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Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by chef_bob, Dec 1, 2009.
Looking at possible purchase of high end domestic range. Opinions?
if you do a search on here you'll find heated debate about this.
as a former service person for both, my experience is that wolf (now owned by sub-zero) is a more reliable machine with better customer service, better parts pricing and a better warranty. They also seem to have a better selection of products than viking.
Viking in my experience proved to be overpriced for the quality with reliability issues and poor construction, fit and finish. For example lots of stripped screws and gaps between panels. Mind you this is a comment on their cooking appliances only as they do not make any of the other product they sell.
Others love their vikings, I believe a fellow by the name of DuckFat on this board loves his viking. Perhaps you could ask him for some information.
my advice would be to get a used comercial garland.
lits all about btus, and their patented starfire burners.
they've made me look good for years. besides, for 2500, you can get a fantastic real stove or half a make believe one (wolf or viking)
don't get all upset out there-you all know its true.
I agree about the Garland comment, but for several reasons I need to put in residential grade apliances in this application.
thanks for the amen on the garland! I just saw this couple put in a garland in their cabin in the caskills and was so pumped for them. I understand why you'd need to go "domestic", sometimes there are codes, space limitations, etc.
in that case, I'm a wolf man. The BTUs are nothin to shout about but I really liked the stockiness and the look! (yeah,thats right) but again, I got to use one in a vacation rental a few years back and I'm certain that the wolf range in there was vintage, perhaps late 70's early eighties. I have used the modern ones on gigs in people's homes and they were far less overbuilt, therefore less attractive to me. i like to be able to drop a five gallon potof stockdown on the top and not see the whole scene on there wobble all over.
I also like bosch stoves, the digital ones have some nice feaures, and the stainless design is easy to clean up.
When I did my research, twice in 15 years, I came up with the same answer that Ryan has said from other service managers and repair personal. Wolf’s have much fewer problems than Vikings, they are built sturdier and are overall a better product. And as he also said SubZero/Wolf has legendary customer support if you ever do have a problem.
Plus there is an added bonus with the Wolf you get the option of have a true infrared ceramic char-broiler (The grill on top of the stove – not the oven broiler) that rivals all other manufactures plain gas grills out there. It was this option that really sealed the deal for me.
Just FYI in over 15 years of owning 2 different wolfs that receive a very heavy workout I have had ZERO problems.
I've had a Bluestar for a little over 2 years, and I really love it. I went that route after looking at Dacor, Viking and a couple others. The main reason I bought a Bluestar was simplicity -- there is nothing electronic except the ignition. No fancy LCD panels, no pre-programmed cooking modes, no built-in probe thermometer or rotissarie.
It looks great, and was a bit less expensive then comparible prosumer models from the other guys. Fit 'n' finish may not be on par with Wolfe, but it's pretty good.
A few months after I installed my range, my sister and brother-in-law had issues with their Viking (again), and decided to replace it. My sister wanted something fancier, but my BIL decided to go with Bluestar as well. And they've both been very happy with it.
Wild Boar makes some good comments.
Bluestar has the best burners for the home IMHO, 22K btu’s non sealed with true simmer.
Bluestar does have some drawbacks, their grill unit is just a gas tube and grill grates, and their ovens are functional but nothing special, Wolf’s convection system is better IMO. Also they have had some reliability issues, not like Viking, but certainly worse than Wolf. They also have had problems in the supply chain in getting parts out, but I think they have worked to resolve that issue.
Overall the bluestar burners kick ***** over everybody, even wolf and none of their problems are burner related.
An ideal combination would actually be a Bluestar cooktop (not their range) and double wall ovens (unless you need more – I have 4 ovens and use them pretty regularly – lots of entertaining since I retired.) If you want a great indoor grill though you will be out of luck, Wolf only puts their infrared ceramic on their freestanding ranges.
The other comment Wild Boar makes is about electronics. Electronics and high heat environments just don’t go together and have been a constant sore spot for any stove manufacturers. It’s best to stay away from the fancy control panels and digital readouts IMO.
Just a correction, as per the Wolf website.. the infrared grill is available on their cooktops as well as their free standing ranges.
As for electronics being an huge issue in ranges, I have personally found that this isn't really the case. Most electronics issues i have run into are either due to improper installation.. ie blocking a venthole causing an overheat etc, poor quiality parts... ie a cheap stove.. or due to electrical problems in the home ie a power surge.
The electronic controls are in most cases just as reliable if not more accurate then any analog control used. And often they are cheaper to replace than an analog control too.
The biggest issue for the pro-sumer ranges are the surface burner ignition systems and oven igniter's. The igniter's wear out from normal use in 3-5 years and the ignition systems are all made by the same 2 or 3 companies so buy a wolf or buy a viking and the ignition module is probably made by Eaton.. or Robert Shaw. They are very sensitive to moisture and shock. No so much heat. and of course very very few people keep the electrodes on the burner head clean... the number one complaint is that the burner either never lights or the igniter never turns off. and 7/10 times its a loss of ground at the electrode form dirt etc.
sorry if i'm rambling
We had a really nice, smallish Garland in a custom-built house (we bought it, didn't build it) in Montecito, next to Santa Barbara. Only six burners and a griddle, as I remember.
