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Jun 20, 2012 03:35 PM

Cant' decide between range or cooktop and wall oven?? Are Wolf and Sub-Zero worth the investment??

We are building a new house and are looking at different options in the kitchen. We can't decide between a 36" range vs cook top and wall oven(s). Also, we are wondering if it's worth the investment to go with Wolf and Sub-Zero for our appliances. We don't see a lot of ratings from Consumer Reports... We are a family of five who like to cook and entertain, but far from professional chefs! We would appreciate any advice we receive! Thank you--

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    1. Only you can decide if they are worth the investment to YOU.
      Do they do what they were designed to so much better than the lower end options that their price tag is justified? No, but it's not just about that, is it? There are much less expensive tools that will make a bigger difference to a home cook than a pro style range. And all fridges refrigerate.
      You don't have to buy the two brands together just because they are marketed together. There are better ranges in the category than Wolf, IMO.

      Personally I have never understood the wall oven/cooktop thing unless you must have two ovens and it's the only way to achieve that. It has a huge effect on your space planning, layout and cabinet/wall space, so consider that carefully as part of your decision if you don't have a strong opinion either way. Assuming your kitchen space will accommodate that option at all, that is.
      In any case, I do love/use two ovens, and the 36"+12" dual oven setup in my 48" range suits my needs perfectly, but YMMV. I arrived at that after talking myself down off the 72" range cliff and if I truly thought I'd use two full size ovens enough to justify the expense and real estate, a giant range is probably the route I'd go.
      But lots of people will say they can't live without their wall ovens.

      1. A normal all-in-one stove of good quality is a whole lot cheaper and much easier to maintain and replace in the future.

        A separate cooktop and oven are great if you have the space and money but, can be expensive to own and can really dominate a kitchen unless it is huge.

        For the money, today I would go with a high end "Blue Star" or "Cullinar" type stove versus separate pieces in a cooktop and oven. If you really need a double wall oven you can always add a single wall oven for the second oven and put it at waist level so you don't have to bend over to get stuff out when it's hot and awkward to handle.

        1. Lots of variables come into play answering your seemingly simple question:

          How long will you be in this house? Wall ovens will not make the move with you to another location.

          Do you have any physical (i.e. back pain) issues? Wall ovens can be mounted at a comfortable height negating the bending required by free-standing units.

          Might I suggest that a family of five with cooking/entertaining wishes look into a cooktop that is slightly larger than 36 inches? If more than one of you is at the stove at a time, the extra room could be very welcome.

          We built a house ten years ago; actually, we built a kitchen and put a house around it. I say this by way of explaining our priorities, so you will know to take my advice from whence it comes. Yes, the kitchen is **very** important to us. I cook a lot and we entertain frequently.

          EX: last Sunday, we had a large reception here and the Sub-Zero (separate) refrigerator and freezer units earned their keep. It was possible to assemble large platters of food and keep them chilled before serving due to the commodious interiors of these appliances.

          Is this a requirement for everyone? Certainly not. Only you can answer your question; it is a matter of priorities. As to "whether these appliances are "worth the investment". again, it is a matter of your priorities. I do not look on these as an investment but an expenditure. The returns are not tangible nor will they likely increase in value but they are important to me.
          I wish you well on your project. Ignore the naysayers, building a home can be a joyous experience.

          Edit: have you tried cooking on both the range unit and the cooktop/wall ovens? Most dealers are not set up to accomodate this request but I found one in the Phoenix area who was willing to let us use the appliances before purchase. Using my largest saute pan and a couple of others showed me the wisdom of opting for a six burner-with-griddle cooktop (which I was abale to lower 3 inches at installation) and it made a world of difference to actually bake several genoise cakes in each type of oven and sold me on the wall ovens for ease of use. Full disclosure - I travelled with sheet pans, stock pot, saute pans et al for much of the build because utility is extremely important to me. Having something attractive that does not do the job is a non-starter. I put a couple of bricks on the sheet pans and pulled them in and out of each oven to test my abilities and simulate removing heavy casseroles/turkey/etc. Yes, I have a back issue so this is even more important to me than to a hale, hearty, healthy 30-something.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Sherri

            Thanks for the replies. We plan on being in this house for the next thirty years or so, which is why we are considering putting more money into the kitchen (but we are mindful of college expenses which will be here before we know it). You have all presented good points for us to think about. I guess it really comes down to personal preference and have been leaning towards a range. Glad to hear your opinions, Splatgirl and Sid.

            Sherri - have you had any repairs on your Sub-Zero refrigerator or freezer? Sounds like you really like them. We are always finding that we don't have enough refrigerator room for our gatherings. It was nice that you pointed that out.

            Thanks again for your advice!

            1. re: KLMJGM

              "Sherri - have you had any repairs on your Sub-Zero refrigerator or freezer? "
              Yes, early on there was a problem with the freezer. Sub-Zero repaired it at no cost to us. We're ten years in this house and, touch wood, problem-free.

              Short of having a walk-in fridge, I don't think there is EVER enough refrigerator space!
              Full disclosure - I have several additional units that are called into play for large parties.

              Mikie (below) made a great point about the additional storage under the cooktop -- drawers for storage. I too have four beauties and would kill before I'd give them up. I also have drawers for plates etc on the island but thatis another post.

          2. I'll answer in reverse order. Sub-Zero always does poorly in the Consumer Reports user reliability survey for what that's worth. Regardless of what one may think of Consumer Reports, it's data they collect and publish, which is better IMO than no data, but I'm an engineer and data means a lot to me. Our appliance salesman, and I know I'm going to catch a lot of flack over this, said he didn't think anyone that bought a Wolf actually cooked on it. In other words, it's for show. His opinion, not mine, I'm jsut passing it along for what it's worth. I think there are a lot of better values that provide the home cook with better quality at a much better price. But if you've got it and want to spend it, then I would never tell you not to. If a budget is part of your new house, then you can do better. Electrolux Icon has a seperate fridge / freezer units that can be installed as built ins. We bought just the fridge and have a seperate freezer and fridge with freezer in the utility room that is right off the kigchen. It works for us, but is really dependent on the house layout. For us it's just a couple more steps.

            Cook top and wall oven, really depends on how much oven you want and the overall design you want, along with space limitations and oven height. We've had this set up for over 30 years in 3 different houses and it works for us. It's nice to have the oven a little higher off the floor than a conventional range. Before our recent remodel the plan was for a double oven, something my wife has wanted for a very long time. This is the only set up where that is convenient, short of a very large range. We ended up with a single oven and a "speed oven" convection/microwave combination. It will be Thanksgiving before we really know if this worked out the way we want it to, but so far so good. Again, a seperate unit is the only way I know of to accomplish this arangement. We have a 36" six burnner range top (Electrolux Icon) and a 42" exhaust hood with no cabinets around it, so that becomes a design feature in the kitchen. The decision on which way to go really comes down to personal taste and the overall design and layout (space) of your kitchen. The thing I really like about the range top, is that there are four drawers below it that store all the pots and pans needed for cooking, I find that extremely convenient.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mikie

              Just to expand on the drawers-under-cooktop thing, you can and IMO should still do drawers and it's certainly possible with either appliance scenario. I have a 30" drawer stack on each side of my range and I would never, ever plan a kitchen without this for pots, pans and heavy stuff.

              The other thing I thought of is that it seems like more often than not, the default layout with the wall ovens route is to put them next to the fridge, which I think is unforgivably stupid when designing from scratch. If that were the only design that would accommodate wall ovens, I wouldn't do it.
              Also, you could do undercounter oven(s). It's not like range vs. wall oven is your only choice.