Wolf, BlueStar or Thermadore 48" - Thoughts on Which Way to Go?
Please, please, please consider the Viking 48". I sell all these brands and would put the Viking in my house before any of them. Even, reliable burner cooking, from simmer all the way to full boil, great reliability, heavy duty precision constructed materials, glass covered infrared broiler, great look, etc. If you have specific reasons why you didn't include the Viking in your list I would be glad to address them.
I put in a BS 48" top only (no ovens) about a year and a half ago, I love it, I did do a 12" griddle and I don't use it as much as I though I would, but it works great when I do. I would have loved to have a grill, but the infrared Ceramic is the way to go and not available on the BS. The BS is very utilitarian and the fit and finish is OK, but I love cooking on it., the open burners are really nice. Never used induction but I've heard great things about it, It would be great to mix it up and addin some induction hobs,
My thoughts (I ended up with Wolf all-gas):
Bluestar has the star pattern burners (superior flame distribution) and several very powerful 22K burners (wonderful if you like do a lot of wok cooking or care how fast your water boils).
Wolf has better fit and finish, all burners are the same (16K), infrared grill, and stellar service. It's more widely available and well-known in all areas of the country.
I didn't need 22K burners. I liked the beautiful workmanship of the Wolf stove and had peace of mind that quality service would be readily available in NC when/if I needed it. I haven't regretted my decision one bit but can understand why someone with different needs/priorities might choose Bluestar instead.
Thermador would be a very distant third out of the three choices.
Right off the bat the Thermardor is a no go for me – it has the most repair issues of the three brands you mentioned plus it has sealed burners which are not the best because they direct most of the heat out to the sides rather than up. It also does nothing better than a Wolf (W) or BlueStar (BS)
Choosing between the W and BS comes down to how you cook and options – how are you going to configure your stove. Do you want a griddle, grill or French top?
My feelings on those items are as follows
French top – use a lot of gas, take a while to heat and then put off tremendous amount of heat into your house. Personally I do not recommend them for the home-owner.
Griddle – Unless you plan on cooking lots of pancakes, grilled cheeses or teppanyaki most end-users don’t use the griddle very much. If however you plan on using the griddle a lot I suggest getting the 24” model since the 12” is really pretty small to work with.
Grill – BS’s grill is nothing more than a gas burner tube heating grill grates while the W has a true ceramic infrared grill. There is no comparison here W wins easily.
Comparing the main parts of the range I would summarize them as this
Burners – BS kicks but, they are better than W, but with W all of your burners are the same btu ratings (I like this more and creates much less problems). You can custom order a BS with identical burners but it costs more.
Ovens – W win, they keep temperature more precisely and the door hinges are stronger and not as prone to problems. BS has oven door problems that they are addressing and I find it strange that the large oven is on the left on the BS since most people are right-handed, W set up makes more sense.
Reliability – Both are very good with W nudging out BS. W wins but only by a small amount, BS had some problems a few years ago due to growing pains, their ignitors were ill placed and that created problems and they went through the gas leak problem, but W is not without fault either. A whole series of W ranges had a recall done on oven doors and another set on gas regulators.
My biases: I own a 48” Wolf with the grill; I am a part-time demonstration chef for a large equipment retailer so I get to play with a lot of these stoves. I also talk to the repair manager on a regular basis. With that said I would recommend Wolf if the grill is important to you, otherwise I would probably look at the BS because they do have better burners.
One other comment – you may just want the look of the 48” range but if I was redoing my kitchen today I would seriously consider an induction cooktop over any of these. I have used natural gas for over 60 years and love it, hated electric and scoffed at induction until I tried it. To say it blew me away is an understatement; it took me from being one of the biggest naysayer to one of the converted preachers of this technology. An induction cooktop and a couple of wall ovens and you will have dream set up. I think you will find that in 5-10 years induction will account for 50-75% of all sales, just something to think about for resale value on your home.
I went with a Blus Star 48" gas range and have been really happy with it. I thought it was a much better value than the Wolf, especially the brand new last year model I got for $2200 compared to 5K. It gets used daily and had held up beautifully.
That said, I agree with above that if I knew then what I know now, I would have put in an induction range.