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Combi Steam Oven Question

Posted by davidnj (My Page) on
Sun, Feb 9, 14 at 8:08

Combi steam ovens seem to be a moving target with minimal information and relatively few reviews. Both probably due to few people having them which in turn is probably do the high price. A few come in ranges, however we are interested in wall ovens.

Most seem to be microwave sized (about 1.4-to-1.7 cu.ft). and come in a 24" width. They generally have available trim kits to match a 30" and in some cases 27" oven. The exception is the Kitchen Aid which added steam to a regular 30" oven.

Now it gets more interesting. On the steam size the water can be either from a direct water line (similar to a refrigerator's ice maker) or with a container that has to be filled at the sink before each use. From what i can tell the Gaggenau and Kitchenaid have direct water lines, the rest have tanks that need to be filled.

The Miele and Gaggenau collect the steam and condense it. The Miele collects it into a tank that needs to be emptied, the Gaggenau connects to a drain that needs to be installed with its own P-trap. From what I can tell the others vent the steam into the room, in some cases reportedly making the kitchen uncomfortably hot.

Since some steam will condense in the oven regardless of oven temp, I'm wondering how the drainless steam ovens deal with it. Do the count on it eventually evaporating? That wouldn't be a guarantee with cooking temperatures below boiling.

All of the combis have a convection oven. They all seem to have a proofing and defrosting setting below boiling. The Gaggenau has a slow cooking setting, sort of a waterless sous vide. To do this the oven has to have very accurate temperature control and the ability to set the temperature accurately. Sous Vide machines typically hold the temperature with in a couple of tenths of a degree of the set point. Do these ovens do the same? From the manual the Kitchenaid seems to have very coarse (25°F) increments

Some also have a broiler. Obviously the Kitchenaid.does' it is a full size oven. Some Miele and Gaggenau models also have this feature. To the best of my knowledge there are no cycles that combine steam and the broiler, although presumably the broiler could be used after steaming.

Thermador and Gaggenau appear to be Bosch-Siemens brands. The Thermador unit seems to be a Bosch unit not sold in the US. Miele is its own privately held company. Kitchenaid is the premium brand for Whirlpool.

Getting the combi-steam and a regular oven, prices seem to range from under $4000 for the Kitchenaid (sold as a double oven), just over $6000 for the Thermador, around $8000 for the Miele (mainly because the conventional oven is more expensive), and around a bank account busting $14,000 for the Gaggenau.

Sharp had a $600 or so countertop unit that no longer appears to be on the US market. Cuisinart has a new $300 countertop unit. Panasonic has a small commercial unit, but it is a 50Hz model not available in the US. Commercial units are huge, expensive, and generally take 3-phase power which isn't available at most US residential locations.

My questions are:

1) Are there errors in my description of the units?

2) If you have one, how do you like it? This forum and others have numerous quality control and design complaints on the Kitchenaid, which seems to have been around since 2007 (the copyright date on the manual). Do the other brands work any better? My guess is anyone with the funds for a Gaggenau isn't on this forum.

3) is this even worth the effort? A regular convection double oven is around $3k or less. We currently have a 27 year old Kitchenaid double oven with convection on the top which hasn't given us any real problems.

Thanks,

David

Here is a link that might be useful: This video shows how the Miele steam recovery system works


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

There is also Wolf.

I didn't know Miele (and G.) collects steam while others don't. If i had this info i might have chosen Miele instead of Wolf.


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

Since it came out in 2007, I have had a Kitchenaid combo wall oven with steam, model KEHU309. The top small cavity has microwave and convection (with a single fan) but no steam, the bottom full size cavity has 2 convection fans and steam capability. I believe if you buy the double, you will get steam and double convection in both ovens. Each oven has a touchscreen (monochrome) for control.

