Selecting a Range

KurthJune 15, 2012

Just bought a new home requiring a complete kitchen renovation. I'm trying to pick a gas range. Any thoughts on the choices below would be very much appreciated!

1. Dual fuel or all gas? My current range is dual fuel, and I understand it has some benefits, but it seems my options for ranges are greatly reduced if I go that route. For instance, I was interested in Capital, but I don't see a dual fuel option from them.

2. The importance of sealed/open burners? I hear a lot about the ease of cleaning on the sealed burners and equally enthusiastic reviews of the power and efficiency of the open burners. What say you?

3. Self-clean ovens? My current range has a self-cleaning oven, but I've honestly never used it, and believe me, the oven gets used. I just haven't ever encountered a mess in there that couldn't get cleaned up pretty quickly with a sponge and some water. Convince me I need a self-cleaning oven!

4. Griddle or Grill or extra burners? I'm considering a 36" range for the extra oven space. If I do that, I'd like to get a grill on top, but I've heard from many people that grilling indoors is a disaster. Grease everywhere. Smoke. Hard to clean. Is this true? Even if you have proper venting? Even if most of your grilling is limited to seafood and vegetables? If not a grill, is the griddle a good bet or should I just go with extra burners? If you have a griddle, how often and how do you use it?

5. I know this is a can of worms, but what brands do you prefer? I've been looking at Capital, American Range, Wolf and DCS (Fisher Paykel). I liked BlueStar, but my wife killed that option based on aesthetics. What about Electrolux and Kitchen-Aid? I've heard good things about those. Also, I read the Consumer Reports reviews of most of the ranges I've been looking at, and CR pretty much panned them all. What gives?

I know these issues have been covered here many times, and I've read through some of those posts. I wanted to post this, though, to see if I could get some updated thoughts.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

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I think it would be helpful to members and get you more useful responses if you tell us about you in relation to this potential range, that is- for example, the kinds of cooking you (and other family members) do [for examplewok? lots of baking? grilling , price range, what size of range you want (e.g., 30", 48", what your previous range was and what you liked/didn't like about it.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 9:09PM
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My cooking - I'm a hack, but an enthusiastic one. I'm a by-the-numbers chef and get most of my recipes from Cooks Illustrated or Joy of Cooking. I like to try just about anything, but I have a real love of Italian food and all seafood. I love to grill (esp. fresh caught striped bass), and I have a Lodge wok that gets some pretty decent use.

My wife's cooking - Mostly hotdogs and mac and cheese for the kids during the week. She doesn't love cooking, but she is a pretty great baker. Mostly muffin. She just started a muffin business, in fact, and though those aren't made in the home commercially, she is often testing out new recipes at home before scaling them up.

Price Range - I'd like to stay under $5K, but that's not set in stone. The cheaper the better, but I want something good. I don't care about the name much. I care about functionality and am willing to pay for it, but I don't need a status symbol. My wife care's more about the aesthetics. She likes the Capital models.

Size - If we go with a grill or griddle, we'd have to go with a 36". I'm leaning in that direction anyway because of the increased oven size, but if I could convince myself I could live with 4 burners and save money by going with a 30", I might be tempted.

Current range - We have a Praktful Pro from Ikea (, made by Whirlpool. I didn't actually choose it. It was part of a kitchen renovation makeover TV show we were lucky enough to be on a couple years ago. Overall, it's been a really good range. Things I like: 5 burners with center 11.000 BTU triple crown burner; dual fuel; easy to clean; reliable; attractive. Things I don't like: it's counter-depth, so oven is shallow at 24"; hardware (grates, oven racks, knobs, etc) feels less than sturdy; spacing on grates isn't optimal - I find my pans tipping over sometimes when I use smaller ones.

If there's anything else I can add that would be useful information, let me know. This is the first range I've ever picked out, and the options are almost overwhelming.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 10:34PM
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Capital has a dual fuel on the way- perhaps in a couple months.

Sealed versus open burners: Everyone has their own opinion about ease of cleaning- some is simply what appeals to your style of cleaning. Sealed burner you take the grate off and mop up right on the stove top. Open burners are very similar except if you want to, you can remove the bowls below the grate.

Open burners the flame goes pretty much straight up. Sealed burners the flame comes out sideways and then up around the cap. Avoid getting a range where all the burner caps are very large, or the flame will go up the sides of the pan.

Self-Clean- if you don't need it, don't worry about it. Maybe the range you want will have it, but you don't have to use it. It just makes sense that the high heat cycle 'may' be hard on the electronics.

Fatty meats and high heat cooking , even in a skillet is going to create smoke and grease whether you have a built in grill or not. Likewise with the ventilation. Obviously veggies are much less a problem. And it seems that most people like their grills- griddles are great for breakfast, but portable griddles can be placed over a grill or burners.

