Reliability and Servicing: BlueStar vs Viking 30 inch ranges

moraflautaJanuary 27, 2014

Hi all,

My husband and I moved into a house with a small but open kitchen plan, one we are fine with except for the range... a 20 year old Jenn-Air horror. Our other appliances are white and too new to replace so we are looking for a 30" range that comes in white. We have looked at a lot of standard to high end options and are finding that if you want a range with high BTUs in white you are limited to Capital, Viking and BlueStar. As wonderful as it sounds, the Capital Precision is too expensive.

The main issue is that we can't get a good read on recent reliability and service performance for Viking or BlueStar. It seems like both Companies had some issues around 2007 to 2011 - Viking much more so. Has anyone recently purchased or extensively used either of the ranges listed below and have any words of wisdom to help us figure out which is best for us?

BlueStar RNB concerns: hot door issue, hot range in a small kitchen (is this still an issue?), servicing, igniters breaking, and the open burners.. we have never used them before. Selling points: the open burner performance (I know!) and the large oven.

Viking Gas Sealed Burner Range - VGCC concerns: products were not so great for awhile, but we are hearing there is improvement, plus there is that 3-yr warranty. Selling points: sold by a company that has excellent customer service, warranty, looks nice, will be light years better than the Jenn-Air horror.

Thanks for your time!

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As happens often with these kinds of purchases, heeding the advice of a brand new owner who's still squarely in the honeymoon stage of his nice shiny new range can be a bad idea :) Well I'm there with my new American Range Performer 30" all-gas and I just checked their site, it is available in "alpine white."

I've had mine for a week and am over the moon about it. It replaced an 8 year old KitchenAid that I, er... never again. At $3700 retail, it's a pretty darn good value. Open burners, large oven (4.3 cu ft), 1800* infrared broiler, and 2 25k BTU star burners that will remove eyebrows if you're not careful. I have a thread kicking around here about it if you want more detail.

I baked a pizza last night with the broiler on full blast for 20 minutes to heat up my pizza steel, then 500* for the better part of 45 minutes. I measured the door with my infrared thermometer and it was 118*, warm to the touch sure but it's not going to burn anyone.

Best of luck in your decision, from all the research I did, looking at something like BlueStar, Capital, or American Range? You're not going to pick incorrectly. Sure, some folks have had issues with these products, they're niche devices with low numbers of units produced and the people who have issues post about them. I can assure you that not every happy owner gets on the web and starts posting how happy they are :)

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 8:54PM
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Thanks Todd! We will follow up with the American Range option. Hope the pizza turned out well. :)

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 10:27AM
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I am looking at ranges too. I am not on the fast track though. The BS door seems to be a highly subjective issue. Some feel it is too hot and worry about kids around it but others say it is just warm. One other consideration for me would be is it hot standing in front of it. Gas ovens by nature because of the way they are ventilated will introduce more heat into your kitchen.

In looking at the burners, do you want different sized burners which would be necessary if you use pans that do not conduct heat as well like steel or cast iron. These must be matched more closely to the burner. The star shape will also spread the heat source a little more. Or do you have cookware, heavy aluminum or copper that will be pretty good on all burners so you might rather have all the same size. Look at how the burners are cleaned. Consider what range of heat you will use. In my cooking I must have a good low range of heat -300-900 BTUs works depending on the pan. Others utilize the high heat the most. And don't care about the low end as much.

Hey Todd, I am following your posts with great interest. I like reading what you are cooking. That to me helps me understand the range more.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 11:38AM
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Hi wekick!

Thanks for responding. Good questions.

We have pans that can handle large burners - Bourgeat copper, allclad, and calphalon, so burner size isn't an issue.

We would also like as big a range of heat as possible - from one-bubble boil (sauces and glace) to high heat for stir frying. BlueStar seems to be the best bet in this area - we especially like the 130 degree simmer, but we are very concerned about the hot door issue in our small kitchen.

The American Range suggested by Todd looks promising, but a brief internet search says it's an extra $700 for white. Gagh.

On another note... I too am loving the food posts. :)

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 11:56AM
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It's my understanding - perhaps an incorrect one - that the burners on both the AR and BS (and possibly others) are all based on a similar Garland design so I would expect pretty close results from either variant. $700 for a custom color is more than I would want to pay, no doubt about that, though. For what it's worth, I did a test last night - about 1 cup of water in my DeBuyer carbon pan on the simmer burner at its lowest setting, I was getting a water temp of about 125* for about 15 minutes. I got bored and shut it down after that :) With *just* the pan on the grates, the surface temp was around 160~162 with nothing in it. So, I'm not sure if that's how I should be testing low simmer performance but that's what I did. Give me new kitchen tools and I like to play!


    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 12:05PM
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Thanks for the info! Definitely good to know. At the moment, I believe that the BS and AR are our top choices, though honestly - like many people on here, I am sure - we have said this about 5 times now.

