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Aug 3, 2011 04:49 PM

wolf/ subzero? or kitchen aid?

We're replacing an 80s era subzero 550 that has finally died and since the rest of the kitchen needs updating, we're wondering whether to go with a new Subzero side by side and a Wolf 36" dual fuel range, with the Subzero/Wolf discount, or save even more and get the Kitchen Aid Architect series side by side built in and the Kitchen Aide 36" dual fuel range? Budget is a consideration, but so is resale (and I DO cook).

Kitchen Aid seems to get low marks on the blogs, but others think Wolf is overrated (and over priced). I also like what I read about Blue Star and my appliance dealer LOVES them, but I've just been reading about how much heat they bring into the kitchen.

Anyone out there have any advice for me?

Any opinions about glass door refrigerators? I think they're sharp, my husband thinks they look like a deli.


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  1. I would have said Miele but you're in need of a range and they don't make them.

    Glass-front refrigerators were what we used in the lab; we had beakers full of "parts". Best to keep a solid door (somewhat more efficient) unless you're really comfortable with people peeking in to see the stacked boxes of take-out for that one time you have them sitting there.

    1. My sales rep would shoot me for this, but you are not likely to get another 25 to 30 years out of a Subzero fridge. Now that being said they do still make a damn good product, and if you need to reuse custom doors, or make no cabinet modifications then the Sub will work like a charm for you. I don't know that the K/A will fit your existing hole without needing modifications.

      I do like the K/A products and especially the 36" range. Ranges tend to be more standard in size. Maybe you do the K/A range and the Sub fridge?

      2 Replies
      1. re: ruby765

        Thank you, ruby!

        I have been reading consumer reports, wanted to see which appliances are most energy-efficient, my eco-friends tell me those pro ranges throw off A LOT of heat. And I like to be green when I can.

        THe KA ranges, get much higher marks than Wolf, but Subzero gives a discount if you buy Wolf (they own the company). If I wasn't trying to be economical I'd definitely go with the KA range. Sigh.

        1. re: eugenie11

          Three years ago, we replaced a 26 year old Sub Zero side by side with a new one. The electric cost went down by more than 80%.

          One major drawbak in the new SubZero side by side, is that the grid on the top that hides motors, etc, doesn't tilt down to clean. You have to unsrcew the frame and renmove to get to the area and vaccum it out. This is a major pain and the process takes about 30 minutes.

      2. If I were going to buy a new cooktop I'd go for induction. The energy and heat savings are enormous.

        13 Replies
        1. re: Candy

          And I'd agree with that unless eugenie11 doesn't have induction-compatible cookware (and a lot of people don't). The energy savings is questionable depending on where one lives, but in terms of heat, induction is the only technology that doesn't cook you while you cook.

          1. re: wattacetti

            Thank you Candy, but wattacetti got it right, the problem for me with an induction cooktop is that all my cookware is Calphalon - a set I've had since I got married, that is still totally functional - and RevereWare and I'd hate to throw everything out for the induction cooktop.

            The latest opinion I got today (my sister-in-law in Real Estate) was not to get a range at all, that for resale, it's double ovens or nothing!!

            1. re: eugenie11

              Hhhm, when I remodeled my kitchen 2 years ago, dumped the double ovens for a single wall oven and a microwave above it. Did the KA Architect line on everything but range--we don't have gas plumbed in, so kept the glass Thermador cooktop--wouldn't be my 1st choice, but doing a gas line would have been outrageous. The 'fridge is counter-depth, so like that look a lot. Love the KA SS line, so far.

              1. re: pine time

                I have a similar problem, running a gas line gets complicated in my state (CT) - expensive to install w/tank and line, need permits, my homeowners insurance rises... so I am going with a 36" induction cooktop and hope I get the hang of cooking on it!

                As for double ovens, I like that they're small(ish), at least smaller than a range, which means faster preheat and less energy waste, if you're cooking a single pie, or small roast, I won't use both at the same time unless I'm entertaining.

