Should I get a Wolf cooktop with pop-up downdraft?

GatorsmomAugust 8, 2012

We are in the process of building a new house. Im at the stage where I need to choose appliances. Honestly, I'm not a great cook. And I really, frankly, do not like cooking. I have to though, because I have 4 small kids ages 4-8 years old. I've been told I really should put my cooktop against the back wall of the kitchen giving the kitchen a true work triangle, using a vent hood that does a good job of venting fumes, and it will give the kitchen a great focal point. However, we've been in a rental for the past few years with a cooktop and popup down draft in the island which looks out over the greatroom and I LOVE it. I can keep a watch on my boiling and sauteing pots while keeping an eye on my kids. I love it.

However, everything I read says I should avoid popup downdrafts. But honestly, we don't often use the one we have in the house we are in now. And I love cooking at the island so I really want to do it. I've found a great deal on a Wolf cooktop and pop-up down draft recently. I'm considering going with it, a double Wolf wall oven and warming drawer and Subzero fridge (with a Kitchenaid MW and DW) which would give me a pretty good deal.

Do you think that i would have better performance going with a Wolf cooktop and downdraft versus a Jennair or KA? Thanks!

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A gentle warning: this kind of post tends to attract flames.

OK, so to open the discussion: Better performance for what?

You don't like to cook. You mainly cater to the tastes of 4 to 8 year olds, which tend not to include things like seared foie gras, stir fry, highly spiced Asian food, etc. It does not sound likely that you'll acquire a passion for cooking at any time in the foreseeable future. You never used your (useless) downdraft vent in your current house. You don't think you want or need any kind of effective ventilation despite wanting to move to a high BTU commercial style cooktop.

So why exactly do you need a Wolf cooktop? If you never cook hard enough to generate the kind of smoke and fumes that lead some of us to invest heavily in high performance ventilation, for what will all those extra thousands of BTU's be used? The sense I have is that these expensive appliances will be purchased not because you need or will use them, but more because you are fortunate to have the kind of budget that allows you to buy them and you like the way they look. Or the message they send.

In my clearly obnoxious way of thinking, this is like seeing someone driving a $100K, 500 horsepower AMG SL 65 at 57 mph in the left lane of the interstate. You have the perfect right to do so. Just realize that it drives people who love cars crazy.

So, better performance? The Wolf will impress people more than a Jennair or KA. The Wolf will certainly offer higher heat output (and accompanying cooking effluent that will waft around your house) than the JA. If that's what you want it's a nice choice.

I'll leave it to someone else to explain why islands are best for prep and ranges are best against the wall.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 1:39PM
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Thank you for the warning about flames. I guess that justifies flaming someone when you warn them ahead of time you are going to do it.

Yes, we have the budget for buying a Wolf. We've worked hard for it. And yes, admittedly I really don't like cooking in general. But as I said above, I actually like cooking when the cooktop is in the island. So if I enjoyed it more, I might actually do it more. And I'm surprised I need to point this out to you but there are plenty of excellent reasons for buying higher end appliances- resell value is one of them. Longevity and buying out of the "planned obsolescence" market is another. And my main reason for buying a cooktop that I wouldn't appreciate as much as some others might is because good quality with an impeccable service record will cause me fewer headaches , which with 4 children I certainly need less of. I find it very interesting how you assumed my main motivation for buying a cooktop I couldn't possibly appreciate was to impress people with a higher end purchase. I can assure you my intentions are not that shallow. But I find it telling that you jumped to that conclusion about me.

Although your intention was to be obnoxious and rude to me much more than help me, you actually did. And you just reminded me to be more thankful for the friends I have becauses none of them would see our Wolf purchase and come to the conclusions you did. So thank you for your response.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 2:55PM
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I think the answer to your question is a qualified 'yes'. But any pop-up you look at needs to be one of those tall ones (18") to have any chance of doing any good. And it will need a strong blower for adequate suction (to remove stuff from the front burners).

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 3:14PM
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Weedmeister thank you for your response. The pop-up on the Wolf cook top is only 9" tall. It surprises me that a brand of that quality would have a blower that wouldn't perform as well. The pop-up on the Jenn-air is much taller, like 15" (I need to verify that again). But I'm distrustful of JennAir because we've had repeated problems with that brand in the past. A big reason I would go with Wolf is assured quality and performance. But in this instance it doesn't seem like the performance would be there. hmmmm...

