Pro-style Ranges Overrated?

KitchenMonkeyJuly 18, 2014

What's the difference between a pro-style range and a regular range?

I've noticed that many pro-style ranges from companies such as Blue Star, NXR, and Viking have burners that only go up to a maximum of 15,000 BTU.

But many of the cheap ranges from Sears have burners that go up to 17,000 or 18,000 BTU. How are the pro-style ranges superior? Would someone who does a lot of stir-frying be better off with a cheap range that has a single 19,000 BTU burner?

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That kind of burner action is relatively new. 9600 BTU used to be standard for a residential range. Lots of Asian mamas stir fry on them and do just fine, but they also have a lot of skill and tricks (like heating up the wok in the oven first and cooking small batches).

The old definition of a pro-style range was one that had higher heat open burners but was insulated and otherwise suitable for residential installation.

The current definition seems to be that it looks kind of like a commercial range. :)

People who do a lot of wok stir fry like to have a dedicated wok burner, either gas or induction. I've heard of several who have cheapo "Chinese kitchens" which are concrete or tile and hard to light on fire, have lots of heavy ventilation and have a commercial style wok burner. Others just get a range with a big center ring. And others still who do fine with whatever. People who learn to wok on a brazier or in a commercial kitchen, rather than from a mom, want masses of BTUs. They like instant response and instant return to heat for large quantities of food. That's only really necessary if you're feeding restaurant quantities of people (which you might be if you're wokking for entertaining). I know a lot of Asian women who think buying more than a standard Sears range is a terrible waste of money. Far more than the number who want blast burners. But my acquaintanceship is a very limited group, of course.

Your best bet is to find showrooms with installed appliances and try them out to find what you're comfortable with.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 5:19PM
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Generally, but not entirely, pro-style ranges have all/most high BTU burners so you can stir fry, boil water, etc. on several burners at the same time. Some of the other ranges will have a single high BTU burner but all the rest of the burners are lower BTUs.

You need to decide what makes sense for your cooking style.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 5:23PM
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"What's the difference between a pro-style range and a regular range?"

Looks is the only thing that separates ALL pro style ranges from ALL "regular" ranges.

You can't lump all "pro style ranges" into the same category. They may look similar but they have completely different designs and perform very differently from each other. Some pro style ranges aren't very different at all from consumer ranges other than looks. Others have open burners for better cooktop performance, whereas standard ranges have sealed. Many, but not all, pro style ranges lack electronics that most regular ranges have, including clocks and timers. Many pro style ranges lack self clean, although some have it.

"But many of the cheap ranges from Sears have burners that go up to 17,000 or 18,000 BTU"

Yes, but that is only one burner. The others will be lower output. On pro style ranges, all or most of the burners tend to be higher BTU. Some pro style ranges (like the Bluestar you mention with 15,000 BTU burners) will have better designed burners than that Sears special for more even heat distribution. Others might go beyond that and feature burners up to 25,000 BTU.

Figure out your budget and what features you want that will fit that budget. Do some reading online on the manufacturer's websites. Come back here with questions like: "What's the difference between range X and range Y?" Or: "Does anyone here own range Z? If so what you think of it?" Or: "What do you think of this feature? Is it worth it?"

Then you'll get much more helpful feedback.

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 17:29

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 5:25PM
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But isn't one high BTU burner enough? I do a lot of stir-frying, but only one wok at a time, and always with small quantities of food. I don't care about the other burners. I rarely simmer things at low temps, and my oven doesn't get used much either.

My current $800 gas range has an 18,200 BTU burner. If I decide to spend $4500 on a Wolf (or $2000 on NXR) range that only outputs 15,000 BTU, won't the quality of my cooking be compromised?

I don't understand how a $5000+ range can only output 15,000 BTUs per burner.

Is there something I'm not understanding? Is more BTU better, or am I missing something? Are the 15,000 BTU burners engineered in such a way that they will outperform the 18,200 BTU burners found on Kenmore ranges?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:48PM
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WEll, you're forgetting about the "Red Knobs", Monkey.

Everybody knows that a range with red knobs will out cook anything~~~~~You don't believe me????~~~~well ask the red knob salesman. He will tell you that his "sealed burner red knobbed stove, will "Outcook" even the most powerful,
open burner "prostyle stove" or if he's a bit more modest,
He might claim it will "Keep up"!

I, "myself" find this a "Strange Argument", after all what do you do when you want more heat out of any gas cooktop?~~~You turn up the gas and the thing gets hotter.~~~~so if you turn up the fire from 15,000 to 25,000, isn't that gonna be a hotter fire?? and with open burners more of it stays under the bottom of the pan instead of shooting around the sides, Wellllll~~~~~ (I guess NOT),>>>> "The Magic", it's all in those Red Knobs!


    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 7:35PM
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KitchenMonkey, not sure if you are serious about your question, ( especially when you are saying you spent $800 on your range and are questioning whether it is better than a $4,500 range, ) but I agree there is no uniform relationship between price and btu's. If you want the ultimate high heat natural gas burner, it will set you back $300, but you will have a burner that puts out 130,000 BTU ( not a typo, 130,000 ), which will outperform your current range by a factor of 8 even though it costs a little more than a third of the cost of your range. If you were willing to go propane, for less than $60 bucks, you can get 75,000 btu ( Also, it is true that there is no fixed definition of pro style. Some manufacturers sold commercial style ranges for use in homes, and others jumped on the bandwagon, so there is no real clear line. Prostyle costs more than a regular appliance, whether it is worth it to you depends on you. Some people like the look, or the features ( it is very hard to find non electric controls in a regular stove, but pretty easy on a prostyle) others are attracted to open burners, the overall heavy duty construction, and some want 4 burners that put out more heat than a regular stove. If you spent $800 on a range, I doubt you would be 5 times happier with a $4,500 range, but for many people, they couldn't be happier with their choice of a high end range.