Best stove I've ever had.
Dunno why at least some of Garland's line aren't residential-suitable.
Well, Garland made (actually, had made by others) a line of residental equipment in the 90s. (I don't know the exact dates.).
Everything before that, or after that, is a commercial product. The problems with installing commercial equipment in a residential setting are space (commercial equipment is deeper than most residential stuff), clearance (commercial equipment requires clearance between it and combustible material), ventilation (commercial equipment requires big hoods, and often make up air.), fire suppression (most places require fire fighting equipment (ie an Ansul type system)), and vendors that don't want to deal with the public. If you're designing a space from scratch, it needn't cost a lot to meet the typical code requirements. (Some acquaintances recently built a kitchen around a large top-of-the-line South Bend. They claim the range, the required venting and the Ansul were cheaper than just a Viking or residential Wolf range would have been. They also say their biggest problems were finding an architect who knew how to design what they wanted, and convincing the building inspector to actual read the codes he was enforcing. )
I wanted to let ryan get at least a couple of posts in before commenting, since the biggest issues with owning a commercial style, residential stove are all repair related. My first suggestion is establishing a PM relationship with him, not just regarding specific brands but more about which questions to ask and from whom. The issue comes up so often, I wish CT would post a stickie.
Along those lines, I suggest discussing warranty and repair with the prospective dealers. Not only who will pay for what when and if something goes wrong; but would certainly also contact whomever would do the actual repairs to see what kind of replacement stock they kept on hand. Downtime is a huge issue.
I owned a Viking for years, and that would NOT be my first choice. I'd actually probably go American or Jade -- or maybe Wolf for those red knobs and the great logo. Even though Wolf residential is a Sub-Zero product with no relationship whatsoever to Wolf Commercial, nothing says "commercial" on the west coast like Wolf styling. When you're buying one of these babies styling is huge.
You seem sophisticated enough to know that a faux-commercial will not provide anywhere near the amount of heat at the burners that a true commercial does. However, most of them come with an infra-red broiler -- and those do get quite hot; and many of the stove-top grills are also IR. Plus, the griddles are thick enough to behave pretty much like the real deal (including the long preheat). Just know what you're getting and what you're not, is all I'm saying.
You want to make very sure whatever stove you decide on has some of the ordinary features you've come to expect on less expensive stoves. Most faux commercials do NOT have self cleaning ovens, for instance. This may be a non-issue in your family, but a self cleaner is a VGT for sure.
Dave (dscheidt) raises a lot of good points about a true commercial in the home. I wouldn't have one in a house with little kids, nor without great air-conditioning, but otherwise it's one heck of an idea. You may want to explore it more thoroughly.
It's kind of hard to meet code requirements when the International Residential Code forbids their use. I've posted this on CT before because there is so much incorrect information about this but here it is again.
2006 IRC 2447.2 (623.2) Prohibited location.
Cooking appliances designed, tested, listed and labeled for use in commercial occupancies shall not be installed within dwelling units or within any area where domestic cooking operations occur.”
The same statement is also found in the International Fuel and Gas Code section 623.2
This is not a new code addition but has been on the books for many years.
The IRC is The International Residential Code (IRC) is a comprehensive, stand-alone residential code that creates minimum regulations for one- and two-family dwellings of three stories or less. It brings together all building, plumbing, mechanical, fuel gas, energy and electrical provisions for one- and two-family residences.
It is up to each state to adopt these codes but almost all have. I posted a question on a contractor's forum and according to the responses at least 41 states have adopted this as their code. The other 9 states I got no reply so it could be legal of illegal in any or all of those states.
Your right, don't know how my mental synapses made that miscue.
Since I use service managers and repair techs for much of my information than perhaps we have a miscommunication here. They are not a "huge" issue but according to my sources they are more troublesome than units not having electronics.
Electronics enemy is heat, hence all the fans on our computers. According to the techs I talk to over the stove microwave ovens have much higher failure rates than counter top models even if they contain the same parts. The only difference is the heat, I have no scientific study but it seems like a logical conclusion to me.
I also think back to my years in the restaurant business, the fancy electronic steamers, or computerized convection ovens always had more problems than the analog ones.
In this case I guess we have had different experiences.
Well there are a couple of points in response to this.... Commercial stuff can run on high for 8-16 hours straight.. A residential unit might run 4 or 5 hours on med ... of course usage varies.. but most home users wont ever over heat a unit unless a) their is a design flaw in the product or b) they have not followed the installation instructions. B is more common than you would think. And yes the electronics in a residential unit are often fan cooled.. but the primary use for the fan is cooling the unit as a whole so that it meets building code. And this is a function more often found on wall ovens. And I have changes just as many analog controls as electronic controls in stoves at all prices. Whats worse a $300.00 computer or a $300.00 analog oven control?
