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Desperately seeking stove that doesn't suck

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by flashflood, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. flashflood

    flashflood Member

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    Gang,

    I'm in need of a new stove, and holy heck -- it's not pretty out there. I had a trouble-prone Wolf removed and replaced with a top-of-the-line Thermador (PRL366JG). The Thermador had four problems that two different techs couldn't fix: the XLO burners don't ignite reliably, the main oven doesn't ignite fast enough (so a propane smell builds over time), it has an absurdly loud cooling fan (sounds like a gaming PC), and one of the valves was misaligned in a way they couldn't repair.

    The appliance sales people all say that Wolf and Thermador are the top brands, but a quick bit of googling reveals that many actual owners just hate them. Of course, you can find haters for anything on the internet, but this is different -- it seems to be the majority viewpoint for recent models. I've read equally harrowing tales of woe from owners of Viking, DCS, American Range, BlueStar, etc. It's not just the high end, either: look at Amazon reviews for GE, KitchenAid, etc and there's just a world of hurt out there.

    My needs are not complicated: at least one burner that goes very high, at least one burner that goes very low, an infrared broiler (pretty common now), and no stupid electronic controls -- just plain old knobs. Oh, and it has to actually work. Is that so much to ask?

    So, the question: do any of you own a recent vintage range (stove + oven) that you're happy with? Or have any war stories to share?
     
  2. CSFTN

    CSFTN Member

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    We liked our monogram in our old house than our wolf, in or new house.
     
  3. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Try an Aga cooker, but be sure to take a class.
     
  4. Gwgan

    Gwgan Almost a wagon

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    This
    No knobs, can be all electric
    (Disclosure: I also have a propane range companion for summer with a "wok" burner, plenty hot)
     
  5. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    New stoves are for new kitchens.

    You're all familiar what those are: the $X00,000 rooms that do a fine job for conveying all that wonderful Chinese take-out to the dinner table.

    One's not really expected to do any cooking in them!

    (j/k-I know that doesn't apply to you):rolleyes:
     
  6. flashflood

    flashflood Member

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    Oh, it's worse than that. As far as I can tell, a high-end stove is a Mercedes hood ornament for your kitchen. It is designed to look beautiful and impress guests. It is not designed to cook food.

    The reason I'm apparently defective as a human being is that I want both. It's been surprising and frustrating to discover that such a product does not appear to exist at any price point.
     
  7. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    We went with separate cooktop and wall oven specifically because we wanted magnetic induction, we chose Cooktek. If you do a lot of cooking, I'd strongly suggest magnetic induction, it can go extremely low (I left a piece of chocolate for an hour on level 1), and extremely high, the equivalent of about 22K BTU gas burner. Our wall oven is a GE Monogram which is really quite nice although I wish we could have a real salamander, but it's kind of illegal for a home kitchen.
     
  8. jeff_adams

    jeff_adams Member

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    I'd vote for this. Can be powered by the sun (through your solar panels). As much as I hate big oil, I think I'm even more pissed off about raping the environment for natural gas. Fracking sucks....
     
  9. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

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    Induction does seem the way to go.

    The main reason for gas is that temperature can be adjusted very quickly. Electric stoves, no matter how modern, all suffer from time lags when you adjust the heat. Restaurants also use gas because the energy cost for cooking is less using gas than it is from electricity, but the difference is minimal for home use.

    However, there are many problems with gas stoves. First and foremost is that the heating area isn't very uniform. A good gas stove might give you two burner sizes, but invariably, the sides of the pan get heated up more than the center. Commercial cooks use that fact, actually, when they sautée, by swirling the food around the outside of the pan. But for more mundane cooking, like frying an egg, a cold middle and hot side sucks.

    Gas stoves also suffer from mechanical breakdowns, lord help you if you have a gas leak, and you'll want always on venting. Oh, and spills are a bitch to clean.

    With induction, you have the even heat of an electric stove, the responsiveness of gas, easy cleaning (flat sealed surface) and a bunch of other cool gizmos different manufacturers have, like auto shutoff when it detects spillover liquids on the surface. Oh, and the stove surface never gets hot, meaning no accidental burns.

    The only limitation with induction is that you have to use steel or cast iron cookware. Aluminum, copper, glass, etc. all will not work with induction stoves. But you can get great cookware, including non stick, in steel.
     
  10. anthony

    anthony Member

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    I'm surprised there have been no mentions of Capital yet. I would only go with open burners, as they have crazy high btu. If you wok cook, you can get a heavy duty wok ring to go right on the burner.
    My neighbor owns a Capital range, and loves it. I'll be putting in the cook top once my hood is finished being installed.

    I'll take gas range electric oven over all other options. I also prefer a cook top and an over versus a full range.
     
  11. wycolo

    wycolo Active Member

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    GE JGBS20_blah propane (or ng) that came with 2009 Champion double-wide. Champion installs good reliable equip. Keep it simple. Recall Maytag's disaster with their Neptune washers that were super sexy but failed miserably.
    --
     
  12. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    If you like to cook, one of the huge advantages of induction (at least the Cooktek) is that it can go extremely low and stay there. As I said, I put a piece of chocolate in a pan with the stove at 1 (out of 20) and after an hour it was just melted, no burning at all, and you could still read the logo on the piece. We normally saute onions at about 3-4 for 20 minutes to caramelize them without having to hover over the stove.

