New kitchen appliances questions

uspekAugust 7, 2012


We are renovating our kitchen and are getting all new appliances:

Our main questions are:

1. Range: Thinking of 30', 4 burner, all gas GE Monogram, Wolf or Viking. From what I read people are not so happy with Viking ranges on this forum so Viking is a distant 3rd. My wife has a preference for sealed burners which makes Monogram preferable in that regard. We are not super serious cooks, but we do want to have a good quality range.

2. Over-the-range microwave with venting, as we don't really have space to put a real hood in :(.

Thinking between Viking (VMOC, VMOR or RDMOR) or GE Monogram (ZSA1202RSS or ZSA1202RSS). The fact that we need a microwave rather than a real hood has some implications for the choice of range as well, I imagine.

3. Fridge: Subzero 36' french door (narrow kitchen -> french doors and we want to maximize refridgerator space vs freezer space) vs Libherr HC2062 (less fridge space, more freezer space), maybe Thermador or KA KBF42FT?

Would really appreciate any thoughts from the informed crowd here.

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If you have space for an OTR MW then you have space for a real hood - particularly is you have ducting to vent it to the outside. You can always put a MW on the counter if you have to. With all the ranges you're considering, you really need a real hood.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 2:12PM
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I second the hood idea - install a real hood, microwave are movable. Bad air is harder to move out.

I only have an opinion on the 30" range topic as that is also our issue recently. We were looking @ all the brands you mentioned & a few you didn't: Thermador, BlueStar, NXR.

It was down to the Therm, Wolf & BS but in the end we decided for the Thermador for us because of the high value we put in the combination of performance, reputation, & price.

Really, the only constant negativism we saw were directed @ the GE Monogram. That is mostly because GE probably sells so many & there are more feedback.

So - not a knock on any of the other brands - just that the Thermador's overall message & the info we got in our research made it the best fit for us.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 2:38PM
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If you absolutely must have an OTR MW (and I agree with weissman and pbx2, a hood would be better) maybe you should consider induction instead of gas. I think gas requires better venting than induction - more heat coming out. Also, if your kitchen is so small that you really don't have counter space for a MW, then the smooth induction cook top would be better because you can use it as countertop space (as long as you're careful).

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 3:24PM
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I have looked at the Liebherr fridge you have listed and while I like the overall look and setup of it I hated the way the doors opened. No matter what I did when I pulled on one door the other door always opened and not just like an inch or so, but pretty far. If the door design (opening) was better I would have liked it more.

I agree with the others on the vent hood as well, you should reconsider if possible.

Also, why is your wife so insistent on sealed burners? My wife and I just put a down payment on a BlueStar and the main reason was for ease of cleanup compared to the cheapy sealed burners we have now on our Kenmore range. If you think they are easier to clean I would research more and form your own opinion if you have not already done so. It might open up other possibilities for you guys.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 3:49PM
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Thanks you for your feedback everyone. To clarify, we do have a very small kitchen (it's a city apartment) so every cubic foot counts. We thought MW with ventig capability was a clever compromize. Now, that the majority has a strong opinion here that it's not a good idea, we wil be reconsidering this. Do I understand correctly that this is because of the ranges under consideration having too many BTU's for 300CFM to cope with? What would be the right hood spec (CFM) for these ranges?

Ginny20: thanks for the induction suggestion but we don't have enough electric power in the apartment for that.

philwojo: I have tried to argue about the sealed vs. open with my wife but she has just had bad experience with open burners and she is even more stubborn than me.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 6:09PM
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Re: open burners vs sealed burners and ease of cleaning.... One cannot draw meaningful conclusions about how easy a cooking surface is to clean based solely on burner type. I have a very easy-to-clean sealed burner range (DSC), but others have reported nightmare stores of burnt-on/fused-on gunk on sealed burners of other brands.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 6:49PM
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I think induction takes a 50 amp line. That's not available? Are you sure? Too bad. Small urban kitchens are exactly where induction is perfect, for the reasons I gave - look at Europe, where they love induction.

Are you venting outside? My DstepS in Manhattan has a gas stove with a OTR MW above it (and a 24" Liebherr fridge). The MW vents into the upper cab - lovely.

Did you see this wonderful small Brooklyn kitchen? This doesn't answer your questions, but it might have some good ideas for you. They also have the tall skinny Liebherr, as well as an OTR MW over a gas range with a window right next to it. I love how they solved the problem of the fridge door needing to open past 90 degrees by putting in a skinny pull-out.

Best of luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: brooklyn galley reveal

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 7:41PM
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Uspek, I understand that open burners are not for everyone and I agree with cooksnsews that it can also vary per appliance brand, just wanted to point that out was all.

I would say with the ranges you are looking at you will need at least 600 CFM for a vent hood, but that also can and will depend on what and how you cook. If you do a lot of Wok cooking then you will need even more. If you do a lot of pan frying same thing more CFMs. But if you mostly boil water or simmer things, than maybe the 300 would be enough.

No OTR will ever be as good as a good quality vent hood. I have always thought as follows. If you have one unit that performs two functions it generally will never outperform separate units for each individual function. While this may not always be the case it tends to hold true.

