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2008 - 2013 Recommendations


Need someone to install a range hood

March 2012

We really need to install a range hood but before buying one I'd like to have an idea of what the installation costs would be. Some places will send someone out after you buy the range hood but I'd like to minimize surprises. I've read I might need an HVAC person, electrician and possibly roofer. Please send along any recommendations and/or advice. Barbie


We recently put in a range hood as part of a kitchen remodel, and were pleasantly surprised by how affordable it was (aside from the cost of hood!) We used separate professionals for each chunk of work, and I do think it's less costly to do it this way if you are game for managing the different trades. We permitted our work so we had to have it inspected at various junctures, too. Our electrician charged $100 to run a new dedicated line for the hood, though it was rolled into a bigger job so not sure what the charge would have been to do only that piece. I can't remember the exact charge from the roofer, but I know it was well under $500. We did the HVAC work ourselves, so that was just the cost of the ducts. (If you are moderately handy and have decent access to the area where the ducts need to run, this part is very easy to do on your own--it's mostly about connecting the ducts properly to the roof cap and the hood.) The bid from the HVAC people who did some other work for us was $500 for this, which seemed high for what amounted to a few hours of crawling around in the attic. You can certainly find contractors who will do it all, too, but in our experience they charged a lot more for the work. Good luck-- we love having a hood! Happy with our new hood
I highly recommend David Henneman. He recently installed our range hood -- which required new electric connections and some additional duct work. He did an excellent job and took the time to call me when there were critical decisions to be made (such as how to level the hood given that our house is not so level). His number is 925.339.3311. Feel free to email me if have any additional questions. Daniel

Infrared turbo ovens

March 2011

Is cooking with infrared light safe? A friend loved her infrared turbo oven. They do seem to cook fast and delicious. But is this form of radiation cooking safe for adults, kids, and a pregnant mom-to-be?


In short, IR is totally safe. I am 20 weeks pregnant and a chemist. One of the few things I can still do in my lab is run testing by IR. Kate
Infrared is safer than microwaves. Imagine a very hot lightbulb. That is basically what an infrared oven is. As long as you don't burn yourself, you'll be fine. --Cook

Gas stove/oven recommendations

Feb 2011

We are finally going to replace our moribund 1965 electric wall ovens and electric stove top with a stand-alone gas oven/stove. Our teenager daughter is quite an avid chef and baker, who does light catering jobs. We want to get a pretty high-end contraption. She is very frustrated with our current set-up. Any suggestions? Also looking for someone to make it all happen (install new appliances, countertop, sink). Thanks for your help!


I really like the DCS products. We have a cooktop (gas) and wall ovens(electric) and have enjoyed both.

DCS (the 36' 5 burner stove) has one big burner for boiling water fast, but really, how often do you stand around waiting for the water to boil? not that often, unless maybe you've got 5 gallons on for crabs... All the good cooktops have at least one big mega-BTU burner.

But the great thing about the DCS is that all the burners go down super low. Salesmen will actually put the burners on low and put a piece of paper on the grate to show how low they go! Some cooktops only have one simmer burner that goes very low, and some cooktops simulate a low burner by cycling the burner on and off. There were so many times with my previous cooktop that i wanted a simmer and had to use a simmer plate or stir more often than i expected.

Our ovens work well and have plenty of room. If you have big roasting pans or big sheet trays, measure them or take them to the store to make sure they fit. The interior of 30' ovens (or 27' ovens) aren't all the same size. The DCS has great rollers on the shelves that work well. The only down sides with our 30' ovens is they take quite a while to heat up, and there is a fan (which I assume keeps the electronics cool) that is a little bit noisy and stays on a long time after you turn the oven off while it cools. But those are minor complaints.

One other tip. Buy an oven thermometer and use it. Most of these ovens have a way to adjust the temps up and down in case they aren't exact, or if they drift over time. Bryan


We have a Blue Star Range. It's not as well known commercially as Wolfe or other high end brands, but what you get is all the power without paying the marketing surcharge. We got ours because the model we have has the highest BTU of any residential range on the market, which is good for wok-cooking. I didn't think I'd like something this powerful but I've since been won over, as it boils water so quickly and everything stir fries like a dream.

I would warn you though that if you install a range this powerful you also need to make sure your gas line, your exhaust hood, the size of your chimney, and everything else is up to regulation. In fact, one of the burners is so hot we burn up the ingniter about once a year and have to get a replacement (about $25)...not great, but the Blue Star guy says that's what you get if you use it a lot, because it just gets that hot.

