side-opening wall oven doors -- safety and comfort question

rcvtMay 30, 2009

I've been designing and redesigning my kitchen for so many years that I now need to consider universal design principles in the remodel! Yes, I got that much older!

Bending over a range oven to lift out a big casserole or roast is simply too painful, so I'm thinking wall oven. To eliminate the particular back angle that is needed for lifting objects out of a wall oven that has a drop-down door, I'm thinking side-opening.

These models made my first cut:

- American Range's 30" French door 4.7 c.f. (pricey & unique -- maybe uniquely safe and convenient?)

- Frigidaire's 27" side-swing 3.4 c.f.

- Fagor's 24" side-swing 1.8 c.f. (nicely compact)

- and the Gaggeneaus which seem way out of my price range for a side-swing door.

Width is not the deciding factor. For the right oven, I'll make design adjustments. Cost is very relevant but not the ultimate deciding factor. Interior space is significant because I bake often (but not that many items at a time).

I probably have wall space enough for only one oven no matter which oven it is.

The most important elements by far are ease of use and SAFETY.

I've never owned or used a wall oven or a side-opening oven. Is there anyone who switched to a side-opening wall oven for safety and comfort? Is it safe and comfortable?

Are there other features or effects of a side-opening oven that I need to consider? I do realize that the door must open in such a way that it doesn't crash into anything, and I know I must provide appropriate landing space(s).

What are other side-opening oven stories that I need to hear?

Thank you!

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You might not care for this idea, but I'll throw it out there anyway: Have you considered a countertop oven?

Here's a . It sits at a perfect height, and the door only extends 10.75" when opened. Not difficult to reach into, and does not strain my bad back at all to pull out that heavy cast iron pot. They are a little "commercial-looking," and they don't have any doo-dads (just a on/off switch, timer, and thermostat), and of course it takes up counter space which can be a problem in some kitchens.

Just food for thought...

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 6:50PM
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I am considering the Fagor 24'' side swing in addition to a Miele 30'' master chef for a home bakery. The only oven in my kitchen is a countertop oven. It works for nearly everything that I need to bake for two people. It depends on how much and what you bake that should be considered when making an oven choice.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 10:20PM
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Thank you joe and cotehele. I haven't considered a countertop oven because I've never seen one. Do you have any pics of them sitting on your counter in your kitchen setting? Can you recommend certain models? Are they convection? How much air space do they need around them? What made you choose them and not the more common (I think more common!) wall ovens?

I cook and bake for two except when we entertain, and when we do, I do everything humanly possible ahead of time -- days ahead.

Thank you both. Eager to hear from others too.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 11:43PM
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rc, the Fagor has glides that let you slide a heavy item out.

Smaller size means you cook "not that many" items at a time. You can fit a lot.

Since you seem highly interested in safety, I'd recommend putting it at 30" - 34" - 36" height. Side opening, in one of the four corners of the kitchen. That is what I would do.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 7:29AM
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My countertop oven is a Cuisinart Brick Oven. It has convection, broil, toast, and bake. We have a toaster, so I don't use that mode. It has clay attached to the sides of the oven and a baking stone that is removable for the bottom rack. There are two racks. Unless the items baking are not very high, I use only one rack. Bread is tricky because it can rise too high and hit the heating element. The oven Joe recommended is one I considered, but the price was considerably higher.

My kitchen is in the midst of a remodel. The CBO is sitting at 32'' high in a bookcase and the microwave is on top of the bookcase at 48''. The arrangement is just perfect for me. In fact, the new kitchen will have a cabinet with exactly that arrangement.

There are quite a few GWers who use a countertop oven for their primary oven.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 5:34PM
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rcvt my sister just turned 60 and has back problems. i will be installing the American Range 30" wall oven for her in the not to distant future.
why? because i have the same oven in my 48" and love the way it works. less electronics to go wrong, great lights and quiet fans. the racks slide relatively easy even with a 22 lbs bird on it. (for me anyway) i heard stories about the easy glide racks failing after a short time so i chose to avoid that.
look forward to hearing your choice and review.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 2:27AM
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I do not recommend side swing ovens ever. It is very easy to burn yourself by leaning into the door in error. In some cases the doors can even come back at you. The door itself keeps people back from the hottest parts of the oven. When that is not there you can get too close to the oven floor. I recommend nicer ovens with a roll-out rack option like the Viking.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 10:50AM
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I personally think side opening ovens are safer than drop down doors, because you can get right up to the racks without having to lean waaay over a big hot door. Properly levelled ovens will not have the door swinging, & pulling out a rack any distance stops the door. As for leaning into a (hot) oven door, who would do that? We've had our Gaggenau side opening ovens for over 2 years & LOVE them. The side opening door is one of their best features.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 2:01AM
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I had a side opening oven a few houses ago, loved it! Never had a problem burning myself with the door, like others have said the rack keeps the door out of the way. The door was very stable & with opening it, I would just open it all the way, it never swung back to hit me.
The people we bought the house from had it for the wife who had severe arthritis & she was able to get right up the to the oven with it, it was great for her & for me!
Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 2:24AM
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I grew up with a side opening Westinghouse. It was replaced with a Gaggenau. LOVE them. I wouldn't consider anything else for my kitchen even when the Gaggenau price went up. I find it much easier to use, especially considering the way the doors nowadays cover the whole oven rather than just the cavity. My new ovens are Gaggenaus, and there's more to recommend them, especially for baking, than the door. Worth the price, but not if it's a budget killer.