    If two people like to cook together, there's another option which is what we did. Cooktek sells 2 burner units and we mounted them flush with the counter, end to end. The result is a 5 foot wide 13" deep stove top where we can both cook side by side without having to reach over to any back burners.

    When comparing gas and induction for speed and efficiency it's important to keep in mind that the goal is to get the contents of the pot hot. Induction (and electric) hobs normally will boil water faster than a much more powerful gas burner because most of the heat from the flame actually goes up and around the pot and is wasted heating the kitchen's air, not the contents of the pot. On a gas burner a wide pot is more efficient and will boil a given mass of water faster than a narrow pot. For induction, there's no air loss, all the energy goes into the bottom of the pan.

    Generally, the stove top doesn't get anywhere near as hot as electric or gas, but it's still hot from the bottom of the pan, but that's much much cooler than an electric or gas hob. If there's a spill, you can wipe it up with a sponge with the burner on. Sometimes when I'm doing something that splatters a lot I first cover the stove top with a paper towel and place the pan on top of it.

    The only downside is that you can't really do true sauteing where you shake the pan over the heat to make the contents jump off the side with cooking. Once you lift the pan off the top, the heat stops immediately so you can lift and shake, but have to put the pan back down to reheat it. It works, but is a bit of a compromise, although I don't use that technique all that much.
     
  13. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    Flash - give a thought to true commercial products, not the commercial-looking items found at high-end kitchen providers. A real restaurant can't twiddle its thumbs when its designer-range doesn't work; most real kitchens use fairly low-tech features like real knobs instead of electronic failures-in-the-making. Restaurant supply stores are one source; bankruptcy auctions another (restaurants are always failing.....). I haven't the slightest clue as to what your local residential codes may bring to this.
     
  14. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

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    I don't know about true commercial gear - the requirements for commercial and residential are quite different. For example, commercial never needs to heat a small diameter pan, so their burners are large. Also, they look like crap :)
     
  15. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    At least in MA, installing a real commercial stove (or Salamander) requires very serious hood and surround work since the surfaces can get very hot and the amount of heat coming off the burners is so large. We looked into it and decided it was far too big a deal and sounded a bit dangerous for children and guests.
     
  16. SeattleSid

    SeattleSid Member

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    We have an elderly Garland commercial stove; might not even be legal anymore, with its pilot lights. But it's six burners, two ovens, plus a salamander/broiler. It's a beast but we've had it >25 years and it's wholly reliable. Basically built the kitchen around it. That said, I think one can find lots of negative online comments about any product, so it's hard to make a choice on that basis alone. You might try to find a Consumer Reports on the subject. Our son, a major lover of cooking, has a run of the mill GE gas range with an electric oven and has been happy with it. So one doesn't necessarily need to go with the luxury brands.
     
  17. mspohr

    mspohr Active Member

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    We've had a Wolf for 6 years now and it has been great. No problems at all.
    Burners go from very hot to very low so can cook anything. Oven and grilltop both work great.
    The thing is built like a tank.
    Sorry you don't like the Wolf but our experience has been stellar.
     
  18. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

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    Can you post a picture of what your setup looks like? That sounds interesting...
     
  19. pete8314

    pete8314 Vendor

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    I had to leave my Mercury range (not a stove, I know) behind in my UK house, but if it's possible to love something as relatively dull as an oven, then that was it for me. Real turned aluminum knobs, heavy grates that came out as new after being thrown in the dishwasher, and a door thunk I wish my Model S had. Sigh. I see from the website they're now owned by Aga (I don't think they were when I owned one, and they used to do a stove only option). We're looking to build a new house next year, so are just starting to look at stuff like this, Wolf does seem to consistently appear to be the better of the premium brands, but the ones I've played with don't appear to be heavy-duty, they just look chunky.
     
  20. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    This is it. The two flat rectangular objects in the counter top are the double burner hobs, each has two active areas about 10" in diameter which work for very small as well as pans up to about 16" in diameter. The four knobs on the front of the cabinet control them and there's a display for each burner showing it's level from 1-20. Cooktek advertises temperature control as well as power control, however, that's more of an aspiration than an actual capability. If I had had more space I'd have made the side areas outside the cooktops larger, although since we did a custom mounting with the cooking surface flush with the counter, we generally wind up using part of the cooktop as staging area. The dual hobs are 13.5" x 27 1/4" and the counter top is 20" x 5'.

    Stove-small.jpg

    - - - Updated - - -

    Somewhat off topic, but the two kitchen equipment decisions we made that we like the most after 10 years are the induction burners and having two dishwashers. My initial idea was to have most of the lower cabinets be dishwashers on the grounds that they were about the same price as cabinets and they not only could store dishes, they could wash them! My wife talked me down to just two.

    However, even in that reduced configuration, it is really great to be able load up all the dishes from a 10 person dinner party and have nothing waiting in the sinks the next morning.
     

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