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Sealed vs non-sealed burners

What is the difference between sealed burners and non-sealed burners on a gas range and which is better?

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  1. The simple answer is that a sealed burner has a spill-catching bowl all around it, this does make clean-up a bit less cumbersome but that is not the only thing to consider.

    A non-sealed burner typically has the drip tray way underneath. It will also typically be OPEN in the middle for a very good reason -- if you are pumping enough gas to the burner for a 20K+ BTU flame you have to get A LOT of air moving too. In an open design burner that heated air is going to blast the bottom the pot and lead to significantly faster boiling times/hotter cooking temps.

    The BTU ratings of cooktops are an inputing rating, so the net result is that sealed burner, with less ability to use the chimmney effect of hot air, will not be as powerful as an open burner with the SAME rating.

    Of course the trade off is in the cleaning ...

    6 Replies
    1. re: renov8r

      I went with the non-sealed burners since I wanted the dual ring of gas (inner and outer ring) - with a wok grate - so that I could use a proper wok (Wolf - unsealed burners). I find the sealed burners (for the most part) have a large bald spot in the middle - which is not good for cooking with a wok.

      I did spill something in the middle once, but just poured water through and it cleaned it out. There is a spill tray that sits above the oven and it can be pulled out to clean up spills. Actually, the whole top of the wolf range can be taken off easily and washed outside - which makes it fairly easy to clean.

      1. re: renov8r

        renov8r: Are you sure about BTU ratings being an input function? The only difference I can see among the six burners on my Blue Star 36 is that the 22K's have 100 holes, the 15K's have 68 holes and the simmer burner has 36. They are otherwise identical, gas plumbing input too.

        1. re: GeezerGourmet

          The meaning of "input rating" is a measure of the maximum gas flow into/through a burner. It makes sense that the higher rated burners have more holes -- in a stove all the gas "in" has to go through to the whole to ignite. The other kind of measure of heat would "minimum output" -- most often seen on a gas space heater, fireplace style heater or industrial furnace. The gas plumbing in almost all homes ought to be able support a boiler/furnace of at least the 500,000 BTU, so the stove should not be much of a concern to "strain" the delivery.
          It is not like the manufacturers are running a scam, it is just that input rating is the standard measurement style for stoves, and heat output for the other items. It gets more confusing when shopping for a boiler, as they efficiency is stated in a round-a-bout way: http://www.masterplumbers.com/plumbvi...

          I guess that clears things up... (like mud, probably)

          1. re: renov8r

            Must. resist. temptation. to. reply. to. 7-month. old. post.

            Oh well, I failed. Our tankless heater has a 200,000 BTU burner, but the furnace is only in the 60-70k BTU range. And to support that plus gas range, another gas water heater, and gas grill, we have a 1.5-inch line coming in from the meter.

            I have a hard time believing that your typical house natural gas plumbing could meet code and support a 500,000 BTU appliance/furnace/whatever (50k, yes; 500k, no). I suspect it'd require at least a 2-inch gas line, which is way bigger than the piping that the vast majority of homes have.

          2. re: GeezerGourmet

            The gas orifice sizes are different. Much more gas flows through on the higher-rated burners.

          3. re: renov8r

            Are you completely thrilled with your Wolf rangetop? When I went to the Wolf store in Dallas they said the non-sealed burners are the way to go too. However, not everyone feels that way. We are getting ready to build and it's getting close to decision making time.

          4. I have sealed a a bit suprized there is still plenty of cleanup. Main differnces is you get both a hotter burn non-sealed and one that can go very low. Not a big deal but since sealed burners don't get very low if you want to simmer somthing very low you have to put a simmer plate over the burner to avoid scorching


            1. Thanks very much, I'm going to be purchasing a new gas range and that was one thing I just didn't understand.

              1. It isn't quite as simple as more efficient output on non-sealed burners. Virtually all of the inexpensive gas ranges use non-sealed burners. The fact is, they are cheaper to make. There are other ways to get air to the burner than just pulling it up from below the drip basins. A well designed sealed burner will give you just as even and controlled flame as an unsealed one...perhaps better.

                There is a good reason to choose sealed burners: They are much easier to keep clean. That is part of what you expect to get in a premium priced, pro series range. You don't give up anything worth worrying about to get that feature (except for the higher price of the range!)

                ALL of the gas is burned in either style burner. If the flame is blue, then your flame is burning as efficiently as it can. If it isn't, you may need to call the repairman.

                1. Jasper,

                  Which inexpensive gas ranges use open (unsealed) burners? As far as I know, only Wolf, Bluestar, and Viking make ranges with open burners, none of which are inexpensive?