Of course if you don't need commerical-range power, Blue Star also make ranges that has less BTU, which you can look into. We got the range that comes with the oven, and I wish we had gotten the gas stovetop and bought a separate electric oven (maybe a double oven?). I used to have an electric oven and find that it bakes more evenly than gas. Otherwise the range has been trouble free (we've had it for 2.5 years), cooks well, and most of the parts come off and go into the dish washer, which we like. With some cheaper gas ranges, if something boils over the water gets into the holes where the gas comes out, basically drowning your range, and it's really hard to clean. With our range, the water just slides onto a shelf below, so to clean it, just slide a shelf out, wipe it up, and all the other parts come apart like a jigsaw for cleaning. If you do a google search you can read some online reviews of the Blue Star line.


Take a look at Blue Star stoves. We looked into that brand when we realized we had to replace our fully functioning Garland restaurant stove due to remodeling constraints. Blue Star is actually a spinoff of Garland, which has been making great restaurant stoves for a long time. We liked the star shaped burners as they heat more efficiently. The grates, burner plates, and burners are all black cast iron and the first two can be taken off the stove for easy cleaning. There is a drip tray underneath the burners, also easy to clean. There is a very high BTU burner (22K,I think) and a super low one. There is no cycling, it's just super low. THe oven has convection and conventional and is very large with the bottom rack on ball bearings, great for pulling out heavy roasting pans. We really liked the simplicity of the stove along with the burner style, low price (not as much $$ as so many trophy stoves, but great looking), and the burner BTU configuration. BlueStar also comes in many colors, which can be fun to consider. We got ours at Airport Appliance in Hayward. A friend with a pricey DCS has had many problems with his burners and the ignition system, which turned us away from that brand pretty quickly. busy cook

Gas vs. Electric Stoves

March 2010

We have a gas stove that's about 15 years old and that performs OK, but produces a fair amount of greasy dust. I've wondered about installing an electric stove (I understand that the gas line could be capped off), but I don't know much about them. Any opinions about gas versus electric (and where to buy the latter), including any energy-saving benefits or lack thereof? Melanie


Gas stoves use natural gas which doesn't produce dust or smoke or grease. It sounds like you just need a hood with a fan to draw off the smoke from cooking food. Gas is way better than electric if you cook a lot - heats faster, cools off faster, easier to manage. I think most serious cooks far prefer gas. It's cheaper than electric, too.
In my experience, the greasy grime comes from food spattering or smoking while cooking, not the stove itself. A range hood exhaust fan would help with that. (Unless you're talking about the surface itself? A glass top is certainly cleaner.)

I'll leave your technical questions to an expert, but cooking with gas is a different experience from cooking with electricity. Faster heat-up and cool-down, more control over temperature. For energy efficiency, make sure your gas stove has a self-lighting pilot. (Old ones don't.) Francesca


I'm not an expert on the subject but here is what I do know- 1. if your stove is only 15 yrs old it is probably fine, it might just need some calibrating of the burners so they burn clean. A rule of thumb is that if the flame is yellow it is not a clean burn, the flame should be mostly blue. Look for a local repair & maintenance service through the manufacturer's website.

2. Natural gas is cheaper than electricity and the cost differential is only going to get wider as the electrical grid gets older and requires more upgrades and as the price of coal rises.

3. We used to have an electric stove when we were still renting and I hated it. It was much harder to cook with as the burners never really worked well. I learned to cook on a gas stove and I love cooking on mine. I doubt you'll find a restaurant that has an electric stove... Hope this helped. Molly


Vent over oven needs to vent outside?

June 2009

Is it necessary that vents over gas ranges such as a over the range microwave vent combo vent to outside of the house? We are buying a home with a non-venting hood over the gas stove (the vent fan has a filter) and the inspector made it seem like a safety issue (i.e. it must be addressed immediately). However I'm a little confused as to why this is necessary since I grew up in a house with no vent/fan over the range, our apartment now doesn't have one, and microwave/vent combos I've seen online say they can be used stand alone or by venting outside. I understand that it might be a building code issue and that it's preferable to have it vent outside, but a safety issue? Does anyone have reliable on this question? thanks, Daniel