Here is a link that might be useful: 130,000 btu.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 9:48PM
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The most important difference for me is the range top real estate.

Four large pots would not fit on the old Kenmore top. No problem fitting them on the red knob beastie. And, yes, I need room for four big pots when I'm canning.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:08PM
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"Are the 15,000 BTU burners engineered in such a way that they will outperform the 18,200 BTU burners found on Kenmore ranges"

Reread my post. As I said, not all pro style ranges are the same. In the case of Bluestar, yes the 15,000 burners may very well outperform them since they're open and the Kenmore one is sealed. On the other hand I doubt the Wolf and NXR burners would perform much better than Kenmore ones with the same BTU rating.

"Is more BTU better"

In general, yes. But burner design matters too.

"But isn't one high BTU burner enough?"

Nobody is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to buy a pro style range. If the $800 range works better for your cooking habits, then by all means hold onto it! There are other people who would rather have 15,000 BTUs on all burners than one 18000, another 12000, another 8000, and another 5000. And there are others who would rather have six burners, each with 22,000+ BTU, plus a griddle and indoor grill. That kind of power is only available in pro style.

"If I decide to spend $4500 on a Wolf (or $2000 on NXR) range that only outputs 15,000 BTU, won't the quality of my cooking be compromised?"

I don't think any houseguests could tell that I upgraded from an electric radiant range to an induction one just by tasting the meals I cooked. But boy do I have more fun cooking them, and boy does my range look better and cleaner.

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Sat, Jul 19, 14 at 1:00

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 12:49AM
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I think my question is pretty legitimate.

I don't need multiple powerful burners because I can't see myself holding a stopwatch and simultaneously boiling multiple pots of water. Neither am I looking to cook restaurant-style meals on a 100k+ BTU burner. But I have grown accustomed to stir-frying my meals on an 18,200 BTU burner and would like to know if I am setting myself up for disappointment.

I would like a pro-style range because I think they look really cool. The only ones within my budget are the $2000 DXR and a 3 month old, like new Wolf GR304 range that my friend is selling for $3000 because she's moving.

Is a 3200 BTU difference significant? Will I miss those extra 3200 BTU?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 10:47AM
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"Will I miss those extra 3200 BTU?"

That is a very different question than "won't the quality of my cooking be compromised?" The point I was trying to make is more BTUs generally translates to a better cooking experience but not into better food in the end.

The only way to answer that question for yourself is to try cooking on one. It's not something that we can answer over the internet.

The other point I've been trying to make is that the prostyle ranges are different. If you buy a Bluestar RCS with 15K BTU you may not miss the Kenmore power burner at all. You might if you bought NXR or Wolf 15K BTU though. But then again, you might not even then. If at all possible you should try cooking on these ranges before you buy them.

Or, you can look at prostyle ranges that have 18,000 BTUs or more and not have to worry about any of this. Dacor has one 18K, two 15K, and one 9.5K on their 30" prostyle. Viking has one 18K and the rest 15K. American Range, Bluestar, and Capital all offer ranges with open burners that go above 20K BTU. If the open burner Capital Culinarian is too expensive for you they have a cheaper sealed burner range that has one 25K and the rest 19K. Similarly if the open burner American Range performer is too much for you they have a cheaper sealed burner range that has two 17K, one 13K and one 9K. There are tons of pro style ranges on the market and with the manufacturers you listed, you're only scratching the surface.

You are paying a significant premium over regular ranges just to get the pro style look. You're going to have to pay another premium on top of that if you want some of the features that can be found on mid range to high end regular ranges. The low end pro style ranges are pretty bare bones.

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Sat, Jul 19, 14 at 13:02

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 11:27AM
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KitchenMonkey, sorry, it is hard to know whether someone is asking a serious question. The easy answer is go to you friend's house, with your pots and pans, and make a few things and see what you think. Some people love the auto ignite on the burners, the feel of the controls, and the way it cooks, others not so much. Since it is a friend, I would ask to make a few things and see what you think. If you are not blown away, don't buy it.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 12:37PM
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Pro style ranges are a marketing phenomenon based on the look of a professional range, not necessarily performance.

The other marketing phenomenon is that open burners are "better" than sealed. They are better if you like them better or find them easier to clean. But excellence of the configuration and machining of the gas jets and and efficient delivery is more important IMO than sealed or open.

A range with good machining and gas delivery issues may perform better on a lower btu burner than a range with lower quality burners and higher btus. It won't deliver more heat but may deliver it more efficiently.

I once worked in a Chinese restaurant which has a special set up for woks with high output burners. No home range can deliver that kind of power without a special fire and exhaust system.

Someone who is primarily cooking on a wok might want to invest in a dedicated wok stove along with the exhaust and fireproofing required.

For $2000+ there is the Evoo Chinese range with waste drain, pot filler and 200,000K power.

Baker's Pride has a wok range with 125,000 btus for under $1000.

