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Apr 7, 2008 10:18 PM

Wolf v. Bluestar v. Viking? Help me decide?

I know this is an old topic, and yes, I've read the threads. I just thought I'd try to narrow it down. I'm trying to decide between a Wolf, Bluestar, or Viking 36" cooktop or rangetop. Anyone care to weigh in on this? Thanks.

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  1. I wish I had the answers for you, but I don't.
    I go today to my first two big appliance stores.
    Looking at the following DUAL FUEL:
    Viking, Wolf, DCS, Dacor, GE Monogram, Thermador, maybe a Capital.

    I started a post the other and have had many comments.

    One gentleman told me all the things that I needed to know about putting in my first Gas Stove. His advice has been invaluable. Gas, Electric, Venting, etc.
    He advised that I go to three different appliances places. I am doing this.
    IT seems that everyone at the appliance stores have different opinions as well.

    I strongly suggest that you read through all of the posts here to at least receive some guidance, which will be truely needed before you are swarmed by the salespeople with their opinions.

    Happy Shopping!

    1 Reply
    1. re: scotlandyard

      I agree, gas, electric and venting are all high priority...but I would add ease of cleaning. My wolf is 10 years old and I have had no problems with it. It was manufactured pre-subzero, and before sealed burners though. You definitely need more than one simmer since it's handy to keep things warm as you move pots around. I like the idea of having all high output burners, but seriously, you'd not be likely to have all your burners on high, it'd be really hot and you'd need some serious venting. I also do stir fries and have no problems with heat output...I use cast iron.

    2. I have a Wolf 48...6 burner/griddle with the dual ovens and love it and my best friend has the Wolf 6 burner rangetop..loves it too.
      Love the way it cooks, cleans up and have had it for over 4 years with not one problem.

      1. Ultimatly no one can tell you which is best so it's a matter of deciding which is best for you. Blue Star has a limited dealer network compared to the other two. Be sure to pay carefull attention to burner lay out. Are they all high out put burners or just one? Both Wolf and Viking offer dual function burners. Blue Star does not.
        Viking is 18,000 BTU, Wolf is 16,0000. Do not let that sway you. The difference is nominal unless it matters to you that you can boil a pot of water a minute faster or if searing you might have to go through the anguish of leaving your pan on the flame for an extra ten seconds with 16k Vs 18.
        IMO the Viking or Wolf would be easy first picks. Both are very nice products.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Docsknotinn

          A lot of the trade-offs are personal, not absolute. For example, Bluestar has 22K BTU burners. While the difference between 18K and 16K may be small, the difference between 22K and 16K is quite significant and can save many minutes. The Bluestar burners are designed to accomodate woks; so people who like to stir-fry could see the higher output burners and their design as a big plus for Bluestar. Some people who own Bluestar also praise its star burner design, which brings flames out to the edge of a pan compared with typical ring-type designs that concentrate the heat more towards the center.

          Here are some other design aspect where what is best depends on what is important to you:

          - Style. Some people rank appearance very highly; some don't care what a stove looks like as long as it cooks well. Similar to style, brand is more important to some people than others. For example, a name brand may be more of a selling point if and when you sell your house.

          - Cleaning. There's the open-versus-sealed burner question. Some open-burner stoves are easier to clean than others. Plus, not all ovens are self-cleaning. To what extent is this important to you?

          - Gas versus electric oven. Gas heat is more moist and better for roasting and bread. Electric heat is dry and better for things like cakes and pies and cookies. How will you use your oven?

          - Size of the oven. Some people love the idea of being able to use full-sized commercial sheet pans in their ovens. Some people cook for smaller crowds. Larger ovens take longer to heat (assuming the same BTU output). Some people would rather have a smaller oven that heats fast when they come home on a week night.

          - How important is that simmer burner? Some simmer burners can be run at lower settings than others. How important that is (and how many you need) depends on what you like to cook.