At any rate, thanks so much for pointing us in the American Range direction - we weren't even considering it this time yesterday. We shall wait and see what my appliance guys comes back with in terms of the AR custom color.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 12:18PM
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No worries and no, I won't get a commission if you buy one, lol. I was impressed by their service when they called me back quickly after I had a question and they were friendly on the phone. Performance is top-notch IMO, but that can be said for all of the ranges you're considering. I also got mine for about $700 off retail for the stainless so I didn't pay full MSRP. I am trying to avoid "fanboyism" which is so easy to cloud one's judgement. I saw it on here with a certain other range that several were literally trying to sell to anyone who asked so I'm trying to stay as objective as possible.

With that said, the other thread about the BlueStar rangetop from last night is something that I would not want to deal with when spending this kind of money on a kitchen appliance. I feel so bad for that woman...

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 12:38PM
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As an eleven month owner of a Bluestar 36RNB, I guess you could say the honeymoon is over, but I can't, I'm still in love!
I'll try to answer some of your questions,,, Oven door warm? yes, hot? no. Standing in front of oven not an issue to me, even at 425-450, very small kitchen, but granted here in So Cal windows open all year long. I have simmered all afternoon, and have not used my crock pot since I got the Bluestar. Stir frys and sears like a dream! Super easy to wipe down grates and bowls, never really need "cleaning" now that they are nicely seasoned. Oven does take a good 20 minutes to get to 350 and five more to reach 450 so I just plan ahead and take care of prep while pre heating. Griddle is awesome, one of my favorite features and I use it daily :) Broiler is small! 8"x11" is ridiculous in that huge cavernous oven;( Two steaks or a Salmon filet max., it does heat up fast and hot, but need to leave door open or it cycles off. When doing this, I pull out the drip tray to keep knobs from getting hot. (a tip I learned on GW:) Fortunately I don't broil much because we grill outdoors all year long. Check dealers for a demo promo, I got my black color upgrade free for attending a demo and got a free stir fry lunch too... Haven't had to deal with any service, so can't help you there, but when I ordered it they quoted 6-8 weeks, and it came in to the dealer in about 4 weeks, I wasn't even ready for it yet, but the dealer held on to it until I was.
Hope this helps, if you have any more specific questions fire away...
Edit to add; I cook hard, two to three meals a day, so it's had it's fair share of use:)

This post was edited by ctycdm on Tue, Jan 28, 14 at 17:55

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 5:36PM
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Ditto what ctycm said. Had mine over a year and zero issues.

Also, my parents have had the earlier RNB model (the pre V-1) for seven years and there hasn't been any issues at all. And believe me, my mom puts that range through the ringer daily. It's a workhorse.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 8:08PM
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Posted by toddrhodes
For what it's worth, I did a test last night - about 1 cup of water in my DeBuyer carbon pan on the simmer burner at its lowest setting, I was getting a water temp of about 125* for about 15 minutes. I got bored and shut it down after that :) With *just* the pan on the grates, the surface temp was around 160~162 with nothing in it. So, I'm not sure if that's how I should be testing low simmer performance but that's what I did.

Every bit of information is helpful. Water has a lot of movement and I tested a a gallon in an 8 qt pan one time. The temperature varies a lot even with readings that are a couple of inches apart. When you increase the consistency of the of the liquid you are cooking you will get less movement so a greater difference in temperature. Also foods that are starchy or high in sugar will tend to scorch more easily. Try simmering something like split pea soup or a tomato sauce. How much do you need to stir or will it hold without stirring. To really test, will it hold a pot of mashed potatoes or pasta. If your lowest heat is too hot get a simmer mat, stack a another burner grate or use your oven to simmer. Something that doesn't work in a steel or cast iron pan may work in aluminum or copper.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 6:46AM
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Hi all,

Thanks so much for the comments! I am glad to hear that ctycm and gtadross are pleased with their purchases. I am also envious of those of you who got such great deals on your ranges. :)

wekick - thanks for weighing in on the simmer testing. Interesting stuff!

So... no comment from the Viking community?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:06AM
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I'm sure there are lots of people who marvel about their Vikings. But I've cooked on many of those and I simply don't see the appeal. Looks aside, cooking on a Viking isn't much different from cooking on a regular GE or other mid-range stove. The closed burners throw the flame to the outer edges of the pan. Not to mention that black top is impossible to keep clean.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:29AM
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One other point to consider, which you might have already realized, is that if you have the typical Jenn Air, it uses a down draft vent, so the vent pipe is under the range. In addition, the location of the gas supply is also under the range, which may need to be relocated. Just letting you know because we just replaced a friend's dual fuel Jenn Air, with a different brand, and had to relocate the gas and electric, and also fill in the hole in the floor. BTW, I have a BS, and am a former owner of a Viking, no contest, the BS is much more simplistic in design and has less parts to fail.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 12:13PM
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We had a Garland way back in the 80's - cooked fine, the star shaped burners were nice and even.

Our present range is a Viking - had it for about 8 years. Cooks fine - same as the Garland - can easily simmer. Never have had any problems except I replaced the oven glow rods.