When I was in the market for this a few years ago, I did my research like you and all signs pointed to Gaggenau as being the best in steam ovens (and convection for that matter). That still holds true today, but now the Gaggs are even more expensive than when I was looking. You may be surprised, but I think you will get a lot of opinions here on the Gaggenau combi steam. Although I'm new to the forum in terms of posting, I've "lurked" here for a while and it seems that Gaggenau is the most popular unit, and for good reason. It seems like everyone who got one loves it. Most people I know of who have one got theirs used or as a floor model at a steep discount. If you go on Ebay right now you will see Gaggenau steam ovens in various conditions for $2-3k. This was also the case when I was shopping for mine, and I was tempted, but decided not to for a few reasons. For one thing, there wouldn't have been any warranty and I would have been unsure of the condition. This isn't your mom's oven, and I think it's safe to say finding a good service person would be more difficult than other brands. And although I prefer to repair my appliances myself, I probably wouldn't have dared to open the thing up. And also, at the time I could not find a matching Gaggenau convection oven for a reasonable price, and my wife wanted all the stacked ovens to match, so I started looking at other options.

At that time, there were not as many steam ovens on the market as there are now. I don't remember exactly what else there was. Thermador and Wolf certainly weren't available at the time, I don't remember if Miele was or not. Anyhow I ended up going with Kitchenaid and I'm glad I did.

Even today with all the other steam ovens out there, it seems like Kitchenaid is the closest you can get to Gaggenau. It's plumbed, and you can actually set the steam percentage instead of just steam on/off (I didn't actually realize this when I bought it, I thought I was giving up that feature). That's if you set to "manual" mode. It also has an "auto" mode which Gaggenau doesn't, great if you're new to steam ovens. Instead of setting time, percentage, and temp manually, you pick the type of food you're cooking on the touchscreen and the oven figures out what to do from there. I've gotten good results with that mode, but as I got to know the oven more I used the manual mode more often. The oven has performed great in both steam and non-steam modes, very even baking. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the double convection fans, but I'm sold. I really like how it combines the main oven and the steam oven into one cavity. Since my kitchen is set up for a built-in microwave, if I'd gone with a different steam oven, I would've had a very tall wall stack with 3 ovens. This isn't optimal, because one of the ovens would have been either too high or too low to reach comfortably. With my setup both the main oven, microwave, and control panel are easy to reach and use. Is the Kitchenaid at the same level as the Gaggenau? Probably not, it's a fraction of the price! But I have had great luck with it.

As for Kitchenaid quality/reliability, this oven has needed zero service in the 6 years I've had it installed. Then again, I don't self clean my ovens. Most of the Kitchenaid complaints seem to be about the self clean. Since I haven't even run it once, I can't say whether or not this model is affected. I do have some experience with the Kitchenaid self clean issue because I have an older standard Kitchenaid double convection oven (no steam) at one of my rental properties. The tenant ran self clean, and the door did not unlock at the end of the cycle, the display was blank, and it did not respond to any button presses. My first thought was that the heat fried the electronics, but instead it tripped a high limit thermostat located on the back of the oven. Looking online, this was a common complaint with Whirlpool-made ovens. Another complaint was that when calling Whirlpool they were unhelpful and were not acknowledging the issue. Before I replaced the thermostat, I wanted to make sure the problem would not happen again. I can't speak to the customer service myself as I never called them, but my buddy who at the time worked for Whirlpool hooked me up with a fix. Apparently there was a BIG batch of ovens (like, multiple years worth of them) that were shipped from the factory with a design flaw. This was years ago so maybe I'm not remembering the details right, but I think the high limit thermostat was installed in an incorrect spot on the back of the oven. If I remember correctly the service bulletin said I needed to move the thermostat and after doing so that oven has been running for years with no problems and is still there today. It was an extremely easy fix, but it was a big pain because I had to pull the oven out of the wall. However, my friend with inside knowledge of the appliance industry said he recommended not running the self clean cycle on ANY oven. All brands have issues with it, because when you heat an oven to nearly 1000 degrees, anything that is going to fail will do so then. And in many cases it will be something much more expensive than a limit switch, often it will be the control board.