Also a lot of guys in the home appliance field don't understand the electronics so they have a grudge against them. most of my old bosses did that is for sure...
As for the OTR (over the range microwaves) they are actually no different mechanically than a counter top microwave if you only consider the microwave. The biggest 2 problems with these things is a) most people buy the cheapest POS they can get... and you get what you pay for and b) Most people don't use the hood fan function. If you dont use the hood fan function the actuall culprit that will damage these machines is the grease and moisture that gets into the door switches. The boards are pretty reliable on these things for the most part. If you don't use the hood fan function of the machine, it will turn on automatically as a failsafe.. but often by then it is too late and a good deal of grease and water has penetrated already.
Also most guys who fix OTR's dont see many counter top models after the 1st year.. who would fix a 100.00 counter top model when I charge $75 to inspect it? but OTRs are at minimum 250.00 so people usually try to fix them first even out of warranty. Then the see a cheap on in the best buy flyer for 50% off... and cancel the service call.!!!!!
Unfortunately no body warranties anything past the first year anymore except wolf/sub zero... (there may be exceptions beyond this) and assume an extended warranty will not cover anything you can touch with your hand.... handles, hinges, knobs, gaskets, doors, glass, i have even seen where a electronic control panel wasn't covered because it was a separate part form the main computer. ..
as far as stock in the truck is concerned .. most places can be expect to carry parts for minor repairs only... unless required by their service contract. .. service guys can get parts in 24 hours now for most anything .. so major repair parts are often ordered on a per call basis...
thats enough rambling for now.... after 8 years of explaining this crap... i tend to get long winded ha...
and yeah if any one has specific question go ahead and PM me.. i will answer what i can.
Thanks for all the input. It has been very helpful!!! I know this is discussed often here and I did read the threads before posting but I think there has been some new info posted here...thanks again.
Amazing how a collection of pipes valves and electronics can get us so passionately engaged! eace:
I own a Viking and I'm very pleased with it. However Viking customer service is not the greatest.
Would I buy another Viking? Probably not but only because they are starting to focus on sealed burners but if they had a model like my current Viking that is 10 years old with a self cleaning oven and open burners it would be very high on my list. Wolf used to be a great product before they were bought out. Every one should bear in mind that the whole customer service gigg is fairly moot once your warranty is up. Irrespective of brand ranges have parts that wear and they will need repairs. People seem to get this crazy idea that if they spend more on a range it will be maintenance free.
All of these brands share one common weakness, Ignition systems. BS has had a ton of problems with this. The BS I had was nothing but grief and their customer service is poor at best. Would I buy one again?
Maybe. My home is a lot closer to factory service than our cottage was. BS is also one of the few still making open burners although I find the 22k burners and a dedicated simmer burner on a 30" range to be a bit of a PITA. If they ever manage to sort out their ignition problems they might have a winning product. IIR they are currently they are on their third generation of failures. If you search my posts or the Garden Web there are a few BS owners that have switched to Thermador ignition modules with some success. The other thing to consider with BS is that they have only been around seven years (skip the marketing sound byte because it has nothing to do with BS ranges) and they have gone through three CEO's and a few product changes. Check in advance for local factory authorized service as BS has a very limited service network compared to Viking and Wolf. IMO they were a lot better off with the 18k burners they used to use with out the dedicated simmer burner.
Some one mentioned Bosch and they are making a very nice product.
I agree. BlueStar kicks a**.
One caveat: if you decide to get a cooktop, go for BS's slide-in rangetop, whose burners, bowls, and grates are identical with their range. BS's drop-in cooktop is NOT the same. It lacks the drip pan and it lacks the cast iron bowls under the grates; also, it has a stainless steel base rather than being all cast iron. Not as easy to clean, and you can't set a wok directly in the bowl over the burner.
For some curious reason, BlueStar calls both these iterations "cooktops".
I'm brand new to this list and a total novice with respect to cooking.
I am looking for an indoor propane gas rangetop that has a char grill. The grill's features and performance are critical to my decision. When grilling, there are some foods (e.g., steaks and hamburgers) that I like to have very dark on the outside and rare on the inside, so I need a grill that can produce extreme heat, and I do like sporadic flameups to darken the outside of the meat.
I would also like the grill to be able to go to the other extreme and be able to grill ribs at a very low temperature.
Do you have any recommendations? I've been considering the Wolf (with its infrared char grill), the DCS (with ceramic rods) and the Viking.
Also, what do you recommend for a range hood (900-1200 cfm)? My rangetop will be on an outside wall. Noise will be an important issue. Also, concerning air discharge, my house has important structural beams directly over the centerline of where the hood will go, so I can't run the exhaust pipe straight up. How do these hoods work with bends in the exhaust pipe or discharge out the back (through my outside wall)?
Thanks for you help,
I'm in the same boat as you, minus the grill part. Did you ever get a slide in rangetop/cooktop. If so which one and are you happy with it?