Ge cafe wall oven vs. Kenmore Pro (Help! Analysis Paralysis!)

bella0605February 15, 2014

Hello! First, what a wealth of information this community is! I have learned so much today by reading here! I am looking at electric double wall ovens and after reading online reviews, consumers reports, etc my head is spinning. Now I am scared to buy anything at all!
We remodeled our house ten years ago and purchased a Frigidare oven that died once after we used self clean (head bowed in shame that I did not check here first on that one). We replaced the circuit board to the tune of $800 and I have learned today that it actually may have been a reset type function instead of the entire circuit board. (I promise that I will not ever call a repair man without educating myself here again!) Well, it has died again and I don't want to put any more into it, so the search has begun for a new oven. The Frigidaire has seemed ok but has never been a great appliance. The cons were that it had a very loud fan and in the past few years (since it has aged) has cooked unevenly.

I cook every night for a family of five. I am looking at mid range ovens and really like the looks of the Kenmore Pro and the GE Cafe. (I would love to find something that actually looks good in the kitchen.) The features seem similar but I am worried about the reliability. Consumer reports gives both good companies ratings as far as repairs go, but does not address reliability of specific models. When I search outside of CR, there are some scathing reviews out there that are scaring me. I feel like I can find positives and negatives for anything I look for, but it has me stuck. This community seems more grounded and really gives such solid advice, so I would love to learn from your experience and to see what I am missing in this process. Any experiences good or bad with these models?

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I'm surprised you haven't received feedback. When we built our new home several years ago my budget only covered mid-priced mainstream appliances (KitchenAid, Maytag, GE Profile). I bought a TOL Maytag Genesis two-oven gas range (convection in lower oven) and my "splurge" was a GE Advantium 120 wall oven/microwave, also with convection and other capabilities.

After some initial hiccups with the Advantium (one door hinge was broken out of the box, repairman arrived without proper tool and gouged the oven, store manager replaced oven, thereafter no more issues), the oven has performed flawlessly for 4 years.

I realize my comments don't directly address your question, but here are my two cents anyway. Unfortunately, ten years on major appliances seems to be par for the course now - sad. I would lean toward buying GE over a Kenmore any day. Do the handle styles go with the rest of your appliances? If you do get other responses they are bound to ask what are your other brands already in the kitchen.

In your situation I would want a double oven with one of them having quick-cook and microwave features. Do your finalists have those attributes?

I totally love my Advantium 120 (many here scoff at the 120 and demand the 240, it wasn't important to me). I always used to run out of ovens on holidays, now I have four in my kitchen and I never worry (new B & D large countertop toaster oven with convection, Advantium, 2 in the Maytag range).

Again, I would choose GE over Kenmore, keeping in mind the difference in handles.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 12:32PM
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Thank you so much for the info! I have been surprised to learn that most appliances are built to last only ten years. Every store I have gone to has told me the same thing and even the high end sales people have told me that ten years is the average run. All of our appliances are ten now, so I feel like we will slowly but surely replace them as they die.

I have looked into the GE Cafe and Monogram, but they run about $1000 more than the Kenmore Pro. The features seem great and they do have the straight handles that I prefer. Brand Reliability is tops according to Consumer Reports, but Kenmore is one notch below them, but they don;t rate Kenmore Pro ( I am not sure if it is lumped in with kenmore or separate.) Could you tell me more about your Kenmore aversion? I am struggling with such a cost difference if the reliability is similar, but I am open! Thank you again!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 2:04PM
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I do have a GE range (not Cafe) with convection oven that has worked very well for the past few years. I would assume the Cafe wall oven performs similarly. Generally I've had very good luck with GE appliances.

One thing with Kenmore is they don't actually make their appliances. The wall ovens are made by Electrolux, which is well regarded around here for cooking products. Similarly everything else Kenmore sells is someone else's product rebranded. While that in itself isn't a problem, it can lead to problems with service. First of all you're locked into them for warranty service. Sears buys these rebranded appliances from the manufacturers without warranties, which means they must do all the warranty work themselves. Their technicians overall don't tend to be the best (obviously there are exceptions). And even after the warranty, it will be more difficult for people besides Sears to work on. That's because they keep the technical info locked up tight. While the manufacturer is coded into the first 3 digits of the Kenmore model number, that's about all you can find out unless you're a Sears technician. Sometimes getting parts and info will require crossing the Kenmore model number over to the actual manufacturer model number, which can be tough.

