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May 7, 2008 01:38 PM

What's the best btu for simmering?

I'm deciding on a gas cooktop and I'm wondering just how low should the btu measure be for simmering. The DCS cooktop's lowest output is 1,200/140 degrees and the highest burner goes to 15,000. Is this low enough and high enough?
Or should I be looking at the Dacor with it's SimmerSear burner at 650-15,000 btu?

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  1. Unless it has been damaged or comes from a very shady manufacturer, any home range will allow you to go from simmer to sear and everything in between.. Don't worry about it. I have a moderate-priced Kenmore range that has served well for 30 years now.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mpalmer6c

      Unless it has been damaged or comes from a very shady manufacturer, any home range will allow you to go from simmer to sear and everything in between.. Don't worry about it.
      That's partially accurate. Every range will allow you to simmer. However many brands only offer a single simmer burner. The OP is referring to dual function burners. Many companies on the higher end ranges like this are not comparable to a standard consumer range in many ways. Some brands have high out put burners that will not simmer well at all. 1200 is a smidgeon high for simmer. I would greaterly prefer 1000 or lower.

      1. re: Docsknotinn

        Aha. Didn't know that. A range that allows low heat on only one burner and only blast furnace on 3 or 5 others doesn't sound like "high-end" to me. Expensive stuff ought to expand your possibilities, not shrink them.

    2. I've used DCS products for 5+years now and love the output. The simmer feature is excellent and could be considered too low, depending on what you're cooking. I've had to extend cooking times for some things but it is not a big deal. Having said that, I make stock and various soups using simmer and they come out fabulous. I used to do the same on the old Kenmore range I had but had trouble keeping the temperature low enough for a good consistent simmer.

      The high output is great when you need to boil water fast, stir fry or make pan sauces. I get great sear on steaks when I'm pan-frying. It's also easier to keep oil at a consistent temperature for frying.

      I don't have a Dacor but an important feature for me was not to have any burner dedicated to certain functions. The feature that sold me on DCS was the five-burner configuration (30" range) and the ability of all burners to simmer or produce high heat. Depending on your kitchen configuration, having the front left burner be the high output might not work so well.

      See if you can find an appliance store that will let you try out each cooktop before you decide.

      1. All stoves will boil water, get a pan up to sear temp, etc. What separates stoves on the BTU aspect are bottom or lowest output temps. Yes you can cook for years with your $200 dollar range but if you really want a nice range you need burners that can remain consistently low. If you cook a lot you'll want a simmer so low it just breaks the surface every 30 seconds in a tomato sauce. You'll have different size pots, ingredients such as chocolate, and varied amounts to simmer. Poaching fish in olive oil requires consistent low temps. So just ask yourself what you cook and do you see it changing. If you have AllClad cookware you either have the money for good stuff or your serious about cooking. Hope this helps.

        1. The number of BTUs needed to keep a pot of liquid at a simmer depends on the pot. To maintain a pot at a simmer, you have to apply the amount of heat that the pot loses to the air around it. That depends on the size of the pot and the material it is made of. Apply more heat and the extra heat turns the water in the pot into steam; it begins to boil. In general, the smaller the pot, the lower the number of BTUs needed to keep it at a constant temperature, all other things being equal.

          I've always wanted a high-end gas stove. However last year push came to shove and it was time to make a purchase, but the state of the economy made me think twice about how much to spend. I ended up with a stove I never would have expected to buy, a Kenmore Elite, and have been very pleased with it (at less than a quarter of the price I would expect to pay for a high-end stove), I don't remember the BTUs on the simmer burner but it works wonderfully well. At the other end of the spectrum, the biggest burner is 18,000 BTUs and it is a great choice for when I am stir-frying in my wok.

          1. I don't know if the BTUs are the whole story. The hard part is keeping the simmer low...mine often goes out at the low end but I have a fairly ordinary gas range. My sister just got an expensive induction cooktop and she is over the moon about it both for high heat and low.