Combi Steam Oven Question
Combi steam ovens seem to be a moving target with minimal information and relatively few reviews. Both probably due to few people having them which in turn is probably do the high price. A few come in ranges, however we are interested in wall ovens.
Most seem to be microwave sized (about 1.4-to-1.7 cu.ft). and come in a 24" width. They generally have available trim kits to match a 30" and in some cases 27" oven. The exception is the Kitchen Aid which added steam to a regular 30" oven.
Now it gets more interesting. On the steam size the water can be either from a direct water line (similar to a refrigerator's ice maker) or with a container that has to be filled at the sink before each use. From what i can tell the Gaggenau and Kitchenaid have direct water lines, the rest have tanks that need to be filled.
The Miele and Gaggenau collect the steam and condense it. The Miele collects it into a tank that needs to be emptied, the Gaggenau connects to a drain that needs to be installed with its own P-trap. From what I can tell the others vent the steam into the room, in some cases reportedly making the kitchen uncomfortably hot.
Since some steam will condense in the oven regardless of oven temp, I'm wondering how the drainless steam ovens deal with it. Do the count on it eventually evaporating? That wouldn't be a guarantee with cooking temperatures below boiling.
All of the combis have a convection oven. They all seem to have a proofing and defrosting setting below boiling. The Gaggenau has a slow cooking setting, sort of a waterless sous vide. To do this the oven has to have very accurate temperature control and the ability to set the temperature accurately. Sous Vide machines typically hold the temperature with in a couple of tenths of a degree of the set point. Do these ovens do the same? From the manual the Kitchenaid seems to have very coarse (25°F) increments
Some also have a broiler. Obviously the Kitchenaid.does' it is a full size oven. Some Miele and Gaggenau models also have this feature. To the best of my knowledge there are no cycles that combine steam and the broiler, although presumably the broiler could be used after steaming.
Thermador and Gaggenau appear to be Bosch-Siemens brands. The Thermador unit seems to be a Bosch unit not sold in the US. Miele is its own privately held company. Kitchenaid is the premium brand for Whirlpool.
Getting the combi-steam and a regular oven, prices seem to range from under $4000 for the Kitchenaid (sold as a double oven), just over $6000 for the Thermador, around $8000 for the Miele (mainly because the conventional oven is more expensive), and around a bank account busting $14,000 for the Gaggenau.
Sharp had a $600 or so countertop unit that no longer appears to be on the US market. Cuisinart has a new $300 countertop unit. Panasonic has a small commercial unit, but it is a 50Hz model not available in the US. Commercial units are huge, expensive, and generally take 3-phase power which isn't available at most US residential locations.
My questions are:
1) Are there errors in my description of the units?
2) If you have one, how do you like it? This forum and others have numerous quality control and design complaints on the Kitchenaid, which seems to have been around since 2007 (the copyright date on the manual). Do the other brands work any better? My guess is anyone with the funds for a Gaggenau isn't on this forum.
3) is this even worth the effort? A regular convection double oven is around $3k or less. We currently have a 27 year old Kitchenaid double oven with convection on the top which hasn't given us any real problems.
Here is a link that might be useful: This video shows how the Miele steam recovery system works