Both may/may not be legal in a private residence. I suppose it would depend on location, local codes and whether the floor could support the weight. But either makes the most powerful "pro range" look like a Kia vs a Maserati.

Any range designed for home use will not deliver true wok power. Someone who is happy with an 18000 K burner could find that on a Lacanche -- which is not a pro range at all.

This post was edited by rococogurl on Sat, Jul 19, 14 at 14:13

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 2:10PM
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"The other marketing phenomenon is that open burners are "better" than sealed. They are better if you like them better or find them easier to clean. But excellence of the configuration and machining of the gas jets and and efficient delivery is more important IMO than sealed or open"

My thoughts above on open burner ranges were not based on any facts, just my personal opinion. I haven't owned a gas range in years, but I did test drive a bunch and I have to say I had the most fun cooking on the open burner ranges. They did great at both the high side and the low side and frankly, I don't see how anyone else could not like them better than sealed. I didn't try cleaning them or anything... I just liked their performance. I am not very familiar with why they seemed to perform better, I'm sure if I said the flame was distributed more evenly across the bottom of the pan someone here would try to argue with me that it's not the burner, it's the pan, etc. But all I can say is that when I cooked with the same pans on different ranges, I liked the American Range Performer and the Capital Culinarian better than the others, and nobody can debate with me about that. Maybe it wasn't even because the burners were open, and I was just liking the fact that they were more powerful BTU-wise. I don't know.

Additionally it seems like everyone else on this forum who has actual experience with both prefers the open burners. That holds a lot of weight in my opinion. Nobody needs open burners but I don't see how they can be a downgrade. Some say they need a sealed burner like Wolf to get a good simmer, but it seems like the open burner manufacturers have addressed the simmer issue. The open burner ranges are expensive but there is sealed burner competition that costs as much or more. If you're spending that much anyway, what do the competitors offer that make them a better purchase? There is the excellent performing oven in the Wolf dual fuel but with the enamel issues I don't see why anyone would buy that range currently.

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Sat, Jul 19, 14 at 15:54

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 3:53PM
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Fori is not pleased

Some people are inclined toward the pro-style ranges because they are tired of replacing appliance circuit boards or don't like the noise from a fan that has to run to cool those electronics.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 4:08PM
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"Some people are inclined toward the pro-style ranges because they are tired of replacing appliance circuit boards"

Those people should be extra careful when shopping around because some pro style ranges actually do have electronics that are pretty well disguised by all the knobs.

"don't like the noise from a fan that has to run to cool those electronics"

You can also avoid that by getting a freestanding range instead of a slide in. With the exception of the cooktop fan on induction models, freestanding ranges don't have cooling fans.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 6:24PM
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Anyone with a dual fuel pro-style range has a cooling fan and a circuit board.

I happen to love my electric wall oven and don't mind the fan blowing to cool the electronics as it's barely noticeable. I can crack the oven door to cut down the time on that as well. The benefits far outweigh that small concern.

hv -- everyone focus on the btus but machining and burner configuration are very important. In ancient times prior to the advent of "pro-style" ranges, people just bought Garlands or Vulcans and put them in the house. Those had open burners. And they sometimes scorched adjacent cabinets. Apartment buildings required tile floors and tile completely behind those ranges for safety purposes.

I remember doing a cookbook tour in 1981 and cooking on a Wolf (pre-residential) rangetop in a cooking school. This was old Wolf -- when it was restaurant equipment -- and it was a fabulous performer.

David Rosengarten put Blue Star on the map back in 2003 with an article he wrote for Depatures, an airline magazine. This was the heydey of Viking (there had been an article on Viking in the New Yorker which created the prestige for the brand. Guess which range the author had?)

Rosengarten's was a test-drive of 4 ranges -- Viking, Blue Star, DCS, and Jade. Original DCS had closed burners. We know what happened to the other two.

This piece also explained why he thought open burners were better and it's valid. However, the DCS with closed burners was the runner up vs the Jade which I recall was an open burner range.

Some may remember this piece -- I do. It also credits Garland, which ceased production in 2002, with the configuration of the Blue Star burner which was a restaurant range burner.

But these ranges went viral 10 years ago -- when the boom started in 04-05.

Culinarian is now manufactured by the former DCS designer (Kalsi) who was a closed-burner person and designed an open burner range to compete specifically with Blue Star.

Here is a link that might be useful: David Rosengarten's A Range of Options

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 9:05PM
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I passed on a pro-style range because the oven size in the 30" ranges I looked at was smaller than in the regular-type ranges. I bought a Bosch with true convection.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 9:39PM
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Kitchenmonkey, I want to second Barryv's suggestion that you run some tests on that Wolf your friend is looking to sell. Take your wok and your preferred foods and see how the high heat settings work for you. Maybe make dinner for your friend?

Running that test will also answer the questions for you about the NXR, as well, because the NXR is basically a knock-off of the older Wolf designs and uses the same 15k-btu double-stacked Isphording burners.

Here's the thing: if your existing stove's 18k burner is like the typical major-brand large burners I've seen -- and I'm thinking of GE's 20k-btu triple-ring burner and Frigidaire's 17-18k btu power burners --- then the flame spread is very wide on max heat. That's because those burners are designed for use with very big pots. ("Big" like 20-quart 13-inch diameter stock pots and very large fry pans.) In turn, that means a whole lot of the heat will not be in the center and could be be spilling away from from and around the sides of your wok.