The Viking comes apart - completely - for cleaning.

I don't know why, but for some reason, there are people on this forum who love to hate Viking?

Our experience has been positive.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 12:23PM
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gtadross - I think you are on the money about Viking, and the lack of enthusiasm from current owners reinforces that. We had concerns about putting our dream range in our current house, and thought that potential buyers would like the Viking brand (plus it would be at least an improvement over out current situation). We have reconsidered that, and are happily settled on open burners. Buyers beware!

Barryv - Thanks for the input! We have considered how venting, gas and electric will need to be moved around. Luckily, we have 'a guy.' :) For what it's worth, I have never despised an oven as much as I despise this Jenn Air. Our previous tin can apartment range worked better.

I also appreciate your input on the BlueStar. We are terribly excited to get the ball rolling... just need quotes from the dealer to make the final decision!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 12:30PM
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Geoffrey - thanks for the response! Too bad I saw it after I posted my earlier comment. (Taking foot out of mouth....).

I am glad you like your Viking - nothing worse than liking to cooking and hating your range. Our sense is that their product quality took a hit around 2007, but has gotten better recently. We are settled on going in a different direction so this is purely out of curiosity - any chance you know anyone who purchased one within the past year?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 12:36PM
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As far as resale value goes...I say buy the range you want bc that's what you'll be cooking on until you sell. Now I know having your listing say "gourmet kitchen with Viking range" sounds nice, but with the bluestar, the listing will just say "gourmet kitchen with commercial range" or something to that effect.

I'm not selling anytime soon, but everyone who's been in my house always, without fail, comments on the range. People just go gaga over it. So while it may not have the cache that Viking has from a marketing perspective, it really has that "wow" factor when seen in person.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:08PM
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"Posted by Geoffrey_B
I don't know why, but for some reason, there are people on this forum who love to hate Viking?

The thing with any brand of appliance talked about on this forum is that things can change. Once an appliance gets a number of complaints, it can take a long time to turn things around. People are reluctant to buy a product because of past bad reviews on the other hand, good products can slide and can float on past reputation.

People love to hate sealed burners too. They tend to lump all sealed and all open burners together. They are all engineered differently. Many people are surprised by the size of any of the prostyle burners. I would advise whatever range anyone is considering buying that they look at it in person and try to cook on it if possible. I personally have sealed burners and can use a 7 inch pan on almost full blast heat. This is on the largest size burner. Open burners can have more flare of the flame but only on the highest heat and some more so than others. My guess is that the largest open burners would also have the flame coming around a small pan on full blast. That is why BS has different size burners. If I need a smaller size burner I go to the small burner just as you would on a BS. The real differences to look at are BTUs, high and low, burner configuration and orientation of the gas ports, burners all the same size vs different sizes and ease of cleaning. You have to look at how you cook and the the pans you use to determine what is "best" or which of these aspects of the burner matter. Cleaning is purely subjective.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:00AM
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gtadross - Totally concur re: real estate listings. Can I be nosy and ask about your ventilation? Do you have some? If so, what cfm? Our final concern about this project is ventilation... we were all set to install something with serious cfm, but codes in our area require a make-up air system for anything over 400 cfm. In your opinion, would 400 cfm be acceptable for a 30 inch BlueStar RNB? The online owner's manual recommends 300.

***Which brings me to a question for Todd - if I can ask: what is your ventilation system? AR recommends 500 cfm... this is a little concerning to us.

wekick - You are a fountain of knowledge! More nosy questions: given what I have said about our pot situation (nice range of quality and size) and cooking styles (the gamut from low to high heat), do you have any thoughts on which range we should choose? What are you considering personally?

In other news, *still* waiting for quotes on our two new range choices - BS and AR. :)

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 8:55AM
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I have a 1200 cfm bluestar pyramid hood that vents straight up through the roof. I'm not aware of any make-up air requirements where we are, but even if there were, there are systems to install to addres that. Or you could just put in the lower cfm hood, get the certificate of occupancy, and thereafter install something more powerful.

I'm not sure if 300 cfm is enough. I guess it all depends on your cooking style and your perspective. In my previous house, we had no hood at all and I was always making a lot of smoke bc I tend to do more high heat style cooking. So in comparison, a 300 cfm hood would have been great.

I'd look into the make-up air systems or discuss with your GC a workaround if possible, as I really think you need a minimum of 600 cfm. I wanted to originally go with a lower (ie cheaper) cfm hood, but when my GC told me that that's the same cfm's as in my bathroom vent, I took the plunge and went for the more powerful one.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 9:17AM
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gtadross - thanks for the insight! We own our home, and are working with an existing space. We will ask our GC about pricing for 400 cfm vs. anything higher with a make-up system. Cost will determine what we decide, I am afraid. I like your idea, but going in the opposite direction. We could ask about the feasibility and cost of reconfiguring the ventilation system to be less powerful if it becomes an issue for resale.