As for whether the steam oven is worth it… That is 100% up to you. There is certainly a bit of a learning curve, and even though my Kitchenaid tried to make it easy as possible, I had to do quite a bit of experimentation. What kind of a cook are you? I won't say you have to be an experienced chef to get the most out of a steam oven, but you need to enjoy cooking enough to spend time playing around with it until you get the results you want. If that sounds like you, and you can afford it, go for it! If on the other hand you are the type who cooks because they have to and can't wait to get out of the kitchen, a steam oven probably isn't the best idea. Good luck with whatever you end up choosing, I hope this helped.

One piece of advice I got repeatedly before buying which I'll pass on here was: the installation instructions need to be followed EXACTLY, especially if you have hard water. Otherwise the thing will spout error codes like crazy. Luckily that has not happened to me, but I've heard about it happening to others.

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Sun, Feb 9, 14 at 14:01


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

Thanks for the detailed reply.

I have three questions:

1) Does it vent a lot of steam into the kitchen? Since it isn't condensing the steam like the Miele and Gaggenau, the steam has to go somewhere. If it does vent to the kitchen, is the heat and/or humidity an issue?

2) Does water condense inside the oven? If so, does it pool on the floor of the oven? How is that condensed water disposed of?

3) How fine an adjustment is possible with the temperature? How low a temperature adjustment can be made? The manual says convection can only go to 170F but that "Keep Warm" can go to 145F. I was hoping for some accurately maintained, slow cook temperature settings. The Gaggenau manual says it can be adjusted from 85F to 200F for slow cooking. I'm thinking sous vide without the bagging or water.

Thanks,

David


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

1. It does vent into the kitchen, but it's not a big issue. It's not like you look at it while it's on and see tons of steam pouring out of the vent. Keep in mind that it's not constantly injecting steam into the oven, it switches on and off based on the settings. You can hear it cycling if you stand nearby. Like any oven it will add some heat to the kitchen when it's on, but I wouldn't say the heat or humidity's unreasonable. Sometimes when you open the door while in steam mode you will get steam in your face. The Gaggenau avoids this by having a button that condenses the steam which you're supposed to press before opening the oven.

2. When I'm done cooking and open the oven to take the food out, I can definitely tell there's been steam in there but there aren't giant puddles or anything. I find that once the oven is off and no more steam is being added, most of it evaporates. Once the oven has cooled down it's pretty much dry. There might be some residual water in the bottom though which I then wipe down. Not a big deal.

3. I've never tried, but I don't think you can go lower than that in the steam mode. It sounds like the Gaggenau is be a better choice for you. There are some good deals out there.

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Sun, Feb 9, 14 at 20:40


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

Hi,
This is my first post on gardenweb but after having gotten a lot of advise during our recent whole house remodel (exterior, bathroom, kitchen etc) I thought I will share what my experience was.

I installed the Wolf Steam oven (as well as a regular Wolf wall oven and a Wolf convection microwave) and I love it. Can't imagine my kitchen without one now. I am still in the experimenting phase but I use it a lot from keeping food warm to actually cooking with it:-) And I am not a great or enthusiastic cook. More one that needs to feed a family!

I installed it underneath an induction cook top which I was told I couldn't do. But after some back and forth with Wolf they said it could be installed underneath a Wolf induction unit. Part of the reason against that installation was, that when you open the door at the end a lot of hot steam is coming out and could scald you leaning over it. I just learned to lean back while opening the door.

I don't see any steam escaping during use. But depending on what setting I use it at and what temperature (low temp/high steam) I do have a puddle at the end on the bottom. That is why they say to wipe it out and leave the door open afterwards for a while. Not a big problem. If I use it at a high temp (350 or so and higher) and steam no water accumulates at the end.

My lowest setting for steam is 85F, but the keep warm function doesn't go lower than 175.

One of the great side benefits I found out is that my steam oven heats up so much faster than my regular Wolf wall oven. So, I use it a lot for normal convection bake when I don't need a big oven.

