Are 2 Stove Burners Enough for a 3BR house?

lee676February 23, 2012

How often do you actually use more than 2 cooktop burners at the same time? For cooking that is, not just for keeping a hot pan off the countertop. And also not for a water kettle, since I have an instant hot water dispenser.

I'm thinking of putting a 2-burner cooktop (either 12" or 15" wide) next to a barbeque grill of the same width next to it. You can get cooktops that take interchangable cartridges so you can switch between a grill and two burners, but most of those include a downdraft exhaust fan I don't need.

What do you think - are 2 burners and a grill adequate for a small 3-bedroom house (3 people living there, none that are serious cooks) or would you feel constrained without 3 or 4 burners? There isn't much countertop space, and I use the grill as much as the burners myself.

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If it works for you, fine. But you'll get penalized on resale if you don't replace it with a conventional range or rangetop...just so you know.

For a while I was toying with the idea of the 3-burner LaCanche Cormatin or Rully. But I'd have to take it with me when we leave, because it's way over the top for our house/neighborhood. Buyers really don't like the unexpected and in a tough selling market, you want to stick to the traditional range.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 1:42PM
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We're not serious cooks, but I would never consider 2 burners to be enough. I rarely have all 4 going at the same time, but many times have 3 on.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 1:42PM
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I guess it depends on your cooking style. I have on 1 occasion used all 5 of my burners and 4 burners enough quite often. Almost every night I have 3 going. If resale is in the back of your mind I would either plan the cab to take another 2 burners of go with 4.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 1:44PM
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Sophie Wheeler

NEVER NEVER NEVER! I regularly cook with 3 burners on just about every meal. Go to a 36" cooktop and use a grill pan. Those useless electric grills are just pains to clean without giving you even the good results of a grill pan. Or if you want to spring for a range that has a real grill in it, get a Bluestar or Capital or Wolf or something that will be real. And be prepared to upgrade your ventilation substantially to deal with the realness of the smoke produced.

Unless you live someplace like North Dakota, most people can grill outdoors at least 8 months of the year. You get better results, and don't have to spend 3K on upgrading your ventilation.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 1:48PM
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I'd be very upset if I had to limit myself to 2 burners. But I like to cook/bake and do interesting things.

How far apart are the two burners? There are times I'm doing something with a large pan and have to use a kitty-corner burner because there is not room to use one behind.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 1:56PM
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My folks bought a house that had a Jenn-Air downdraft cook top with 2 burners and a grill. I was living with them at the time so there were 3 of us living there. We all HATED that set-up. It provided inadequate burner space - one of us often had to wait our turn to use a burner - plus the indoor grill was a stupid feature to have in S. Florida where you could grill outside all the time. My folks replaced it as soon as they could (required replacing the counters so it wasn't an easy/inexpensive fix).

Are you sure 2 burners will be adequate for you? If it does, go for it, but know that when you go to sell, it will be a negative. I know I would reduce my offer by the cost to replace a 2-burner/grill set-up. If that meant I had to replace the counters, I'd reduce my offer even more.

Are you doing a remodel or are you only replacing appliances? If you're doing a remodel and haven't shared your lay-out with us, I encourage you to do so. We may be able to help you come up with a plan that gives you more counter space.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 2:23PM
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Sounds like a camp stove to me. Back in the early 70s it was all I had, plus the top of a wood-burning stove. We were very creative and produced some decent meals. I would NEVER opt to do that again. I live alone and often have three burners going at the same time. Any less than four isn't civilized. :p

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 2:39PM
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I have been cooking on a single plug in burner and have not had a stove since Dec 5, 2010! Part of me thinks a 2nd burner would be heaven, but the other part knows that any food would look good to a starving person, lol...

The grill adds to the burner count IMHO, but is not quite the same. If you think it would work for you, and resale is not a factor (because, it will definitely be one to potential buyers), try covering up 2 burners on your current stove for 2 weeks and see if you are needing to use them. I have been cooking normal meals with my single burner and wall oven for over half a year since moving into my not finished new kitchen. It takes a lot of juggling and forethought to have a meal end up done at all the same time. Add in my one picky son and my dh who tried to be a vegan and is now just a vegetarian and you can imagine how much juggling I have done. I have cooked many dinners that were 3 separate meals (one for dh, one for our younger son and me, and one for the picky older one).
I learned that many things can go in an oven that I would not have done before. Foil packets, camp style, have been a big help. It also helps that my oven has 3 racks to use when needed. The micro and oven are seeing heavier use than in normal times. You would also have the grill, but that will not always help if a real 3rd burner is needed.

