2016, I can’t believe we haven’t come across your blog sooner. I hope your Induction Cooktop is still suiting Lance well.
      I noticed one concern was the possibility of losing a second burner by switching to Induction cooking. True Induction offers multiple styles of dual burner cooktops which can be used on the countertop or set in flush with your counter’s surface.
      We’re here to answer any questions you may have.

      Thanks again for your positive feedback!

      – Jess

      1. James

        Well hi, Jess –
        The induction cooktop is still going strong in Lance. In reality, the two burner cooktop was a bit small to put two actual pots on anyway, so going down to one burner has not been a sacrifice at all.
        I doubt that we’ll have an RV without an induction cooktop ever again. We really appreciate the *no flames* aspect, and it’s nice to not always have to open a vent when just heating water for coffee or something.
        One change we did make is that we installed a switch on the outlet the cooktop is plugged into. We found that we would frequently turn it on by accident, and we were worried that the cat might turn it on as well. (He knows he’s not allowed on the counters, but sometimes he chooses to flaunt the rules.)
        We’ll post back if we think of any questions.

    5. John Dwyer

      One thing no one ever seems to either understand or comment on is that the Watts usage is for a one hour period. If your 1,500 watt inductive cook top is on for 6 minutes (1/10th of an hour) it will only use 150 watts. This is important to remember when calculating your power usage/needs for your battery bank It would be interesting if you would show the power usage of the inductive unit at the various power levels. This would let someone know how much power they could expect to use when say, simmering soup vs frying an egg vs boiling water.
      Thank you.

      1. James

        Watts and Watt-hours can be confusing, indeed.
        Batteries are rated in Watt-hours, which is what you’re calculating. That’s where the confusion comes in.
        Watts by themselves are an instantaneous unit. Like miles per gallon.
        Watt-hours are a measure of storage capacity. Like gallons
        In other words, I can run a 60 watt light bulb all day, and it will be using 60 watts at the start, and 60 watts at the end.
        But over the course of the day, you would have used 1,440 watt-hours (60 watts x 24 hours).

    6. Marcus lucas

      hi there

      I like your video.
      I wonder what the gas burner system is called that you have. I already purchased a used european gas system for under my e250 van.
      could you tell me the brand of the gas cook top

      thank you and happy travels

    7. Bo chuon

      Hi James and so I build my camper van and I chose to have a portable induction cooktop. I have 2x 100watt solar panels on the roof, 2x 125amp deep cycle batteries and 3000watt inverter. My cooktop is still not working. What am I missing? Do I need some kind of high power converter? The cooktop requires 12.5amp to run.
      Any help I can get. Appreciated.

      1. James

        Hmmm…. The setup you describe sounds like it should work.
        Is your inverter a pure sine wave inverter? Often times, electronics will balk at square or modified sine wave power.

      1. James

        I think those work by resistance heat. My money would still be on the induction (with an appropriate kettle).
        Might be an interesting test though…

        1. Larry

          It should be almost the same (assuming same wattage) since all the power goes into the water with either setup.

        2. James

          Not exactly. Resistance coil heating – in addition to heating the water and pot, also has to heat the coil itself. For small amounts of water, the mass of the coil is significant compared to the water.
          This one is an interesting read: https://www.centurylife.org/is-induction-more-efficient-than-electric-coil-or-gas-an-energy-efficiency-comparison-between-stoves/
          You have to read the whole thing – the first test is the “giant pot of spaghetti” scenario. The second test is two cups of water.

        3. Larry D Ash

          I have a nuwave flux induction unit.
          And a truck stop 3000 watt power drive invertor.
          It powers on and the fan works but no heat.
          Does the invertor needs to be a sinwave unit.
          Thanks in advance for your help.

        4. James

          I can’t speak directly to the nuwave flux. But in general, most things work better on a pure sinewave inverter.

    8. Kelly Fowler

      Great blog! Gotta throw my .02 in… Coming from the perspective that I practically built my little trailer’s kitchen around my ability to make espresso, we found this little gem while prepping for a trip to Patagonia. Obviously meant for outdoor use, it boils a litre of water at altitude and in the wind, in only 2.5 mins, when others blow out. We were backcountry hike-camping so weight was an issue. It was Starbucks Via sleeves on that trip.