With the Wolf/NXR burners, the spread of the highest flame is somewhat narrower which means you might actually be getting more heat to your wok. If so, that might or might not suit your own cooking style. Only way t find out is to actually use the stove.

If you can test drive the stove, that is the best way to tell if that kind of range will work for you.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Sun, Jul 20, 14 at 13:43

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 10:53PM
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Rococogurl, thanks for the link to the article, interesting if dated reading, since Bluestar has changed its burner design since then.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:47AM
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I have a GE Monogram; it's of the DCS era, ca 2006. They are different now, i am told.
I like that all the burners not only go to 17KBTU (would be even hotter on natural gas) but also have the super-low simmer ring.
There is also the issue of the 18KBTU grill in the middle of it, so I can grill year-round.
The elec. oven (dual fuel) is really well-calibrated and holds the set temps perfectly. And the convection is amazing (my first w/that feature, unless you count the toaster oven). It takes full-sheet pans.
And it happens to match the SS backsplash very well.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 10:20AM
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Dated indeed but nonetheless useful in terms of understanding burner configuration and airflow.

It's interesting to note the absence of Wolf, which I think was a historical error.

And while Blue Star may have changed their original Garland configuration, Jade has gone out of biz and both Viking and DCS have been acquired.

So none of the ranges Rosengarten tested are useful to anyone in the market now in terms of purchasing a reliable range.

And I don't know of any similar test conducted by an independent writer or better yet a professional test kitchen. Logistics certainly are an issue (Rosengarten didn't explain those). All consumers have are video testimonials prepared by retailers or the ability to go and test on their own in certain showrooms.

The ability to self-test a product is certainly better than taking the word of a salesman who may be selling it on commission. Alternately, one can take the word of posters here who have longterm experience. I did a large amount of research and contacted people when I needed to purchase a range and though I didn't personally know anyone they were extremely generous in answering me promptly and giving me honest and very detailed assessments.

Too often (as in this post) there is most emphasis on burner power at the expense of full capabilities of a range and assessment on the oven. Rangetops are a good alternative as someone sensibility observed.

But then, there are still oven assessment issues as we all know.

Buying a gas range today is difficult at best IME, fraught with tradeoffs and technical challenges.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 12:39PM
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>>> "Too often . . . there is most emphasis on burner power at the expense of full capabilities . . ." Exactly! True for just the burners themselves, as well. BTU ratings are only part of the story.

I am finding it very interesting that this thread's title raises much broader concerns than what has turned out to be Kitchenmonkey's actual, very narrow focus: he/she wants the industrial chic of a used Wolf or an NXR but only if he/she will be as subjectively satisfied with wokking on one of their burners as with wokking on the current stove's 18.6k-btu burner. His/her degree of satisfaction can only be answered with the test drive of the used Wolf that is on offer from the friend.

Hopefully, tKitchenmonkey can take the test drive and contribute his/her impressions to the continuing, broader discussion that he/she has spawned..

Speaking of which, I second rococogurl's comment about GWers --- "when I needed to purchase a range and though I didn't personally know anyone they were extremely generous in answering me promptly and giving me honest and very detailed assessments."

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 3:14PM
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From Consumer Reports (which I know many here don't give much credence to.)

"In affluent circles, some boxy pro-style ranges are more prestigious than others. That's why it wasn't surprising to see Wolf ranges at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York City this spring. The show attracts design enthusiasts and upscale homeowners, among others. But at Consumer Reports, the experts in our labs looked past the styling to see how well Wolf's new GR304 and GR366 ranges simmer, bake, broil and more. Here's what they found.

The Wolf GR366, a 36-inch-wide gas pro-style, was excellent at simmering but so-so at providing fast cooktop heat. The oven is large but baking was mediocre and broiling only fair. For $6,000 you get those familiar red knobs, heavy stainless-steel construction, six burners, including five high power, and an oven with a convection option. But the oven is relatively low to the floor, so it's not very convenient to use the low-rack position or to keep an eye on a baking cake by looking through the oven window. And don't put away your rubber gloves��"there's no self-cleaning feature.

The Wolf GR304, $4,900, a 30-inch gas pro-style, didn't fare as well. It was also superb at simmering and so-so at delivering fast cooktop heat, but the oven isn't large and baking and broiling were just fair. There's no self-cleaning option, but there are red knobs, four burners��"three are high power��"convection, and lots of stainless steel. The oven is also relatively low to the floor. When all our tests were done, neither Wolf range scored high enough to make our recommended list.

If pro-style ranges are for you, see the results of our tests of more than two dozen pro-style ranges from KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Viking, Thermador, and others. Our top-rated 36-inch pro-style range is the KitchenAid KDRU763VSS, $6,000, and the KitchenAid KDRS407VSS, $4,000, topped our tests of 30-inch pro-style ranges. Both models were very good at baking and delivering fast cooktop heat and excellent at simmering. And they both have a self-cleaning feature but the chunky knobs are black.

Our range tests also include everything from $400 electric coil models to speedy induction models, gas ranges and dual-fuel models. And since double-oven ranges are becoming more popular, we've been testing more of them too."

FWIW--I bought one of the old-model, Wolf open burner ranges that were phased out when the current GR304 was introduced. And, it was a purposeful purchase because I wanted open burners rather than the dual stacked they were replaced with. We had read way too many reports of the full-of-electronics ranges needing extensive circuit board repairs and wanted a simple piece of equipment; that's why we went pro style. And, leery though I was, we bought a range without a self-cleaning function because we'd also read way too many reports of the self-cleaning function basically destroying the circuitry on many ranges, so much so that quite a few people here who have self-cleaning don't use it.