At the moment, we have a downdraft vent and a OTR microwave with charcoal vent (which apparently isn't up to code either, but our home inspector missed that... wonder if we would get that lucky on the resale?) Like you said, I suspect that anything would be an upgrade. :)

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 9:39AM
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I don't even think a downward adjustment would be necessary if you sell the place. Go with the highest cfm hood within your budget. If you do sell, it'll only be an asset rather than a liability.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 10:50AM
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moraflauta wrote: >>> we have a downdraft vent and a OTR microwave with charcoal vent (which apparently isn't up to code either,) It sounds as though we might have confused you on ventilation..

First, very few places in North America that have a code requiring range hoods in home kitchens equipped with residential appliances. At least in my area, range hoods effectiveness usually isn't something home inspectors note because it really is not a code matter. The codes are for commercial equipment. (Yeah, I know that Viking et al refer to their stoves as "professional ranges" to make you feel like a "chef" in a restaurant, but "pro" is just a description of layout, styling and/or marketing hype. If you haven't explored the differences between "pro-style" (residential) ranges and actual "commerical equipment", you might want to find the FAQ written by cpovey which is still somewhere on the GW site.)

Second, there usually is nothing "wrong" with the OTR from a code standpoint. They just are not very effective. A downdraft vent might (or might not) be a little more effective but overhead hoods are much better if you can install them. Also, gas burners can put out a lot of waste heat, which recirculating OTRs and downdrafts don't do much about. It isn't heat that will catch your kitchen on fire, but it can make you swelter uncomfortably. Mostly, overhead vents are preferred because they work better, not because there are regulations or codes requiring them.

Third, the "rules" about sizing vent hoods in relation to residential stoves are rules of thumb for designers and homerowners, not regulations. When I say, "rules of thumb," I mean they are suggestions for comfort and efficiency not regulatory requirements. The sizing is for "worst case scenarios." In your case, that would be running woks or searing steaks in fry pans on all four burners at maximum heat or running large kettles on full boil on an all burners at once. The kind of thing you might do in a restaurant or commercial kitchen or if you do some major entertaining or huge family gatherings. For "regular" gas ranges and electric ranges, the rule of thumb is having at least 100 cfm for every linear foot of cooktop (basically 250 cfm for a 30" range.) For higher powered gas ranges (e.g., burners with combined maximum btu ratings over some arbitrary number (40,000 btu, I think), the rule of thumb is 1 cfm per 100 btu or burner capacity. You won't use all of that capacity all of the time which is why many rangehoods allow for lower speed settings.

Fourth, "max cfm" is only one factor to consider. Capture area is another. The cooking area on your stove will be roughly 24" deep. Many off-the-shelf hoods are between 19 and 22 inches deep (trying to keep folks from bumping heads against the front edge while standing at the stove). The shallower depth is less effective at capturing vapors and grease than a deeper hood will be. Also, a lot of designer hoods are short and many have flat bottoms as opposed to a canopy. (Think of your vent tube as a bottle. You want to pour fluid into the bottle. What's easier: trying to pour the fluid into the mouth of the bottle or trying to pour it into a funnel?)

Fifth, does your town's code specify what the make-up air (MUA) system must be? I gather that some require expensive systems. If so, it may be worthwhile considering a custom hood enclosure which is deeper and taller, giving you more effective venting with the 400 CFM system than a narrower and shorter unit with higher CFMs. Also, in terms of design, you also want a range hood for a 30" range to be 36" inches wide (if you can fit it) because the extra width gives you significantly better coverage.

Sixth, if your town's code only requires MUA but does not specify the system, there may be numbers of relatively inexpensive fixes rather than a complex air exchanger in the kitchen. Remember that the purpose of MUA requirements is to avoid sucking carbon monoxide and such from fireplaces or gas-fired appliances such as furnaces and water heaters. If you do not have a fire place and have your water heater(s) and gas-furnace in basement or utility room/closets, it can be far less expensive to provide them with their own MUA set-up. It could be as simple as a PVC snorkel: it comes through the wall from outside and drops into a bucket that is tall enough to contain the cold winter air until make-up air is needed.

Sixth, the suggestion of putting in a small-capacity hood for code inspections and then replacing it with a high capacity unit may be a very bad idea even apart from regulatory issues. Bear in mind that the point of MUA is avoiding CO backdrafting. No big deal from a practical standpoint if you don't have gas-fired furnaces or water heaters, if don't have fireplaces, or if you have a large, rather "leaky" old house (or maybe all of the above). Also, if you live in a relatively warm climate where the kitchen windows can be opened (simplest MUA of all). But if you have a smaller house, or a new and tighter home (which is what renovation often results in), or if you live in a condo, or if you use fireplaces, then running a high capacity hood without MUA can give you CO poisoning which is a genuinely bad thing.

Seventh, and finally, the MUA discussion often focuses on CO, which gives some folks concern about CO from a gas stove. Actually, however, modern gas ranges and cooktops produce minimal CO unless the burners have been adjusted way off spec. There are other concerns for kitchen air: waste heat and other combustion byproducts (such as NO2) and greasy particulate matter being the big ones. Interestingly enough, the scientific and engineering research into this has largely focused on lower cfm hoods and OTRs. There's a link to a discussion we had here last year about some of the recently published studies as reported in the NY Times article. If you do not already have enough to do, you might find it interesting.

