Pros/Cons of AG vs DF Wolf in my configuration

Ott2November 1, 2012

I'm looking to tip the scales in deciding between a Wolf 36" AG or Wolf 36" DF range w/ griddle.

In our new build, the ovens I already know I will have are:

- Wolf convection/steam oven

- Wolf electric "E" series wall oven

- warming drawer

I don't bake a lot of breads, but it is something I would like to do much more of in the future. Occasional pizzas, quiches, sweets....

I do roast vegetables and meats.

I expect that the oven on the range will be mostly for overflow, or for when the attributes of the range oven are better suited for a task than would be the other two ovens. For example, if I wanted to have the ventilation involved?

I will use the broiler.

I will use the burners a lot. Good simmer capability. Not a talented WOKer yet, but like with baking bread, I hope to learn.

I understand the price difference.

I understand the difference between open burners and sealed burners, and it seems to me (?) that the Wolf AG burners are somewhere between the benefits of the open burners like on the Bluestar/Capital ranges and the sealed burners on the Wolf DF. Is the flame pattern on the Wolf AG significantly better than on the DF? All the burners on the AG are the same? But the DF has burners with differing BTUs? Both AG and DF burners simmer well?

When I compare the AG and DF, I'm not sure how much these differences matter:

The broiler is different. Is the AG going to be a much better broiler?

AG has double paned window, DF has triple. Maybe a dumb question, but is this a difference that should matter to me?

It looks like AG has single convection, DF has double? Is this hugely significant in the effectiveness of the oven?

Silly, but I like the knobs better on AG, and the grates better on the DF!

I see other features that DF has that I don't *think* are decision-makers for me in my configuration, but if I'm wrong, let me know before it's too late! These are: self-cleaning, all of the snazzy electronics, temp probe, all of the multiple oven modes (won't I have these on the wall oven?) except that I like the proof mode.

Love to hear any feedback that can help me tip the scales!

I am so thankful for this forum!

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I have a Wolf DF and really like it but did consider an AG range. I have an Electrolux wall oven which I also love and has all the modes. I decided on the DF just for the generic reason that it had a better oven but now that I have used it for four years, I can give more specific things I like about it.

As far as the burners- You are probably aware that Wolf is phasing out the semi sealed burners, so if you want them, you probably need to act fairly quickly. You might be able to get a deal on a floor model. I find the sealed burners cook very evenly. If you use a pan that conducts heat well, the flame pattern effect is negligible. I use everything from a 7 inch saucepan to a 14 inch skillet on the 15K BTU burners and they all heat evenly. The AG has all the same size burners. The DF has all the same except the the left back burner is smaller. This is a benefit if you use smaller pans or need the ultra low 325 BTU simmer. The DF also has infinite adjustment of the burners-a range for the burner and a range for the simmer burner, while the AG has settings(high, medium, low and simmer). I'm not sure if you can go in between them or not. Someone who has one may say. The BTUs on both would indicate they simmer well. I get great simmer or even warming on all my burners. You can hold a pot of mashed potatoes on all of them without fear of scorching.

The broilers are different. The AG has the gas infrared broiler. One thing you may compare is the width of the broiler. I use my broiler mostly to fix trays of party food so I like the electric broiler. For meats we cook outside. In the past I would use my broiler to finish items that were roasted to maybe brown them a little more but with the convection roast mode and it's ability to bring more heat from the top, it is unnecessary and the browning is much more even and covers more of what you are cooking with the convection roast mode. I never have had the various modes before in 45 years of cooking but I learned what they do and I love them.
Triple vs double paned window? I would think this might be that the DF has more insulation and the door cooler but you might ask about that. My oven door stays very cool and with the little grands running around, it is important to me. They know "hot" but it is another layer of safety.

I think the dual fans are helpful in the 36 inch wide oven, but the main thing is the true convection elements. The AG just has a convection fan, no element. The true convection elements are helpful when the oven is full in keeping the temperature even. I do tend to use the oven for overflow but when I need it, it will be when we are cooking a lot of food-6 quiches or pies or several pans of sides. If I am cooking three or four things, the same temp I will use it day to day as well. I like having the capability to use the various modes when I have the big oven going too.

