Range Selection: Bluestar, Wolf or ?

lwlittle46June 19, 2014

We are about to start building a new house so we are working on the kitchen appliance selections. We will be putting in a 36" 6 burner range so I have few questions:

1. Is the Wolf Range overrated for its price?
2. Is the Bluestar not having a self cleaning oven a big issue? My wife wants self cleaning
3. How do Bluestar and Themador compare?
4. Is there another range brand we should look at? We want to try to buy US made.

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cookncarpenter

I think you first need to determine if you are an open burner or sealed burner person. Until then, you are not comparing apples to apples. I've always enjoyed cooking on open burners, so for me the decision to go with Bluester was a no brainer, and I've been totally satisfied with it's performance for 18 months now :) Once you've made that decision, you can eliminate one, or two of your choices.
As for self clean, I never used the feature it on our previous Thermador wall oven, so I don't miss it ;)
...and the absence of electronics is just another added plus for me on the Bluestar.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 2:08PM
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Mistman

To me BS and Wolf aren't really in the same league. BS is made for people who cook, period. There's nothing fancy about it, no electronics, no 'Wolf Gourmet', no timers, self clean or digital anything. It's a no apologies cooking machine (however I think they look awesome, especially colored). Don't get me wrong, Wolf makes great things, I have 2 of they're ovens (conv and steam) but didn't even consider a range or cook-top. I wanted the 'best' stuff I could afford, Wolf didn't make the cut when it came to a range. I have a SZ fridge though, so I'm not opposed to they're offerings. It really is a personal decision about how you want to cook, the Wolf would be a good range. If I wasn't such a snob I may have looked at one :)

1 Like    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 5:21PM
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Mistman

Wrong thread.....

This post was edited by Mistman on Thu, Jun 19, 14 at 19:59

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 5:30PM
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wekick

" Posted by Mistman
To me BS and Wolf aren't really in the same league. BS is made for people who cook, period. There's nothing fancy about it, no electronics, no 'Wolf Gourmet' "

What is a "Wolf Gourmet"?

Believe it or not there are "people who cook" on this forum who use any of the above brands and more. In my opinion, you really have to look at how a person cooks and what is important to them before you can make any recommendations about cooking appliances. Are you absolutely sticking with a range? If I had it to do over, I would not buy a range but separate rangetop and ovens. You can pick each component based on what fits your need and if the oven goes out, you don't have replace the whole appliance.

As to your first question, Wolf does have excellent service during the warranty period. If you read about some of the other companies, it can be do it yourself even under warranty. Unfortunately, they have the ongoing issues with the blue enamel so I would not recommend anything they make with a blue interior as most people need their appliances to go longer than the warranty period of 1-2-5 years. It is a shame because the DF range has a fabulous oven. I think you would have to go with a wall oven to get anything comparable.

These are some things you might want to consider in making a decision about a range.

burners-
-range of BTUs you need high and low. Some want to be able to have a very low simmer on all the burners. Some want very high heat. I would go with what you use the most.
-do you want all the same size burners or varying sizes. Star shaped or ring burners? If you use cast iron or steel and want a pan to heat evenly the differing sizes/star shaped burner may be important. If you use copper or heavy aluminum, it won't matter much. It might matter if you cook with big or small pans.
-If you haven't cooked with a prostyle range before, the burners are bigger so the flame can go around the sides of a smaller pan. Also if you haven't cooked with a prostyle range they are much deeper, allowing use of bigger pans, but Thermador makes one model that is counter depth. Some people like that.
-open or sealed-I would look at how the burners are cleaned. There are people who swear up and down one or the other is easier to clean but this is highly subjective. There are videos on youtube that show how to clean some of the open burners. As far as sealed burners there are stainless and black enamel surfaces. Try to see the range you are considering live. Check out the spread of the flame of the burner on high heat. If you can't see it live you can get some idea by watching videos on youtube. The amount of spread of the flame is determined by how the burners are engineered.

-Have you considered induction? For many this is the best of all worlds and many professional kitchens are going this way. I would definitely read about it. Clean up is super easy.

