Anyone bought a Bluestar or Viking range in past year?

needinfo1November 21, 2012

I've read so many old threads about both and want some more current information from people who actually have bought one of these recently. I live in a large metropolitan area and have found a well-respected dealer with a good support network for both brands. I also trust his recommendations because he gave me balanced advice. He showed us the Wolf line also, and said in his experience all three brands are comparable.

I've decided I want open burners, and I don't want to spend a ton of money. Looks and name-brand recognition aren't my top priority, and I am not planning to sell my house any time in the near future. Right now I am probably deciding between these 30" ranges:

Viking VGIC (the lowest of their professional level) which I can get for around $3,300.

Bluestar RCS (their lowest level range) which I can get for around $3,000.

I have also contemplated, but they are much further down the list of possibilities, the more top-of the line Bluestar RNB model (around $4,400) and the Wolf R304 with semi-sealed burners (around $4,000).

In Viking's favor: Viking now has a 3 year warranty vs. Bluestar's 1 year. They have 4 simmer burners while on the Bluestar there is just one, with the others needing to be reconfigured with the grates to go to simmer. I think there is less of a problem with an extremely hot oven door than the Bluestar.

In Bluestar's favor: Bluestar has a bigger oven than the Viking's. I like the stove-top and the burner congifuration better on the Bluestar than the Viking, and it looks easier to keep clean than the Viking's porcelain enamel top under the grates.

I've read all of the old posts about Viking's poor service and Bluestar's horribly hot door. Supposedly the Viking quality and service is improving. Apparently the Bluestar hot door problem has been remedied.

If you have bought a Bluestar or Viking range in the past year (particularly the models I am interested in) what has been your experience? Would you buy the same again? Thanks.

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We bought our Bluestar RNB less than a year ago and have had it installed since Feb'12. Ours is the 36" with 4 burners and griddle. So far, my experience has been mostly positive. To address some of the issues you've mentioned:

I have never seemed to need more than 1 simmer burner at a time, so that has never been an issue. Aside from major holiday cooking, I seem to use that burner most often (almost daily) for cooking rice and reheating... Love being able to walk away and not worry about things boiling over or burning. I suppose number of simmer burners will come down to cooking style and preferences.

I LOVE the ease of clean-up with my Bluestar! The cast iron is a cinch to clean... a little scrub while still slightly warm and it's done. Often, I will let a few days pass before cleaning and I suppose part of the reason i can do that is because, even when dirty, it doesn't look that bad! Clean-up was a huge factor for me. My last oven had black porcelain top and I was NEVER able to keep it clean or smudge-free, especially with as much heavy use as I put my ranges thru.

I also love the size of the oven AND the full extension rack. It has made baking, basting, roasting, etc so much more efficient!

Now, to address the oven heat issue... I, too, did a lot of research prior to buying our Bluestar. I believe the door locking problems due to high heat has been resolved. We have not had this problem and I use our oven several times each week, some weeks being daily. That said, the door does get pretty hot during use. While the oven door handle always stays completely cool, the oven door, oven window, and oftentimes, the knobs and front portion of the range (in front of the burners, where you stand right up against) do get pretty hot. It's never hot to the point of burning where it would be dangerous to touch, but it definitely is uncomfortable and even I avoid touching or leaning against it during those times. It appears door insulation is pretty much nil. I would like to point out, however, that I do have 2 small children (20mos and 3yo) who are often in the vicinity when I'm cooking. They know they are not supposed to come near the range while I am cooking and definitely not to touch the oven door when it is on. On plenty of occasions, their curiosity would cause them to wander close and touch it, despite our warnings. Never once have they screamed or gotten hurt. Usually, they touch it, draw their hands back and walk away. I am not in any way trying to defend Bluestar's heat issues, nor am I suggesting you let your kids touch things that are potentially hazardous, just telling it like it is in our experience. Does the heat bother me? Yes, sometimes it really does and makes me wish BS would address this issue and fix it for residential use. If I could get the same exact range/oven without the heat problems, would I? Without hesitation. Does it make me regret my decision? Not yet!