                  I have an open (unsealed) burner Wolf AG range at home and a DCS with closed (sealed) burners at our beach place. The DCS was installed this summer; the Wolf two \ yrs. ago. I far prefer the flame pattern and burner performance on the open burners of the Wolf as it provides much more even heat coverage (inner and outer rings of flame) on pan bottoms as you cook. Both stoves have fantastic infrared broilers in the ovens. I do think the DCS stainless top is easier to clean (as long as you stay on top of it and keep messes from burning on) than the Wolf top, which is black enamel over steel. However, the Wolf top can be totally taken apart for heavy duty cleaning. I also prefer the Wolf's grates (heavier) but they are not continuous like the DCS's. You can buy continuous (S) grates for the Wolf at an added cost. If I had to do it again, I would have bought an open-burner range for the vacation place as well as I can really tell the difference when I cook at the beach vs. home.

                  It probably depends upon the cook and what they need/want in a rangetop re: performance/cleanability/flame pattern, etc. but be sure and look at both open burners and sealed ones in action before you decide.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: koigirl

                    The inexpensive kind put in rentals. The ones under $500. You're probably not familiar with those since you have 2 homes and 2 pro ranges. ;-)

                    1. re: eatzealot

                      Eatzalot: No, I'm not aware that there are any inexpensive gas ranges with open burners available in the home appliance market today. Not being a snob in any shape or form, just stating what I thought I knew. If there's an inexpensive open burner range, please share the brand and model information with all of us. I'm unaware of any; if there was one with open burners, I would have liked to know about it. That's what I would have installed it in our condo at the coast. We operate on propane down there so I had to choose a brand with an LP-ready model.

                      1. re: koigirl

                        Non-sealed burners used to be pretty much standard -- sealed burners used to be a huge premium since so much easier to clean. Now, most of the basic ranges that you will see at your home center or appliance store will be the sealed burner.

                        The only ones that are open or unsealed are either the really, really cheap ones (usually some brand that you have never heard of or one that you thought went out of business in the Carter admin -- they are the ones that still have pilot lights and analog clocks/timers) and the high end commercial stuff.

                        As far as I am concerned, the "commercial" stuff is sort of a waste for most folks, though I understand the appeal: they do look awesome.

                        1. re: koigirl

                          They are out there- but cheap really means under $500. The Premier line is at AJ Madison. Google them. If you decide to get rid of the one at the beach house- or the viking- I'll take it.

                    2. Another thought--my friend bought a sealed burner stove, thinking it would be easier to clean. She actually hates it, and finds it very much harder to clean. If something overflows and gets all over the burner, she can't just remove the drip pan and rinse it or stick it in her dishwasher. Instead she has to wipe it out, getting up all the bits of food and liquid. it can be quite laborious.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: flowergarden129

                        I totally agree with your friend. Sealed burners are a royal PITA to clean. While I could never fit a drip pan even from a 30" range in my dish machine with an open burner if you have a spill you simply remove the burner bowl and wash it. More importantly any thing that spills against the burner falls below to the drip pan where it is easily cleaned. If you spill on a sealed burner the food burns right on or immediately next to the burner. Additionally they are less efficient.

                        1. re: Fritter

                          Having owned a Wolf duel-Fuel [ they only come with sealed burners] for 4 yrs. I can say you probably have to clean sealed more often because when they're dirty everything shows. Bon Ami has been a Godsend! I wish I could have gotten the open burners with the electric oven, oh well. I must say the wolf's performance has been impeccable. A joy to own!

                      2. I have tried some pretty high end so called sealed burners and to put it simply they are a gimmick if they were so good why do professional stoves all have open burners?? As a landlord while i was struggling to clean the baked on mess on the ceramic so called easy to clean top (i tried using a single edged razor it was so bad and the toughest stuff didnt come off) Also the removable tops on the sealed burners hid the fact that the cast aluminum orifices underneath got very clogged cause there was no place for messes to go unlike an open burner with a big space around it. I spoke to a fellow at home depot and he told me that GE started this whole sealed burner concept and its a gimmick the 12k or 15k burners dont produce as much heat as the 9k burners on an open flame burner. NO OPEN BURERS DONT LOOK SO FANCY BUT AT 250 or so who cares People here want to cook first do fancy second, right? If you dont believe me compare the burners you have with a friends/tenants/neighbors burners. Even if they come out close for heavens sake dont waste ur money buy the open burners. I know im ranting but I have renovated a few kitchens and tried and true is better gimmicks are a just a way of getting you to spend more money.

                        1. I realize this is an old post --- but hope to get replies - I am pretty convinced that I want the open burner cooktop - but now a discussion about open burner vs one grate - wondering which one trumps? It seems for a 30" - there is only one choice for open burner - and it is not with a solid grate - which I don't currently have, but think that it might retain heat all around the lit burners and cook the larger pans more evenly. Help!