All that being said if you just don't have the space you just don't have it and you have to make do with what you have and do what you can.

Best of luck!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 9:57AM
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Thanks everyone for very useful responses. Certainly have some food for thought. We operate under a lot of design constraints (space, electricity, only gas dryers allowed etc) which makes it somewhat challenging and we really appreciate your advice as its our first renovation.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 10:09AM
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We down sized a year ago in March into a new home and for approximately 8K-9K we purchased GE Cafe' gas range and oven, GE profile above range microwave, GE profile french door refrigerator, and an Electrolux dishwasher. So far no complaints, the range top works well and the oven bakes very well. The refrigeraor is okay, no reliability issues to date. Microwave works well, and the dishwasher is fantastic, cleans extremely well and very quiet, (dishwasher recommended by appliance sales person, she has one). We also purchased Whirlpool front loading washer and gas dryer and both work very well; to date.
Before we moved we had a counter depth, wood panel Sub-zero refrigerator which was unbelievable, and a Wolf range and wall ovens, they were great appliances but very expensive. The dishwasher was an ASKO and it did not clean well. Good luck with your purchases, we went through the same pains you are going through now. Only words of advice don't be afraid to mix brands.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 11:01AM
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Fitting everything into a small space is certainly a challenge.

I would be inclined to get an induction stove except that your replies indicate that your kitchen does not have 240v electrical service. That you must have a gas dryer suggests that none of the units in your building have any 240v service, at all. Without 240v service, induction is out of the question.

So back to the appliance choices within your constraints.

Unless you have your heart set on a premium-priced brand of stove, I second the suggestion that you look at the GE Cafe stoves. I also second the suggestion of looking into the NXR stove which was mentioned above, unless open burners are absolutely out of the question. (A 30" version is available from Costco Online for less than $2k $US.) Nunyabiz1 has posted photos of an NXR with an OTR unit in a small kitchen.

Assuming that you can vent to the outside, an OTR microwave may be a usable choice. Some externally venting OTRs do a decent job with 400 CFM capacity (akthough maybe open-window assist,sometimes).

If you have not already done so, do a search for "OTR" here. This will turn up several recent discussions of the advantages, disadvantages, and ergonomic considerations for OTR MWs.

Which leads to another question: does your kitchen renovation include new cabinets? I ask because you might be able to reposition some cabinets a bit higher than typical, which not only would allow you to install a 30" range hood (venting outside, of course) but also then hang a microwave from an upper cabinet.

That was basically my solution for my small kitchen, except that I went with a 36" hood over my 30" stove. I installed a 36" wide 600 CFM range hood, hung from an upper cabinet, and hung a GE Spacesaver II MW from the bottom of the cabinet next to it. The GE MW is only 11 inches tall, about 13 inches deep, allows switching off the turntable (for dishes too long to rotate), and still has plenty of room beneath it for use of the counter space. (My cabinets were high enough that my Kitchenaid stand mixer can be shoved beneath the MW. YMMV).

Also, if space is really tight, I suggest that you check out Zephyr range hoods as some of them are less tall than the ones you are looking at. Not ideal but quite usable in a small kitchen space.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 3:31PM
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It all boils down to Money and Space.

If you are like us you lacked BOTH, extra Money for the Hood, plus installation which for us would have been about $1800+ Vs just buying a decent OTR microwave which cost us $395 total plus we would have had to just forgotten about a microwave because we don't have the space for one if it doesn't go above the stove.
IF I had BOTH the money AND the space I would obviously opt for a 800CFM outside vented hood and a built in microwave but that wasn't the case.

The OTR microwave works just fine 95% of the time on our NXR which puts out a total of about 82,000BTU with everything going full bore.

The NXR from Costco is Better than the GE and less money, is about as good as the Wolf and Viking for 1/2 the price.
The NXR uses the exact same burners as the Wolf.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 1:46PM
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Yes, we don't have the ability to upconvert to 240V. We are remaking the cabinets so we do have some flexibility there. However, the kitchen is small enough so that every cubic foot matters so we are still likely to go with OTR MW. NXR is something I haven't heard of before so will have do do some research. Thanks for suggesting it. Will look at GE Cafe as well. maybe an opportunity to save money. Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 2:35PM
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We were faced with almost the same problems and found out that some of the new cooktops put out too much heat to use with a microwave OCR vent instead of the hood. It was also impossible in our home to put in a hood. I looked at the quality of the lesser appliances and couldn't find anything suitable because I didn't want to get another appliance that would rust in 6 months. The lower priced appliances don't have the same BTU output. We are near the ocean. I also found that most higher cost appliances have the better SS and too high output. We settled for the in between BTU output Bertazzoni. It was on sale at Best Buy for $2,000.00. I have been very happy with the cooktop and the SS quality is very easy to take care of. Kept my microwave. One day I had all 4 burners on high and I think that is too much for the microwave. The oven is not the best IMO. I'm getting used to it but the regulator/thermostat doesn't work as well as my previous old builder quality ovens. It is not self cleaning and doesn't show temp or time. It is the look I wanted and the SS quality that I wanted.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 4:48PM
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