When you are deciding on what to do, think about more than just how powerful that one burner you'll be using to stir fry. Would you ever use a griddle to span two burners? If so, you'd want two burners that are equally capable rather than two of different strengths. Would you ever want to boil a pot of water quickly at the same time you are using that more powerful burner to wok? Will the burners maintain a nice simmer function without either going out or scorching the food? How well does the broiler function, and how large is it? How difficult is the cooktop to keep clean? These are all equally important things to take into consideration.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 4:00PM
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IMO BTUs are the wrong thing to focus on. After a certain BTU rating around 15K, increases become incrementally less relevant/noticeable. What matters more is the burner configuration, machining, design (ring layout, ring sizes, open vs. closed, flame shape, etc.). Also, similar BTU burners can actually result in very different real work performance based on other factors (such as height of the burner compared to grate surface, spread of the flame under the pan, etc.)

What matters equally in selecting a range is low range performance. The ability to adjust a flame at precisely the right power, including turning down a burner to super low simmer is (probably) far more important than the top end BTU. BTUs are not the marketing gimmick, the equivalent of "turbo" from the 80s. Its not hard to create a burner on a low end range that markets "high BTUs". Its very hard to make that same burner perform well across the entire range from low simmer to high heat, retain the flame integrity, good flame spread under the pan, etc. Also, having multiple burners that allow you to go high or low is important. Its not just about wok cooking. Its about searing meat, followed by low simmer sauce build up (think most italian dishes), or being able to use any burner based on the pans you are using (think Thanksgiving dinner).

I recently went from a Kitchenaid Cooktop that boasted a 17,000 power burner (dual ring) to a Bluestar which has a combination of 22K and 15K burners. I can tell you hands down, the 15K bluestar burner is FAR superior to the power burner on the KA. The biggest difference is adjustability (The KA burner was never "right". It would be either too hot, or not hot enough based on how the different rings worked - It was also impossible to use with smaller pans). Also, the open burners deliver FAR better heat to the pan than the sealed burners in my particular case.

Personally, I don't think you would ever notice the difference between the 15K burner and the 17.5K burner on the high end. Both will sear pretty well, and boil water more or less equally fast. You will notice the adjustability, simmer performance, flame size and shape, etc.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:03PM
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The except from CR makes my point exactly. They recommend a Kitchen Aid range for $6000.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 7:46AM
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This question is like saying: Why buy a Mercedes / BMW / Audi / Volvo - when this $14,000 Fiat can get me where I want to go.

IMO, if you have to argue the reason, you probably don't have the money to buy one.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 2:17PM
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I beg to differ. To me it's often not whether a person can afford to buy something. It is whether to that person it is a wise expenditure. I suspect for nearly all of us there are things we could afford to buy but choose not to spend the money on when there are other, perfectly good alternatives at a lower price. One person might spend money on a fancy car while not caring at all about appliances. His next door neighbor might have exactly the opposite priorities.

But, I do think in this particular situation the question is raised because there is a set budget limit for a range.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 5:26PM
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"But, I do think in this particular situation the question is raised because there is a set budget limit for a range."

As I said - she doesn't have the money. Nothing wrong with that - just no need to rationlize - or question why someone would buy such an appliance.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 8:47PM
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Do not even consider a Sears Kenmore Pro 36inch dual fuel range. Ours is only 4 yrs old and already:
1 oven temp. probe $46.00
1 Oven control board $195
1 Oven temp setting module $145.
This is just the start. I cannot believe this pro range has all this trouble. My god, we paid over $5500 for this piece of junk Kitchen decoration.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 3:54PM
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Personally I bet the OP would notice some difference between the Wolf 15,000 burner and the current Kenmore 18,200 burner. That's more than 20% difference, and the burner designs are probably very similar.

I know this goes against the prevailing wisdom here, but I do not believe that open burners are superior just because they are open. I have a Kitchenaid open burner gas cooktop circa 1990. The heat distribution is NOT at all even across the pan; it concentrates to the outside of large pans, and licks up the sides of medium pans.

I have 13,500 burners and 9,000 BTU burners, and there is a HUGE difference between them. The big burners not only have more BTUs, they also are bigger in diameter. The small burners have less BTUs AND smaller diameter flame ring, and to me, they are good for nothing. It takes forever to bring something to a boil, yet they don't simmer well either!

So what I learned from my cooktop is that BTUs matter but burner size and flame pattern matters too.

Someone mentioned that using a griddle straddling front & back burners might not work so well if the burners are different outputs. This makes sense; however, I've found it's not true for me. I have a cast aluminum griddle straddling a 13,500K in front and 9,000K in back. Believe it or not, pancakes in back cook faster than in front. This is because they line up over the flame pattern more closely. With both burners on low-ish heat settings, their output is pretty similar. I don't really cook anything on high on the griddle, so the difference of the high outputs doesn't matter.

When I looked at rangetops a few years back (I want a rangetop partly for the extra space, partly for the look), I noticed that the distance from the flames to the grate vary. I would have to find my notes, but I thought that Monogram had a streamlined grate sitting much closer to the flame than, say, Dacor or Thermador or Wolf. I believe that the closer grate is going to deliver more heat to the pan.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2014 at 12:12AM
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"I know this goes against the prevailing wisdom here, but I do not believe that open burners are superior just because they are open."