The temp probe is great but you can always get one separately.

I think the DF also has rolling racks if you like those.

I like the self clean because I would hate the chemicals in the oven cleaners if I used them.

The are some of the differences I have noted. Good luck in your decision.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 10:59AM
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Wekick - Can't thank you enough. I found lots of info comparing Wolf AG and DF, but for some reason, I was still missing something. Your explanation of the differences in the broilers (and how you use yours) is hugely helpful. I haven't had convection before, and am very much looking forward to having it in the new kitchen. It is a learning curve for me in planning. I appreciate your sharing all of the insight above! This is the first and probably last kitchen I will build from scratch, and I really want to get it as right as possible. Got to plan for the future grands!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 12:52PM
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Ott2, I have looked at both the AG and the DF, but wanted to answer a question you haven't asked. I doubt you will using the oven in your range very much at all. I just got a convection steam not the Wolf but similar, and I think you will be using that nearly all the time. Since it is a small cavity, it heats up in under 5 minutes, and since it lets you choose to either use steam or not, you can make things as dry or as moist as you want. I haven't used the oven in my range since I bought the convection steam. As I understand it, the top of the range will be same for the DF and the AG within a few months, so if you like the AG knobs or burners, you may need to place an order quickly. As you said, I think the convection steam will give you all the modes you would get in the DF oven including the probe, except the broil, so to me, the issue is which top you like better. As to the electronics, whether you like the electronic controls on the DF or are concerned that they may develop problems over time is really a personal choice. Unless you are cooking a lot of food at one time, I think the main use for your range with be the burners, not the oven.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 1:32PM
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Hi Barryv.
You actually bring up a question that I have been going over and over so much (with myself) for the last year that I got tired of thinking about it, so then defaulted to the "rather do too much than too little".
Sounds like Wekick might be an empty nester, so maybe he will chime in again.
The appliance I am MOST excited about and see myself using the most is the convect/steam oven because of what/how we eat.
Having recently turned 50, and knowing we will be in this house "forever", it makes sense to me to have the second oven be a wall oven. Thus the Wolf wall oven.
We will have a warming drawer because in our life, it makes sense. I think it will get a lot of use.
Before I discovered gardenweb, I thought I cooked a lot, and cooked good stuff. I "cooked" more than most people I know. Gardenweb has humbled me, because I have learned that I am such an amateur! I do cook quite a bit, but the stuff I cook is pretty normal. Most of the time I am cooking for 2-3. In a couple of years, there will just be two of us. Except for when we have kids home and everybody comes over. THEN there might easily be 15-20, maybe more if kids' friends join us. I want to encourage these gatherings! We will rarely do really big entertaining, and if we did, it would likely be casual. Anything formal we would likely have catered.
THE BIG QUESTION: If I have the Wolf convect/steam oven, a Wolf wall oven, and a good warming drawer, is the oven on the range overkill? Can I manage the kind of use I describe above with just the three ovens I already know I am getting and a rangetop?
Where I am challenged: 1) being organized, and 2) having my efforts to entertain look "effortless" (even if it's a fib).
I've never had a double oven, but have wished for one many times! The combination of the steam/convect oven and a single wall oven is sort of "double oven" capacity, right? Also, have never had a warming drawer. My cooking resources in the new house, even without a range oven, will be a vast improvement.
Do you have any experience that can enlighten me?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 2:18PM
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Ott2, Everyone speaks highly of the Wolf Wall oven - so I am sure you will love it, and of course the convection steam will be a dream- used it to steam some spinach tonight to go with fettuccine alfredo. I normally cook just for 2. The few times I cook for 15 or 20 or more, it is in a rental home with two 30 inch ranges and on those occasions, if I had a rangetop and a 30 inch wall oven and a CS, having the third oven would be nice, since the CS oven is on the small side. On the other hand, a few times we rented a house that slept 20, but had a single 30 inch electric range, not a fun time making dinner for that many, though it did get done. Not sure I would ever use a warming drawer since you will have the CS with reheat and warm functions. I wish I could provide more practical advice, but it probably depends on what you like to cook and how much of the cooking for a large group would involve the rangetop, and bbq grill, which would lessen the need for another oven. Plus if you want things to look effortless, and the large groups are rare, you may be preparing much of the food ahead of time so how many ovens will your need? I may be a little off balance because I just got the CS, and it is easier to use a wall mounted oven ( or CS ) than bending over to use a range oven, so that I am guessing if you get a range with an oven, you may have to check it for cobwebs before each use. Good luck with your decision, the good news, as you said, is that whichever way you go will be a vast improvement over your current situation.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 10:21PM
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Barryv, thank you for sharing again! Maybe broiled cobwebs will be on the menu about this time next year... :-) I didn't realize the CS has a warm function, so will look into that. Your thoughts are very helpful. Thanks again! Ott2