However, maybe many people in the US have 4 burners because that has been the norm and not because they need them. Not everyone cooks as much as I do and I bet could get by on less. I'd still not want to try long term going less than at least 3. Maybe you can do your setup and then have an extra plug in ready for if you need a supplemental burner like when entertaining or making more complicated meals.
As long as you have no intention of moving soon, you really need to do some heavy thinking about what works for you and not worry so much about others' must haves. I have a large fridge and freezer set and love every inch of it yet others may not get why it is so appreciated by us and why we'd give up so much space to it. I don't have a prep sink or potfiller and am just fine, while others love theirs. Even my sink is smaller than the GW average and I am fine with it. We have roomy aisles and lots of counterspace, while others get by on much less. If there were a one size fits all, then that would knock out most questions posted here!

Do you have a picture of what you have in mind? It may help us better understand what you want to do if we could see it.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 2:57PM
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it depends on how much you cook and how you're doing w/what you have now. got 4 burners now? how many do you use the majority of the time?

I'd be fine w/2 burners. I've been fine with 1 for 14 yrs now! just me and I don't cook much tho. I do understand not wanting to waste counter space for more burners than needed tho.

for now I'll have a 4 burner in my new place. it has the space for a 30" range and i picked one up used for 120.00. it's in super condition - and I think it works (lol!).

I figured at least 2 of 'em would be for setting a hot pan - or something out of the oven. I haven't had a real sized oven in 14 yrs either - just a small counter top oven. it's been plenty.

I plan to live with it a yr or so before deciding if I need that much or if I should change it out for a 2 burner and smaller oven. (I won't be ready to change counter top etc until then anyway).

If you think most of the time 2 would be plenty, go for it. pick up a single induction burner (not called burners tho) to use if you find there's a time you need more.

with plug in cookers to take the place of 1 or 2 most of those who aren't serious cooks will be fine. I have a 4 qt nesco and a slow cooker myself (haven't used those in 14 yrs either). I do use my mw a lot.

Someone who doesn't cook much or often doesn't need a high powered / expensive range or cook top. Nothing uncivilized about it.

we had an indoor jennaire grill (electric) for yrs and yrs - loved it. My X used it once or twice a week. We weren't big meat eaters and my kids could split a hamburger until they were preteens!

here's the 2 burner I've got my eye on if I decide to go that way (i'll keep my single burner hotplate too).

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 5:15PM
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I almost never use 4. I use 3 all the time. For example, pasta, pasta sauce, veggie; rice, salmon, veggie; steak, potato, veggie. (ok, sometimes I'll throw a salad in there, or roast the veg or potato, but you get the picture.)

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 5:26PM
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Lived in a house with only 2 burners [Jenn-Air with grill on/in other 2] and cooked for 5 and needed more burners only a few times.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 5:41PM
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Good question. Can the grill convert to a griddle with one of those restaurant sized add ons? I think I'd be ok with that. Sometimes I'd use it as a griddle, sometimes as a French top.

I wonder if a 24" range is a choice?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 8:20PM
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Fori is not pleased

I wouldn't, but I don't mind you doing it. Just be sure it's in a standard sized hole in case it doesn't work out or you have to sell.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 8:22PM
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I love to cook but I am the only person living in this place; I have a single induction 'plate' that I do most of my cooking on, a plug in electric "hot-plate", a very nice counter-top induction oven, and nice microwave, a large electric 'buffet' skillet.

I can turn out meals for up to six people (which is all the space I have for anyone to sit down to a meal). It does take planning and advance prep; if you don't cook much perhaps your idea will work for you.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 8:34PM
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I often use three burners at a time.
But major holidays are the only time
I am likely to use all four burners at one time.
Still, I'd be reluctant to buy a house
that didn't have at least a 30" range or cooktop with 4 burners.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 8:53PM
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If BS made at two burner stove top we would have installed that instead of a four burner. I rarely use 3 burners. Never 4! and I cook a lot but it is very hard to pay attention to three things cooking at once :)

I prefer more counter space than to more burners. I dont even understand what people do with 6 burners, warm the house?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 8:56PM
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I endured in a rental for four years with only two burners. It was a large 3-bedroom house, with a huge kitchen, with just the two burners and a tiny 24" oven. I hated it. But then, I love to cook so now I have a 6 burner stove....

Friends redid their kitchen a few years back and put in a 2 burner cooktop with a wussy grill beside it. They seem happy enough, and have hosted many dinner parties and managed to serve yummy food.

So, you have to decide what will work for you. If your burners and grill will be in a single cooktop, there is no reason a subsequent owner couldn't replace it with one with more burners. So buy for you, and let future owners get what they want.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 10:33PM
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If you "test" the 2-burner idea by covering up two burners, be sure to leave two open that are in the same position as the burners on the 2-burner cooktop. You want to make this as real as possible. I even venture to say try it for a 3 or 4 months, not weeks. You can creatively make do for a few weeks, but when you have to make do for a few months, the novelty wears off and you find out what it's really like.

As to your question...yes, I probably could live with it as I don't use the cooktop that often, but when I do, I'm using at least 2. I would not voluntarily opt for 2 burners.