How important is the oven?
-Do you care if it is gas or electric? Gas ventilates more heat and humidity into the kitchen and provides a dry heat which is good for roasting. Electric ovens hold the heat and humidity a little more so can be better for baking. If you turn on the convection fan, it is great for roasting as well.
-Are you a "shove a pan in the middle of the oven and if it's close in temperature, that is good enough", or are you going to appreciate an oven that can bake very evenly when loaded up, with very little tending.
-Do you use convection? Gas ovens tend to have on and off switches where many electric ovens have various modes with variable fan speeds and the ability to manipulate the direction of the heat for roasting and baking. Some ovens have dual fans.
- Check the range of temperature available on the oven. Some might only go as low as 220. My Electrolux wall oven can be set from 80-550 with or without the fan. I use the low heat with a fan for all kinds of baking, simmering, quick sous vides, dehydrating food, drying art projects, etc. Some electric ovens have a very narrow temperature swing.
-Most electric ovens have self clean but Capital makes an AG range with self clean.
-Another consideration is the broiler. The gas ovens often have the infrared broilers that are very hot but also very narrow. If you want to broil a couple of steaks they are great but if you need a wide broiler for trays then you probably want an electric broiler.
-Also consider the size of the oven cavity. Do you need to use full sheets? How long will it take to preheat? Some 36 inch ovens will take 20-45 minutes to preheat. A 30 inch wall oven might just take 7 minutes to preheat and then add some time to stabilize on both if baking.
-Also check out the racks and ease of changing them around, placement of lighting. Measure the racks for usable space rather than looking at the internal measurements.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 9:45AM
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Mistman

I agree, there are some fantastic cooks who can cook on anything, it's really not about the tool. However my comment basically meant that a BS isn't a range that a non-cook type would put in their kitchen although a Wolf range might be in there. Wolf carries some prestige and indicates a certain status (perceived or not) so might be an appliance you'd find in an up-scale home w/non cooks.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 11:48AM
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Bungalow14

I don't know that I agree with your conclusions, Mistman. Based on what I've read through the years on this very forum, Bluestar is every bit the "status symbol" that Wolf is. Plenty of folks buy them for the name (only).
Time was, Viking was THE brand to have in an upscale kitchen. Nowadays, it seems to be Wolf and Bluestar, regardless of whether the buyer is a "serious" cook or not.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 2:53PM
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deeageaux

"Time was, Viking was THE brand to have in an upscale kitchen. Nowadays, it seems to be Wolf and Bluestar, regardless of whether the buyer is a "serious" cook or not."

Outside of this Forum and the world of appliance geeks no one knows what a Bluestar is.

When the cable tv repair man came over to fix my cable he saw my Culinarian and asked me if it was one those "Wolf stoves."

Cooking skill is more important than the tool. But the most experienced chef can't sear on a Wolf gas burner as well as an average cook can on Bluestar. No amount of preheating on cast iron makes up the difference in power.

Bluestar hinge issue was resolved about 2-3 years ago. The door can get hotter than Wolf but the seizing issue has been resolved.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 3:49PM
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lwlittle46

Ok to compound things...after visiting the showroom and a very helpful discussion with the lady helping us, we are still considering a 36" range but adding a 24" smaller steam wall oven in the pantry. Any feedback of that.

Also, would we be smarter to get 4 burners and a griddle instead of 6? We had a 6 burner GE Monogram in our prior house and rarely used more than 3 or 4.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 5:15PM
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cookncarpenter

I went with the griddle, and am so glad I did. In 40+ years of cooking, I've never needed more than 4 burners, and it's rare I even use 4. Also I griddle just about daily, and often two or three times. It gets much more use than the oven or broiler, and along with the burners, is my favorite thing about the range.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 5:40PM
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Bungalow14

"Outside of this Forum and the world of appliance geeks no one knows what a Bluestar is."

Wow, that is some statement. Care to support it with facts/evidence?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 1:54PM
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barryv_gw

Lwhittle, did she suggest steam oven or combi steam oven. Miele makes a steam oven and a combi oven , most others make just a combi. Do a search on combi ovens, most here like them, bit they are pricey. I have not read many posts on a steam oven, not sure how useful that would be.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 10:59PM
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tinyhomebuilder

>>"Outside of this Forum and the world of appliance geeks no one knows what a Bluestar is."

>"Wow, that is some statement. Care to support it with facts/evidence?"

Only anecdotal...

I had no idea of what a BlueStar is, and only found out through this forum. And, if I don't tell them, no one I know has any idea either.

1 Like    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 11:28AM
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philwojo99

I would agree with Tiny on this one, most people that I have talked to at work and friends and family have no clue what a "Blue Star" is, let alone that it is a great range/range top/cook top. Most people know of the big name brands like you find at the big box stores and for high end they think Viking or Wolf/Sub Zero.

There are exceptions to this of course, but I think that it mostly holds true for your everyday person who either doesn't care about what appliances they have or haven't gone through a reno so have no need to really research it.

You of course will find those that do know, but from my personal experience those people are hard to find!