I haven't seen the Fagor in person. On the web it looks very nice and actually lists "cold safety doors" as one of its features. The Frigidaire is very basic. It's possible to cook and bake very well in basic. American Range has a good reputation and pretty colors. Perhaps those doors get hotter because their halfway to commercial, but they come in pretty colors. The problem is with the french doors you always have to go around the door or twist/pivot to put down your hot pot.

With a side opening oven you can't use the oven door as a shelf, but you're not supposed to anyway. Do have a "landing area" on the open side next to the oven so that you don't have to twist or move around the door to put down a hot pot.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 2:27AM
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Thank you for the enlightening and supportive comments. johnnytugs, you helped me to imagine that the French doors on the American oven could introduce a walk-around that I don't actually want (I want to simply exit "stage right" and place hot pots on a landing spot on the right of the oven). That little deterrent, plus the huge price tag and gigantic size, will probably take that choice off the list. (I'm never going to make a turkey again, really. Two small turkeys, maybe, but no more gigantabirds, ever.)

gizmomike, can you tell me anything about living with your Gaggenau oven(s) that could overcome my fear that the expense is just too high?

mfrog, thank you for your enthusiastic endorsement. I understand how essential it is to have the installation level set correctly.

plllog, I too wish I could see the Fagor oven in person. All its features appeal to me but I have ever seen an oven that small. Honestly, I can't imagine what it would hold. I often bake Mark Bittman's no-knead sourdough. Will a standard Lodge cast-iron Dutch oven even fit?

I'm taking all summer to finish the layout and elevation drawings. Every drawing has different appliances! At some point, a girl has to make a decision!

Thanks again for the stories. They mean a lot to me.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 10:24PM
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>All its features appeal to me but I have ever seen an oven that small.

If you're near an ikea their 24" mumsig oven was a pretty close copy of the older fagor small oven. I would imagine the newer models from both ikea and fagor may be a tad larger inside, but if you can go to an ikea you can get at least a rough idea of the general roominess inside.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 11:08PM
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Ah writersblock, if only there were a close Ikea! The nearest is just outside Montreal, Canada, about three hours away. We've been up there several times and have come back with a pickup truck loaded with furniture and the many assorted irresistible Ikea doodads. We must have looked like two innocent rubes to the border guards who would see our load of boxes with inimitable Ikea product names and always laugh us through. Thanks for the suggestion though.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 1:39PM
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I can relate, rc. I'm only slightly over two hours away, but there aren't any real appliance dealers in my area, either. I went in to the biggest local appliance store and looked around, couldn't see what I wanted, asked where the cooktops were, and was told I'd have to contact the builders' division for anything like that!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 1:50PM
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Oh, man!! I'm just itching to make a gigantabird!! Seriously!! With the old kitchen I was practically standing on my head to make a single protein in sufficient quantity that 25+ people would be willing to eat and would fit in my dreadful old oven. Gagantabirds are a lifesaver!

Only you know what's worth the price to you. I could cook and bake with the crappy old oven even though controlling the temperature was like working with a wood fired oven and there were hot and cold spots. My soon to be installed 30" Gaggenau is the opposite. :)

A long time ago, someone posted a comparison of the engineering of ovens. I knew going in that I was getting Gaggenau, but I was shopping anyway, to confirm my choice. The top ovens had a temperature variation from the set point of about +/- 7 degrees. So a really good oven set at 350 might be 357 or 343. An average, old style household range oven had a variation of about +/- 25 degrees. The variation comes because once the oven reaches temperature the heating reduces to a maintenance level. When the oven senses that it's cooling, the heating goes back up, when the oven senses that it's now at temperature it settles back, but the increase might actually be warmer than what the sensor senses. Gaggenau had a variation of +/- 4 degrees. There is no functional difference between 4 and 7 degrees, but that might be the difference between the Gagg and the Frigidaire.

What I love about my mother's Gaggenau oven is that, for instance, the same holiday recipe, year after year, puts pans in at the same temperature for the same amount of time and they come out perfectly, pan after pan. No checking if they're perfectly golden at the corners. No putting them back for another few minutes. No rotating pans. First pan to last, year to year to year, it's always the same. I LOVE that!!

That, plus the side opening door, are my top reasons for shelling out the big bucks. The best chef at the caterer my mother uses for her big annual holiday bash requests her job because he likes that oven. That tells me something too :) He's in a lot of very fine kitchens, and likes her oven. :)

I just hate fighting with equipment, so I want the things that will do what I want them to do as requested without any backtalk or negotiation. :)

To compare the Fagor, the capacity is similar to a countertop catering oven. You can probably make anything but a gigantabird, or perhaps even a big ol' bird. But you could make a standard roast, a family sized bird, etc. Perhaps for only one oven it would be too small. Gaggenau also has the hideously expensive lift oven, where it's mounted in the upper cabinetry and the bottom lowers to counter level. You can bake right on the floor of the oven. It has the same capacity as the Fagor.

BTW, the net volume of the 24" Gaggenau side opening is 3.6 cu.ft. Oh, and the net volume of the Gagg combi-steam is 1.7 cu. ft. That's my second oven.

Search on gizmonike for more on Gaggenau ovens.

I'm not trying to sell you. It's not an amount of money to spend lightly. Just letting you know what I like about it.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 9:00PM
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Thanks plllog, I appreciate hearing your experience. It's extremely helpful to hear real-world-use stories. Specs and details are available all over the Web, but these stories makes this site incredibly valuable to me.

I will do some serious looking at Gaggenau 24".



    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 10:58AM
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