Instead, get a smoothtop range/cooktop that can double as counterspace when not in use.

As to a grill...if it's an electric grill, it's not worth it. Gas, maybe - if you grill a lot and live too far north (or south in the Southern Hemisphere) to grill outside most of the year. But, even a smaller grill will need substantial ventilation b/c grilling more often than not creates quite a bit of smoke & grease - so plan on upgrading to a serious vent hood.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 12:05AM
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As others have said, it really depends on how YOU cook. Unless you're thinking about the resale value and that has already been answered adequately. It's not good for resale, so you'll want to keep the cabinets/cutouts/layout flexible enough to accommodate a standard sized appliance that you or someone else could replace it with if desired.

I use 3 burners regularly, and four burners on occasion. I would never buy a house with a kitchen that had only two burners unless it was exceptional everywhere else and/or easy enough to change the burner situation.

Just my $0.02

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 12:29AM
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Usually use two and sometimes three.

One suggestions for making a two burner work might be to buy a separate induction hob that you could take out of the cupboard and use if and when you needed the third burner.

But I would rather have two more stovetop burners than a griddle and just take out a stove top griddle to use when needed that.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 7:19AM
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3BR house here and I thought of this thread last night as I fired up the 4th burner.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 9:14AM
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One more option, if that works for you...consider a portable induction unit. We mostly need only a 30 inch range but during party or food preservation time, we knew that we'd like one more burner and at holidays I worried that the kitchen would get congested. But it's not wise to plan a kitchen around the exceptional times and stick you with a too-big or too-dedicated space the rest of the year.

Instead of giving a bigger range the precious space, we started from the get-go with the idea that there would be a portable unit that we could set up whenever we needed to boil a lot of water or to put a visitor to work on a cooking task away from the rest of the cooking.

I don't regret my decision. That burner only comes out a few times a year, but it's made the kitchen a lot more flexible.

Same with teakettles--if you do tea water a lot, a countertop waterboiler appliance may de-congest the range area.

I live in Minn. Between the range's broiler and the Weber grill outside I wouldn't need an indoor grill. We grill game and fish outdoors even when the temp is cold.

As for having only two burners, I assume yours would be a gas unit, which is more flexible than electric in configuration and usage. My range looks like it has 5 burners but one is a mere "keep warm' spot which you could accomplish in other ways. And the other burners have different combo features--one is large-med-small all in one and one is two singles with a bridge between. One is a singleton in the back corner. Often my choice of burner depends on whether I want to cook at front or back of range. I have never used all 4 main burners at the same time and if there are 3 pots heating on the stove, one is usually on a simmer or keep-warm mode at the back. Burners at the back are best for steam-generating activity because they're under the fan canopy. Although it's nice to capture oily steam from stirfrying also, I need that up front to monitor it.

If you have only 2 burners plus a grill and the modules run front to back, just remember that you will never have two adjacent front burners. I think that would be more of a consideration for me than the count of burners.

If re-sale is a consideration or change in cooking habits, can you purchase another burner module and keep it in storage until you need to swap it out with the grill?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 10:17AM
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Wow, was not expecting this many responses!

Answering some of your questions: This is a full remodel of a small kitchen There isn't much width to work with. I could buy more countertop space by resorting to an undercounter oven and/or a narrower fridge, but would prefer avoiding either I live near Washington DC where you get sweltering summers and sub-freezing winters, and lots of rain, so outdoor grilling not a good option most of the time We rarely use more than 2 burners at a time, and usually only one. I don't mind keeping a portable third burner (either induction or a cheap coil hotplate) in a drawer for the occasional times it's needed Resale is an issue, as I'm not planning on living there for more than 2 years

What I'm planning on using are Gaggenau's "Vario" cooktops which are available in 12" wide 2-burner or 24" wide 4-burner configurations, with woks, grills, steamers, and downdraft vents (either conventional or pop-up-and-swivel) available. Here are some examples:

Here are the options:

- a grill next to 2 burners; 24"w total, which is the most space-efficient configuration. They could easily be replaced with the 24"w 4-burner cooktop shown (available in gas or electric smoothtop). I had the 24"w gas cooktop in a house I used to live in, and found it plenty large - note how the burner grates take up nearly the entire surface, with only a small area in front needed for the small knobs. Many 30"w cooktops use the right-most 6" for the controls, leaving no more room for the actual burners than the 24"w cooktop shown here. Some 24"w cooktops make even more usable room by moving all four knobs to the right, allowing the left front burner to reach the very front of the cooktop.