Here is a link that might be useful: RE: NY Times

This post was edited by JWVideo on Fri, Jan 31, 14 at 14:14

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 1:58PM
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FWIW, my old stove had a high burner output of 14k BTU. The new Garland-style range I have has two 25k burners. While I never "timed it," I find it takes longer for the OTR microwave I am using temporarily (hopefully no longer than next weekend when we can install the new Broan Elite hood) to turn on automatically from the temp sensor. I'm guessing this has to do with burner design and more heat going into the pan instead of around it. The old stove had a high-diameter single sealed burner so flame would go around the bottom of the pot more than up into it.

With that said - I've had one 25k burner going at full blast, the oven at 400, and the simmer burner going at a fairly low speed. My OTR temp hood was on level 3. It was hot in the kitchen, there is no mistaking that, and the ambient temp outside was about 20*. I just opened the window and I was fine, but that isn't going to work when it's 90 outside and we have our mini little blast furnace going in the kitchen. I'm anxious to see how much cooler the kitchen is even wtih a 600 cfm hood setup. If I'm just using one 25k burner to sear, and then I toss something in the oven, or turn the flame down to saute with something in the oven, I don't really notice any extra heat in the kitchen to speak of, nor do I even need the OTR vent on to work comfortably. Then again, that's pretty much what I've adapted to so YMMV.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 2:11PM
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@JWVideo: "First, very few places in North America that have a code requiring range hoods in home kitchens equipped with residential appliances. At least in my area, range hoods effectiveness usually isn't something home inspectors note because it really is not a code matter."

Huh - you just want cooking vapors and grease all over your kitchen cabients / inside your home - just because there is no code to make you do it?

IMO, bad advice, twisted logic.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 2:29PM
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(picks jaw off of floor...) Wow - thanks for the incredibly informative and thoughtful post!

Coupla things jump out at me, I'll go point by your point.

First - no hood required. Got it. We are still getting one. I do know that *if* you put in a hood system in my area, there must be a MUA for anything over 400 cfm, according to codes. I highly suspect that no one will ever enforce the code, but we don't want to find that out the hard way.

Second - I threw out the comment about the OTR microwave simply because a salesperson mentioned that - in our area - there is only 1 microwave that is up to code in terms of being OTR, and it is definitely not the one we have. His point was that we could probably get an 'out of reg' (more expensive) hood and still pass inspection. Perhaps he got it wrong? You know what they say, a little knowledge is dangerous. I should have checked the veracity of his statement before posting.

Third - this is great info to have.

Fourth - My husband is 6'3" and is wary of having a 24 inch hood hovering 30 inches over our stove. He is in favor of a 21 inch hood. Your point about capture area is certainly something to consider. We shall steer clear of flat bottomed hoods.

Fifth - I have no clue about the MUA requirements, other than they kick in at 400 cfm. We have a contractor coming out on Monday, and I am so glad to have all of this additional information to chat with him about. And no, sadly, we do not have 36 inches for a hood.

Sixth - taking notes for the contractor...

Sixth(2) - our house is small and basically heated by gas. We do have a fireplace. However, it was built in 1939. Despite replacing the windows last year, it is still quite leaky (as the recent polar vortex reiterated). Luckily, our kitchen does have 3 windows!

Seventh - thanks for the add'l info, again. I started reading the thread, but many of the links don't work. So... is the bottom line that hoods are good, and non-energy star hoods are better?

JWVideo, which hood would you recommend?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 3:04PM
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Advice to skip hoods? Hunh? My fundamental point is that you want a hood for practical reasons even though codes rarely require them and even though codes provide no help in choosing one.

Apparently, my post was making too many points and I somehow managed to completely confuse a subject I was trying to clarify. Sorry for the confusion.


Thank you for the compiments. GW has a ton of stuff written on hoods (including MUA) if you want more information. Sometmes searching for it does not work well with the in-house search engine and you may have better luck going out to google and include "gardenweb" in your search string. Also, the resident guru on hoods is kaseki and his name can be useful to include in search strings as well.

Recommendations? Boy, its been about 12 years since I bought my 36-inch 600 CFM range hood. (For which I did add PVC "snorkels" for the water-heater and furnace after I tightened up my 100 y.o. house -- cost me about $20 in materials. This does not work for everybody -- it is very much a YMMV thing, so see what you contractor says next week.) About all I can suggest is that you might want to start with Kobe hoods as there have been numbers of favorable write-ups here on the 600 and 700 CFM Kobe models.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Fri, Jan 31, 14 at 17:26

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 4:44PM
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>>> So... is the bottom line that hoods are good, and non-energy star hoods are better?

That's the way it seems to me from what I've noticed on offer in the big-box stores.

