I don't have any experience with that melter, but have been thinking about getting this food warmer to use as a chocolate melter:
Has anyone used one of these? How did it work?
Did you check the temperature that the bottom/sides of the pan get while heating the contents? It's one thing to heat water and see that it's holding the temperature at around 140. HOWEVER.... Chocolate burns VERY easily. Did you take the temperature of the walls of your food warmer while it was getting the contents to the "stand by" temperature? If the walls go higher than 180 F, you're going to have some burnt chocolate on your hands.
It is this exact reason that almost every chocolate melter on the market uses either warm water, or a gentle, non direct heat source and not the heating elements used in food warmers.
Just food for thought....
Good point, Brad. I haven't yet, but I'll test it and post my results. I could use water with this as well, but wanted to avoid that if possible.
One other data point: on its lowest setting, it warmed the pan of water to 100F and held it there. It took a few hours to reach that temp.
To everyone looking to shave a few bucks off a purchase, capital acquisition costs are only a small part of the total cost picture, or total cost of operation (TCO).
Operating a piece of equipment can cost more than buying it.
If one piece of equipment is less energy efficient than another, then it may make more sense to buy the more expensive piece of equipment as it will be cheaper in the long run
Ben - the unit you're looking at is a food warmer. It wants to hold food above 150F. That's real high for chocolate. I'd contact the company (or the web site) and ask them what the bottom end of the range on the thermostat is. Even is 150F is okay, you'll pay more to keep it at that temp than at 120F - and it will cost more in the long run, even if you saved a few bucks up front.
Thanks Clay. Definitely good points. I've got an email in to them. I'll post their reply when I get it. I'm mostly looking for something to pre-melt chocolate to load into my tempering machine--not really hold it at temp once melted.
I realize you don't need a stable temp.
The question is: "How long will it take for any given approach to melting chocolate take to melt X weight to desired temp?" This melter might be real fast - too fast, in fact in that it will melt far more chocolate than you need far more quickly than you need to a temperature much higher than you need.
If so, then whatever money you're saving on the equipment you're losing in increased energy costs.
Or maybe not. There could be ways to much more closely monitor the equipment, but it won't be "set and forget" especially at the beginning.
I ordered one last night around 7:30 and it's already on the truck for delivery today.
This one can be operated wet or dry, so moisture shouldn't be a problem. Dry operation, like most of the 'true' chocolate melters, was one of the characteristics I was looking for. Most of the food warmers that I found required water.
I don't have any chocolate needing melting today, but I'll try to do some tests with water in the pan to see how well it works.
So, I tested the food warmer using a hotel pan of cool water. I started by setting the warmer to 4. This brought the water up to 140 and held it pretty consistently for an hour or so. The next day, I set it to 3 and it held it right at 130 for several hours.
So, it looks like it can hold temp pretty well and can go low enough to be used to melt chocolate. I haven't had a chance to actually melt chocolate with it, but it looks like a viable alternative to more expensive melters.