Inexpensive Gas Ranges - difficult math.

bmorepanicFebruary 15, 2013

I have a sort of wordy question here, a dead range and a pretty poor history of choosing ranges.

I have a slightly wider than 30" opening for a range. It's currently occupied by a dead slide-in range but the opening runs all the way back to the backsplash. I have now had 3 slide-ins in this house in 13 years (yeah, I know you're laughing) and don't want another. It's a bad time for us financially to make a major purchase.

Fitting a normal range is an issue.

My counters are 36 7/8" tall to the surface. The backsplash is topped by a 3" wide shelf. The bottom of the shelf is at 46 3/8" from the floor. The backsplash and the shelf are covered with sheet stainless steel that is 10 feet long. The shelf can not be moved or changed without damaging the entire backsplash as there are pop rivets holding the steel to the underside of the shelf.

It looks to me like the choices are to to get a crappy slide-in- just about the same one that died or find a stand alone range with short back. I'm not considering buying a more expensive slide-in as they worked out well for me.

I most value how the burners work, followed by a good broiler and then a good oven. I am not power-mad - 15k power burners are just fine. I also can get along with most any size oven - true convection, fake convection and no convection. The most we can possibly spend is 2k on the stove+any installation issues.

tried to talk dh into a commercial 24" imperial (1.2k, dealer within a mile). When he heard the part about 30k burner btus, "No" echoed throughout the land. I can't say I blame him or actually disagree.

I have checked 3 used appliance places, craigslist and ebay - nothing.

So, dream stove is an nxr - 4 dual ring burners, broiler that works, no fancy electronics, no high heat self clean. Looks like it has a about 1/3 more btus on the oven burner, so maybe a faster preheat. It takes the whole 2k and a plumber in my locality. No changes to the backsplash.

Drop dead choice: bottom end whirlpool slide in for about 1.2k installed. Low power broiler, high heat self-clean, same single ring burners but I haven't be able to lay eyes on it, so there is fear that it will be much worse. But, also, no changes to backsplash.

The other two regular ranges that are interesting are the new whirlpool ice stand alone ranges and the Samsung FX710bgs. There are price differences between them all of course, but its a pretty narrow band between $855 up to 1200 for whirpool and $1069 for the samsung. The whirlpools have some interesting new oven features (low heat steam clean, rapid preheat) and the samsung has a single dual ring burner and three element convection. Plus a plumber call.

Either require that the backsplash (and shelf) be destroyed. It's a little more complicated that that because its built out from the wall and the shelf is also the window sill for two windows. Yada, yada, yada. I figure that as at least $500 worth of stuff but maybe up to 1k. And also pretty messy.

Partly because I can't actually try out any of them, I'm having some difficulty making a decision and would appreciate any thoughts.

Past ranges
1. Low end sears slide in. Hated just about everything about it. We bought it because the range that came with the house died in the first 30 days we lived here. It was uncleanable and I hated the burners - those were my first experience with sealed burners, plus I think all of them were like 6k or something. We used it for about 3 years and then a neighbor took it (even those we told them it wasn't very good). It lasted less than 2 years in their house before dying. At that time, they were made by whirpool.

2. Kitchenaid mid-range slide in. I loved those burners, the oven worked fine but the broiler didn't. Its main problem was the burners started to melt the porcelain or enamel off the grates (which would turn red hot); dripping off into the burner pans - forming little glass-looking balls with occasional sharp edges. They eventually gave us our money back on the condition that we never buy another of them.

3. GE Profile. Otherwise know as Piece of Crap - this made it to 7 years old. The oven sides chipped porcelain in the second year causing rust inside the oven cavity with the worst part preventing the racks from moving without using a fair amount of force. I can say that I hated everything about its operation. The coupe de grace was the oven igniter - its not so bad by itself, but the wiring behind it looked fairly toasted too. As a guestimate, repairs would run over $600.