Lastly, I do appreciate that the Bluestar has no bells & whistles. Little to no electronic means less break-down in my book at least. I've met 2 people who have Wolf ranges and both have had problems with the electric portions of their units, requiring lengthy service calls and repair/replacement. Though, since time keeping is important to me, I have had to put a clock in my kitchen when I used to rely on the digital ones on the range. Also, no electronics mean no built-in timers, which hasn't been a problem b/c I have one within reach. Also, despite having a manual oven control knob, the temperature settings have been pretty accurate, confirmed by my oven thermometer.

One final comment about my Bluestar experience... I've been waiting for years to cook with a wok and now that I have the range (and, more importantly, the vent hood), it has been a dream! I absolutely appreciate being able to remove the grate and just fit my wok into the bowl-like space above the burner. The quality of certain dishes have definitely improved just due to the availability of high heat alone. For someone who loves cooking and experimenting, this has added to the fun in my new kitchen.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 5:01PM
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I should add that oven heat becomes more of an issue when using oven at higher temps... For example, 400-475 degrees F when baking pizza, breads, roasting veggies, etc. When I'm baking at 370-380, the door itself will feel hot, but not the knobs or range top. Right now, I have oven at 200 to warm up leftovers and the door (and rest of the range) is barely warm to touch.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 5:42PM
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Thanks. Thanks. Thanks.

The fact that you have several small children and don't feel the heat of the door is that bad says a lot. Do you by any chance have the V1 model? I don't know how long those have been out, but supposedly they have improved insulation on the door.

The Viking I am contemplating has open burners with black porcelain enamel drip oans under them. All of this comes apart for washing, and the pans can even be put in the dishwasher. But, I am still concerned about keeping it clean, so that is one of the things that is most appealing about the Bluestar to me. (And, for both ranges, the fact that there are very few electronic circuit boards to go awry is very appealing to me.) Is what I describe for the Viking similar to what you had in the past and found so difficult to keep clean?

And, how about cleaning the oven itself? How bad is that? I have had a self-cleaning oven for years and am a tad leery about sacrificing that feature to get all of the other things I want. Another comparison I noticed between the two different levels of Bluestar is that yours has a speckled enamel interior whereas the lower level model is plain black. I don't know if the speckled cleans up easier than the plain black enamel interior or if it is just looks.

The salesman was demonstrating how if I'd need an additional simmer burner I could take the grate and move it and prop it on top of the regular burner to elevate it. Have you ever tried this tactic? If so, how did it work?

You mention the full extension rack as being marvelous. The model I am contemplating does not include that as a feature, and I did not know if it would really make a difference or not because all I have ever had are the regular racks. I could tack this on to my order for an additonal fee if I so choose but did not know if it was worth it. And, I could always move up to the more expensive model you have.

I am interested in your comment about the vent hood. Can you please expand upon this?

I appreciate the feedback and assistance.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 7:49PM
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I don't know if this will be useful, but I will share anyway!!

My husband and I finally bit the bullet, after several years of trolling around this board, and bought a Blue Star rangetop for our main home. Would have loved to do the whole range, but between the issues of a somewhat tight kitchen, the additional cabinet alterations we would have needed, and the fact that we had a designated space for wall ovens, the range top plus double wall ovens made more sense for us. We installed the 36", with four burners and grill. We have had it in a month, and absolutely love it.

The 22K burners are sensational, and I have been surprised at how easy they are to work with and control; I had expected a lot of burned food, through the learning curve. It is every bit as great a cooking experience as I had come to expect. Searing meat, stir frying, sautes....really a powerful stove, and as advertised. The grill shows great promise, although I have only used it a few times so far. I lined the section of drawer under it with foil, and clean up was a snap.