      With the trailer we talk our trusty Rok. It makes the best espresso – nothing else comes close. With the MSR, the Rok, and a little coconut oil or heavy cream, we’re right where we want to be. mmmmm….



    9. Carol McCarty

      Just watched your video which I appreciated because I have a single burner induction cooktop as well. My husband and I hope to buy a travel trailer next spring. One thing I will share is that I never leave my burner plugged in. Once, after using the burner, I noticed a faint buzzing so I unplugged it. As far as pots & pans, if you have stainless steel that works great. I can’t use aluminum with mine. Happy travels and thanks much. Sincerely, Carol McCarty

    10. DanoT

      I do a lot of staying in ski area parking lots in my custom popup truck camper in winter and I am a believer in having back up systems. So, why not use the portable induction hot plate and still have the propane stove top as a back up for use when the solar doesn’t work during a snowstorm or if you encounter engine or electrical problems and can’t run your alternator to charge the batteries?

      1. James

        Well, then we’d have to store the induction cooktop. Storage space is precious for us.
        Plus, for a backup, we’ll just go out to eat! (or microwave) (or eat raw)

    11. Bryant Williams

      Love all your stuff, but why drink Instant?
      Once you have boiling water from whatever source:induction, propane burner, microwave, campfire, it is easy and fast to pour thru a $.99 store plastic cone and paper filter right into cup. Mabe takes 1 minute to drip real coffee as strong as you like.
      I plan on going solar electric when I buy next year along the lines of your mod so this is all fascinating to me and reassuring that it all works the way I think it should and I don’t have to figure everything out from scratch.

      1. James

        Instant is faster, less stuff to carry, and less trash to dispose of with every cup. (We travel with a super tiny trash can.) That’s why I like it. I’m all about the efficiency.

      1. Kimmie

        We’ve had our RV for 2+ years. When we use our RV I cook in the microwave/induction oven and cook quite a bit on the induction cooktop. It’s coins fast and if you put it on too high, will burn the food. I’m happy we do not have to mess with propane.

    12. Alain

      I did my own boil-off this morning. Coffee first thing in the morning is also a number one priority for us You might be interested in this alternative. We use a Vigano VEV 12 cup “moka pot”. Often called a stove top espresso maker. The link at the end of the post shows the one we use. The base is quite wide and it works well on our cooktop even if it is smaller than the small circle outlined on the cooktop. I think there is more thermal mass in this pot than your’s.

      To compare apples with apples, I put 500 ml of room temp water like in your test, but the pot could go up to 750 ml. Our induction cooktop is the Salton 1800 Watts you can find anywhere. Time to make coffee 3 minutes 15 seconds. Probably need to add 15-30 seconds to get the final sputtering of steam but you wont get much more coffee for those extra seconds. A bit longer than just boiling water, but if you prepare it the night before and just switch it on in the morning, it might be as fast as the instant coffee for total prep time. And at the risk of sounding like a coffee snob, it certainly tastes better than instant….LOL


    13. James

      Hmm “Lance” continues to receive “performance enhancements” and gets better every “tour”.

      Am I reliving my adolescence?

      Will you soon be on the cover of Cycling magazine?

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Yeah, I definitely like the idea of a portable, and if we had a Class C or bigger, that’d probably be what we’d do, too. Cooking outside is so enjoyable on an RV trip, and the portable cooktop makes that possible! But ultimately for us we want to do built-in just to save the precious space in our van. I’ve got my new tabletop Cuisinart grill AND my GoSun solar cooker, so if I’m dying to cook outside, there’s always that!

    14. CJScott

      Thank you so much for this. Honestly seems like a little thing but I never realized induction was so efficient and I would absolutely prefer induction in my B Winnebago. I hope Winnebago and others start to do this. I also LOVE the window over the sink, it makes a huge difference. We looked at that model and maybe with the window and induction would have prompted us to purchase. Also needed to upgrade or change the sofa dinette table area which we didn’t like, was very uncomfortable to sit on and the table needs to be able to get out of the way designed differently as it takes up too much space, hard to maneuver around and sit in for us.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Yeah, the efficiency is pretty impressive isn’t it? As for Winnebago starting to add induction to their vans, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it down the line, but who knows. Winnebago is in a perpetual state of updating and improving their models all the time! That’s one of the things we love about them. They really do try to meet the needs and desires of the consumer.

