Range/Range Top Redo?!
I'm beginning the process of redoing my kitchen. Here's where my range search is at.
First off... no brand is "off the table".
Second, here's the ones I'm interested in until someone talks me into/out of something else:
Specifics- must be gas burners, prefer duel fuel but that's because I've never had a gas oven. I'm (hopefully) getting a 48". I need the oven to be very precise/reliable.
Getting a rangetop and wall ovens is not out of the question as of yet.
I think the most important thing to consider in what appliances you ultimately go with is what you want your kitchen to look like: a restaurant or a home? And I don't mean that in a snide way. IMO, I think commercial ranges and such lend themselves to "apart" home kitchens if that's the look the owner is after, but I don't think they work all that well in "great room" open floor plan style homes. But again, it's a matter of personal choice.
From a safety viewpoint, there are damned few gas cooktops on the market that are truly safe today. When the grate to a gas burner is raised an inch or more above the countertop surface it makes cooking very difficult. It makes large pots unstable. It makes it difficult for a cook to move pans around easily. Sooooo *IF* you decide to go with a gas cooktop (or stove) pay very careful attention to how the "trivets" over the burners are arranged. Things that look gorgeous in a store can turn out to be a terrible hazard in the home. Voice of experience here. I had a pot-roast land on the floor in my son's brand new kitchen with a "great" gas cooktop he and his wife fell in love with at the store. Unfortunately, neither of them were experienced cooks so they went by looks, not what would work best.
I agree with retire chef 100% on induction cook tops. I redid my kitchen about five years ago, and I chose not to get an induction cooktop because I didn't want to give up my copper pots and pans. I am VERY unhappy with myself over that one. Induction is the fastest, most responsive and cheapest to operate method of cooking on the market today. And there are no safety issues about the level of the cooktop and a countertop. It fits flush.
I'm a pretty good cook, and over my lifetime I have had both "stoves" and cook top with wall oven type kitchens. My preference by far is a cook top and wall ovens. There are NO "stoves," commercial or not, that are comfortable to work around in my opinion when you're using the stove top. Well, let me take that back. Waaaaay back in the '60s I had a Frigidaire "Flair" range that was magnificent. If you've ever watched a kitchen scene in "Bewitched," with the oven door that lifts up instead of down, that's a Flair range. GREAT design. But they are not available today. And in the 70s, I had an over and under ovens with the cooktop in the middle. I used the above oven most of the time because it didn't vent in my face and was easy to see into. But the primary reason I do NOT like stoves of any kind is that they dictate that the cook must face the wall when using them.
I very much like my current kitchen and appliances and they might sound interesting to you. But as I said, I *DO* wish I had gone with induction! My cook top is on the island with an ornamental but quite efficient hood over it. I can chat with guests or family while I'm cooking. I have two separate wall ovens mounted so they look like a double oven. They are both General Electric, and the lower one is a Trivection oven that can function as a regular thermal oven, or as a convection oven (for the record, "thermal" is the old fashioned way of the heating coil in the oven producing the heat, convection is the blowing of hot air into the oven where it circulates around the food), or it can cook with thermal, convection, and microwave at the same time, but it does NOT function as a microwave alone. It is self cleaning, and has both manual and preprogrammed settings. I absolutely adore this oven every Thanksgiving, because my family comes and I can cook a 25 pound stuffed turkey in 1 hours and a few minutes. It's amazing. And things come out very juicy and tender with the Trivection cooking. BUT for the turkey, for example, I do have to put it in a glass baking dish so the microwaves can reach the bottom of the bird. Cooking in a metal pan is not a problem with the design of the Trivection microwave, but the metal will block the microwaves from reaching the part of anything that it shields. No other special considerations with either the thermal or convection functions.
The top oven is an Advantium. Mine is a built in 220V model, and it cooks with microwave or halogen light or a combination of both. The halogen light browns beautifully, and I can make dream pizza in this oven using a metal tray that comes with it and crisps the bottom of the crust to perfection. General Electric modified this model a year after I bought mine, and the current models cook by microwave or halogen, or a combination of the two AND they also cook by convection. There are Advantium countertop models and (I think( a built in 110V model, but the 220V is the fastest in cooking time. Mine also came with a metal broiler" pan with raised grids to allow fat to drip away from steaks. And it does do delicious steaks. And then there is the standard ceramic plate for normal microwave cooking. And all of the trays circulate so you don't have to open the oven to turn something you're nuking a quarter turn.
