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Mar 13, 2008 10:02 AM

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:

          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.