    15. Velda S

      We love our two induction burners! The Duxtop was cheaper but the Volrath is much better (more infinitely adjustable though 10 times the price). I bought hubby a fabulous induction ready espresso coffee pot, but it’s base was too small for the Volrath, thus we acquired the Duxtop. Every coffee maker needs its own induction burner, right? One or the other or both get used daily.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Interesting comparison between two models, thanks for sharing that, Velda! Reading all these comments from y’all who are loving your induction has me pretty excited to go ahead with this project. Plus I’m rather curious about your espresso ready induction coffee pot. You had me at “espresso”!!!

    16. leia

      I cannot believe I just watched a video showcasing the speed of boiling water. I’ll be back next week for the video of you two watching paint dry! 😉

      Lance reminds me of a cross between a Tesla, a Batmobile and the Scooby Doo van and I have full faith that James will one day get Lance into the air via some zany maglev experiment.

      I love the window in the kitchen area. I hope Winnebago eventually makes that a standard feature.

        1. leia

          I *should* have said the Mystery Mobile but I can’t go back in my time machine and edit it until CERN figures out how to alter the timeline. You’ll probably have Lance passing through wormholes before all that happens.

          Thanks for the enjoyable videos.

    17. Dan

      I cook on gas at home (6 burner, all-gas Wolf range), so I like propane cooking. When we bought our Magna pots, I bought induction ones just in case. We do have a portable induction burner that I bring along sometimes in the Travato if we’re going to be camping somewhere with power hookups and where don’t need the sound gear.

      1. James

        I used to cook in a restaurant, and it’s all gas there, and at home as well. But when I took a tour of the galley on a cruise ship – it was all induction. That’s what got me thinking about it at first.

      1. James

        Haven’t checked on kettles marketed specifically as induction-ready. I know our little kettle is magnetic, so we’re good to go!

    18. Bob Bedell

      Always interesting videos and stories from Fit RV.

      IMO boiling water is NOT cooking. I sauted scallops in butter, and them did a pomegranate reduction last night in our ’99 VW EVC. And we do do drip coffee – instant does NOT cut it.

      I do hear that induction can provide very subtle control of heating for cooking. Following up on the comments by David Golembeski instead of focusing on the “how fast does it boil water, how about (1) I have an RV (or just bought one) that as “standard” comes with propane and then (2) do cost/benefit or payback analysis of how much more does the induction system cost vs the propane stove – not just the induction unit, but the battery system to support it (FYI we don’t have a generator and usually don’t plug in) and when do I “break even”. Spending $ on fancy gadgets is easy; spending my retirement $ on fancy gadgets better have a payoff (in my lifetime).

      Just an alternative viewpoint.

      1. James

        I don’t really think there’s a logical payback to the induction cooktop if you already have propane. Not in dollars and cents anyway.
        I believe you’re right about super fine and even heating with induction. Stef will be trying that sort of thing out in the coming weeks. Supposedly, you can melt chocolate without a double boiler?

        1. Bob Bedell

          Thank you for the reply. Looking forward to Stef’s take on the induction, with tasks like melting the chocolate. Try something like frying eggs – a deft touch with the heat is neccessary.

          Even if you have propane I do hear that a portable induction burner is very useful if you plug in a lot; reduces your propane usage.

    19. Jeff

      Before you go tearing out and getting a single burner induction, you do realize there are two burner models that are 1800 watts, so not both can be on high at the same time, but you’d still have the two burners. Plus, I’ve been induction cooking at home for years now, and getting in the bus and dealing with the propane is a total pain!! Once you go induction, it’s very difficult to go back. You’ll love it once you start using is regularly. Who knows, you might even be like me and tear out the home range and replace with induction. The 97% efficiency is what sold me to start, and the improved ease of it has me hooked for life.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Well I guess you’d give us an enthusiastic thumbs up to proceed then, lol! Glad you’re loving yours that’s reassuring to hear. And yeah, we looked at the 2-burner, but we like the simplicity (and smaller thumbprint) of the one burner in our tiny galley. If we were full-timers we might think differently!!!