For one thing, residential hoods are not high energy consumers, anyway, so real world power savings seem likely to be tiny (unless you have an older unit hood 100 watt incandescent lighting that you leave on all the time).

For another, the Energy Star rated models I've noticed in Lowe's, HD, etc., all have been short (meaning not so great pick-up), and are either flat-bottomed or have a fan in a box in the middle of what little canopy there is (again, not so great pick-up), and all seem to be using relatively low capacity fans, like 200 CFM or less (yet another weakening of pick-up).

We're getting a little off the title topic and we're pretty far down in the thread. I'm not telling you to go away, just that starting a new thread may get you better information from folks better informed than me.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Fri, Jan 31, 14 at 18:05

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 5:59PM
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Wekick, I was able to attempt one of your ideas tonight - making a pizza sauce (heavy on the paste, I might add) and then simmering for 30 minutes.

I used the front-left simmer burner (12k) for the entire operation, from sweating the onion/celery/garlic, to adding in the sauce and paste and seasoning. I held it at about 140* for 20 minutes. This is such a thick sauce it doesn't need to simmer much but for those 20 minutes I didn't touch a thing, much as I wanted to :) I was taking readings with my Maverick infrared and I did see some wild variations but I think that's to be expected: the recipe says to use a "large skillet" so I used my 12" tri-ply stainless steel skillet. I figured this is the roughest environment for a tomato-based sauce so why not? I think both the range and the pan acquitted themselves well. I was getting bubbling, but they were very mild bubbles that released puffs of steam but didn't actually "blow up" and send sauce flying. There were also parts of the mixture on the sides of the pan and though they looked a little crusty, they were not scorched, just a bit darker in color. Maybe 20 minutes isn't long enough, but I had the burner turned up past the normal, lowest "simmer" point and I think it did fine. This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of sauce so with that heavy sauce laid out evenly over a 12" SS skillet is good enough for me. That works out to be about 1/4" of sauce in the pan, spread evenly.

With that said, I found that the pan was "rocking" on the grates. I tested the grates with a level and they are fine. The pan, I am afraid, is warped... time to replace with another Mineral B, just deciding between the 12" or the 14" this time.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 1:23AM
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Completely forgot I took a pic to show what I mean about the pan/sauce. Also, for what it's worth, the pan cleaned up fine, no need to scrub at all so I'm pretty sure I didn't burn anything. Sauce tastes great too :)

This post was edited by toddrhodes on Sat, Feb 1, 14 at 1:29

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 1:28AM
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"time to replace it with another Mineral B.."

But maybe not for tomato-based sauces simmered for more than a few minutes? Debuyer mineral B pans are carbon steel which, like cast iron, can be a bit problemmatic with acidic things like tomato sauces. (Although, I have done quick tomato sauces in a well seasoned cast iron skillet with no apparent adverse affects. Those sauces weren't in the pan for much more than 10 minutes). Like cast iron, carbon steel is a a bad idea if there is wine in the sauce. The iron interacts with tannins in a way that, in my experience, will make the sauce taste pretty #@%! weird with even minimal contact.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 9:51PM
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Very good points, JW - thank you. Would you have any recommendations on a good value (up to, say $75?) pan that could simmer something like a tomato sauce but also sear at 450-ish? I'd like to try a Vollrath pan but am not certain what material I should be looking for?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:07AM
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( a big sigh). I wish I could say what range would be good. Do you have any thoughts on the oven? I have been spoiled with the way my current oven works.
If I had it to do over I would buy the range top separate from the oven. I would love to have duel fuel but probably will get all gas unless I end up with a range top and separate oven. I already have a wall oven. I've had two ranges that did not work out so I am a little gunshy. I am considering the BS and the AP. The hardest thing is to evaluate the simmer as BS will only give the simmer in a temperature which is meaningless to me. I thought I saw a Btu rating on the performer but can't find it now.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 12:13PM
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I have no problem simmering even on the 22k burners. It's even better on the 15k burners. In fact, I have even switched out my simmer burner for another 15k burner bc I find that it's unnecessary, given the superb simmer-ability of the other burners, which certainly includes the 22k.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 2:13PM
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Simmering is an area where I do appreciate the raised-grate position on the AR Performer. Can't speak to BS but if I remember correctly from my research, you won't go wrong with that choice when it comes to range of thermal output - very mild to absurdly wild - on either the BS or AP. I haven't tried the whole "chocolate on a paper plate" thing. The AP did need a tiny adjustment to each burner to get as low a flame as possible without triggering re-ignition. Took 5 minutes and a flathead screwdriver, no big deal.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 2:20PM
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Specifically I would love it to go low enough to
-hold an 8 qt pot of mashed potatoes in enameled cast iron.
-hold a catering pan of pasta
-make the use of a double boiler unnecessary. I haven't had my double boiler out since I bought this range I have now.
These are all lower than what I would consider a simmer though.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 2:49PM
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Hi all,

Thanks for all the input!

I am currently waffling between the BlueStar and the American. My husband has decided that we should not bother with getting a new range at all. We have been having terrible luck with our contractors.

