What size & type burner to replace older gas,typical burner with?

needinfo1December 23, 2012

I am replacing a dual fuel twenty year old range and have spent waaaaaaaaaay too much time here and in appliance stores, evidenced by the fact that rather than being in the kitchen baking the Christmas cookies I plan to do today I am sitting here at the computer yet again. Now I am starting to second guess my original decisions I'd made after my research. After my research I had been really, really convinced that I needed open burners, and probably the bigger the better. Now I wonder.
I have been cooking good meals on this JennAir (which was considered a top-of-the-line product twenty years ago). In comparison to today's ranges, its burner BTUs are wimpy--maybe the one big burner is 12K or 14K, with the others about 8K maybe. All of the burners do a nice slow simmer. As did all gas ranges from the era, it has the typical old-fashioned, been-used-a- long-time design, open burner in a little circle with the gas coming out of the sides. You all know what I am referring to.

Here is what I really want to know from people who have moved on from similar types of stoves and burners: Does the average person really need all of the extra oomph that is provided by the much-touted high BTU, open-burner in a pro-type stove?
When I say average, I am considered an excellent cook and do more interesting things than many friends, but I am by no means someone who dedicates myself to the idea of cooking and refining various recipes and turning out multiple course meals for hordes of people several times a day. I make the usual thing we all make and like to branch out into ethnic cuisine. But, I don't do lots of stir fries or lots of big hunks of seared meat or use a big canning kettle or deep fry etc. And, we're down to just the two of us with larger crowds of ten or so maybe once or twice a month.

I know there is a huge crowd here of get the biggest and baddest BTU burners you can get. Would I really take advantage of these? After all, I've lived all of these years with less capacity, and I have never cooked on a pro range.

Would I be just as happy with something in say a 15K to 17K closed burner type configuration? I am guessing that would be a huge improvement in power over what I currently have. Or, would the closed burner configuration cancel out the improvement over the lesser-powered open burners I currently have? And, would this be pretty much the same heat I currently have now?

What has the reality been for people who have replaced a typical open burner gas range from the past with a newer model that is not as high-powered as many being promoted by posters here? Is it an improvement over what you had in the past? Or, are you having buyer's regret wishing you'd gone with the true pro-type mega burners? I guess I should throw in here that I am sixty-five and unlikely to radically change my cooking style just because I have a new toy.

I also know that none of use really need anymore than a flame to cook, and I've thought about induction but am not convinced it is for us.


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Forgot to add in that the one thing my research has firmly convinced me of--I do not want a lot of complicated electronics and prefer something more simple.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 2:11PM
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I have absolutely no regrets about choosing closed burners over open burners. My DCS is wayyyy easier to clean than some of the flame-throwing open burners, judging from the vidoes some of their devotees have posted.

I've never had the flame-up-the-sides of my pots, which is supposed to be one big drawback of closed burners. An 8" dia pot/pan covers my largest burners (17.5K BTU) so that the flames stay underneath. And DCS's dual stacked burners allow perfect simmers on all burners.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 2:58PM
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Thanks. This is exactly the type of feedback I am looking for. And, I assume the 17.5 K is more than adequate for your needs.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 3:17PM
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I'll second what cooksnews said, but add a couple of additional comments.

First, it seems to me that you've pretty much answered your own question.

Second, the supposed difficulty of cleaning a sealed-burner stove is, it seems to me, a function of the cooktop surface and the depth of the burner wells. My old GE dual fuel, with its shallow burner wells and burner plates required a lot of attention and frequent applications of Barkeeper's Friend. My new pro-style NXR with its stainless cooktop surface and deep burner wells is much easier. Pull the burner grates, spritz with windex and wipe with a microfiber cloth.