It doesn't go against the prevailing wisdom here. The BS, CC, and AR open burners are the best, but the open burners on the cheapo ranges are the same as the open burners that predate sealed burners, which weren't all that good in general.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2014 at 6:31AM
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I don't think they're overrated, but so much depends, as pointed out, HOW you cook. I have a huge range of sizes in cookware, and for most I have not just one, but two or three of each. For example, I have two small 8" frypans, two 10", two 12", and a 14" round griddle. I have one 1-qt saucepot, but two of the 3-qt size. I have chicken fryers, paella pans, tall narrow stewpots and large wide stewpots, along with a massive 50-qt three-level Chinese steamer and 20" Chinese wok. They all get used regularly.

I fell in love with open burners when I cooked for 17 yrs on a beautiful O'Keefe & Merritt. I could do 10-course Chinese banquet meals on that range; I loved it.

None of the Sears/Frigidaire/Whirlpool/KitchenAid ranges I have had since over the last 25 yrs have even come close to the OKM. This, despite that all the ranges have had "power burners" that supposedly far exceeded the BTUs of the OKM.

The only one I've cooked on that I enjoyed was a friend's classic Garland - until I convinced my nephew to buy one of the early Blue Stars. Not surprisingly, all our family loves to have gatherings at his house so we can use that range of his!

And yes, I'm one of those people that could easily use two massive burners at once, no problem at all.

ANY range is overrated if it doesn't serve your needs, and the way you cook. I personally have found I prefer open burners, and replacing electronic circuit boards - on one range, we had to do it 3x in one year - is an expensive proposition that cost as much as that range cost us originally....and it was a TOL model Whirlpool so it was NOT cheap.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2014 at 2:12PM
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I've been cooking on a Wolf pro for about two years now, and absolutely love it. It replaced a Viking pro that had very poor flame control (and could not do low temperatures well). In a prior home, I had an Amana (?) that had varying strength burners, which was frustrating because I sometimes needed to boil tea and pasta water at the same time, but didn't have enough high power burners available (or low, for that matter, if I was simmering soup and cooking rice at the same time). The Wolf fits my needs perfectly -- it has a super low inner ring on all six burners that simmers / cooks rice beautifully, and an outer ring on each that can immediately turn up the heat. I could not imagine cooking on anything better, and I often find at least four of the burners going at various levels, and appreciate that I don't have to keep moving my pots around as each burner has the same capability. If you haven't yet, try out your friend's Wolf and see what you think.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2014 at 4:23PM
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I'm in a similar boat here---looking to buy a new gas range and ventilation hood, and very confused about which range and hood will best meet my family's needs. I'm willing to pay more for higher-quality, longer-lasting products with features that I will find useful...but I don't want to pay more for features that won't mean much to me.

(Some background on my range use: I cook frequently for my family of 5 and bake frequently for larger numbers of people. I cook huge Thanksgiving-like meals once or twice a year. I take my cooking seriously, but I'm not looking to compete with top chefs. I don't own a wok.)

I spent a long time reading range reviews on this site and on Chow, and got very excited about BlueStar ranges because of their high performance, their lower cost relative to Wolf ranges, and the large oven capacity on their 30" models. My local appliance store carries BlueStar ranges, but after the salesman explained how hot the oven doors get and how much extra heat they give off to the room, I took Bluestar off my list. (I have relatively young children, I live in an area with hot summers, and I don't have air-conditioning in my kitchen.)

I'm very confused about where to go from here. I've read good reviews of Capital and American Range ranges, but they're not available where I live. My appliance store carries DCS ranges, but I've read very mixed reviews about them.

Somewhat off topic, but I also can't decide between a 30" and a 36" range. I don't need the extra burners that the 36" would offer, but I would love the extra oven width (to bake more muffins at the same time) and the possibility of getting a range-top grill (that could come with a 36"). But, when I'm cooking a single lasagna, I don't want to have to heat up those extra inches of oven space unnecessarily...

I've heard mixed reports of how long to expect a Wolf range to perform vs. a basic Frigidaire or equivalent model. The appliance store salesman told me 8-10 years for a "standard" residential range vs. 40-50 years for a Wolf...but based on what I've heard and read here and elsewhere, it seems like "individual mileage may vary."

So...thoughts on whether it would make sense for me to spend several thousand dollars more for a DCS or a Wolf vs. a standard Frigidaire or equivalent?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you can offer.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2014 at 12:03PM
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How long do you intend to live in your current home? And what can you afford?

If you are planning to live there for at least 8-10 years, then I think a high end range is a reasonable purchase.

IMO - If you have the room get a 36" with a grill in the center, and a high-back shelf. We have a grill cover. It's so handy to have that space between the left and right burners. Also get a hood with lights / variable speed fan.

All oven doors get hot. If it didn't get hot where would the heat go? Never had a problem with our children.

The Viking is very easy to clean - the deck is segmented into 12" wide panels - the panels come off, the burner bibs, the grill, grill baffles. Additionally there's a pull out tray under the burners - catches anything that over cooks. I put the parts in the bathtub, spray with Easy Off and let it set 1/2 hour, and wash off with hot water.

You may need new cookware - with all metal handles.

The 'quest' for the perfect >applianceWe also have a 24" SMEG electric oven.

In general don't listen to salesmen - they never used the product.

