Selecting a Range - Are there any good choices??

MzKizOctober 18, 2013

We are starting a major renovation on our recently purchased soon-to-be (hopefully) dream home. I've been spending ever free moment researching each aspect of our project and have made a lot of decisions/progress. However, one area where I seem to have "analysis paralysis" is the selection of a range. We have our kitchen design and we need to submit our cabinet order but can't till we definitively lock in on a range.

We are not serious chefs but we enjoy cooking, will use the range daily and hope to improve our culinary skills over time. Our requirements are all gas, professional style, preferably 36" but would choose a quality 30" over a mediocre 36". We would prefer open burner but that is not a "must have". Manual clean is fine. Limited electronics on the range. We hope to keep the price in the $5k range.

We have "decided" on a range several times over the last month - only to then read some recent very negative reviews on our choice, enough to return us to the ranks of the "undecided". Here's the list of what we have considered:

- NXR 36
- Bertazzoni 36 (liked the look and the range hood promotion)
- Blue Star RCS 30 (our local dealer said they were no longer going to carry Blue Star due to increasing problems with quality and poor responsiveness from the manufacturer)
- Wolf GR304 (we really liked the discontinued R304 model but the Wolf Distributor confirmed there are none available in the area)

I could sure use some advice on this to help me make a good decision! It sure seemed easier the last time I bought a range - just went to the appliance store and picked one that had the features and design that looked good and went with that. I doubt I spent more than an hour on the whole process and it worked out just fine.

Thanks for the help!

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Analysis paralysis? Well, no avoiding that once you learn how to search the 'net. :>)

A year ago last summer, I was contemplating a long term study as part of serial kitchen renovation and then my existing stove died and I needed a new one pronto. From that experience, I can offer some help in thinking this through, but don't know if I can get it down to an hour process for you or get it down to an answer that says "buy this, it will make YOU happy,".

First thing whatever you get will probably work out just fine. But note my qualifiying "probably." The odds are in your favor, but you are still playing the odds. Even the least reliable appliance companies will have 65% to 75% satisfied customers.

Second, every manufacturer inevitably produces some lemons. How well they dealt with problems is what used to separate the good brands from the not-so-good. Unfortunately, service has largely been outsourced and has declined to the point that disappointed customers often become outraged, irate campaigners. So, my take-away on reading the results of reviews is that that a lotof anecdotal they may not give you an accurate sense of how bad products are or how likely it is that your purchase will go belly-up. It may just tell you that, if you get a bad stove, you will be seriously unhappy but, even so, it is hard to predict the likelihood of getting a bad stove.

Third, as for the choosing between a 36" and a 30" stove , take this for what it is worth, but Consumer Reports testing gives much better results to 36" pro-style stoves than their 30" brethren.

Fourth, NXR 36 (DRGB3601) This will be my longest comment because it is the brand I know most about. Friends of mine have had the prior 36" model, the NRG3601 --- mostly cosmetic differences as far as we have been able to tell --- for about five years without problems. Alex Nerland wrote an article for Fine Homebuilding some years ago agout getting the same model for a project he re-built in the SF Bay Area. My friends apparently saw the Nerland project and bought their NXR on Nerland's recommendation. Here is the write up on Nerland's project:

I bought my 30" NXR (DRGB3601) about a year-and-a-half ago and have have not had any problems. It is a simple, standardized gas design with limited electronics that, for me, has worked as advertised, My friends with the 36" NXR tell me the same thing. Not much to fail or wear out except things that can be replaced with generic parts available from local appliance parts-supply-warehouses. (We're talking replacing burner ignitors much as we might replace spark olugs in our cars.) Some people have had problems with cracking and flaking of the oven coating, but almost all -- almost all -- of these reports seem to reflect shipping damage rather than manufacturing defects. If you need warranty service, it will be islow and cumbersome, as you might expect from a company with a small market share. (Unfortunately, this complaint seems to characterize a lot of the makers, large and small.) I've posted in other threads some more detailed specifics about the quirks, usability and cleanability, If you've searched on NXRs, you;ve doubtless seen my postings along with those by others. (Again, though, most of the postings have been about the 30" model.) My friends with the 36" NRG3601 tell me that everything I've said about the 30" applies equally to their 36" NXR.

If I had to summarize as tersely as possible, I'd say that the chief advantages of the NXR over the other stoves you've listed are: (a) it is the least expensive of the pro-style stoves you have listed and (b) you can get it from Costco with the absolute-satisfaction-full-refund-guarantee..

Fifth, Berta 36 Great looking , high style, European deisgn, more expensive than the NXR but less expensive than the 30" models from Wolf and Blue Star. But ..... the oven is smaller, the gas ovens do not do very low heat (200f or below) if that matters to you, and it may be hard to find proprietary parts and components when things need replacing. The hood and stove combo has been at a very attractive price. Have not seen any reports on repair and maintenance of Berta's here. From the reports here, Berta buyers are a pretty happy (if tiny) lot. To find reports on Bertas here search on "gardenweb + Bertazzoni."

Sixth, Blue Star 30" RCS There are other reports akin to what your dealer apparently told you. But, if you've searched through this forum, you've discovered that some Blue Star owners seem like fan-boy cultists, that most Blue Star buyers are pretty satisfied and that the ones who are not satisfied are VERRRYY disappointed with the quality of the product and the support from the company. Have you seen one in person? Blue Stars have an industrial/commercial design with cast iron components which some like a lot but not everybody cares for. Also has the open burners that inspire passion in some here and indifference in others. Have you tried cooking on one?

Seventh, Wolf GR304 Haven't seen much about the new GR304. Wolf has had a strong following here and there are posts on topics as diverse as stove-top cleaning and burner design to oven use. Rather more expensive than most brands. Bigger market share and better developed service and support than the other brands but apparently not always good enough to avoid creating serious ire in some unhappy customers. Not everybody has problems with the oven wall coatings but I suggest you have a look at Wekick's postings on recent problems with a the oven lining cracking and flaking on a 4 year old range.

Eighth, for your price range have you considered the Capital Culinarians? There have been numbers of fairtly specific postings here. Again, most but not all reviews and discussions here are positive. There are some 30" models in your price range and it, too, is an open burner design.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Sun, Oct 20, 13 at 2:56

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 2:34AM
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