Open/Sealed Burners

lamdDecember 17, 2008

I'm sure this has been explained, but I must be search challenged, so I apologize for the post. Can someone explain the difference between open and sealed burners. We are looking at ranges and were leaning towards a 48" American Range. I see many on here prefer open burners and the AR has sealed burners. Any info is appreciated! LAMD

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ya_think

I think it can be summed up rather succinctly as follows:

Cleaning: Proponants of sealed burners will say that they are easier to clean, a quick wipe is all you need. Proponants of open burners will say that it's easier to clean a removable drip pan and bowl, and you have less risk of clogging up the burner during boilovers or the cleaning process itself.

Airflow: Proponants of open burners will say that the better airflow provided by open burners makes the flame more efficient. Proponants of sealed burners agree that sounds good in theory, but note that their burners work just fine.

We have yet to see a clear winner in these arguments, so I say go find yourself a range you like then memorize your talking points accordingly, so that you're prepared should someone question your decision.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 10:17AM
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shannonplus2

Ya Think summarized it perfectly - Ya Think's post should probably go permanently in the Appliances Forum FAQ page since it's so succinct and covers both sides so well. There is no correct choice, people have different preferences. I myself have a sealed Dacor gas range. It's easy to clean, there's no parts that I need to carry to the sink, but I do have to take a toothpick to the burners occasionally after a spill, and scrape away at a tiny 1/16" brown ring that occurs around the burners. I think for my next kitchen I might try an open burner range, but having said that, I'd be happy with sealed burners again too.

Also, it's been reported on this forum that the Wolf "open burners" may be the compromise between the two styles. Wolf calls them "dual burners", and they are actually semi-open, providing the airflow of an open burner with the look and cleanability of a sealed burner, yet still have the drip tray beneath.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 11:40AM
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trevorlawson

I feel the major difference between sealed and open burners is as follows, open burners offer better flame distribution to the base of the pan, as opposed to sealed burners which in general direct the majority of the flame the the outer edge of the pan.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 11:57AM
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jkom51

I've been cooking for so long, it took me a while to realize I've had a lot of experience with both. My previous apartment range was a classic O'Keefe & Merritt, with - yes, indeed - open burners and a drip tray underneath each side. Simple, worked well, and a lot of good meals over 20 years.

Having purchased a house in 1989 and remodeled it, the last two ranges (both TOL Kenmores) have been sealed burners. Both gas ranges had 2 extra-high Power burners, which I use extensively. Stir-frying, sear-roasting, boiling - I've got two sizes of every pan and pot available, from 6" single-egg frypans to 50-qt stewpots.

Both ranges, but especially my current Kenmore/Whirlpool, develop a gunky brown ring around the burners. What's more, I haven't found anything that will clean it off, either. Not even oven cleaner works!

So I vote for open burners. It's a breeze to line a drip tray with foil, in comparison. Plus, a friend of mine has the old Garland with the star burners - they really do work beautifully, both at high heat and simmer.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 3:11PM
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ci_lantro

I've had both open & sealed burner and much prefer the open burner. With closed burner, the flame doesn't spread so I end up with center of pan being too hot & the outer ring of the pan being too cool. Very frustrating to try to fry chicken and a lot of other things. Also, I can't use a couple of griddles that I own because the burner won't light with the griddle in place and won't stay lit because the flame gets starved for air.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 3:27PM
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alexrander

Sealed burners, particularly ones with a stainless top, look modern and clean-looking. The flames do come out of the burner ring sideways, so it's good to have either several different sized burners (like the American), or dual ring burners. Some sealed burner folks have mentioned that with the burner on high, a lot of the flame goes up around the sides of the pan (may require a large bottomed pan to take advantage of high ).

They clean up differently, but I think it's a matter of preference. The stainless sealed tops you just wipe off like a countertop. Some sealed tops are black and can be harder to clean. Open burners, (Bluestar)- the burner bowls are porcelain cast iron and come out individually. Or you can just wipe in place as well if it's just a light clean up.

Open burners, esp. Bluestar has the burner sitting lower below the grates and the flame comes straight up in a star pattern instead of sideways from a circle. You can still have a flame come around the outer edge on high, but the rest of the pan is still getting very even heat.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 4:54PM
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ya_think

Ok, so Trevor's sealed burners direct the flame to the outside of the pan and therefore distribute heat poorly, and ci_lantro's sealed burners create a hot center and cool outer because the flame doesn't spread...

Shannonplus scrapes the gunk off her burners, jkom can't find any way to get the gunk off......

See what I mean, lamd? LOL!!!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 5:38PM
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chipshot

Shhh, you'll convince the induction fans that they're smarter than us gas burners.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 8:34PM
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shappy

Those of you with open burners/stainless--isn't this hard to clean? I mean I don't find stainless that friendly to look really clean. I could see myself cleaning up after every use but the men in my house seem to think egg yolk, etc is just fine and just leave it. I have open burners to I just clean the drip pans.

Can you use drip pans with sealed burners or is that pointless? My SIL just remodeled her kitchen and put in a GE Cafe with sealed burners. My first thought was that stainless doesn't look that durable new, what will a couple of years of spillovers do?

I'm asking because my top contender for replacing my Viking is American range and it only comes sealed burners. I use my top burners 10 times more than my oven.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 10:14PM
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alexrander

Open burners don't have stainless on top. They have the usual cast-iron grates, and either cast-iron drip bowls "pans"-surrounding the burner, or a black sheet-steel top with black steel drip bowl- "pans".

The slide out tray below the drip bowls is stainless. Only the handle can be seen from the front of the range, below the knobs.