The Wolf isn't plumbed which I don't mind. If I don't go crazy with the steam function I only have to fill the water tank every 5-7 times. If I use a lot of steam maybe every 2-3 times. But it is very easy. The door opens when it needs water and you just refill it. The downside is you have to be there. Not sure what happens if you don't notice that it is running out of water.


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

David, I think your description of the market is pretty good, though there is other differences in that with some combi's you can refill the water without opening the oven door, and on others, like the Viking I have, you have to open the door. Also, some, like Miele, have a broil element which would be pretty helpful if you were going with a combi as your only oven and a cooktop. In terms of are they worth it, it depends. If you like to reheat leftovers, they are incredible - most have a regenerate or reheat mode which is very low steam, and it reheats things but does not dry them out. Another good use is general baking where you are not making a ton of food. The oven warms up much quicker than a standard 4 to 5 cubic foot oven, since most are well under 2 cubic feet, and so it seems like it is more efficient than standard 30 inch oven. Finally, mine does not have a drain, and if I use steam only, when I am done there is a small pool of water - I let it cool off, and then use a sponge and get it out in one trip, so it isn't much water. When using combi mode at higher temps - 350 or above, I don't see any water in the oven at the end of the cooking cycle. If you like steamed foods, it does a great job with shrimp, so much quicker than setting up a pot with a steamer insert. The low temps for dry heat also let you dehydrate foods. I wouldn't give mine up.


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

I just checked my Kitchenaid - the temperature for steam cooking only goes down to 170. Sorry for the bad news. Maybe that's why they only call it "steam assist" instead of calling it a full-on steam oven?


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

My house is 8 yrs old. I have the Gagg combi. The prices must have gone way up because I did not pay anywhere near 14K.

It is my single, most favorite thing in this house. I love it and pray that you are wrong about your pricing since we will be building again and I planned on the same oven.

I know there are several members on this forum with this oven besides me.


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

The prices he gave were for both a steam oven and a full size oven from those brands. So if you wanted to stack it above the matching Gaggenau convection oven and have them match, that's what it could cost you. Despite that, the prices on Gaggenau ovens have gone way up since 8 years ago. I believe (though I'm not positive, haven't checked recently) that a brand new one alone will run you around $8k. If you can find a floor model you will pay much less, and you'll get an even better deal if you're willing to buy used or NIB from a third party.


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

Thanks for the followup. I agree that the Gaggenau is the gold standard here. It is a shame Bosch-Siemens hasn't added the same features to the Thermador and Bosch lines. The Gaggenau is just out of our price range. The Kitchaid Steam Assist double oven, a large regular refrigerator, and Kitchenaid 36" induction cooktop are around $8500 combined. The Gaggenau combination, Gaggenau zoneless induction top, and Sub-Zero 48" would be around $28,000.

They have new Bosch ovens for 2014. It includes side open models (which they've had in Europe), a new Bosch steam oven (which look very similar to the current Thermador), and the zone free induction top (which will list for $3200 vs. the current $5000 price for the Thermador and Gaggenau versions).

Compared to other steam combinations, the Kitchenaid seems to be very attractive. It is the only full 30" oven with steam and its plumbed. The Miele has the steam recovery. Kitchaid also has an attractively priced induction cooktop that lets the 2 zones on 2 of the 3 generators to be combined.

However, lots of Kitchenaid products have lots posts from dissatisfied customers. Product failure and poor customer support are most frequently mentioned. For example, Kitchenaid has the only 36" over the range microwave. No convection and although it is stainless steel, it has a plastic handle. However, Amazon is full of reviews where it broke 1-to-2 years after the short 1 year warranty was up. We will probably end up with a microwave shelf.

We are also on the fence about another 48" built-in refrigerator or a regular one of the same or greater interior volume.


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

cdve, can you tell me if the Wolf has a dehydrate setting? If it doesn't, what is the lowest you can set the non-steam convection oven to?

Thank you!


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

Hi, first post here, but I am deep in the middle of a renovation and the steam oven is high on the list. I am trying to decide on steam ovens as well and struggling with many of the same concerns, balancing pros and cons of various features.