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 10:54PM
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Ha! We would be empty nesters but...we have had a few extras in the way of nieces and nephews and friends living with us due to transitions in their lives and now my son is back to town from school and looking for a job. In July we had a full house between semi-permanent guests and short term guests. I also cook meals that go out to my dad and sometimes others. When I watch the grandkids, I try to have dinner when the parents return so they don't have to cook. All this means I am generally cooking for 10--rarely just 2. If it is just the two of us, sometimes we just eat out :-))(date night!). I do use my wall oven the most but I am so glad to have the range oven and there are times that I almost could use another oven, more for a different temperature than capacity. On the other hand, I cooked for all these years with a 30 inch oven. The key for me to look effortless is having things made ahead. We have had "flying plates" dinners for 35, that consist of multiple mini courses that come out one after the other. Everything is premade on half sheets and the ovens got a workout for that. It seems like the family gatherings just get bigger- weddings and babies. Our extended family can be 30-40 and we have several parties a year for 60 or so. I also have had many wedding and baby showers, milestone birthdays and funeral dinners that range from 35-70 people. We also had rehearsal dinners but semi catered them.
We didn't go with a warming drawer because the ovens go low enough to function that way and sometimes I use the rangetop. We had large disposable catering trays of pasta for a family dinner a few months ago and they kept warm on the simmer burners without scorching. I think one of the benefits of the warming drawer is that it keeps the humidity in the food so with the steam oven, you might not need it.

If you haven't had convection, I think you will love it but it isn't for everything. I look at it as a tool and only use it when it will be a benefit to what I am cooking. I am still learning about it. I think your modes on the steam oven are different than on the regular oven. There is a slow roast vs a roast and convection roast. I would read the use and care manuals on all the appliances to better understand how they work. I don't agree with all of Wolf's recommendations for convection baking though. Convection is not the optimum thing for cakes or anything that needs to rise at least in the first part of the cooking cycle.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 11:27PM
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Wekick, maybe you should start your own "how to feed a lot of people" cooking school, and I should sign up! I hope you are well loved by all of these folks you cook for, and I hope they help you clean up! What a blessing to have such a big, busy family. So, you have twisted my thinking. Maybe it's the warming drawer that is overkill in the kitchen I am planning, and not the range oven. That would be consistent with Barryv's comments above. I will contemplate that for a while. Thank you (again!) for helping me think through this!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 12:29AM
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Ott2, When I was buying my wolf ag range I paid more for a roll out rack, and so glad that I did! Also, there is a second option for the grate choice.
Good luck with your decision.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 11:33AM
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Had same decision 9 years ago, chose the AG (ironically, after talking with Wolf CS rep who talked me out of the DF and saved a couple of grand). What I've liked: larger BTU burners and I like the simmer burner although we use fully clad pans so it's small size is not an issue. We have the grill which we like when weather won't let us grill outside or just too lazy. I prefer an IR broiler to electric. It's primitive, less to break the DF and having worked as line cook years ago I'm a little rough and I like that it's built like a tank. Customer service is excellent. Only service call was burned out ignitor on broiler. What I'd change: Bluestar and Capital weren't options when I bought it, I would look at those for hotter burners (but having reworked the wok grate and a few other changes it's fine), the oven door does get hot, especially when it's running at 550F for an hour or two). I'd heard they'd reworked the oven door but did read some posts about hot doors recently. I've had real convect and "faux" convect like the AG and don't notice any functional difference.