Heck I will take it one step further than just BS, most people haven't heard of CC or 5 star or AR either, unless they read on forums like this one or are doing some research for a future/current remodel.

Phil

This post was edited by philwojo99 on Tue, Jun 24, 14 at 17:06

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 5:04PM
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ChristyMcK

We just went through this process and ended up with a Lacanche Volnay (www.frenchranges.com). We also looked at Blue Star and Wolf. I think seeing and testing them in-person is really the most informative thing you can do. Different ranges excel at different things, and preferences and budgets vary so check them all out and make your own choice. None of these are bad ranges.

As an aside, we also got a 24" combi steam oven. It's a new, last year's model Gaggenau which is plumbed so you don't have to refill the water tray and it has a side opening. Both of these features work well in our space - the side opening especially. We also considered the Miele combi steam oven (the new model is out in July) and would have probably been happy with one, but I liked the simplicity of the Gaggenau operations better.

The bad news is that I can't comment on these yet because they aren't installed! Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 6:29PM
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EurekaChef

I have to agree with comments that outside of this forum, or at least outside the world of serious home cooks, Bluestar is not well known. So many people come to my house or see photos of my kitchen and ask "is that a Viking'. Then I have to explain the differences.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 9:27PM
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Mistman

When we were building I would talk with my co-workers about the process. When it came time for outfitting the kitchen I was asked by more than one person if I was going to go with "Wolf" appliances. Most of the people I work with make over 6 figures and Wolf is definitely a well known brand. When I mentioned I was going w/a BS I too had to explain what it was and why I preferred it to a Wolf, to a person no one had heard of it. It could be that I live on the west coast which is a world away from Reading, Pa. I think if you're associated with people who make a living in the food industry there's a better chance of familiarity with more of the lesser known products. Most of my associates for the last 25 years are in electrical engineering or farming/ranching so.........not so much.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 10:00PM
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cookncarpenter

Heres my anecdotal experience.... About two years ago, we as recent empty nesters decided to freshen up our kitchen one last time. As a builder of custom homes for over 30 years in an upscale area, I was familiar with what my clients were putting in their kitchens. For the most part, it was Viking, Wolf, Thermador, and DCS. So I googled to find pros and cons of those brands, and GW threads kept coming up (which is how I found out about this crazy place!) and in the discussions, this brand "bluestar" which I had never heard of, along with CC which I had also never heard of, kept coming up. So I googled Bluestar, and then more GW threads came up! Also when an appliance repairman came to do some work on another appliance, he noticed the Bluestar and said "what kind of range is that?, never seen one... And when friends or neighbors drop in, same reaction...."never heard of it", "is it like a wolf or viking?" so I have to agree, mainstream folks have no idea what a bluestar is,, ..same thing goes for our Liebherr refrigerator (which I also found on google and GW)..."is that like a Sub Zero?"

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 11:10PM
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schicksal

"Outside of this Forum and the world of appliance geeks no one knows what a Bluestar is. "

Yep. The countertop lady had 20 questions about everything while we were setting up the order. She does everything from rental grade granite to 10,000 sq ft houses on Kiawah and even some commercial buildings that get quartz. I think she said she'd seen Blue Star... once? Granted, they seem to be more popular with ranges and countertops aren't impacted by those anyway.

The custom builders I'm friends with use Thermador almost exclusively for their nicer houses. For them it's economics - they take advantage of the dishwasher and vent packages. Their customers rarely specify a brand, they get a product that looks nice, and the builder makes a bit more. Everyone is happy.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 7:12AM
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Bungalow14

OK, y'all have convinced me, I sit corrected. Bluestar (and AR and CC) are elite/boutique brands that sit comfortably outside of the mainstream. :-)

(Pls don't misunderstand me: I am not anti-Bluestar. When we were outfitting the kitchen in our new home, I quickly eliminated from consideration every cooktop/rangetop that wasn't 36" with open burners. That left me with BS, ARP, and CC. I chose ARP after researching for months, but BS and CC hung in 'til the end. The ARP represented the best bang for the buck in our particular case, and we're VERY happy with it.)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 10:53AM
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wekick

" Posted by Bungalow14
BS (and AR and CC) are elite/boutique brands that sit comfortably outside of the mainstream."

This in and of itself might be why some would consider it a status symbol. Of course none of the present company would be included in that. :-)) It is all in your perception. I know someone who bought a top of the line Frigidaire as a status symbol. I used to work with someone that bragged about his SZ frig, but it was lost on his coworkers because they had no idea what it was. BS is much more available now than 8 years ago. We have a dealership in our town now. It would be hard from individual stories of people we know that haven't heard of it to say how well known the brand is and how this has changed. Look on BS's front page to see all the magazine that have had BS in them.