          This list is not comprehensive. If you can, see if you can actually try out the stoves you are considering to see how well each meets your personal needs.

          To conclude, I should also say that I am also trying to decide on a new stove, and that I am leaning quite heavily towards Bluestar. To me the high output burners are very important; I like the idea of a large gas oven and its very powerful broiler; and the overall simplicity (no fancy electronics to go on the fritz, no motors to die, etc.). The ability to get service is important to me and something I have been looking into, as Bluestar is not as widely distributed as some of the other high-end brands. To that end, I have been told that Bluestar has changed the way you get service; you go directly to Bluestar and not to your dealer. So if that is true then having a nearby dealer is not as important as it would be otherwise.

          1. re: PinchOfSalt

            I agree it's all about personal choice. Blue Star has a dedicated simmer burner so on a four top that means I effectively loose 25% of my cooking surface. I noticed on one of the Blue Stars that both the front burners are 22k. I think you will need a seroius hood system to accomodate that up front heat if both burners were utilized at full strength.
            With any brand you should consider if service is available outside of the dealer. Dealers are fine for extended warranties but after that you want to be able to get parts and choose the contractor for service if needed. The beauty of some of theese products is that if you are handy you can buy parts and do your own repairs. If you are forced to use factory service by any company I don't see that as a good thing. It means you may not have any option for who does your repairs.
            You may also want to consider if a self cleaning oven is an option such as on the Viking.
            If infrared broiling is a feature that important blue star is 15,000 BTUs Vs 18k on Viking. There's that pesky BTU getting in the way again. ;)
            If you use a wok ring be sure to consider the distance from the flame to the wok. Increased height can rapidly decrease the value of a higher BTU.
            If you are a fan of the star burner then IIR Thermador has employed that design for some time. I personally don't think one style is more efficient than the other. The Star design has gaps. A typical circle burner does not. I'd be more concerned about the diameter of the burner or grate height. Again it's personal choice. Many choose Wolf for the red knobs alone.
            The good thing for all of us is competition and the fact that there are now so many choices. The bad thing is all those choices can get confusing. ;)

            1. re: Docsknotinn

              Just to clarify some points for the OP and anyone else who is new to discussions like this one:

              - You'd probably want a hood for any of these stoves. How powerful depends on the maximum output of the stove, etc.

              - Simmer burners can be used for heating as well as simmering. They just don't heat as fast as regular burners. For example, the Bluestar simmer burner is rated at 130 degrees F. That does NOT mean that it cannot go higher than that. (After all, simmering requires 212.) What it does mean is it can be turned down low enough to maintain 130 degrees without the flame going out. I have not tried out a Bluestar yet, but I expect that I would find the simmer burner just fine for all sorts of things, such as braising or steaming. I'd also expect it to perform just fine at keeping a big pot of water boiling, once it had been gotten to that point. If I can't saute on the simmer burner, which is at the back of the stove, I am not disappointed. That's something I would want to do on a front burner, not one of the burners in the back. If I need to be able to saute on more than two burners I probably would want to go with a six-burner (or even larger) stove.

              - Apropos repairs, the simpler the design of the stove the easier it will be to fix yourself (or for a repair person to troubleshoot in less time). While under warranty you probably have to use factory service.

              - The point about wok use is a very good one. On the Bluestar you can actually remove the center portion of the grate so the bottom of the wok is below the grate. As someone who stir-fries several times a week I am really excited about this, especially in combination with 22K BTUs.

              - The reference to Thermador reminds me that overall reliability and what is it like to deal with customer service is another common consideration. Of course every dealer will tell you that will be fine! That is why forums like this one are so important.

              Good luck to the OP. The thing to remember is that probably no stove is exactly perfect, and more than one will probably be a good choice. So, short of getting a lemon, you probably will be happy, given that you can identify what is important to you before you make your final choice.