- a grill next to 2 burners, with 6" countertop space between them so pan handles and such wouldn't overlap the grill and for a roomier feel overall. For resale, I could cut out the 6" wide countertop divider between them and drop in a 30"w cooktop with 4 burners

- Or, I could devote 36" of countertop space to 4 burners and a grill, as in the top photo (either as shown with a 2 burners/grill/2 burners configuration, or by using a 4-burner cooktop next to a grill). I'd probably go the 24"w cooktop next to the grill, since the cooktops are thin enough to allow a drawer directly beneath them but the grill isn't, so I could drop these into a 36"w cabinet and one of the two top drawers would be functional.

- If I opt for just 2 burners and a grill, I could also use a divider grill as shown in the bottom photo to keep the cooktop and grill further apart but needing only 3" of additional countertop space (these are available with or without downdraft exhaust fans).

My inclination is to go with the 12"w 2-burner cooktop and 12"w grill set 6" apart in the countertop for roominess now, with the option to cut the countertop divider out and drop in a 30"w cooktop later if needed for resale, and keep a portable induction burner handy for the few times we'd need one. Option B is a 24"w 4-burner cooktop next to a grill, which is 36"w total.

How does either of these options strike you? And given the paucity of countertop space, are having 4 burners worth losing 6" to 12" of countertop width?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 6:13PM
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We lived for 10 years plus- 2 of us + child with a Jennaire electric with 2 burners and a grill - It was fine. Did not use the indoor grill and did manage with the two standard burners. I guess when you have a really large pot and need to use the other burner things can get tight.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 6:32PM
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Grilling in the DC area - we live in the Baltimore/Frederick/DC area and grill almost year-round. When we were remodeling (demo'd during the January snow storm in 2008), we were without a kitchen January to July and used our grill the entire time.

I will also say that given the real estate market around here, I would not want to do anything that would decrease the appeal of my home if I planned to sell in the next 5 years or so. IF you live in Bethesda or Potomac or other near- or inside-the-beltway area, you might be OK as those areas are usually in demand (especially as gas prices rise!)

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 1:56AM
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I live inside the beltway but not in that area (no signs of a bubble about burst at the Potomac townhouses where I almost bought 12 years ago; their value has tripled since then which puts them well over a half million each). I'm buying where the prices have already dropped by half since 1997 (but are still 40% above pre-bubble prices in general) which scares me some. This particular house was sold for less than all but one house in its area, but it's also one of the smallest, not in great shape and in a less-than-ideal location.

It seems like some of you wouldn't want a 2-burner cooktop even in a one bedroom apartment. Me, if I owned a room like an efficiency or a bedsit, I'd find a way to squeeze in about 4 feet of countertop space with which I could build a full kitchen with a 12"w cooktop, a single-drawer dishwasher and other mini-appliances, and it would seem grand compared to my neighbors who may lack built-in appliances at all.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 6:23AM
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Those are impressive cooktops to my naive eyes!

In snob situations, glam items can substitute for proletarian utility. Not to say that any of those items above are wrong--you are probably correct in choosing any of them--but their looks alone will make them desirable. If you're an in-house grill person, it sounds like you have a plan, using the 2-burner, the separating space, and the grill.

We haven't mentioned microwave cooking. Because of the microwave, many of us don't use the range as much as formerly. Might be you? If so, that's another reason to make the choice that's last in your list above. Counterspace is definitely important.

Just thought I'd post Uncle Thorvald's Happy Kitchen as a reminder for the GW'ers who haven't seen this small-space kitchen. When we were working on the "Modest and quirky" thread a couple years ago, this popped up. For a while afterward, we were using the phrase "Uncle Thorvald would approve" as praise for "less is more" kitchen ideas.

Here is a link that might be useful: Uncle Thorvald's Happy Kitchen

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 9:22AM
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no definately not enough. it may be fine for you but whoever you sell to is going to see it as a problem.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 12:48PM
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Well, Uncle Thorvald does have four burners, but I know an awful lot of folks in Europe who manage to cook, and cook pretty well, with fewer.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 12:55PM
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I guess the question is how small is small? When you say small kitchen are you talking 12x12, 8x10, or Those are terrific looking setups in your example, but the Vario specs show the units to be 51 centimeters from front to back. That's 19.3 inches. which gives each burner less than 10 inches before a pan begins to encroach on the next burner. With that setup, I'd really be reduced to a one burner situation, since my favorite pans(10 & 12" cast iron, and wok) would push a second pot/pan out of the way. When you have 4 burners, you can use the burner diagonal from the one you're working on.

I'm also confused about DC being too hot/cold to grill. I grill outside about 10 months of the year, and this winter we never stopped, because there was so little snow. We're in Upstate NY. My parents also grill year round, and they live south of Atlanta(aka Hotlanta.)

With a plan to move in 2 yrs, I'd take a hard look at putting in such high end appliances that might actually detract from your listing price.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 1:01PM
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>With a plan to move in 2 yrs, I'd take a hard look at putting in such high end appliances that might actually detract from your listing price.

Have to agree with that.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 1:48PM
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