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: smilingal

                            I am not quite understanding you exactly about open and "grate". When I was in Toronto, I had a Wolf 30" Range for 5 years.... it was wonderful. It had a non-sealed (where the cap sits over the centre) burners (dual ring - inner and outer), and I purchased a wok grate for it. A sealed burner has a big bald spot in the middle of the burner which is not a big problem for a pan but for a wok -- it is a problem. A wok grate (replacing a normal grate or french grate) allows the wok to sit down into the flame. Often ranges have "wok rings" which hold the wok on top of the grate which means that the wok is held a fair distance away from the heat..... not a very good design. The range had a drip tray that slides out (between the range top and the oven), allowing drippings to be easily cleaned up.

                            1. re: cacruden

                              i meant - if I want open burners - there isn't the opportunity to have the one grate top (where all grates are connected) - but I think that I now understand that Bluestar grates are all the same level and all fit adjacent to each other - so that the pots can slide across. So i think I am convinced that I am going with the Bluestar 30" - now the last deciding factor is = if I can have the room for the 36" cooktop - should I go with that one vs the 30". I never use all 4 burners now - but I have found that when cooking with my big pots and pans I could use a bit more room inbetween. Any feedback?

                              1. re: smilingal

                                Had trouble finding a picture, but I did have "s-grates" for the wolf range as well (additional option). The grates are not "all connected" but interlocking to make the range top look like it is one piece. I suspect other high-end manufacturers have similar options. If they had cast-iron pieces as one connected grate - you would have problems lifting it off to clean. According to what I have heard Bluestar would be an excellent choice, and a choice I might have made at the time if I had known it.... but I was very happy with my wolf range, which I found superior to others that I had seen (I did not see Bluestar at that time).

                                1. re: cacruden

                                  thank you so much - that is a neat looking cooktop! i see that it is 4 burners - I am torn between the 4 vs 5 burner - but I just looked at it again on line - and it doesn't look like you get all that much more room because the knobs are taking up the room in the front on the 5 burner vs on the side with the 4 burner. i am hoping to take a ride tomorrow to see one in person. There is no dealer around me that sells it. Do you think there is anything to be concerned about with buying it from a place on-line vs a local/or neighboring state's store?

                                  1. re: smilingal

                                    The 30" one is 4 burners, the picture was of a larger one I think with a stainless steel cover on one end of it (did not have that - but it looks longer than the 30" one). When I had the 30" one delivered, it took 4 delivery people to bring it in (my condo entrance had 2 steps up to hallway and 2 steps down) -- because it is extremely heavy. For such a large purchase all I would be worried about would be having a local service agent available. The first installer for the gas installed a below standard gas nossel near the stove, and I had to have another come into replace it (the nossel used was only authorized for outdoor use :o).

                                    1. re: cacruden

                                      i have gas presently - but you are probably right about wanting someone to stand behind the product. I called one local place today and was told they could get it. So I suppose once I go and see it in person and make up my mind, I can see where a local place might be that would order it. I have no clue as to pricing - because whereever I look on line it says they will only quote prices on the phone!

                                      1. re: smilingal

                                        Can't remember the exact numbers, and Canada was more expensive than the US. I added a lot of options (too many wok grates) and I think it was around 5,500+ CAD + options on top + 20% discount from display price. I actually just walked in and told the department (The Bay) I wanted to buy it but with a discount (he laughed and said that was not how it works - but had him go to his manager and check - which the manager ok'd). The prices have to be taken with a grain of salt since it was around 9 years ago now and my memory is fuzzy (except for the discount part).

                                2. re: smilingal

                                  I have a Bluestar 30" cooktop, and I've found that it almost always has plenty of room for all my large pots and pans. There have been one or two instances when pots and pans vied for space with the one directly behind or in front of it, but never has this been an issue from side to side.

                                  By having the controls on the front of the unit rather than on the cooktop, a lot of space was saved for actual cooking. Plus, who wants to have to clean the knobs all the time?

                                  1. re: bitchincook

                                    bitchincook - the 30"cooktop has the knobs on the side - not in the front!?! Wonder if you are speaking of something different.

                                    1. re: bitchincook

                                      went to see the BlueStar today - only got to see the 36" 5 burner cooktop and a hooked up 36" 6 burner range. Wow is it strong! So excited! I think I am going to go with the 30" because even if the counter could handle the 36" - the overhead cabinets that would be close to both sides of the 36" would be too close to the intense heat. Still not certain - but definitely am going to go with BlueStar. It is such a relief each time a definite decision is made! Now it is on to sink and faucet!

                                      1. re: smilingal

                                        I am sure that you will be happy with Bluestar, and given the same options again - I might choose it over the Wolf.

                                        1. re: cacruden

                                          DON"T EVEN TALK TO ME! I am soooo upset right now - the granite guy just left - I have my bluestar and sink order on hold since yesterday, waiting to confirm today - and I was just told, and confirmed by BlueStar - that I don't have the allowance space required under the cooktop because of the two drawers that are there - which is why I went with another cooktop as I have now as opposed to a rangetop - because I don't want to give up the drawers.

