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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.

          2. How large of a kitchen are you going to have? I ask because how you cook and entertain may be a deciding factor in your choice of cooking appliances. We have a very large kitchen (after we remodeled/enlarged it) and a gas range (no cook top) and a wall oven. Although we take all meals in the kitchen even at holiday time with family and friends over, we never felt the need to cook and face the guests simultaneously, like seen on cooking shows. And the kitchen is now our gathering place. So look at your lifestyle under those type situations and choose wisely. Appliances are pricey and tend to be with us a very long time. There are a couple of poor photos taken during our remodel under my profile to give you an idea of what we did.

            1. I agree with what everyone else says.

              For myself, I prefer a wall oven, because I don't like to bend down. Also, I am just not a fan of duel-fuel if I can help it, so if I had a gas stove, I'd want a separate electric oven.

              If I ever get a custom kitchen, I will absolutely have a warming drawer.

              Other things for a family of 5 include a top-notch floor plan, because you will have so many different things going on at once. You might want to have a "snack station" with a refrigerator drawer or mini fridge for drinks and cream, along with the coffee maker and water faucet and microwave. All those things can really clutter up the work triangle.

              But really, all these things are personal opinions. As for investment, well, that's also subjective. In the next 30 years you will likely have to replace them at some point anyway!

              1 Reply
              1. re: E_M

                I agree with E_M, this is the first home in which we have had a wall oven and it's been great. We use it more because it's so convenient. Broiling is at eye level, as is basting, stirring, covering with foil and the many other tasks you do at your oven. Oven clean up is easier as well. I hope to never have another home without one. It's also convenient to be able to check the roast when others are busy at the stove top. It keeps the traffic spread out and workable.

              2. I have a 36 inch Wolf DF and I love, love , love it. I also have an Electrolux wall oven. Yes I cook on the Wolf. I cook everyday for 3-10 currently depending on who is coming for dinner and where I am sending meals. I have 3 parties planned in the next three weeks that will involve cooking for 40 at one party and 60-70 at the other two. I'm a scratch cook and I do all my own cooking. I will have all 6 burners going and pack the 36 and 30 inch oven out. The Wolf burners (all of them) will go so low as to be able to keep foil catering pans full of pasta or potatoes warm without burning them. I have plenty of heat on the high end for whatever I want to do. The oven has dual fans and bakes and roasts very evenly. I like the ability to direct heat from the top or bottom depending on what I am baking or roasting. I would have a SZ frig, but the layout was not right for me. We bought the KA for the layout, but it is not made as well and the customer service isn't that great. The Electrolux oven is great though and I would be hard pressed to find much difference in function between it and the Wolf oven.

                In order to understand more about some of the brands and issues read gardenweb's appliance forum. Beware posters who disparage or recommend products they have never owned. Valid comments only come from those who have used a specific appliance consistently.

                Consumer Reports gives sort of different perspective than people who are considering this type of range might have. They are more to the "bang for the buck" not performance. They down graded Bluestar because the broiler was narrow but didn't take into account that it is infrared and is hard to beat for performance in broiling a steak.
                All of these ranges/rangetops/ovens have specific characteristics that may make one a better choice than another for a given person. Read about the complaints on whatever you are considering but the most important thing is how the complaints are handled. Service can be a key issue if you have any problems and any appliance no matter what brand can have a problem.

                I think the most versatile choice is all components.
                You can pick the best choice in cooktop and the best oven(s). I would even go so far as to pick 2 single ovens, because if one goes out, you still have the other one. With components, if the rangetop goes you can just replace it, not the whole range.
                I also like the idea of wall ovens for the ergonomics of them.
                Having said that I have a range but use my wall oven the most.

                As far as drawers, all my lower cabinets are drawers except some across from the range that hold stock pots. The countertops across the back of the kitchen are extra deep to allow appliances to be out yet have enough work room in front. The drawers are extra long too. We have the MW by the frig and away from the immediate cooking area so if anyone wants to heat something, they are not in my way.
                I would read this book,cheap used on Amazon and gives excellent rationale for kitchen design and has some different ideas.


                Have you considered induction? Some have been very happy with that choice.

                Agree with Sherri-these are a depreciating assets but will add so much to your daily cooking.

                Try to find a range you can cook on and read the user manual for some insight about how the appliances will function.

                Happy hunting!

                5 Replies
                1. re: wekick

                  would you prefer double wall oven then getting single electric oven (under the counter) and say a 36" dacor or ge monogram type. We keep kosher and now have the space for 2 ovens. What would your recommendation be?? I also cook for about 20 every week so need 2 ovens and can finally get it, yeah!

                  1. re: jillawildes

                    Hi Jill - We got a Wolf single oven and also the steam oven. We love the steam oven! It is great for various uses, but really love it for warming up leftovers. We bought a cheap microwave and barely use it. It is really nice to have two ovens -- you will especially love it for the big crowds you host. Have fun!

                    1. re: jillawildes

                      Update for the Wolf DF range. The blue porcelain failed at a little over 4.5 years. Repair starts at $800 with no cap because "they don't know what they will find". The blue chipping is a known issue with Wolf. The new model wall ovens will have replaceable bottoms so will be cheaper to repair. The ranges do not have the replaceable bottom. My oven can only be used with something covered and no convection. I would not recommend any Wolf product with blue enamel. You can read more on gardenweb about the issue. I think I would get two single wall oven and separate range top if I had it to do over.

                      1. re: wekick

                        Wow! that's tragic. Nothing rips me more than to pay top dollar for something and not have it last. We had some issues with the Electrolux fridge, but they replaced it with a new one, no charge after 2 years. I was very pleased they took care of that. Thing is, it doesn't matter how well something performs if it breaks in short order or requires constant maintance and repair. I'm crossing my fingers on the fridge, that there won't be any more issues. The Wolf is a bit expensive to haul to the curb and start over, I wish you the best of luck with your repairs.

                        1. re: mikie

                          To add insult to injury the new part would only be warrantied for one year. If you read on GW some have had as many as three ovens replaced before Wolf bought them back. They were under warranty. The five year warranty Wolf has does not cover this known issue. They are supplying the liner part, the $800 + is just for labor. You have to use their repair people. One guy on GW who had issues with a double oven at over 4 years had his oven replaced. They now honor the written warranty only. Because they won't stand behind the replacement part, we won't be reinvesting.

                  2. I think it is just a matter of preference and how you wish for your kitchen to be laid out as to whether you get a range vs. cooktop/wall oven, however we just completed a new kitchen renovation and bit the bullet to go with Wolf/Sub-Zero appliances and I am thrilled! I do love to cook and have never had such great tools to work with. I went from Thermadore to this and there is no comparison. You say you aren't a professional chef, but if you appreciate having the best tools in your arsenal to get the job done, these appliances in my brief experience so far are a huge improvement in what I had to work with previously.