I hope to get this sorted, and am wondering if anyone can offer advice. Who do we call about make-up air systems? We have now had two people out to the house about our ventilation issue. One had never heard of make-up air, and one said he knew of it, but didn't install the systems, and had nothing else to offer. I just got off the phone with my HVAC guy who is doing research.

I know that Broan has integrated systems into their hoods. Any thoughts?


    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 2:22PM
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For the Broan MUA systems, have a look at these links:

The second link is titled "Braun" but they meant "Broan."

For finding contractors, I'd start with my local government's building department/code enforcers and find out if they've ever inspected any kitchen hood MUA systems -- if so, ask who did the work. Also, I would try calling any local retailers who sell higher-capacity range hoods (if anybody local sells them).

Also, there have been discussions here at GW where folks have owned-up to using exterior-venting 400 cfm OTRs with pro-style ranges.

Heck, if your stove is against an exterior wall, you could even vent the existing OTR and work with that for a while. Almost any overhead vent-set-up will do a better job than the downdraft and recirculating vents you now have. A 400 CFM hood would be better, even if not as good as the venting could be.

We have to work within our budgetary, spatial and architectural constraints,

Specifically I would love it to go low enough to
-hold an 8 qt pot of mashed potatoes in enameled cast iron.

Can you do that with your Wolf range? I've done that with induction but very low gas flames seem a little too concentrated to evenly heat the cast iron base on my LC enameled CI when I've got mashed potatoes in them. Of course, the burners will do the stupid melt-chocolate-on-a-paper-plate trick and I haven't needed a double boiler for years even with my previous GE DF range. Holding mashed potatoes on a gas stove-top is the one task for which I've needed a dispersion plate/disk/flame tamer. Todd or any of you folks with a BS or AR have any better luck with the star-shaped open burners on your ranges? Maybe I just don't put enough butter and cream in my mashed potatoes? ;>)

This post was edited by JWVideo on Tue, Feb 4, 14 at 16:23

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 4:07PM
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Big sigh and THANK YOU. The links were very informative. The tip to call our county government is also sound.

We decided to dump our appliance establishment, and just got back from the only other operation in town that sells American and BS Ranges. Added bonus: they had a BS hooked up so we could actually see it working.

The new sales guy had the opinion that a ventahood 300 cfm would be sufficient for our 30 inch range providing we didn't have everything going on high all at once (which we wouldn't). We are dubious, but as you said - anything would be better than our current set-up. We are trying to keep in mind that we are only looking to step-up our range situation, not achieve our ultimate goal. So, we may take his advice. That being said, the salesperson did indicate that their folks have done MUA systems, so at least they are selling products that they can install correctly. We are back to waiting on quotes for a final decision.

All in all I find it disheartening that 2 out 3 appliance stores we have visited are selling equipment that they are seemingly unwilling to install properly and - even worse - not telling their consumers about potential issues and violations in advance. The installer from the outfit we just dumped said he did a huge kitchen renovation including a Miele hood that didn't actually work because of the MUA situation. His response to the client? Open a window. Hey at least he was honest with us, but boy do I feel bad for that homeowner.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 5:07PM
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Yes I can hold mashed potatoes in my LC pot for a couple of hours and that is on the bigger burner. I might stir every 30 minutes if I think of it. The flame pattern is wide on the simmer and drops down to the second ring of gas ports so I guess that is why it works.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 11:51AM
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>>>The new sales guy had the opinion that a ventahood 300 cfm would be sufficient for our 30 inch range providing we didn't have everything going on high all at once (which we wouldn't)

I wouldn't necessarily rule out a 300 CFM or 400 CFM hood. I do have a 600 CFM hood over a 30" DCS range and I mostly run the hood on low, occasionally on medium and rarely on high. The CFM recommendations are based on all the burners on high most of the time. Hood manufacturers love to oversell.

Don't necessarily go with Ventahood - many people on this forum find them hard to clean.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 2:13PM
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We are in year 8 with a 36" BS range top. The BS is heavily used and performance-wise, there is not a residential range that can match it, be it from simmer to full power.

That said, consider how you interact with the range, and your kitchen use 'style'. The BS is easy to clean and keep looking good, but not the range you want if you need the surface to be left pristine. Aside from occasional wipe ups, we clean the BS once every two weeks. Because of the rugged surface and commercial look of the BS, it does not require much attention to look presentable (for us). Every day splatters that jump out on an enamel surface don't really show on the cast iron. If, however, you prefer the range to look showroom - the BS might drive you nuts - the igniters pick up stains, the crevases of the burners collect particles, and the two 22k burners (for some reason) show a little rust around the jets.

The weak point for the BS is the igniters. We currently have 3 of the 6 not working - and I replaced one a few years back. It's not a big deal, we simply keep a long lighter in the adjacent drawer, but I have contacted BS to see if they have improved the durability of their igniters over the last eight years. If they have, then I'll swap out all six. If they are the same, then you need to just make sure you take extra care when cleaning around the igniters if you get the BS. We have someone clean and they apparently can't manage the necessary care.