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In addition to the NXR, look at GE Cafe and Bosch.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Thanks. I'll take another look at the GE cafe range. The bosch short back looks like its only dual fuel. So that's an electrician and a 240 circuit as well as a plumber.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:13PM
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The Cafe could work for your situation if the price were not pushing $2800, which is $800 over your max budget. Maybe there might be a lower price at a "ding and bing" outlets. IIRC, Sears has one in the Baltimore area.

That Samsung FX710 is probably a skoonch too tall. The specs for it say that the top of its backsplash is 46 1/2" tall, which is 1/8" too high for your 46 3/8" shelf. So near and yet so far.

Seems like you've tried every brand of slide-in except Frigidaire. Might want to check them out. Consumer Reports annual membership surveys show almost all brands of all gas stoves (including Frigidiare) having about the same range of reliability/problems in the first six years of ownership. (According to CR, the survey results of less than three points difference are not significant and pretty much everything reported runs in the 7 to 9% range.)

If you went with Kitchenaid, it is unlikely that you would see a repeat of the issue with the coating melting off the grates. That's just a manufacturing defect in either applying or mixing the coating. But Kitchenaid/Whirlpool have had a spate of trouble with electronics failing. The latest is a recall of microwaves that sponaneously start-up with some of them catching fire. For ranges, they had several recent years where the oven self-cleaning function would sometimes cook the controller boards and sometimes would trip an "over-temp" circuit breaker that could be reset only by taking panels off the stove for access to it. Supposedly that has been fixed with cooling fans but we still see complaints about the problem here at GW.)

The NXR would certainly fit under the shelf. The top of the oven vent/backguard on mine is only 40." That will give you plenty of space to the shelf, although that shelf could still get rather warm. Do you have a rangehood or OTR?

The standard width for a stove-cutout is 30 1/8" although, in practice, that is a "more or less" thing. The width of the NXR may be a concern as it, like some other pro-style stoves, is a true 30" wide. (Mine is actually 29 15/16" FWIW). Best way to tell if it will fit: get a 2x4, square the ends, cut it to exactly 30", put a level on it and pass it through the cut-out. If it sticks on the countertop or cabinets at any point, you know an NXR will not fit.

Speaking of counters, I gather you folks are tall since your counter surfaces at 36 7/8" above floor level, which is about an inch higher than standard. (Either that or you bought the house from tall people.) I mention this because the top of my NXR is only 36" above floor level. The NXR instructions do spec a minimum 2" gap between the stove and any combustible surface rising above the stove. If you have a tiled countertop, no problem. But if, like me, you have laminate or composite countertops, you'll need to either cover the exposed edge or raise the stove. The NXR's legs are adjustable feet, but I do not know if there is 7/8" of an inch of adjustment. If you are considering an NXR, you could call customer service at 1-877- 639-7624 and ask them how high the legs can go. (There are real live people there and I've found them helpful.)

You might want to check on the the requirement for having a plumber do the gas connections for you. Some cities and some covenants are pretty strict about this, but many places allow homeowners to do hookups and only require a plumber when you are installing the gas line to the kitchen. Most of us NXR owners have been able to make the connections ourselves. If you can do the hook-up yourselves, it could save some money and keep an NXR within your budget. (IIRC, GW member susan/dirtyblloomers lives in Maryland near Baltimore and has posted here on installing and servicing her NXR by herself.) Also, check with your your local public utilitiy company. Some of them may offer hook-up services. If they do, it may be free and, if not, is usually much less expensive than a plumber. (Calling a highly trained plumber for such a minor task is like having a neurosurgeon for taking out tonsils.)

On that Imperial stove, skip it and any other commercial stove. Commercial ranges do not have the kind of insulation that are fitted to all residential stoves including "pro-style" stoves. That means they get very hot in use. Not good for a home kitchen. Plus, you to install non-combustible surfaces (tiling the walls and cabinets or sheathing them in stainless steel) and the local codes may require make-up-air and a fire-supression system for your range hood. They may require larger diameter gas lines than residential ranges, too. Lots of extra cost there. AFAIK, most of the commercial ranges do not have in-oven broilers, either. Numbers of postings here have discussed using true commerical appliances in the home if you want to research the subject.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Sat, Feb 16, 13 at 14:06

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 1:24PM
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Thanks for your detailed thoughts! I had read some of your earlier postings and found them valuable.