I did a LOT of research on every oven, cooktop, and stove on the market when I redid my kitchen, and with the exception of the regrets over not going with the induction, I do love the look, but most of all the great great great functionality of it all. While I was redoing the kitchen, I went with black granite countertops, and the electric cook top (my house is all electric so there was no gas option unless I wanted to pay the city $70,000.00 to bring in gas from the nearest pipeline) on the black granite looks like a solid surface until you get up close and can see the rings indicating burner locations and sizes. But for parties, with the flush and "furniture" look of the island, I can clear everything off and use it as a buffet. The cooktop has no knobs sticking up and has a lock so burners cant be activated accidentally. With a buffet set up, I also have the option of using one or more of the burners as "trivets" to keep food hot when I use the lowest settings. And there is room on "the other side" of the island for someone to perch on a stool and have a cup of coffee while I cook. I LOVE not being forced to turn my back on people and face the wall. But not everyone has the same preferences.
So my best advice to you is to think through the look you want and choose accordingly. And if you want to keep your utility bills down, whether gas or electric, do go with the induction, whether in a stove or a cooktop. Many many European restaurants have been using induction for years. Oh, and one final thought for you... No idea how young or old you are or how good your health is, or even whether you plan to live in this house the rest of your life, but it's much easier to design a kitchen from the start that will be "user friendly" as you age or if someone who loves to cook develops arthritis or something else that will impact on how well they can handle the things that are involved in preparing a meal. It's MUCH cheaper to design these things in at the beginning than it is to retrofit.
Enjoy your new kitchen!
In a one piece stove, probably. In a cooktop, probably not. When I was helping my son try to correct his gas cooktop problems, I could not find a single continuous grate gas cooktop that was designed to sit flush with the countertop once installed. All that were available then would end up with the continuous grate at least a full inch above the countertop level. That makes moving something like a very large stock pot full of boiling liquid from stove to countertop an invitation to disaster. My compaint against home appliance engineers for many years now has been that they do things because they can with absolutely no thought as to whether they should.
Hi Caroline1, Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic in such depth. We will be renovating our small galley kitchen soon and I am very interested in the Advantium oven. Is it possible to use it as the sole oven? Is it big enough to roast chicken, small turkeys? I'm not a big fan of traditional microwaves but am wondering if this system is different since the oven is stainless steel. Right now I use a....Flavorwave countertop oven for most of my roasting because I love the infrared convection cooking. The Advantium sounds like it cooks in the same way but on a greater scale. What are your thoughts?
My apologies for not responding to this sooner! I have constant stability battles between my computer and the Chow site, so sometimes I give up before I get to all the threads I want to look at. SSorry!
I LOVE my Advantiaum oven, and yes, you can cook a whole chicken and uch in one. Mine is 220V, and is now five years old. (Yikes!) Shortly after mine was installed, General Electric updated the designe (they don't follow model years like caars do but update when the spirit moves them), and the new model not only cooked with microwave and/or halogen, but also included convection and increased depth via a rounded out "dent" in the back of the oven and a larger turntable. I do covet the convection addition, but even without it, I use the Advantium a lot more than the Trivection oven. But I wouldn't giv-e up either!
Thanks for all the wonderful advice. I'm just starting my kitchen remodel and evaluating appliances, your post was very valuable. Base on most of what I'm reading, I'm leaning towards the Blue Star gas range. The overwhelming advice is to make sure that I include a good hood. My range top is on an island all the hoods I've seen have been pretty obtrusive. You mentioned you had a decorative hood that was pretty powerful, can you share what that is? I currently have a downdraft which is worthless and I'm learning I need vent power of about 900 CFM's. Can you advise on any downdraft ventilation that is good or is my only option a hood above my rangetop? Thanks!!
Downdraft vents are more or less useless. The one that *might* work is Thermador's unit but that's because it can pop up to 11 inches in height. I do have these visions of it sucking the flames towards it while leaving all your cooking emissions to color you ceiling.
What is your definition of obtrusive? There is a 42" Miele island hood that pulls 625 cfm, is not particular massive and has a motor which allows it to raise/descend as you need it. It is designed for use with a 36" cooktop (any heat source).