As for whether you would be "happier" with a 15k to 17k burner configuration than with the 22K-plus open burner Blue-Stars, ARs, or CCs, who knows? There are a really wide variety of reasons why some folks are passionate about high-powered open burners. Some want to use round bottomed woks and get closer to the "true taste of the wok" or something they feel is reminiscent of street-vendor pad-thai. Some feel that, without an open pro-style burner, they cannot get sufficient low temp burner evenness to make the exquisite sauces they make. Some of them need or want to be able to blast three or four shrimp in tiny pans heated to very high temps. Some of them feel their cooking style really benefits from the higher btu-hr power. Some are like car junkies for whom there can never be enough horsepower. Some of them need the high hp or btu to supprot elitist snobbery and feel superior to us peasants who tastes and skills are far less refined than their own. Some just like the look better. Some people will have a mix of some or all of the above reasons.

Personally, for my cooking, I have absolutely no regrets or problems with having sealed 15K-btu-hr burners for what I cook. My NXR burners will heat my cast iron pans hot enough to burn off the seasoning if I choose to do that, although I could also do that with the 12K btu-hr burners on the old GE. Personally, I don't feel that a steak has to be seared at temps sufficient to melt lead. I have not owned a round-bottomed wok for a decade and do not feel bad because I do not have one. The NXR's low heat settings, like those on cooksnews' DCS, are plenty low enough for me to melt and hold chocolate in a small pan for hours.

There is one difference I have observed between my stove and cooksnews' DCS. For high heat applications, the burners on my stove work better with pans larger than eight-inches in diameter. For example, boiling six quarts of pasta water will take me 22 minutes. Doing this with a 10-inch-diameter pot will bring the time down to less than 15 minutes. In a 13-inch diameter kettle, it takes less than 14 minutes. That said, I have no problem searing steaks or sauteing in 10 and 12 inch fry pans. For me, making blackened fish or chicken does not require more heat than I have available. Also, I certainly can and do use small pans. Boiling water for morning oatmeal takes 3 minutes in a 5-inch sauce pan. I can melt and hold chocolate for hours in that small pan, too. Frankly, I find cookware construction makes a bigger difference to evenness than the burner design for what and how I cook.

Now, if I had one of the open burner stoves, maybe I could boil that pasta water in 12 minutes instead of 14 but that is not a big deal for me.

But, again, whether you will be happy with a "lesser" stove is such a subjective judgment that, except for bragging rights, it will be hard to say how "happy" you will be.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 5:23PM
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Yes, JW, by even posting this it is apparent that I am starting to question whether for ME it makes sense to get big time BTUs. Just like so many things in life, there is no one size fits all for ranges either, so that is why I am asking people what their experience was when replacing the typical older gas range. Thanks for taking the time to post.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 6:54PM
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If you are spending money for a pro-type range in the BS-CC price class I think it is dumb to buy a sealed burner range.

I have cleaned Wolf-Monogram type ranges and it is not way easier just different.

You not only get the power but the eveness.

I was making a frittata today and was tickled by how even and quickly it cooked. And please don't quote me as saying you need a 22k-23k open burner to cook an egg. That is not what I said.

I think below average cooks saute onions,sear a steak or chicken thigh or wok a stir fry. That is all done faster and better with HO open burner. When you get better results it encourages you do to more cooking and more complicated techniques. Not to mention boiling water for pasta.

Deep frying chicken? It is much easier to get oil back up to 350-375 after putting cold chicken with a HO open burner. Sealed burner you are paraboiling for a bit. At least.Absorbing fat into meat instead of crisping exterior and just heating interior.

You get a potentially good restaurant quality meal with HO open burners as opposed to a potentially good homestyle quality meal. You can also do homestyle comfort on the HO open but the opposite is not true.

Then again no one "needs" a luxury anything.

If not getting BS-CC,or even American Range Performer Series,then I would get something significantly cheaper.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 7:56PM
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BTW I use a splatter screen or lid when I cook. I don't see the need to clean my CC everyday. A wipe hear and there and maybe a moderate clean once a week.

Really? Who is having massive overspills everyday?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 8:01PM
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Posted by needinfo1
Or, would the closed burner configuration cancel out the improvement over the lesser-powered open burners I currently have? And, would this be pretty much the same heat I currently have now?