                But I never cook in a microwave. Okay, I reheat coffee, chinese take out, pizza. But if I heat up leftovers, I think they taste different. Is it me? Am I missing something here? I could pretty much get rid of my microwave - even my kids make popcorn in that whirly-gig thing on the stove top.

                1. re: eugenie11

                  What I have seen a lot of is a double oven alongside a speed oven paired with a steam oven, or a speed oven paired with a microwave. Those who didn't have the double oven went regular oven + speed, since the speed oven had microwave capabilities. These were by the way in trophy kitchens (the microwave function got the most use).

                  I'm not into the high-speed cooking thing (my favorite kitchen appliance is the circulator) but if you need to make turkeys for 50, a speed oven might be an alternative. Also another appliance to learn how to use but that's part of the fun.

                  You're looking at the 27" ovens right? Those were a bit tight for me. The 30s aren't that small unless you're comparing them to the oven found in a 36" range.

                  If you "flip" when you cook, you'll have to unlearn that when using induction.

                  1. re: wattacetti

                    Believe me, I'd love to get the 30" wall ovens, but I have a hallway on the other side of my wall-oven cabinet and can't expand in either direction without serious cabinet rebuilding and $$$ (that part of the budget is going to the Subzero, sigh.)

                    SO MUCH to think about - budget, eco-friendly, space limitations, and all these different brands to choose from... I know, I know, first world problems.

                    I'm pretty much expecting to have to relearn how to cook with the induction, but I don't mind. I grew up with electric, relearned on gas (and loved it), learned again on electric (I was a real cook by then), so I'm, like, flexible...

                    I love new gadgetry, but I have to admit I don't get the whole 'speed' cooking thing... oops. I'm buying an induction cooktop. Tell me - does the food taste different on induction like it does in the microwave??? I need to know!

                    I care about how my food tastes more than anything!

                    1. re: eugenie11

                      No changes in the way food tastes on induction since you're only changing the way the pan/pot is heated. Everything else within the pan stays the same so you're cooking the food on a heated surface. The water in the pot does boil faster than with other electric technologies.

                      Microwaves excite the OH bonds within the food itself, and theoretically without heating the surface the food sits on (that would depend on material).

                      Everyone who bought a speed oven tells me that it cuts down the cooking time of turkeys. And the answer to that is "and…?"

                      1. re: wattacetti

                        So am I the only one who thinks microwaved leftovers (particularly poultry for some reason) taste totally weird?

                        We have this last-century countertop toaster-oven that I prefer to reheat my leftovers in... It's also good for 1/2 a frozen pizza (crispier crust)... Doesn't toast bread worth a damn.

                        1. re: eugenie11

                          I think microwaved food has an odd taste, especially reheated stuff. My toaster oven does toast well; I also use it as a small warming oven to hold things just prior to plating.

                          1. re: wattacetti

                            what kind is it?

                            Mine's a cuisinart. Does bagels okay, but DH always burns the toast.

                            ANd it makes an annoying pinging noise. I love silent appliances.

                            1. re: eugenie11

                              It's a really basic Black and Decker.1500W Toast-R-Oven; I don't remember the model number and can't find it on the unit. Sliced bread and bagels are fine in it.

                              It only dings when the toast switch pops.

                              1. re: wattacetti

                                thanks for info.

                                I'll probably live with what I've got, mostly because I use it more as a (mini) oven than a toaster. But, boy, you can read the entire Sunday Times waiting for your toast to toast. And then it burns. Mmm. Charred bread...

                                1. re: eugenie11

                                  If you like a lot of toast you could always split a baguette in half and do that in the new double ovens.

        2. check out the gardenweb appliance forum. Wolf generally has few complaints.

          I have 48 inch KA frig and like it as far as the layout, but the fit and finish leave a little to be desired. One of the doors sticks out about a quarter inch when closed. They have tried to fix by replacing the gasket, but they are different sizes and were just manufactured that way. It works great so far(4 years). I have a Wolf DF 36" range and love it too. The simmer is fabulous on all the burners and it has plenty of heat whatever I want to cook. Some people also like Capital Culinarian or Bluestar ranges. There are many discussions on gardenweb with the pros and cons of these ranges as well as induction. I also have a wall oven, Electrolux that I am very happy with. Many also like Wolf or Gagg.