A few responses to comments above: the burner controls are continous and offer good control.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 11:56AM
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I have been using my Wolf AG for a few months now.
I also have the Wolf Convection Steam Oven.
I am loving both.
I am still in the learning phase, but so far so good.
I wanted to get rid of the microwave but my kids convinced me to keep it for popcorn so i added one downstairs.
The Steam oven is a warming drawer, it reheats food beautifully, and bakes great.
I opted for the AG since the steam oven is electric.
Not having room for double ovens, this is the route i chose.
No regrets so far.
I use the steam oven almost everyday.
i have two children that live with me and my house tends to be the gathering point of family and friends.
If you are one who can't take anything that doesn't look spotless, rethink theAG.
The AG is beautiful and adds a wow to my kitchen.
Excuse my writing as my kids are waiting for me to take them to their lessons.
just wanted to chime in.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 12:37PM
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I was familiar with electric oven only and concerned when we did this kit. I went with AG, infrared broiler, DCS. I can tell you I see no difference in baking cookies, brownies & pies. Where I do see a difference is roasting. The AG produces a more moist heat and everything I have roasted is more moist. I love the infrared broiler. Since you will already have an electric oven I think you get the best of either with the AG. My personal preference is a range because I like having the broiler under my vent hood. I broil a lot of fish.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 2:02PM
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Thank you all! Nothing like spending the afternoon watching DS play baseball and then coming home to find my AG vs DF indecision decided! After the first few posts, I was already leaning heavily towards AG, and the scales were totally tipped with the last post: FISH. Love broiled fish and almost never cook it because I don't like the smell in the house and the broiler I have now doesn't do a good job on fish anyway. Probably true that my range oven will not see a lot of use, but I'll have it if I need it, and in the meantime there will be a place for cobwebs to thrive! I'll use the money I "saved" by not doing the DF to buy the great rolling rack and possibly some continuous (S?) grates. I will NOT rethink the range even one more time! I'll focus instead on sink indecision...
So, so helpful. Thanks to all of you!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 7:15PM
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Ott2-Happy that you made your decision. It is great to have that stress behind you.

Posted by teachmkt
I've had real convect and "faux" convect like the AG and don't notice any functional difference.

I have used four different brands of "true" convection extensively and there was a huge difference between them in the way they functioned. I think with all the variation in the ways ovens are engineered, it is hard to make generalized assumptions but almost have to comment oven by oven. One brand I had, the third element was a detriment and food burned.

Posted by eandhl
Where I do see a difference is roasting. The AG produces a more moist heat and everything I have roasted is more moist.

It has been the customary thought and I thought that gas heat was moist and electric heat was dry. This comes from the idea that some moisture is released as products of combustion but there is more to it than that. Home gas ovens have increased ventilation so the moisture is ventilated out. Electric ovens are more of a closed system so keep the humidity in. The drying effect may be what makes you roast in a gas oven superior because it gives it a crispiness as does convection. The increased humidity in the electric oven is beneficial for bake goods that need to rise the first half of their baking cycle. These differences are probably subtle but if you read some of the dedicated baking forums, they have a hard time keeping added moisture in a gas oven and will resort to using bowls over bread the first half of the baking time. They will also open an electric oven toward the end of baking times on things that need to rise to let out the humidity.

Moist heat will not contribute to keeping moisture in meat as it is cooking, as once thought. It is mainly a function of what temperature you cook the meat.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Food Lab's Top 6 Food Myths : Serious Eats

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 3:10PM
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Hi Wekick -
Thanks! I grew up with 5 of the 6 food myths as reality. We must have missed out on the salted beans myth because I am certain I remember my grandmothers and Mom adding salt to soaking beans. When I get my new kitchen put together, I will have to return to this thread to reread your notes and practice.... since you did not jump on my suggestion to start a cooking school... :-)
I appreciate your help in all of this! Ott2

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 7:18PM
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Ott, I've had AG Wolfs, 36 in, for about 8 years now. I love them. The one thing I'd say is that I chose not to do the S grates because the woman at the living kitchen place in Charlotte where I tried them out felt that they did not give as even a hear distribution. Looking at it, it seemed to be reasonable. So check out with some S grate folks their experiences.
And have fun!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 10:16PM
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