The burner rating in BTUs is the amount of heat that the burner puts out. A 22K BTU open burner puts out the same heat as a 22K sealed burner. I think the confusion is because the higher BTU burners were open. Thermador makes a 22K burner now.

The difference in open and sealed burners-

One or the other may be easier to clean than the other for you. This is highly subjective. My sealed burners are easy, just a wipe and I do that every time I cook.

There is a slightly greater flare of the flame on a sealed burner, which is a little larger on the higher settings. This is insignificant on lower setting and a benefit on higher settings if you cook with larger pans(10 inches or greater). There is nothing magical about an open burner that makes it heat more evenly and there is no one burner that is the most even heat for every pan. The more centralized heat of a CC burner is more even for small pans but a more traditional ring burner would be more even heat for larger pans. If I cooked only with cast iron or some other poorly heat conductive pan, I might consider BS or maybe Thermador. If you have cookware with a significant amount of aluminum or copper, which transfers heat well, it won't matter. I have 14 inch skillet I can cook potato pancakes in without rotating them and a 7 inch I caramelize sugar in without stirring. Understanding the properties of cookware is much more important than the heat source. There are restaurants that preheat a rock and cook a steak at your table with no heat under the rock. It works because of the amount of heat a rock holds.

My burners are 15K, dual stacked and I would buy the same thing again. It was maybe the 10th range I have owned over 50 years of cooking. I can get my cast iron skillet hot enough to vaporize oil, and not sure how much hotter I would need. I can't even think when I have cooked with my heat turned up all the way. I use the very low end of heat daily and many times I will have 4-6 burners all on low.

As far a recovery of temp while frying, this is an interesting article about the process of frying and the science behind it. Fat absorption happens when you take it out of the fat at the end of cooking.

Here is a link that might be useful: A Common Misconception About Frying Food

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 12:56PM
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I really a appreciate these different perspectives becaue they help me to see all sides of the issue. I am still going back and forth on it. I can't remember the last time I deep fried something--maybe 10 or 15 years ago. But, I do sear, saute, brown boil, simmer etc. And, I agree that the type of cookware I am using does make a difference in how I cook.

And, then, there is the cleaning of the top of the range issue. I am somewhat concerned about that but this is based more on the materials of the top than the actual selaed or open burner.

Thanks for taking time away from you own lives in this busy season to answer my questions. If you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas. If you don't, Happy Holidays.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 5:34PM
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can I add a clarifying question? Does it matter much if the burners are made of aluminum or brass? I know aluminum is used in cookware so it's fairly durable but will melt at some point. Brass, of course, has been used for centuries in stoves.. any insight which is better? I see the stoves with brass burners generally cost more.

1 Like    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 9:25PM
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Melting Aluminum on a stove stop? Not going to happen. Melting point of aluminum, IIRC, is something over 1200F. Your stove top burners (whether aluminum or brass) don't even get near that neighborhood

Why do "more expensive" stoves use brass? (a) My experience is that brass burners are more resistant to stains and burned on crud. Aluminum burners, not so much. For me, this is the biggest and best reason to perefer brass burners. (b) Brass is more costly because (i) less of it is made and (ii) it is more expensive to make and (iii) being bigger and heavier, it also "seems" better. (c) It is more durable in stove operation (it corrodes more slowly than aluminium in the presence of acidic gasses, which would be a big deal if you ran your stove(s) 12 of 18 hours per day for a dozen years.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Fri, Jun 7, 13 at 16:27

1 Like    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 1:28AM
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I am the OP. We ended up purchasing the now-discontinued Wolf open burner (it has brass burners) with four burners of 15K or 16 K (can't remember). The thing seems to be built like a tank, and we are happy with our decision. In the four months we've had it I can perhaps remember two times when I thought to myself I wish I'd opted for a more high powered burner, so for us and our needs this was a good decision.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 11:50AM
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