The American range uses Sealed Burners that sit above a sealed stainless top that is recessed enough to allow spill overs without flooding the burner. Sealed burners either have a stainless top or a black porcelain top.

I don't think the stainless is that hard to clean up. I've never heard of anyone trying to put a bowl around a sealed burner.

Wolf's open burners (some call them semi-sealed) have a bowl that is very tight around the burner. But they still consider it an open burner, and they also sell a sealed burner top as well- on some models, but like all sealed burners it does not have drip pans(bowls). Or trays obviously..

Sealed burners are going to have either a stainless top or a sheet metal black porcelain top.

Open burners are either all cast-iron(Bluestar), or have black porcelain sheet metal on top.

The Bluestar drip bowls (pans) are extremely open. Stuff (esp. liquid) goes right down through the bowls to that lower tray.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 2:29AM
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lamd

Thank you for all your help You're right, ya think, I will have to get a list of questions ready, comparison shop, and draw my own conclusion!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 8:23AM
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edlakin

i prefer open burners. there is really *no* cleanup. just push everything down into the holes and then change the foil on the drip tray every once in a while.

i have a bluestar and agree with alex's post above--they're extremely open. stuff just falls through. out of sight, out of mind. plus, the all-cast-iron top of the BS doesn't really show dirt/grease much at all. it's not reflective, which, i think, helps to hide the messes.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 11:24PM
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zoenipp

I wasn't going to chime in because this has been discussed so many times before on this board but there really is a big difference re: flame pattern and heat distribution on the bottom of pans. It may be a matter of preference as to which you prefer but the difference is real. We have both DCS and Wolf AG ranges (one at home, one at the vacation condo) and far prefer the open burners on the Wolf (yes, they are open on the AG - go to a Wolf dealer and see the flame pattern for yourself) to closed burners because of the way the flame is distributed under the pan. Trevor's succint explanation above is totally correct and describes the difference perfectly. The difference is the flame coverage under your pans as you cook. Closed burners direct the flame toward the outer edges of the pan - at least my DCS does.

As to which is easier to clean and keep looking good - that's the part that's completely a matter of opinion. My opinion - the stainless under the closed burners is easier to maintain on a daily basis but the open burner system can be taken apart for heavy cleaning and doesn't get the permanent brown gunk rings Jkom described above. My Wolf top, except for a few scratches from taking the grates on/off, looks brand new when I give it a thorough cleaning. My DCS top has a slight yellowish tinge and the brown rings around the burners despite my best efforts. I'm "sort of" a clean freak and do my best to keep the tops looking "pristine".

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 10:46AM
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chipshot

Zoenipp, please share your recipe for a thorough cleaning of your Wolf. Do you have only burners, or do you also have griddle and/or charbroiler?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 10:38PM
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bally70

I just bought a wolf sealed burner cooktop. been less than 30 days. Our experience with the burners is terrible. The sealed burners only cook at the edges of normal sized pots. The flame is not evenly distributed. We're very displeased. Vendor is also not willing to exchange. Who thinks of these designs. The problem is pretty obvious when cooking. Can't the highly paid engineers figure this out. There's youtube videos on the problem as well.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 2:17PM
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needinfo1

bally--

Sorry to hear about your experience. OTOH, I have had the now-discontinued Wolf AG open burner (mine is a range though) for about the same amount of time. We are very pleased with this and purposely bought this model while we could still get one and before all of the Wolf ranges turned into sealed burners.

Can you contact Wolf and see if you can get one of the open burner ones instead? I'd try that if I were you since you can't get any satisfaction from the vendor.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 4:28PM
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wekick

" Posted by bally70
The sealed burners only cook at the edges of normal sized pots. The flame is not evenly distributed. We're very displeased. Vendor is also not willing to exchange. Who thinks of these designs. The problem is pretty obvious when cooking. Can't the highly paid engineers figure this out. There's youtube videos on the problem as well."

What is the diameter of what you consider to be a "normal" size pot? Is this on all heat settings?
I have Wolf sealed burners and regularly use a 7 inch (diameter) saucepot. I make caramel on moderate heat which requires heat to be even as you don't stir. I have a couple of 1 qt pans that are smaller but if I need them for some reason, I use the smaller burner. Most likely any of the burners would be that way that are bigger than the regular residential burners. If you look at Bluestar and CC you can see that the burner heads are wider. The platforms are about 11-12 inches so you can see how much of the width they take up.

Here is the culinarian with the flame on. You can see its size relative to the bigger pans and even the smaller saucepan. It comes with the territory sealed or unsealed. They have also added a "small pan" burner. It is pretty easy to replace a couple of saucepans with something a little wider and keep the smaller ones for use on the small burner.

Culinarian

I would call Wolf and make sure your burners are operating correctly and if they are, consider getting sauce pans that are a little wider and something that conducts heat well. I recently bought a pan that is thick aluminum, for heat conductivity and the inside is lined with stainless for nonreactivity. It is a little adjustment to bigger burners. One of the things I have enjoyed is being able to use my big skillets with plenty of room, front to back.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 9:04PM
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weissman

I agree with wekick - I've been cooking on a DCS sealed burner range for over 10 years and have not had experiences similar to yours. What kind of pots are you using - you may need to get some new heavy duty pots that distribute heat evenly.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 9:32PM
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wekick

I made a sugar syrup this am. Here is a video of it using a pot 7 inches in diameter. It is old Revereware, not as good as copper or aluminum would be.

Here is a link that might be useful: Seeing is believing! Wolf sealed burner

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:20AM
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