              1. re: PinchOfSalt

                What is the BTU on the Blue Star simmer burner, 10k BTU? The real question is not how high will the simmer burner go but how low will the 22k burners go? Remember they are drilled out for more flame. My FIL has to use diffusers on his to not burn rice etc.
                My comment about burner placement is soley relating to a lack of flaxability. A 30" Blue Star with the 22k front burners then has one 15k burner and a 10k simmer burner. So effectively you still may loose 25% of your cooking space and 75% of you simmer space depending on how you cook.
                Simply buying a larger range with more burners is not an option for many.
                Both Wolf and Viking offer simmer features on every burner. There's always some trade off from brand to brand.

                1. re: Docsknotinn

                  I don't know the BTU rating on the Bluestar simmer burners. I have checked their website even before you asked! (After all, I am considering their product.) But the good news is the 22K burners are rated down to 140 degrees, only 10 degrees higher than the simmer burner. So like Wolf and Viking you can simmer on any burner on a Bluestar. According to Bluestar, the bigger difference between the simmer burner and the regular burner is the simmer burner keeps the flame in the middle, so it can easily accommodate small pans.

                  The other point you raise is configuration. Bluestar does have the flexibility to be ordered in other configurations, not just the standard one. In particular, the number and location of simmer burners and the number of high out-put burners can be changed depending on what you want.

                  1. re: PinchOfSalt

                    Either way your configuration is fixed once you order it. I assure you there is a larger difference than ten degrees from the 22k burner to the simmer on the blue star at the lowest settings for each. If possible I highly suggest trying to find a dealer with one hooked up so you can test the burner your self.

                    1. re: Docsknotinn

                      Here is what the Bluestar website says about their simmer burners versus their 15K and 22K burners. It is in the form of a Q&A with the official BlueStar celebrity Chef, Marcus. While I do intend to test-cook before buying, I also must say that I have been reading a number of message boards where people post about their experiences with BlueStar and other brands, and I have never seen a complaint about BlueStar's simmer burner being underpowered or their other burners not going low enough.

                      "Q: Hi Marcus, I am about to buy a BlueStar 36" range. I know there is the one simmer burner at 130 degrees. I was told the 15000 BTU burners go down to 140 degrees. Do the 15000 BTU burners really go low enough to simmer? If not I am considering adding another simmer burner. Glynn (Wilton, NH)

                      A: Hi Glynn, simmering is considered cooking just below boiling point, typically less than 200 degrees fahrenheit. Both the simmer burner and the 15,000 BTU burner would be capable of achieving a simmer. But while the 15,000 BTU and 22,000 BTU burners are extremely versatile, the simmer burner ports at the center only, making it ideal for the small sauce pans. So if simmering is something you do often, adding an additional simmer would be recommended. I hope that helps!"

                      1. re: PinchOfSalt

                        have never seen a complaint about BlueStar's simmer burner being underpowered or their other burners not going low enough.

                        It's a topic that's often over looked because people focus on the marketing of the high BTU number. The simple truth is that most companies are not terribly upfront about minimum simmer temp which probably would be much easier to understand if they all listed the minimum BTU's. The best bet is to do your own physical test. Be sure to have sales put a pot of water or lay a piece of paper over the burner at simmer. I'm not trying to be a wise guy but you won't be able to tell much just by looking at it burn.
                        The maximum out put on the simmer is only 9-10k. That's very low at it's maximum.
                        Also please note that Chef Marcus is telling you exactly the same thing I said. He is not stating that the 22k burners are suitable for simmering. He is suggesting adding another simmer burner.
                        For me two simmer burners and two 22k burners would be a very compromised system in that price range but you really need to go with what works best for you. :)

                        1. re: Docsknotinn

                          Doc, the paper trick is because the Viking stove uses its sealed cap spreader to hold the flame. To suggest that its better by placing a piece of paper over the burner is miss leading. Your claim that BS does marketing tactics is absurd in fact they do the oposite in not advertising.
                          BS low simmer burner is based on 500btu low side and 9k high side with its custom spreader cap (the burner head) they acheive the industrys lowest 130 deg temp. As explained in the user guide a user can configure the flame via the robert shaw control via removal of the knob its that simple.