The ease of cleanup overall is the biggest surprise; the cast iron top is an easy wipe up--grease spatters that would have driven me nuts on our last stainless cooktop just add to the seasoning here. And the pullout tray is an easy clean as well.

We have a Viking stove as well, that came with another home--a vacation rental-- we own. I cook on it irregularly, but it has not had a problem in 4 years of our ownership, and is very nice to cook on. The Bluestar is another level, though. I'm afraid I'm on the Bluestar bandwagon!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 8:06PM
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I just got the RNB and have been using it for about a month. I would give it between an 8 and a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10.

On the plus side, the power of the burners is awesome. Water boils in a flash. Cleanup is a breeze. Regarding the simmer burner, actually I haven't really used it much. I can turn the heat down on the 22,000 BTU burners and still cook rice without boiling over. So I personally would not need more than one since there is always the second size burner (15,000 BTUs) which would be even lower than the big burner turned down all the way. The oven is awesome. It bakes beautifully and is huge. The racks are great.

On the minus side, the knobs do get hot. I noticed it the other day but I don't remember what temperature the oven was at. I got four burners plus a grill. The grill is okay but not great. I live in a NYC apartment so we can't grill outside. At least I have a real grill though. It just doesn't get quite as hot as I would like and it seems like the flames is not evenly distributed under the whole surface of the grill.

I love not having the electronics, especially the self-clean. I couldn't wait to get rid of that feature.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 8:19PM
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Yes, I do have the V1 model (I made sure it was, after reading all the previous threads on this forum!).

For the record, I didn't say that the heat on the door isn't that bad... just that as far as my (very young) kids go, it hasn't seem to have had any hurtful or harmful impact. I still yell at them when they're playing too close to the range while I'm cooking or baking! I had to state this because in my extensive research, especially on this forum, the issue of heat and children made me very wary and that was a huge factor in preventing me from making a quick purchase. I don't ban my kids from the kitchen and if the range were to pose a definite danger simply from touching, it wouldn't have been allowed to enter my house.

Your description of the Viking does sound like my previous range, though I think it was just a standard-sized GE or Whirlpool (I forget!). It was stainless steel with black porcelain enamel top with iron grates. I had a heck of a time keeping that range top clean, especially if I got a little lazy and waited for the next day or longer. Now, this was before I discovered products like Bar Keepers Friend (thank you, GW) which I think might have made a difference and been my preferred cleaning product on my old range.

As far as missing the self-clean feature... I can't help you with that. I've never used that feature in my previous ovens. Always went with the good old elbow grease method. I think that as long as you cleaned it fairly often enough, there shouldn't be any difference from other ovens. I guess it would depend on how strongly you would miss it! And I doubt the speckled vs solid black interior has any effects on the maintenance. BS does strongly discourage the use of aluminum foil lining anywhere on my range, so I have not done that.

(Not sure if you've already seen it, but I'll include a link below to a video I watched on youtube that sold me on the ease of cleaning this range. It's pretty much how I clean mine.)

Yes, on more than a few occasions, when my simmer burner was already in use and I merely wanted to keep a very light simmer on another pot, I've stacked grates. It works fantastic and the stacked grates definitely are sturdy... no wobbling noted.

The full extension rack that came with my oven is awesome. The glide is smooth and easily holds heavier items, too. I was able to easily slide my turkey out yesterday with a wooden spoon, baste it, and push it back in. Easy peasy. It makes me preferentially use that one rack all the time! One of these days, I do plan on purchasing an extra one. They are very heavy, though, but I have rarely had to change its position. If you've never experienced it, you wouldn't know what you were missing. But once you've had one, you'll be spoiled for life! If I were you, unless a larger model is high up on my list, I'd just splurge on adding on the rack. Trust me. It's totally worth it. Like soft-close drawers... it just feels wonderful!