Anyhow, the above is important to me because I like to work on my own appliances (and let's face it, appliances nowadays aren't going to last more than 5-10 years without a repair no matter what brand you buy), which is why I stick to brands that are easy and affordable to get parts for and repair. It may not matter so much to you if you were planning on using Sears anyway. Normally, I would say, just buy the Electrolux version. In this case though, Electrolux doesn't actually sell a comparable "pro style" oven with knobs under their own knob, so that might be a valid reason to buy Kenmore. I just try to stay away from the brand usually because rarely can you get anything from Kenmore you can't from the manufacturer's own brand. This is an exception.

Sorry I can't offer more helpful info on these specific ovens. Hopefully someone who owns one of them will come along and comment.

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Mon, Feb 17, 14 at 23:48

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 9:31PM
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Thanks so much for the great points in all this. Electrolux is indeed the manufacturer of this oven. The points you brought up about repair had never occurred to me and I do need to consider all of that as I figure this out. (I am a bit Sears averse.) I hate to admit it, but it really is the look of this oven that does draw me in. I like knobs more than electric panels, because (in my head) it feels like they won't break as easily. The biggest surprise to me in this process is that appliances just aren't made to really last anymore, and the manufacturers are non apologetic about it. It's just that way it is. Also, the prices seem to have doubled in ten years.

Thank you so much for your input and I will weigh it all as I have to make a decision this week.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 10:28PM
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hvtech hit the nail on the head, Kenmore is not its own brand. I'm unsure whether I would want a re-branded set of ovens, regardless of manufacturer.

You have a large family and your ovens will be heavily used. Reliability will be crucial for you. I don't buy any major appliances now without a longterm service contract. I've had no problems with my kitchen items, but have had to have repair calls on my dryer, fortunately only one call in 4 years.

In my previous home (in Phoenix) I had a service contract with Sears and a number of calls on my TOL Kenmore Elite washer and dryer - mind you this is going back 10 years. I found the knowledge level of the techs to be VERY weird, some of them really knew what they were doing and others were dunces. Getting service was like pulling teeth, I usually had to wait a couple of weeks for an appointment. You won't be able to tolerate that with your large family.

I hope you get more responses to your question to help you make the best decision. You have a real dilemma, given the price disparity. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 1:58AM
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I think I am leaning toward an extended service plan with either one. I have had the same experience with our washing machine as well as the Sears repairmen, unfortunately. The price is the biggest challenge as the Kenmore is roughly $2600 and the ge is $3300, both on sale at Sears. (The Ge monogram is $3700, which think may cause my husband to drop to the floor.) Another local appliance company has quoted a higher price for the Ge cafe, but I am sure I can get them to match the lower. The challenge is does the cost difference really give me more for the money. There is just not much info about the Kenmore Pro. It looks like they had problems with them in the first year or se but the quality has improved. The GE cafe, specifically, seems to have some quality issues as well.

Thank you so much for your input! Thinking about it form different perspectives helps so much! I may look for posts on Kenmore and GE quality to see what kinds of experiences people have had.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 7:38AM
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The thing about ovens with knobs (which it sounds like you realize) is that many of the higher end ones including the Kenmore Pro have just as many electronics as the keypad versions.

I hear you re: reliability. I had a Kitchenaid/Hobart dishwasher for nearly 40 years that my wife wanted me to get rid of a couple years ago because she wanted a new look and a quieter machine. In of 2 years I went through 3 dishwashers. Either they wouldn't clean the dishes, or they wouldn't work for more than a few weeks without something breaking. I am very happy with what I ended up with, but at slightest sign of trouble my old Kitchenaid is sitting in the garage ready to go back into service.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 2:56PM
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When we bought our house ten years ago, the original appliances (all lemon yellow) were in working order. Part of me wishes that I had somehow refaced them with stainless and called it a day! I love that you still have your appliances in your garage!