" But the most experienced chef can't sear on a Wolf gas burner as well as an average cook can on Bluestar. No amount of preheating on cast iron makes up the difference in power. "

How many BTUs does it take to sear a steak well. Will 20K work? 19K? 16K? 12K?

The answer is all will work because it is about the amount of heat the pan can hold rather than the rate at which the pan will heat. If you google and read, some have used even 12K to produce a surface of 600F+ which I am thinking is hot enough. If you read what J. Kenji López-Alt has to say, once the CI pan is heated, you can sear a steak without additional heat added. In his article about searing a steak, he talks about all the variables except the source of heat. This is why cooking forums talk about pans more than burners.

from chowhound
" I put two cast iron pans--one 10" Wagner and one comal--on my standard consumer gas stove. Sorry, I don't know the BTU output. I put the gas on full blast, waited a while, then starting taking measurements.

The pans smoked pretty heavily from 450F to 500F as the coat of fresh peanut oil burned off. The smoking subsided and the temperature continued to rise.

After the pans crossed 600F they started smoking again and the hottest spots changed color from black to greyish silver. I figured the seasoning was starting to break down, so I shut the gas off. I have no doubt the temperature would have continued to climb had I kept the burners on.

The highest temperature I recorded was 626F on the Wagner, 612F on the comal."

Here is a link that might be useful: How hot does a cast iron pan get?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 6:20PM
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Fori is not pleased

You can preheat a cast iron pan pretty darn hot if you're patient. I can sear stuff with my crummy ol' electric JA and I could with my Windcrest induction.

The difference is about how FUN is it????

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 8:38PM
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james243

I'm suprised that you didn't consider a Capital Cullinarian? Every major cooking show is now featuring those stoves and range tops. The guy who helped both Viking and Wolf and DCS for that matter was the engineer behind each. Two years ago I think he was the guy inducted into the Kitchen and Bath Hall of Fame. I know the price is at least a $1000 below Wolf so just asking, how the name didn't come up?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 12:20AM
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Gooster

Take the appearance of Capital and BS in TV network shows and magazine features for what it is -- paid product placement. If companies don't pay these days, their logos get blurred out (on TV). It's how you build brand awareness.

A sales consultant at a specialty dealer that services custom builders in our area told me that all of them specify sub-zero and Wolf by default, because of the mainstream brand awareness (especially for higher end spec homes). Thermador has gotten popular with high end flippers in my region due to the package deals they have been offering.

Note this is not a commentary on the function of any of the products listed above.

This post was edited by gooster on Sat, Jun 28, 14 at 2:51

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 2:37AM
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jkom51

My nephew wouldn't have bought a Bluestar if I hadn't kept mailing him clippings from this forum about how wonderful they were, LOL. He really regrets having to leave it when they moved to the East Coast, but there was no way it was going to fit in their new condo which is half the size of their previous home, now a rental.

For that matter, I have Swanstone matte granite-look tan countertops in kitchen and bath, and everyone, including construction pros, say "Oh, what nice Corian!"

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 12:33PM
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tinyhomebuilder

jkom51 writes:

"My nephew wouldn't have bought a Bluestar if I hadn't kept mailing him clippings from this forum about how wonderful they were, LOL. He really regrets having to leave it when they moved to the East Coast, but there was no way it was going to fit in their new condo which is half the size of their previous home, now a rental."

We were so happy to discover that BlueStar made a 24 inch stove. It fits perfectly into our little kitchen...

...and cooks just like a big one. ; )

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 7:49PM
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lwlittle46

Big oversight on my part. I did not realize Bluestar did not have a dual fuel range and I don;t think I want gas because we have hot summers here. That leads me to either Wolf or Thermador. I do like the star burner on the Thermador and it seems to rate better than the Wolf. Any feedback on Thermador dual fuel - 4 burner plus griddle.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 5:48PM
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lwlittle46

Getting down to the point I have to make selections. If I decided to use a BS Rangetop what oven(s) would you match with it. I do like the Wolf Steam oven.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2014 at 8:59PM
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HomeChef59

I really think the range top/wall oven combo is the smartest move in most applications.

Personally, I'm going with the 36" Blue Star range top and keeping my old Thermador double convection ovens. They are still in good shape and I don't run the self clean. They should run for a while longer.

I think I would give the Wolf ovens a hard look.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2014 at 7:55PM
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