There are lots of good brands. If you want open burners and dual fuel you'll have to wait for the Capital. American makes open, sealed and dual fuel with sealed. I own an all gas Bluestar and would buy that one again because I really like the star open burners. Somehow cooking seems more fun. But that's only my opinion and I think there are many good ranges.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 11:06PM
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DF or AG As mentioned, Capital is coming out with a DF soon but not sure what that will entail in the way of electronics or third element convection. If these don't have the kinks worked out it can be very unpleasant. The upper end DF w/electric ovens will have a lot of baking and roasting modes but this can mean lots of electronics. The DF with different modes is great though if you do a lot of baking/roasting and want the ability to direct heat from the top or bottom. You might also have third element convection, which is a benefit to keep the heat even with the oven full. Many are happy with gas too though. If you wife bakes commercially, and tests recipes at home she might want to have an oven most like what she will use at work. Convection is new to me with my current range and I do have the different modes which I love. The electric ovens may keep a little tighter swing in the temperature but not sure if this will impact your baking all that much.

There are all kinds of wild claims about sealed vs unsealed burners. The real thing I would consider here is the amount of BTUS both on the low end and the high end. If you stir fry a lot or need to heat water quickly then, go with the high end of BTUs, but also consider how much you use the low end and how many burners do you want to be on the low end. The sealed burner does flare slightly but this is a benefit if you use bigger(10inch+) pans. Once the hottest part of the flame hits the pan, heat will move more to the center of the pan,than to the outside. Some ranges will have different size burners for this reason. Try to find some live ranges so you can cook on them. As far as cleaning, it is more of a personal preference. Consider the placement of the ignitor and if it will bother you to have it exposed.

Have you thought about induction at all?

I like self clean but if you don't and have an oven with electronics, you are eliminating some of the risk to the boards.

Grill is a personal preference. We do ours outdoors, even in the winter but others wouldn't be without one. As for a griddle, I like flexibility. I like my six burners to be burners when I want them to be and cover either 2 or 4 burners with an add on griddle(Chef King) There are also add on griddles non stick and aluminum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chef King

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 12:18PM
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Any of the high end brands will probably work. I am leaning toward the Bluestar because the quality and simplicity appeal to me. I like the idea of not needing a Wok ring to use a Wok and how easy it is to take apart to clean with no very large pieces that don't fit in a sink or dishwasher easily. The rep told me that the oven maintains temp within plus or minus 5 degrees. As to a grill, I have one in my Viking range top in my cuu
Trent home and I would not buy another. The first time you clean up the n
Mess they make will convince you unless you love cleaning or just like a filthy grease spattered stove with burnt on food. I wish I had bought the steel griddle. I have the Teflon griddle attachment that can be put over burners or the grill. Not the same for cooking. The steel griddles are much better and more versatile. You can put a pot on it and use it like a burner if needed.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 4:03PM
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So, I think I'm narrowing my options and getting close to pulling the trigger on the Capital Culinarian 30" manual clean. I don't really need more than 4 burners, and as much as I'd like the grill, my wife is convinced the mess and smell will drive her nuts. And, there's a pretty big (~$1,400) price jump between the 30" and 36" with grill.

One wrinkle: I've heard some really disturbing things about the electric, glow ignitors in almost all gas ovens. Because of the constant heating, cooling, re-heating, I've heard they wear out pretty regularly and that when they do, the oven either stops working or suffers small-scale gas explosions. I've heard reports of these going bad within a 2-3 year window.

I haven't heard anything about the ignitors in the CC ovens, though. Still, I imagine they'd work the same way - it's a pretty common design.

This has me thinking a little bit more about a dual fuel model (maybe Electrolux Icon or Wavetouch) with an electric oven. This would avoid this gas oven ignitor issue.

Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 1:10AM
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I don't know a single person that has had a gas oven blow up on them. I have read reports on a few Wolf gas ranges that Wolf recalled because of a danger they MIGHT go kaboom but no actual kaboom. My gas range I just got rid of worked for 28 years.

I do know several people that had to replace the heating element in their electric ranges in the 10-12 year range. These are expensive repairs.

Yes, Culinarian uses a glow type ignitor. Capital has been in business since 2001 and I have not read about oven ignitor problems.

Capital is coming out with a duel-fuel range with the Culinarian's 23k btu open burners any day know,the Connoisseurian if you must have DF.

I would rather get a CC rangetop plus wall oven than Electrolux DF.

I lost the link, but a greater percentage of electric ranges causes fires then gas ranges and cause more severe fire damages. Google it.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 2:25AM
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When I said "small scale explosions," I didn't mean Kaboom! It's pretty common that when the ignitors go on a gas oven, it messes up their interaction with the gas valve and results in small (very small) explosions/flame-ups in the oven. Here's a description of what I'm concerned about, quoting from Appliance411FAQ, linked to below:

Gas Smell and/or Mini-Explosions in the Oven

Ignitors do age and will eventually generate less heat than they normally should. When this happens they can still allow marginally correct current to flow to the oven gas valve for it to open but not get quite hot enough to ignite the gas burner immediately. When this occurs, gas released into the oven can result in a gas smell or sometimes even build up to the point where when finally ignited, the extra amount of gas lit can cause a small explosion inside the oven.

In the latter case, the oven should be removed from use until the condition can be looked into and corrected. DO NOT continue to use a gas appliance in such a condition!

Here is a link that might be useful: Appliance411FAQ: Understanding Gas Range Ignition Systems

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 2:22PM
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