I have to make a decision today. After looking's at other threads on here, it looks like Kenmore does have some happy owners. Right now, we are leaning toward the Kenmore with the extended service plan. If the prices were the same, or even close, I would go with GE due to the feedback I have gotten here. The difference is about $700- $1000, so we will see if a saleperson can help me make sense of, or justify the price difference.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 8:28AM
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I would totally feel comfortable going with the Kenmore Pro, and I think it's a no brainer if the price difference is that much. But, I see now that I missed your old oven was a Frigidaire. Just to warn you, Electrolux = Frigidaire in case you wanted to avoid them. I wouldn't personally let that dissuade me, though - I think the problem you've experienced is tough to avoid. If it makes you feel any better, you won't improve your odds by buying a higher end one than the 2 you mentioned. Plenty of posts on this forum to prove that!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 8:24PM
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Thank you! I did choose the Kenmore Pro. I am excited! It will be installed tomorrow. I will post about performance. Thank you to everyone for your advice. In the end, we just couldn't justify the extra cost of the GE. I hope we made the right decision! Time will tell!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:48PM
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Thank you for posting your decision and good luck.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 12:06AM
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Thank you dianne47! I did take your advice and get the extended service plan. Thank you for that tip, because I probably would have skipped that. Your insight into those plans, as well as the rebranding info swayed me that if I was going with a "rebrand", I should get a bit of extra insurance!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 8:36AM
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The oven was delivered last week and it is great looking oven. The fan is quiet and comes on when preheating or in convection. (The fan turns off once heated in regular bake mode but I did not find it loud at all.) Preheat takes about 8-10 minutes. Cooking has been very even so far and browning has been perfect. We are very pleased so far with the look and function so far. I had read comments about error codes and the only time that happens is exactly when they told me it would. Basically, if you set the oven on bake and want to change to broil, you turn the dial to off and then to broil. So, if you switch functions, you go to off first, then the new function. The installer also said don't ever run self clean, no matter which oven you get--across all brands. He also said that the extended warranty is a great idea on any appliance because they are just not made like the good old days of twenty year appliances. If we have problems, I will repost. Thanks everyone for the comments and help!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 2:19PM
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I looked at both these units also. I am leaning toward the Cafe double wall ovens based on reviews, but I like the look of the Kenmore Pro. I am concerned about negative reviews on Sears website though - some are pretty scary. I know you've only had it a month, but are you still happy with yours? Any pics? Do you bake bread or cakes? If so, how is the temperature - constant and even?

Here is a link that might be useful: Sears Reviews

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 12:35PM
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Hi RQHome! Yes, we are happy with it. I feel your pain, because those reviews scared me too. If you look at the dates of the reviews, it seems that the older, original version had bad reviews and then the bad reviews seemed to fade away. That was what allowed me to take a leap of faith on it; hopefully, the issues have been fixed.

As far as function, we really love it. It bakes very evenly and the temperature does seem very even. My teenage daughter also commented that "every thing is the same on all sides of the cookie sheet" when she uses it. I have not baked bread but I have made cakes, cookies, pie crusts, as well as meats and casseroles, all with great success. I have not used the thermometer yet. We have not had any error codes other than what I mentioned above. If I have any issues, I will be sure to update but so far, it's great! I will say that if an oven can be beautiful, this one is it! It changed the look of our kitchen and I have actually gotten compliments on how it looks, but more importantly, I love it!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:52AM
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Bella0605, I Google searched on GE Cafe vs Kenmore Pro wall ovens and found this thread. This is the exact comparison I'm looking at too to repace my 20-year-old Maytag double electric wall oven combo. Do you have any additional notes to share on your purchase since March? Like you, I noticed the scary comments on I did an online chat session with a Sears customer service rep and she said she's had no info on problems or resolutions since those comments were made on the site. I am hopeful that technical/engineering issues were resolved, but how does one know if the company is not forthright about info? I love the look of the Pro series and the price, but if there are any residual issues, I'd rather pay more than deal with problems. Any insights since your purchase?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 11:14PM
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