          8 Replies
          1. re: wekick

            Yes, I have discovered Garden Web, thank you! I am so busy reading all these great blogs I have a) totally changed my mind about my kitchen appliance choices and b) neglected my family for a week!

            But it's good to get all this information. Here's where things stand at the moment, would love anyone's feedback:

            I have given up on the Wolf/Subzero discount combo after going to my appliance store and working the Wolf Range - door weighed about twenty pounds and racks didn't glide as well as I would have expected in this price range. I know it sounds petty, but when you have to bend down and operate those racks every day...

            My husband had the same feeling about the GE Monogram Refrigerator - almost as expensive as a SubZero and the drawers stutter and stick. Nothing beats the SubZero, it is gorgeous, operates smoothly, but we also like the Miele. Your problem with the doors on the KA is why I don't want a french door fridge - they all seem to close poorly, not quite flush, and it seems like the rubber between the doors is going to wear out eventually.

            Are french doors one of those "new" features that aren't really "better"? (We try not to laugh when the salesman goes into his 'induction-convection-roast-steam' setting. Takes more time to punch all the buttons than cook the food! We're so analog...

            On the GardenWeb forum, some people say don't buy all your appliances from the same manufacturer, some are better at some things, some at others (this is why I have no life... doing all this research).

            So now we are thinking of getting the 27" Electrolux wall ovens (my back thanks me), either a Miele or KitchenAid 36" built in fridge and... any opinion on this? ... an induction cooktop!!! I know I have to give away the Calphalon I've had since I got married, but replacing my cookware costs less than installing a gas line and getting permits. I even heard my homeowners insurance goes up if I have gas! Who knew?

            1. re: eugenie11

              Oh, so you don't have a gas line already? If that's the case and you're willing to give up the non-induction capable cookware to perhaps a beloved family member, induction certainly is the way to go. Miele, Fagor are excellent choices, but check with your largest pot to ensure that there's no overhang against the control panel.

              Miele built-in refrigerator: great stuff.

              Also suggest Miele's wall ovens. They do have a 27" but it's only the 30" that's available as a double oven.

              1. re: wattacetti

                We just renovated our kitchen and I have a few thoughts to add.

                We have a capital culinarian range top and a single burner induction hob for boiling and simmering. If I could do it again, I would go with just induction, It is awesome. Great control and power. The capital is great, but induction is just that good.
                We also went with a lieberr 48 fridge as opposed to the sub zero. We liked the layout and the price better. Lieberr does not have a minimum price so it was significantly cheaper

                1. re: zjfk2

                  just back from my home away from home, the appliance dealer:

                  KitchenAid doesn't make a 36" built-in, so I'm back to the SubZero, which is truly beautiful, nothing about it disappoints, like my twelve-year old Mercedes wagon.... The Miele is almost as expensive and seems smaller on the inside. Plus, with Subzero, you do get that resale snob appeal, and we will be downsizing out of this big house in a few years.

                  I'm looking at the 36" Electrolux Icon induction cooktop and the Elex Wave Touch 27" double ovens. I like the look of the Elex Icon better but they only come in 30".

                  Anyone have an opinion about Fisher & Paykal 27" wall ovens? My appliance guy doesn't love them, they're in New Zealand and the service isn't great...

                  I'm hoping the induction cooktop isn't too radical for the resale market, apparently everyone in Europe uses induction, but they're much more energy-conscious than we are.

                  Thanks for your advice!

                  1. re: eugenie11

                    Skip on the F&P wall ovens. The one I used was slow to heat, uneven and slow to cool down.

                    Most of the kitchen reno magazines are showcasing induction so whomever is going to buy your home based on the SZ snob appeal should have heard of the term.

                    If you are that worried, hedge your bets and look at combisets (induction unit, gas unit etc)

                    1. re: wattacetti

                      Thank you for your input on the F&P wall ovens. I posted a question on induction resale over at GardenWeb, will let you know when the feedback rolls in.