This post was edited by Geoffrey_B on Fri, Oct 24, 14 at 14:13

    Bookmark   October 24, 2014 at 1:17PM
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The Blue Star hot oven door issue is silly. I posted a couple of times on a thread about that last week. Appliance salespeople are not the sharpest tools in the shed, unfortunately.

So the "hot door" would be a silly reason to cross off the Blue Star.

We have a 36" Blue Star range with a grill. I love this range. It has totally changed my attitude toward cooking. Cooking has become fun. I can't wait to use it every time, even if it is just to make some oatmeal and I have now had it for two years.

The burners are beyond awesome. It is easy to clean AND THERE ARE NO ELECTRONICS TO BREAK!!!!!!.

36" is great because it gives you room to spread out, regardless of whether you actually need a 36".

The grill is pretty good. Not great,, but good. I can make a nice steak for sure. It can't compare to outside, but that's not an option for us. So this is the next best thing. People also like the griddle. I prefer the grill.

I would not recommend getting a 36" unless you have a second oven that is smaller. But I think I would feel the same way about a 30". We have a small Miele speed oven, which is just 24" wide, and it is the perfect complement to the big oven. Frankly, we use that most of the time. When I need to cook a lot though, that big oven is really great.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2014 at 2:00PM
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>>> but after the salesman explained how hot the oven doors get and how much extra heat they give off to the room, I took Bluestar off my list. (I have relatively young children, I live in an area with hot summers, and I don't have air-conditioning in my kitchen.
* * *
So...thoughts on whether it would make sense for me to spend several thousand dollars more for a DCS or a Wolf vs. a standard Frigidaire or equivalent?There are no simple answers to that last question, as Geoffrey_B has pointed out. But, let me offer a few additional considerations.

Apart from being marketed as premium-priced, aesthetically fashionable luxury goods, pro-style gas ranges have multiple full-range burners that can go from highest usable heat to the barest simmer. Do you have times where, like gk7 described above, you will need several high-power burners at once? Or, like me, does your production cooking find you often running four (or more) large pans at high heat at a time. Pro-style ranges like the Wolf and DCS have cooktops that are spacious enough to fit all four large pans on at one time, a convenience that is handy for me with all the entertaining I do. While we all know cooking for five can be serious production-style cooking, how often will you be simultaneously running four (or more) 12" diameter pots and pans? Or, will it be a mix of pans and sauce pans which will fit together readily on the stovetops of the Frigidaires and GEs?

Going with a 36" DCS or Wolf will increase the stovetop spaciousness, and that is an oft-discussed reason that folks here have cited as a benefit of the larger ranges. Practically speaking, If you really want that spaciousness, you have to buy a 36" pro-style range and you pay a premium for that. Only you can decide if that extra spaciousness is worth it to you to pay the serious price premium.

For griddles, consider that the built-in ones for the Wolf (and probably the DCS) have only a 10 or 11 inches wide cooking surface. IIRC, there have been posts here stating that some find these griddles can be a pain to clean and maintain. For around $100, you can get a significantly larger and generally well-regarded Chef-King 14x23 carbon steel griddle that likely will heat as evenly, be easier to manage and clean, and can be stashed out of the way when you do not need to use it. You can use it as readily on a 30" range, too. The larger burners on the DCS and Wolf can make it bit easier to get even heating on that kind of griddle -- major brand stoves will likely have burners of differing sizes (and a small one in the back) which makes it harder to manage a large griddle.

As for not wanting to fire up a big oven for a single lasagna --- and for limiting summer time heat build-up, as well --- you might consider a countertop oven like the Breville Smart Oven. (There are BSO threads here and at that discuss these benefits in detail if you haven't already looked at this option.)

One advantage of the large ovens in 36" ranges is being able to fit in full size sheet pans. Several 30" pro-style ranges (such as Blue Star) also may allow this, but you've already ruled them out. The question is, how many full-size sheet cakes do you plan on making? Or, do you think you might be regularly needing to bake three full-size sheet pans of biscuits at a time? (I know somebody who does that several times a week, but they're running a dude ranch.)

You mentioned making a lot of muffins. How many muffin tins do you have? I once helped a friend whose own oven died right before she was ready to bake a lot of muffins for a bake sale. Between us, we came up with six muffin tins. I found that I could put pairs of them side-by-side on three racks in the oven in my 30" range. The oven in a 36" range is a few inches wider, but not wide enough to add another muffin tin to each rack. So, "muffin" production is probably not going to be factor for you in choosing between a 30" and 36" range.

But, speaking of oven size, do be aware that some major brand 30" gas ranges will have deeper and wider ovens than on the 30" DCS and Wolf ranges you are considering. The ovens on the Wolf and DCS are rated to have capacities around 4.5 cu ft., as do those on numbers of major brand stoves including the higher priced ones. Plenty big enough for a 25 pound turkey at Thanksgiving along with a casserole or baking pans. However, some of the mid-level and higher-priced major brand gas-ranges have oven cavities that are a couple inches taller and deeper giving them capacities of 5 cu. ft and 6 cu. ft. More stuff at Thanksgiving and such times. Some are big enough that you can put half-sheet pans or cookie sheets in side-by-side and have 4 or 6 pans baking at one time. This extra capacity will matter to some folks and not others, and that will affect the calculus of whether a pro-style range will be worth it to you.