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 3:55PM
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I'll bet Wolf just makes (or rebrands) the pop-up to fill out their product line. Performance is not really expected from a downdraft.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 4:17PM
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We went through months of house hunting when we moved last year. Honestly, a Wolf cooktop on an island with popup downdraft wouldn't be at all appealing to me. I'm a fanatical cook. I spend hours cooking or thinking of food or shopping. Good kitchen setup is very dear to my heart. I don't care about impressing anyone, I want appliances and layout which work.

A pro cooktop with a puny draft system isn't going to cut it. Any half-serious cook knows that you need good venting especially with powerful gas burners. A cooktop or rangetop should be against a wall with good venting overhead. Or if you have to have an island cooktop, you have to install a large overhead hood. Our realtor pointed out many deficiencies in the kitchens we looked at, and several of these were problems with islands and venting. We saw a house with a Wolf cooktop against a wall and NO ventilation. DH and I tried to configure a venting system, but it was going to be too difficult so we passed.

JMO of course,

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 5:01PM
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Here's a current thread from page 1 on downdrafts. This should help explain why most here believe they are not nearly adequate for venting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Drowndraft thread on page 1

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 12:44AM
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Since you brought up resale value....For me (perhaps others here?), a high BTU range in an island with no effective overhead ventilation, would be a sure deal breaker.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 2:10AM
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Fancy appliances add zero resale value. If they are the appropriate price range to the home, they won't detract from the home's value, but putting expensive appliances in a lower cost home adds nothing to it come appraisal time. It's a money loser, actually.

Having a functional versus a non functional kitchen can make a home more attractive, and you are at the stage where you can make many changes. An island cooktop isn't undoable, even a pro style one. But, it DOES require adequate ventilation if that's what you want to do. That means overhead, not a downdraft.

And it means a much bigger island than you may be envisioning---IF you want to do things right. If you do a minimum amount of safety space to either side of the cooktop, that doesn't give you any prepping space beside it. If you want to prep beside your cooktop, facing out, then you need a 9' long island with the cooktop off centered to be able to have the needed space for both cooking and prepping. That will leave you turning back the water source to wash your hands or rinse the greens, or whatever task needs water during prep. Most people find they need water quite frequently while prepping, and that's why a large island with a prep sink is usually more functional for the 70% of the time that you are spending doing prep in the kitchen. You only apply heat to the food 10% of the time, and cleanup occupies the other 20%. And that's one of the reasons that if you really want to be facing outward toward the social heart of the home, putting an island cooktop in without adequate room is a very bad idea.

The additional difficulty and expense of doing island ventilation is also a major consideration in your choice. It will cost approximately twice to three times the money that a perimeter vent can cost.

Your choice for sure, but I'd take your layout and post it in the Kitchen Forum for an examination of how well it functions. And I'd throw the idea of a popup out the window.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:29PM
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Gatorsmom: criticism accepted. No question my posts can be too cranky and curmudgeonly. My personality defects shine through online.

But...what those other guys said. They just did it more nicely than I. And, in my defense, if your reason for buying a Wolf is for resale, and fewer maintenance issues, then you should have asked "will the Wolf have better resale and fewer problems than a KA or JA?"--NOT "would I have better performance with a Wolf." If you ask about performance, you can't complain when people say "the performance will suck" (sorry, bad ventilation pun).

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 9:17PM
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It is unlikely that Clinresga was criticizing good fortune. But his points are good ones; the ventilation needs to match the cooking appliance -- it is all part of the same function.

It is possible to obtain island hoods that look good (e.g., the Wolf models, or similar ModernAir hoods) and that are large enough to function high enough to see under to the guests or children.


AMG SL 65? Alle rowdies fahren Audis!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 11:34AM
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I am building a home and thought I wanted the Wolf cooktop and downdraft also. I love to cook but hate hoods think they are so ugly. Do any down drafts work?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 1:51PM
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how about an insert mounted in the ceiling or a small soffit ?