                      I'm pretty open to new products, when they're genuinely new-and-improved and not just new-fangled, but in my experience plenty of people resist change, even when it's demonstrably better and more economical. Go figure. Everyone who posts about combi-units says they wished they'd gotten total induction instead! People LOVE their induction cooking.

                      Here on the cooking blogs, people seem much more knowledgable and adventurous than the average home buyer in my market. But sInce I'm taking the trouble to research every little thing before I update the kitchen, I'd hate to make a stupid mistake I'll later regret.

                      These wall-ovens are a b*tch. Wish I could pick all the features I like in all the different ovens and put them into one oven - I bet you've never heard THAT before. (jk)

              2. re: eugenie11

                I probably would not decide between gas and induction by cost a few dollars either way, but read advantages and disadvantages to both and see what fits your cooking style. People seem to have strong opinions one way or the other.
                My problem with the KA, a built in side by side has nothing to do with french doors. It is because the thicknesses of the door gaskets are different. One thing to keep in mind with a built in 36 inch frig is you will lose a lot of the depth and that is why we went with 48 inch width. We chose the KA over subzero mainly because of the position of the icemaker and the ability to fit 9x13 pans front to back.

                1. re: wekick

                  Funny thing - do I even HAVE a cooking style? I cook alot, but I've never had a fancy kitchen. In my last kitchen, I loved cooking on the ordinary four-burner gas range and when we moved to this house, I thought I would hate the 80s era electric stovetop (Thermador) and 27" wall oven (GE), but you know what? There's an art to cooking on an electric coil, learning when to turn down/off the heat and let the pot continue cooking, and that tiny oven (okay, I had to put cookie sheets on an angle) preheated superfast and roasted meat (I could even do a turkey) like a dream. No complaints.

                  I wouldn't have changed a thing, until the freezer in the Subzero died last month. And now I'm in the middle of appliance heaven for the first time in my life!

                  And, yeah, I still love gas - remember I started out going for the Wolf dual fuel? - but I love being green more, I guess.

            2. I love my Wolf Dual Fuel. Repeating what wekeck said, the simmer is worth every penny you pay for Woif! And then there are other joys as well. I also love my KA Architect Series back up wall oven & microwave. I'm fine with the KA AS dishwasher we got. I am soooo disappointed with the KA AS side-by-side that I am thinking of replacing it only a couple years after installing it.

              I thought "a fridge is a fridge" but milk sours constantly on the KA door. Both the door and compartment shelves are poorly designed to force predominantly storage for short items. And the ice dispenser frequently freezes up so it can't be removed and/or freezes ice *in* the chute. If had to have the ice maker fixed once already (expensive!) but the repair folk can't do anything about poor design. =(

              1 Reply
              1. re: rainey

                rainey -

                I am not a label snob, and I wouldn't have bought a SubZero in a million years if it didn't come with the house I moved into - this kitchen must've been WAY classy back in the 80s when it was built; how many people had a SubZero built-in back then?? - but now that the bottom freezer has died, and I'm looking to replace it, here I am, reading the blogs, hoping to find SOMEONE saying something bad about SubZero so I can buy a less expensive fridge...

                But everyone loves them, says they're worth the $$$. They're beautiful, they get great reviews, they operate like a dream, and even though people say the new one won't live as long as the late, departed 550, I'm going for it.

                Sorry about your KA fridge. And they say KA makes good fridges and it's the ovens to stay away from! Because I think the Architect series is so sharp looking, I really wanted it for my wall ovens. Now I'm thinking of Electrolux or Bosch double ovens. But I'm limited to a 27" because of cabinet size. And I'm taking the plunge on an induction cooktop. Getting gas installed here is pricey, complicated and my homeowners insurance will go up! Three strikes...

                One last pc of advice, FWIW - if you do replace your KA fridge, and you care about efficiency, get a bottom freezer. WHen you open a side by side, you lose cold air down the length of the fridge. When you open the bottom freezer, cold air doesn't rise. I'm telling you this because I considered the SxS first.

                Good luck!