Thanks much for the response. I'll check out the Miele. What I meant by obtrusive is based on the large chimmney housing the air vent that goes up to the ceiling (about 12-14") Currently, my kitchen has a very open floor plan with an island where guests all hover and talk to me when I'm cooking. I had visions of this hood blocking our line of sight. However, your advice on downdraft seems to be universal, I might just have to learn to live with a hood unit.
Hi, Dory. My very first caveat is *IF* you have a home owner's warranty, and if you live in an area with "dirty" electricity where you are subject to a lot of power surge damage, check with your home owner's warranty company to see whether they cover the Blue Star. They write their own rules as you go along, and I've just changed companies because the one I was with wouldn't cover my vent hood when the motor burnt out claiming that it was a "commercial" hood because it was over an island and vented through the roof. So for my annual premium, I got to call them a lot of bad names to their face. Or their ears, rather. It was by phone. But anyway....
There are loads of options on vent hood with high CFM ratings. There are some that telescope, some with curved glass "hoods", some that are all metal,, and some that are just the actual intakes and fans and stuff that have to be mounted in a custom "hood" of your choice, and all ove these varieties are available for either wall or island mount.
In any case, but most especially for island mount, I strongly recommend you take into consideration the air flow in your kitchen and how central air or heating will effect the draft over the cook top/stove when the air or heat kicks in. My hood was custom built when the house was built, and it is island width. At one time I thought about taking it out because the new shiny stainless steel and glass look so sexy, but then I came to my senses and recognized that they would not fit will with the house overall. BUT! If I had, even though I have a 30 inch cook top, I would have put in a 36 inch hood simply to compensate for air flow. But these are things that can vary widely from kitchen to kitchen. A useful way to check things out is to set candles where your cook top is or will be, then see how the air circulation hits when the air conditioning kicks in.
I do not recommend downdraft vents. They DEMAND that you never use a stock pot or a tall pan, and they only draw reasonable well from burners that are right next to them. It's another case of engineers doing things because they can and not because they should. I did see a downdraft: vent a few years back that was terrific. It fit flush with the countetop when not in use, then raised up when you needed it and would swing out over any 2 burners you wanted it over, height adjustable. Obviously you needed two, one on each side of the cooktop. I thought it was fantastic, but I haven't seen one in several years. Then again, I haven't been looking. But THAT was the ONLY downdraft vent I would consider.
You know, now that I think about it, some of the very best kitchen innovations don't stay around too long. I had a Frigidaire "Flair" electric range with double ovens in the late '60s, and I LOVED it! If you ever notice the kitchen stove on "Bewitched" with the oven doors that lift up instead of folding down, that's it! Can't buy one today. In the 50s or 60s, they made "above the counter" refrigerators and freezers that looked for all the world like kitchen cabinets. They were terrific! You didn't have to bend over for anything! Gone! And not one damned appliance manufacturer reads the Chowhound boards and has developed my idea of a slide-out vertical pantry refrigerator for all of my jars of pickles and olives and sauces. Appliance manufacturers have such stodgy minds.
If I was redoing my kitchen today I would get a induction cooktop and wall ovens and this is coming from a 48” all gas Wolf owner. Induction kicks butt over gas and is the future in cooking. Second comment is about duel fuel, it’s actually a good marketing gimmick so you will spend more money. A gas oven stays within 10 degrees of an electric oven, provides a more humid cooking environment (better for 99% of your cooking needs) and is more reliable. Electric ovens are useful for some very rare baking situations that most if not all home-owners will ever undertake. The extra money of a duel fuel range never pays off unless natural gas prices are many times higher than electricity in your area.
About me, I work part-time as a demonstration chef for one of the largest appliance retailers on the west coast, I was the biggest skeptic of induction cooktops until I used them and now I am a convert.
However to answer your question if you are set on gas depends upon how you cook.
Bluestar has the best burners out there, but the oven is only average and their grill sucks.
Wolf has the best grill (ceramic infrared) by a huge margin and a very good oven setup. Their burners are good but nothing compared to bluestar.
If you don’t want a grill get a bluestar rangetop and wall ovens (GE’s are good or Viking, yes Viking wall ovens are good, rest of the product line is just average but getting better)
Our Viking range is the most problematic appliance I have ever owned. Thermocouples have been relpaced twice and the end of one door hinge broke off (replace with a new design). The company doesn't stand behind the flaws in their products. The "authorized repair" person,while nice, showed up in a broken down car, dressed like a bum - scared my wife.
The total cost of ownership, including the rapair bills for poor quality, is way too high.