Here is a link that might be useful: Cleaning a Bluestar

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 10:11PM
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On the topic of a vent hood, you will need to make sure that you have adequate venting to capture all the heat/oils/grease/steam that can be generated with such high BTUs. I've held off cooking with a wok for years because we either had no ventilation (on an island cooktop) or a standard microwave with filtered venting which was absolutely worthless in function for simple cooking on a standard range. Wok cooking, traditionally, requires high heat and, you can imagine, can generate a lot of smoke. I was thrilled to finally be able to stir-fry the way it's always been done w/o worrying about setting off the smoke detector.

On the subject of vent hoods, I would recommend getting a hood that is deeper than the stove. I had read and have been told that you can safely do either a hood that is the same depth as your range or a deeper one. I went with the 27" which is the same depth as my BS. If I could do it over again, I would go with a deeper one. The reason is that the 2 highest BTU burners are located on the front on my model and thus, it generates the most HOGS which seems to go straight up to the edge of my hood. While my hood does end up sucking most of the smoke in, I have no doubt that a deeper hood would take care of it 100%. I do, on occasion when I've done a string of heavy cooking, notice a thin film of grease along the front side and top of my range which then requires further cleaning and wiping down.

I hope this makes sense. You can get a ton more information regarding ventilation and hoods on this forum.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 10:24PM
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Thanks all--

I see that all of you who have the Bluestar have the top end model, the RNB. That one has the two 22,000 BTU burners and the one simmer and the one 15,000 BTU burner. Do you really see a major difference between the 15,000 and the 22,000 burners? Has anyone tried a stirfry comparison on the 15,00 vs. the 22,000? I just didn't know if I really need that much BTU power. But, it sounds as though all of you think the upgrade to the top of the line model over the lesser powered one is worth it.

So, artful, you'd recommend the Bluestar over the Viking? Of course, you do have the most powerful Bluestar and I don't know which model Viking you have. Ease of cleanup of the top sounds good.

artful and bluedevil--thanks for the feedback on the grill option. Currently we have a 30" but could possibly switch to a 36", and the main reason we'd do that would be for the possibility of having a grill. I don't know as though I hear an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm from either of you about that feature. We had been considering it because we currently have a Jenn-air downdraft, and we do use the grill during our long winters when we don't want to go outside. I am wondering if you can get kind of the same results by just using the broiler instead.

Dragonfly--the door heat is an issue because I have lots of little grandkids in town. Right now we tell them to stay away if we are opening the oven, but, as with you, the door heat issue has been a concern. Also, I wonder about the amount of heat the range (burners and oven) emit into the kitchen during the course of cooking. We live in Minneapolis, so on a cold day like today, it would be some nice extra heat. But, we also have some summer days when it is stifling here, and we do not want to generate any more heat than necessary. I hand't seen the cleaning video, so thanks for that.

Fitting a hood in is going to be a problem for us because of our kitchen setup, so I am grateful for the information. We had been contemplating trying it for a few months without even having a hood. The range dealer, who actually is a Vent-a Hood dealer, said he has had customers who have done this and been okay.

No recent purchasers of Viking out there?

I appreciate all of the help.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 11:31AM
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I have to say that if I were to do it all over again, I would still get the grill. The broiler is just not the same. Also, in a pinch, I think the grill could be used to create a griddle by putting a griddle on top of the grill and thus could also be used as two additional burners to keep food warm or simmering.

Also, and this is probably most important, one of the biggest reasons to get the 36" rather than the 30" is that you just get more real estate on top. You can use several large pots at the same time, which is something that you can't do as easily with a smaller top. And the big oven is a plus, especially if you have a second oven elsewhere (speed oven or countertop style like the Breville) that you can use when you don't need to cook a lot at one time.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 3:04PM
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Yes, I can understand the appeal of the grill. As I mentioned, we have an old Jenn-Air downdraft and use the grill feature about once a week in the winter. It isn't blazing hot or blazing fast (and it can't really be used for more than two people) but it is nice to have, and that is why I was wondering if a broiler would be an adequate substitute.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 9:42AM
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