                          The 15k burner given on all models give the user a 150 deg low simmer with a high side of 15k this is the same burner config as all burners on the Viking ranges. So with that said a 30" BS range gives you two 22k high side 12k low side, 1x 15k high side 1k low side (150 deg factory setting) and 1 x ultra low 130deg or 500btu low side with 9k high side.

                          Bottom line folks is Viking is a very nice range made by nice people and so is BS. Both american made with heart and sole. Its now your choice for style and build.

                      2. re: Docsknotinn

                        I believe the output on the BS simmer burner is about 12k BTU. We typically use ours for simmering rice and its perfect for heating hot water in the kettle. The flame spead is smaller than the other star burners, but it works fine for us.

                        FYI, there are several mechanically-inclined folks out there who have reconfigured their BS burners by swapping out the burner and orifice from one location to another. You can't change the overall mix, but you can change which is where.

                        I agree that the 22k burner doesn't turn down as low, but it's fine for simmering a good-sized pot (we've done a great big paella pan on ours). And it cranks with a wok on top.

          2. In regards to simmer burners, I'd also like to add that some ranges have simmer settings that cycle on and off, which I don't like at all. I like the continuous simmer better. 22BTU is quite impressive on the Bluestar. If I were shopping for one today, I would really consider it, though I do like my eyebrows. If you are considering wok cooking, you only need one high output burner. If you are doing wok cooking, you usually don't juggle two woks at a time. You could also consider a dedicated wok burner with it's own vent.
            Bakers do prefer the electric oven, though my wolf is all gas and has the not-true convection, where the fan does not have a heating element. It works fine for me and the heat is very even. BTW, I like the red knobs too, but the cute picture of the wolf on the oven is what sold me!

            4 Replies
            1. re: peppatty

              FYI fans don't have heating elements even on commercial convection ovens. Fans simply circulate the air. ;)
              I've never seen a cycling simmer burner. Yikes!

              1. re: Docsknotinn

                From a search on true convection...
                "A true convection oven will have a third heating element placed in the back of the oven near the fan to ensure that the fan will be blowing hot air. In some ovens, a baffle covers this element to draw air past it, into the fan, and back out to the oven. Ovens that lack this third element are apt to cook less evenly."
                Only duel fuel ranges offer true convection since you need the electric element to heat the air.
                I don't think it really makes a difference since it's all hot air anyway.

                1. re: peppatty

                  Third element convection ovens often use marketing terms like "Pure convection" or "True convection". The vast majority of professional convection ovens are gas. I personally don't think this makes a dual element or gas convection any less desireable as they are all a big upgrade over conventional. ;)

              2. re: peppatty

                I have a BlueStar and I can tell you that turned on full power the simmer burner does as well as a cooking burner on most ranges. Actually, one of my few complaints with the BS is that even at its lowest setting the simmer burner is still hotter than I would like, and I mean with the flames very low---you almost need to raise the grate (easy to do) to keep the heat down if you're going to leave anything simmering on there for any great length of time..

              3. I've had a BlueStar 6 burner for over two years and just love it. The thing about it is two of the burners are higher heat than any others I've seen on a stove, and they boil water more quickly than any other stove. The "star" arrangement makes for very even heat. The heavy level grates, the large oven capacity, the stainless steel back that rises up to the shelf, all work nicely. I have read in Consumer Reports that most other pro style ranges such as Wolf and Viking have had maintenance problems; thus far I haven't had a problem with the Blue Star. I like the option to turn the oven into a convection oven if you wish. The radiant broiler is uneven but nice and hot. I also like having a slide-in with casters, so we can pull it out to clean behind and underneath. All in all, I'm a BlueStar fan. So by the way is my wife who likes the large cleaning pan under the burners which can be slid out and washed off easily as well as the real heat this stove delivers at its burners.