Not ideal, but won't obstruct the view and it'll perform as well or better than most downdrafts I've seen. 7-9 foot ceiling / soffit max ht.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 3:52PM
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I can't answer about the Wolf cooktop with a pop-up but just want to say I understand your liking island cooking. I had it for about 25 years and when we redid the kit in my last house I repeated it. I miss island cooking and don't like having my back to activity but this kit was to small for an island. Good luck with your house and choices.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 6:17PM
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Since you don't like to cook but want to see your kids and not look at a vent hood - how about considering an induction cooktop - No flames and very fast at responding to temperature changes.
You could use the pop up vent system with the induction as you don't have to vent as much away - but realize that overall, as cute as they are, they are not as effective as an overhead vent system
Also verify local codes on make up air for your ventilation system. You might have to add a makeup air system - which can be costly.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 8:05PM
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Ya know, it never fails to amaze me, how FAST it takes for someone to respond to a question about GAS to tell the OP that they really want induction instead!

How come it never registers with some people that not everyone shares their enthusiasm for their purchase decisions, and has the right to prefer gas over any other heat source?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 8:51PM
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Although addressed in many threads in the past, the performance deficiency of pop-up ventilation has not been addressed in this thread. Briefly, the deficiency follows from these two facts:

Cooking effluent (thermal plume) rises at around three feet per second while also expanding.

The suction effect of an aperture falls off rapidly with distance.

So, a pop up with typically modest airflow that is not higher than multiples of the distance to the most distant pan edge, will not collect much of the rising effluent. (In other words it would completely block the view.)

For a low pop-up to collect any effluent, it would have to cause a cross draft with a higher velocity than the rising effluent at the opposite side of the cooktop. This would require a very high flow rate, which would in turn require a very thick pop-up backed by an industrial fume fan pulling thousands of cfm. (In other words, it would be louder than would be safe without ear protection.)

For more opinions, review all relevant threads on this forum; for technical support, review the references at my Clippings, accessed through My Page.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:57AM
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it is interesting to see all the responses.

here is what i think:
1. if you like the look for wolf ranges, go for it.
2. But don't go for it because of resale value. Because I love cooking, and I do a good amount frying, or searing steaks, good ventilation is a must. I look at good ventilation above all else when I was looking to buy a house. Applicance is easy to change but a house with no good ventilation hood that vent to the outside of the house is a deal breaker for me.
3. If you really like the look of a down draft, go for it. but know that they are NOT effective. They will work for boiling water or maybe some light saute-ing but that's it.
4. Consider what you are trading off when you get a downdraft. You get oil residue on your countertop, on your cabinet doors, on the floor. You whole house will smell or smoke when you try to sear a steak. Your smoke alarm will sound. Your kitchen will get very hot.
5. In this day, if you want something that look cool, INDUCTION is the way to go. If you have the means, go for the a full surface one like the Gaggenau CX480. They look awesome, with your needs, they will outperform any gas ranges. You can cook faster. Cleanup is easy. And if you are doing a downdraft, you eliminate the ridiculous amount of heat gas ranges produce and your kitchen will be comfortable.

Just my two cents.

This post was edited by noopd on Tue, Mar 26, 13 at 14:41

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 2:39PM
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Cooksnew - I only brought up induction as Gatorsmom admits to not being a cook and having kids around.
I respect anyone who wants gas appliances but felt it was an appropriate thought for Gator.
I never would have thought to consider induction if my SIL had not suggested it - I had not even heard of it at the time and then did research.
It was a suggestion and not a recommendation and based on the original post, I feel an appropriate suggestion.
It would allow Gator to have her pop up if she wants it.
I don't normally defend a post. Let's let Gator read the options and decide.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 6:00PM
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a2gemini is correct in bringing up induction.

That would be the easiest to build into an Island and use a pop up vent.

There have been posts about pop ups blowing out gas flames, particularly low set flames as in simmering.

I see no problem in offering the OP as much info as possible and then letting them make the decision.

I learned about induction form Garden Web, and I love mine, and I certainly would not have minded, back then, if I said I was looking for a powerful gas cooktop and somebody mentioned induction.

It's best not to assume anything about the OP except that which they posted,--maybe like a lot of folks (Even today), they "haven't a clue" as to what induction is!!


    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:11PM
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i cook all the time. actually at home and in a busy fire station. we have 11 on duty. we have gas at the fire house and i have an island with down draft and induction both wolf at home. i love the home set up. for looks you can't beat it and performance is fine for what you are doing. i bought the down draft without blower and bought a bigger blower than wolf sold and have no problems when searing or stir fry. but since it is on an island i have no cabinets close by to get dirty. just something to think about.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:53PM
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