                                          So now - it is either investigating induction which will require new pots - I only have my cast iron and one very large new pan that would work. --- or looking into the standard cooktops with sealed burners. And if I don't get to work, I will be out of a job! lol

                                          I could cry.

                                          1. re: smilingal

                                            Sorry to hear that the Bluestar is not fitting into your plans.

                                3. re: smilingal

                                  Basically, for cooking in normal sized - western pans - sealed vs. non-sealed probably cook about the same. For very low heat cooking the non-sealed burners with a small centre ring lit probably is better but I have no experience (and if it is a problem - a double boiler would moderate the heat anyways). But for Wok cooking, the non-sealed burner is by far superior. The wolf range I had had a very even gas broiler top which was probably as good as any restaurant salamander grill. I believe the sealed burner is suppose to be easier to clean, but I did not find it a problem in my case.

                                  1. re: cacruden

                                    For cooking, the pro-style open burner is superior regardless of pan or size because the heat is distrubted far more evenly across the base of the pan.And you get more top end power.

                                    The old semi-sealed Wolf burner that was recently discontinued with a small inner burner was discontinued in part for econmies of scale and in part because that small inner burner is quite useless.

                                    Sealed-burner was created and marketed as easy clean-up in case of boilover. If moderate boilover,then yes,it is easier to clean. If you have a large boilover that spills liquid to the floor they are the same.

                                    1. re: DeeAgeaux

                                      Wasn't sure about the closed burner, just did not like it because it was not wok friendly :o If given the option, I would probably just have an outdoor kitchen not much different than I see on the street level (in Bangkok).

                                      1. re: DeeAgeaux

                                        "For cooking, the pro-style open burner is superior regardless of pan or size because the heat is distrubted far more evenly across the base of the pan."

                                        Even heating has nothing to do with whether it is open or closed. And yes the pan and it's size do matter.
                                        If you are using pans with poor heat conduction, you will need to match the pan size/use to the diameter of the flame where it touches the pan. For a wok, where you actually don't want even heating, it would be a smaller in diameter but high output burner. This type of burner would cause a real hot spot on a 12-14 inch cast iron frying pan so you would need something where the gas flame pattern is of a larger diameter. The heat also transfers to the middle at a higher rate than to the outside of where the flame touches the bottom of the pan so you would have to take that into consideration, so yes size matters.
                                        The pan also matters. Luckily we don't have to use pans that are poor conductors of heat unless we want to utilize that property as in using cast iron to sear a steak. We can use a thick aluminum(cheap) or something with a significant amount of copper, both great conductors of heat. Read the thread about silver lined copper for the ultimate in heat conductive cookware.
                                        Here is an article form Cooking for Engineers that will explain how this works.

                                        "And you get more top end power."
                                        Only if the burner is rated higher.

                                  2. Sorry just read all the info, have been on vacation. Food is Italy was super! After my question in 2008 I bought a lovely 36" BlueStar and absolutely love it!! Besides open burners one of my decisions was also that I could get the split (large/small) oven. The small one is super for a side dish or something when it's just me and my husband.
                                    The big one is really great for holidays and parties. Burners, etc are a snap to clean.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: confused cook

                                      I am searching for the perfect range and the 36" BlueStar with open burners and double ovens sounds PERFECT - too good to be true, even! But when I go to BlueStar's site, I cannot find it. Hoping that it hasn't been discontinued. confused cook, would you reply with more info - including model number?
                                      I really appreciated all the information on the 4 year old discussion!!!!

                                      1. re: roxscott


                                        I not certain BS, or anyone, has ever produced a double-oven 36" range. It IS too good to be true, because it simply isn't wide enough for two ovens -- if you had say a 24" interior main oven, that would leave only 9" or so for a second oven. To get two full ovens you have to go to a 60" range size, and even then they aren't gargantuan sized (maybe 28 each). 48" will give you enough space for one full sized oven and one smaller one -- I don't know, but I'm thinking confused cook actually is a bit confused and has the 48" model?

                                        1. re: roxscott

                                          A normal oven width on a normal range is 30" - walls, so if they ever did make a double oven on a 36" range each oven would be about 15" in width - not enough for normal cookie sheets, nor roasts , nor much else - just two warmer ovens :p

                                          Or you large/small would have a smaller oven than normal and a 12 inch warmer oven. I don't think there would have been as much demand for that configuration since most people like at least one normal size oven.

                                      2. Boy no wonder I chose the name I did, I didn't get the 36" BlueStar I got the 48" BlueStar. I guess I was still suffering from jetlag!! Anyway it is a fantastic stove and believe it or not I can actually cook...