The Miele seems quite fiddly--the cleaning isntructions have a long list of thinkgs you cant do and shouldnt use....including something as basic as do not spray WATER on the inside or outside of the unit. NO magic erasers, no this, no that,
Open the door, wait, empty both bins, dry out the bottom, make sure you dont get any water in the reservoir when you pull out to refill or clean, etc....

The Wolfe still seems fiddly, but not nearly as complicated to clean and maintain and not so delicate.

Any thoughts about the cleaning and upkeep. I have a busy and complicated household with sitter and kids and not-at-all-instruction-following-husband and aging mother who will be completly confused by all these gadgets ( but has her own kitchen) but will inevitably try to help by cleaning something.

The Gagg seems to solve most of the concern, but I have not really focused on it, since I feel like I am unlikely to spend that much ( although I could be convinced if the maintanance and features warranted).

I like the ida of the broiler function on the Miele, but I have seen perfectly beautiful food come out of the Wolf as well. I ahve not seen a working Miele.


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

Hi, first post here, but I am deep in the middle of a renovation and the steam oven is high on the list. I am trying to decide on steam ovens as well and struggling with many of the same concerns, balancing pros and cons of various features.

The Miele seems quite fiddly--the cleaning isntructions have a long list of thinkgs you cant do and shouldnt use....including something as basic as do not spray WATER on the inside or outside of the unit. NO magic erasers, no this, no that,
Open the door, wait, empty both bins, dry out the bottom, make sure you dont get any water in the reservoir when you pull out to refill or clean, etc....

The Wolfe still seems fiddly, but not nearly as complicated to clean and maintain and not so delicate.

Any thoughts about the cleaning and upkeep. I have a busy and complicated household with sitter and kids and not-at-all-instruction-following-husband and aging mother who will be completly confused by all these gadgets ( but has her own kitchen) but will inevitably try to help by cleaning something.

The Gagg seems to solve most of the concern, but I have not really focused on it, since I feel like I am unlikely to spend that much ( although I could be convinced if the maintanance and features warranted).

I like the ida of the broiler function on the Miele, but I have seen perfectly beautiful food come out of the Wolf as well. I ahve not seen a working Miele.


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

I am looking for information on the different models of Miele steam ovens. My remodeling plans have contracted and I sadly can no longer fit in the new 27" gaggenau steam oven that I purchased on clearance a few years ago. While waiting to sell that, my research indicates that Miele requires only 24" and can be mounted under counter. However, my budget is closer to $1200 than $2500 and I am hoping to find a clearance or gently used one. I posted on this forum asking about the older model DG4080 and got information that model was steam only. Does anyone know which models of the miele are full fledged combination convection and steam oven so that I can start looking for those? or any other 24" ones that can be mounted under counter?


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

I doubt that you will find a Miele combi for $2500 in any shape, much less $1200. I don't think Miele does "clearance," and this model has only been available in the U.S. for about a year.

If you happen to have 208V wiring ( more likely in high-rise condos than in a stand alone house), the Miele combi will not work.

The models in the link below seem to be the same except for the styling (handles).

Here is a link that might be useful: Miele combi ovens


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

thanks, I was looking for older discontinued styles that might be combination ovens. Newer model discontinued models seem to be going on ebay for about $2500. I was hoping even older model combination ones or used ones would be more to my price point. Really too bad I cannot use the Gaggenau but just cannot get in that extra 3 inches.


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

I think the next model series (6000) is due out this summer. If you can wait you might be able to score a discounted floor model of the 4086xl.


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

You might want to check ebay - I doubt you would find a Miele, but you might find the discontinued Viking ( I saw 2 on there when I last looked) or the Thermador - I saw a couple for under $2,000, the title of one says steam, but the text says combi steam.


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RE: Combi Steam Oven Question

This may have been posted somewhere already, but in case some haven't seen it, I found it useful. I certainly can't vouch for the accuracy of all of the info in the chart, but the categories are the very things I was lookong for.

http://kurtskitchen.com/Portals/201554/docs/CombiSteam Oven Comparison.pdf


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