I know, I know about commercial ranges. Those thoughts are more an expression of how I wish I could get it over with.

The Cafe Range in Baltimore had pretty significant "cosmetic" damage that changes the width of the unit - the bottom was pretty well beat up in a fight with a forklift or something. I looked at Frigidaire in a non-scatch and dent store. I cut my hand on an oven door - the SALESPERSON said the whole line was that way.

I'm afraid of what would happen if Kitchenaid saw my name again. Thanks for the electronics info - it explains why their stuff and the Whirlpools had such uneven reviews.

We're becoming more decided on nxr. I could do the igniter, too. And yes, I can make the gas connection but I'm not sure Mr. Safety would be ok with that. He's thinking about it.

'm sort of planning on dealing with the shortness possibility after I see the legs. Calling Customer Service and simply asking was not something I had thought of!

I could buy new, taller legs or range casters. Then too, with some effort (but little expense), I could lower the counter but it would be simpler to raise the range a little under its legs - maybe strips of 1/2" ply or something.

I have a 650 cfm hood 35 1/8" up from the surface, not the grates.

The shelf is covered with stainless on the bottom also. Behind the range, it sticks out about 1.5". Think maybe the combo of the 4" included backsplash on the nxr and the distance to the actual burner ring will help avoid it. Another question for customer service.

Does yours toast the included backsplash?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 3:38PM
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Not sure that NXR has casters as an option but the legs and feet looked like they had a standdard size thread. Something from a hardware store or restaurant supply might work if you wanted casters.

For alternative boosting, I'll suggest some vinyl medium diameter furniture glides on the bottom of the feet. That will boost it up about 1/4" and you could drop a 30"w x 21" deep piece of masonite or mdf or plywood into the floor of the cut-out. Bevel the front edge so the glides will slide up over it. You wouldn't see it from the front of the stove (unless you lie down on the floor.)

Toasting the backsplash? You mean the back burners being run on high? Then no. Never toasted the backsplash even when running large canning kettles on the back burners.

The heat I was talking about was from the vent/backguard when the oven is going. (The 4" backguard is the oven vent.) With a range hood and having the shelf narrowed down to 1.5" behind the stove, there should not be a problem with heat collecting under the shelf and warming it up.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Sat, Feb 16, 13 at 19:39

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 7:38PM
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A lot of chefs (on Cheftalk) like Bosch. Solid design, even oven, dials in back I think (can't recall why that was good, maybe it doesn't vent from the back)? I think their in your stated price range.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 9:50PM
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Thanks again, JW for all the thoughtful points. And I was confused about what would be heating up what. When I explained it to dh, he immediately said "Warming Shelf!."

And thanks SparklingWater. I did find bosch standard ranges that I liked. I'm sure that's why I was attracted to the samsung - it's last year's bosch!

Bosch standard ranges are 47.5" tall - causing the redo of the backsplash. I don't think I could both buy a bosch and redo the backsplash within the budget.

I liked the layout of their backless ones, but those are just out of reach with the electrical connection it would need.

Cheftalk is great.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 11:56PM
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I am pretty sure the NXR legs adjust UP a fair amount, not sure how far though.
But as stated you could always put them on a riser of some sort and then adjust them up.

I use a nice piece of stainless for the back splash, only cost about $70 and easy to install.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 12:14PM
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Our thanks to everyone who replied. Seeing different suggestions and points of view is always helpful.

We have decided on the NXR. I'm happy to be finished obsessing over the range choice and am moving on to worrying about whether we did the right thing until it arrives. :)

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 9:28AM
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