If we were to do it over again I would absolutely get a BS. I would probably jump up to the 48" with the grill, or maybe the new Platinum series if they have it in a range top.

Oh, and the 36" dual motor VAH works very well over the BS, but extending out three inches past the cooking surface is always a good way to go regardless which hood brand you choose.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 3:14PM
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Golden David

I've had a ARPS 36" installed for 3 months or so. Simmer performance is excellent even on the 25K burners; on the lowest setting an enameled pot of chili will barely even bubble, and I've held a stainless steel pot full of mashed potatoes for over an hour with no browning or scorching.

In fact, I rarely even use the "simmer" burner for simmering due to its small flame size. I'd rather have the large footprint of the big burners for gently heating the entire bottom of a pan. That small flame works perfectly, though, for an italian percolating espresso maker or my tiny le creuset saucepan.

Like Todd I had to adjust a couple of the burners with a screwdriver so that they wouldn't flicker/reignite at the lowest setting.

I installed a nominal 1000CFM hood (china made, zkitchen brand). We've got it running straight up out through the roof but it's through 6" duct that is slightly pancaked by a ceiling joist so I'm positive it is not running at the full 1000CFM on maximum due to static pressure issues.

Regardless, those extra CFM at the top end come in REALLY REALLY HANDY when I'm doing something that would otherwise pollute my space (e.g., frying thai curry paste, searing hamburgers). Maybe a properly ducted high quality 400CFM hood fan would perform similarly, it's hard to say.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 2:08PM
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We had a Bluestar pro top for seven years. One igniter quit. They sent two new ones for free. Otherwise perfect. Friend that was a chef always ribbed us that he didn't have equipment this good in his resturants.

Just bought a 36" range 8 months ago. No issues. They have refined their products. I also guess they solved the hot door issue. Our does not get too hot.

My wife is a Pampered Chef director. Done over a 1,000 shows and has cooked on everything. Wanted BS in our new home and says we're taking it if we move.

Hope this helps

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 7:15PM
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"We had a Bluestar pro top for seven years. One igniter quit. They sent two new ones for free. Otherwise perfect."


We're brand new owners of a 24 inch BlueStar, and it came with two spare ignitors included, so they are ahead of that curve now.

The oven failed during burn in. During assembly, a wire in the back became pinned between two pieces of metal tight enough to pierce the insulation and to ground it, which took out the side of the twin valve that supplies switched power to the oven glow plug.

Right now, we're waiting for the part to arrive. When it comes, I'll pop it in, and we'll be good to go.

I consider this to be a very minor issue that's easy to resolve, as things like this can happen no matter how good an appliance is. A call to customer service, then an email with pictures documenting the exact cause of the component failure... and the part is in the mail.

While taking the stove apart to troubleshoot the problem, I had the opportunity to witness first hand how well thought out the design is. it's simple, straightforward, and ~very~ robust... I really like that.

It was simple to dial in all the burners to tiny blue buds on simmer. The burner temperature range is wide and control is precise. It's pure pleasure cooking on such a fine stove.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:35AM
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Hi all,

Thought I would check back in! Thanks so much for all of the comments.

We actually ended up purchasing... an American Performer (thank you todd!). We are very, very happy with our purchase. I can't say enough about the cooktop - the range of from low low to high high is truly amazing.

One word of caution: we did have an issue with the oven right off the bat. It ran about 60 degrees below temp (at 500) upon arrival. We were not terribly unhappy to discover this... the range comes with a 3 year warranty and recalibration seemed like a simple proposition. HOWEVER, American said the warranty did not cover oven recalibration as the installation folks should have done that before they left. This was a headscratcher for us - the range came off the assembly line poorly calibrated.

Our install company was not pleased to hear that American expected them (or us) to cover the cost of recalibration, but luckily, our salesperson is a rock star and got American to agree to pay for the service.

Bottom line: I would recommend the American Performer to anyone who is serious about cooking. I highly suggest running a temp check before letting the install people leave.

Cheers and thanks to all!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 11:50AM
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I eagerly await my commission check :)

Only kidding. Very happy for you!! Sucks about the oven but glad the salesman got it sorted for you. I can say my oven is so precisely on the money I have a hard time believing it. I went through three thermometers thinking they were the issue on my old KitchenAid, only to find it really was the oven, not the thermometer.

In any event, I have made all types of food on my Performer in the past 5 months and am still as smitten today as I was the first day I cooked on it. You are right, and I would imagine the same is true for BS and CC owners as well, the temp range on the cooktop burners is a thing of wonder. Everything about these ranges screams serious from the super high-heat burners to the raging inferno that is the broiler. It's like going from a set of Service Merchandise generic irons to a set of Titleists, they up your game regardless of who is swinging them. They also push you to go farther which is all that I can ask from a tool, be it a hammer or a kitchen stove.

Glad you are happy, hope you are well.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 12:45AM
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