    20. R M Roberts

      I get and appreciate your point. But I guess I’m a dinosaur. I have been cooking since I was knee-high to a duck (with lots of help), and I have all these recipes in my head and the timing is queed to me bing abgle to sight adjust the flame. I would hate having to re-learn decades of cooking ques, just to save a little time.
      Beside that old-school cooking requires time for the flavors to develope @ a low temp. I have a super “C”, that was touted as all-electric until I optioned in the LP Gas 3 burner cooktop. the salesmen was dumbfounded but he got it done anyway. Different folks, different strokes. Thanks guys that was an interesting video. Keep up the good work.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        I can definitely understand your thinking, RM! And I actually like the simplicity of cooking with propane, too. It isn’t just the speed of boiling water that’s selling us (though ask me in the morning when I’m dying for coffee and it just might be). It’s mostly getting away from having to fill the propane tank, which is such an annoying task (and sometimes, we’ve learned the hard way, impossible). Another bonus for induction: induction burners are able to hold a very low temperature very consistently. It’s just not as interesting to demo, lol!

      1. Stefany - Post author

        LOL! Oh Gary. I wondered if I’d hear from my most favorite coffee snob! (BTW I’m drinking a K-cup coffee right now…there’s no hope for me) xoxoxoxo

    21. Aaron

      I’m pretty sure the induction pot would have boiled faster if we all hadn’t been sitting here watching you two watch the pot not boil. We have the same coffee routine (same instant Starbucks packets too). Used induction with our Scamp but now stick with the propane cooktop.

      If you want the option of cooking messier meals outside, you might want to leave the induction burner unmounted.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Fellow Starbucks Via fans! I already like you, Aaron (Gary, my favorite coffee snob, is covering his eyes at all this instant talk). Yeah, we thought about keeping it portable. I do love cooking outside on trips so much! But, since we’re already lugging my Cuisinart portable grill and my GoSun solar cooker, we really need to save our storage space. Plus, James wouldn’t have anything to destruct!

    22. David Golembeski

      Could you please do a calculation of the cost of propane vs induction? Let’s say your solar and battery setup cost $3000 (plug in your actual cost here, ignoring the cost of the induction cook top, or include it if you want) and the batteries will last 10 years (again substitute as you see fit). Assuming 50% (feel free to adjust this number) of your solar output goes into powering the induction cook top, then the cost of induction heating of food is $1500 over 10 years or $150 per year. At current prices of propane, is $150 enough to buy you a year’s usage for cooking? Using my estimates, it seems a solar and induction setup is both the cheaper way to go, and there is less side affects…heating up the coach and putting more of a load on your electrical system, fans and AC, to remove that heat. My estimates may have no basis in reality, so please correct as needed, or mention some other aspects that affect the cost of both set ups. Thank you…a sub and I enjoy your videos.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        OMG!!!! Ted, that’s it. I’m never reading your comments again with a mouth full of coffee!!!!! ROFLMBO!!!! xoxoxoxo

    23. Noelle

      I’ve been looking at Class B units for over a year – love the openness of the living area provided by the rear bath of Travato and Arriva. So anyway – I don’t have an RV yet and wondering just how long does it take for that propane water to boil??? (And I’d vote for the garbage chute – never a good place for trash…)

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Oh hey, Noelle! Sorry, we probably SHOULD have kept the experiment going. Honestly, boiling a kettle of water on the propane cooktop isn’t quick. I’d say we wait 5 or 6 minutes from start to pour. That can feel much longer in the morning waiting for that first cup of coffee! But like Bob said, there’s always the microwave option. 🙂

    24. Bob Bean (Bob Dory)

      Hi Guys, I love your videos. We do the same amount of water for instant coffee every morning too. We use the oem microwave for 3 min @1000 watts and brew in the cup (no pan needed). I realize this simple factory installed idea isn’t as therapeutic for James, but it works great and costs less.( PS: We have a counter top induction burner, and love it, so we don’t use propane in campgrounds and can cook outside , but the microwave is less fuss.)

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Yeah, Bob, a fellow instant coffee drinker! There IS the microwave, true. But, there’s just something about putting a kettle on each morning! It’s my favorite time of day to be in the RV…

    25. Ted

      Since this would be a major renovation, you might want to also consider other countertop additions such as: a garbage chute and a pop up electrical outlet.


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