Looking at your points about small children, hot summers and no a/c in the kitchen, I have to say that the ovens in virtually every all-gas range that I know of can make a kitchen uncomfortably hot in the summertime. It is not so much heat radiating from the door and sides --- some of which you get with electric ovens, too, btw --- the heat that comes from having to vent combustion by-products. The vents are on top of the stove. That can venting can heat your kitchen and it won't be radiating from the doors and sides. As true of major-brand ranges as well as the pro-style models. It is the nature of having fire in the kitchen.

I'll defer to nycbluedevil on the Blue Star door issue, but note that some folks have posted complaints about some older versions of the BS ranges (from before 2012, IIRC) having door heat problems. So, even if BS has solved the problem, the salesguy might simply be parroting old info. Or the appliance store may have recent experience.

One thing to be aware of with pro-style gas ranges like the DCS and Wolf is that the spaces between the top and bottom of the oven doors and the top and bottom of the framing are larger than on major-brand gas ranges. This gap allows venting to cool the oven doors. (Major brand ranges have narrower gaps because they different arrangement of the vent slots.) If your young children are still crawling on the kitchen floor or have compulsions to poke the fingers into any visible gaps, the heat of the back of the spaces could be a concern.

Also, the top burners on gas ranges will have significant waste heat from the stovetop burners -- again, that's just the nature of cooking with fire in a kitchen and will be as much of a problem with major-brand ranges as the pro-style ones. Theoretically, it could be a bigger problem with the pro-style units because somebody could decide to run three huge fry pans and three huge pasta kettles simultaneously at maximum heat and the pro-style ranges have more big burners than standard ranges. But other than those mad-chef scenarios, the problem isn't particularly different for the pro-style all-gas ranges and the major-brand all-gas ranges.

One point to consider, though, is that the pro-style ranges heavy-duty cast-iron burner grates and parts absorb and
radiate more heat (and radiate it longer) than the thinner grates on most major brand ranges. (With some major-brand range models, such as the GE Cafe stoves, the grates are substantial enough to be indistinguishable in heat retention.)

With those heat concerns, I have to ask if your kitchen has 240v service and, ifso, whether you have considered induction ranges as an alternative? Several of them have good sized ovens with strong convection capabilities and might serve you as well or better than the gas ranges your are considering. Plenty of power on the stovetops, too, and comparatively safer for small children in the kitchen. Also, several of them will allow you to use a large griddle that spans a couple of burners. A couple of the current induction ranges even provide a way to link two burners to do this.

Finally, valid and informative statistics on appliance longevity is difficult to come by. A few years ago, the National Association of Homebuilders surveyed consumers on the longevity of ranges. They found the average was something like 13.5 years for electric ranges and 15 years for gas ranges. However, that turned out to be as much about how long people kept their ranges as how long the ranges actually lasted.

To put it another way, it can be hard to find a solidly-built major-brand gas range without electronic controllers and many of them also have self-cleaning ovens. Those controllers can and do affect the longevity of major brand ranges, and some of them will fail as a result of heat from the self-cleaning cycles.

Finding a very capable, heavy-duty gas range with minimal electronics is pretty hard until you get to ranges like the Wolf and DCS all-gas ranges. They are manual oven cleaning rigged with minimal electronics. Those that they have are modules and that are relatively simple, readily available, and replaceable by any reasonably handy homeowners. These are things like the spark modules that run the burner ignitors.

That simplicity fixability does have an appeal and can contribute to perceived longevity.

Also, the Wolf and DCS have heavy duty cast-brass burner components. They are much more stain-resistant than the cast aluminum and porcelain-enameled burners you find on most major brand ranges.

Ultimately, though, every range represents a mix of choices and tradeoffs. The hard part is figuring out what those are and which ones matter to you.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Fri, Oct 24, 14 at 18:43

    Bookmark   October 24, 2014 at 4:32PM
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>The appliance store salesman told me 8-10 years for a "standard" residential range vs. 40-50 years for a Wolf

That is a complete load of crap. Don't listen to him. Wolf ranges are better built, but the difference in longevity won't be that dramatic. Especially if you get one of the ones with blue porcelain, LOL!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2014 at 8:22PM
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I wouldn't bet on any appliance more complex than a bronze statue lasting 50 years, but I think Wolf has a higher probability of supplying parts in 15 years than major appliance brands, which may have seen a few different owners in that time.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2014 at 9:58AM
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I have an all-gas 30 inch DCS Range [RGU-305-N] for about three months and paired it with a 600cfm Bosch Chimney Hood [HCP30651UC]. What would you like to know?

    Bookmark   October 30, 2014 at 10:50PM
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there is nothing professional about a range. It is the person using it. I sell a fair amount of pro ranges and I cook quite a bit. I sell what a person wants or shows most interest in. There is no range for everyone.

Let's talk about btu's for a moment. Yes a btu is a btu and more is more. However if much of the heat is not going in to the pan it becomes just a arbitrary number used to confuse the consumer. Personally I have Electrolux dual fuel slide in ew30ds65gs. 18,000 btu power burner on my front right. If I don't use a properly sized pan most of the heat will not transfer to the pan.

Lessening the actual usablility of the primary burner is a drawback. I find myself relying on the 14k btu burner in the rear left position for most of my cooking. Rather inconvient. Translation. Btu output is onlY important for a very limited number of cooking situations. Such as pan searing, stir frying and boiling large pots of water.

At the end of the day what matter is burner designand layout more than btu output. I would rather have better 15k burners than a sloppy 18k btu burner.

Good luck!!!!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2014 at 1:11AM
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