Unless something has changed, there is no requirement that hood vents ventilate to the outside. Of course, this is best if there is any practical way to achieve it. Also, certain hoods are meant to just filter and return to the room, others are meant to take it outside. Are you certain the one there is the correct type? As for the ''safety issue'' everything is about safety when speaking with an inspector. If it is the right type I wouldn't worry about it. Good Luck with your new home purchase. Andus
We bought our house in Oakland in 1997. It has a gas range on a peninsula (i.e., there's no oven or microwave above the range) and it has no vent or hood or anything like that. It never came up in our home inspection as an issue. So I am guessing that there is no requirement, although I don't know for sure. We finally got tired of cooking odors and decided to get a vent. But, because we have living quarters directly above the kitchen, we could not get a normal hood. Instead, our only option was a a ''downdraft'' system. We bought one made by Broan for about $800 from General Appliance in Berkeley and had it installed for about $1000. Works great and I love it! Sorry if this doesn't really answer your question, but I hope it helps somewhat. Good luck!

Do you like your convection oven?

Oct 2008

Our oven recently broke and we need to buy another one. We have heard alot about convection ovens recently, but have never used one. Can anyone who uses one tell me - do you like it, how does it compare to a regular oven, and is it worth the extra price to buy one? We can't decide if we want to find a used oven, or just buy a new one with a convection option, which is twice as expensive as without. Thanks for your thoughts!


We have a convection oven and it works well, things I bake seem to have a nice crispy shell but not too dry in the middle. But they cost more and the installation can be expensive if you do not already have a special outlet already installed where your oven would go. I'm guessing you would be satified with one if someone in your household baked a lot and cost is not a concern. Good luck
We just remodelled our kitchen and purchased a convection oven. My husband convinced me, I too was having some hesitation abt the price since we're not huge bakers. I love the thing- it really is nicer, even for things like the frozen chocolate croissants we are addicted to from TJ's .

Our last range/oven was an old O'Keefe and Merritt- which was constantly in use since the 40's. We had it for 10 years, purchased from our elderly neighbor when she moved. I think it's worth buying a nicer stove/oven. I decided to think of it as akin to buying a car. It's going to last for a long time, so get something that has the features you want and that is going to be reliable. Another option might be to look at the microwave/convection combos. In sum- I'm really pleased with the convection oven and feel like it was a good decision to spend the extra $$. If you can afford the upgrade, I'd say go for it. Good luck! Kris


When we did a kitchen remodel we got a GE Profile with a convection option (it's not a convection oven all the time -- you can choose to turn that feature on, which is basically a fan that circulates the hot air all around so it's the same temp everywhere in the oven). Convection is terrific for things like baking multiple racks of pizzas, cookies, etc. and not so great for things that might get dried out because, as you might imagine, all that air blowing around does dry things a bit more. Food supposedly cooks faster but I haven't really noticed that. If you are going to bake multiple racks of things often then it might be worth it. I bake a LOT (nearly every day) and I've been really happy with it. Happy Baker
I have had a few convection ovens and generally like them, as I bake a lot. One issue no one has mentioned: I believe convection ovens have smaller interiors (to make room for the fan?), meaning the oven will have a smaller capacity than a non-convection even if the outside dimension is identical. This causes me trouble right around thanksgiving time, when I can't fit everything in at once. Just one more thing to consider when shopping around. sarah

36'' or 39'' range recommendation needed

March 2008

We need to buy a new 36'' or 39'' gas or dual-fuel range, hopefully under $4,000. If you have a fairly recent model I'd like to hear what you think of it. Thanks! -anon


Three years ago I bought a 36'' DCM all gas range, and I love it. It heats evenly with good temperature control. The oven works great. Everything is easy to clean, by design. Mine has 5 burners, and it is not a crowded top.

On the other hand, my partner bought a Thermador. I've cooked on it a lot, and it is pathetic. The burners are meager and poorly laid out, and the control knobs are right in the center front of the top so they always get splattered with the drips and dabs of cooking. It's hard to clean, too. The electric oven is a big disappointment. The heat is uneven, even when using convection, so that you have to repeatedly turn things to get even cooking. I say stay away from Thermador. In my experience, dual-fuel is not necessarily better. *love to bake


2004 - 2007 Recommendations


New range for a remodeled kitchen?

June 2007

We are about to embark on a kitchen remodel and feel stymied by the propsect of selecting a new gas range. We want something sturdy, relatively easy to clean, and aesthetically pleasing, as well as something with an ample oven. We had considered keeping our Wedgewood but opted against that because it seems too impractical and energy inefficient. We're considering 30'' Wolf and Viking, but also think their cost seems high considering our needs. Has anyone tried a Bosch? Any other suggestions? Thanks!


I think those restaurant-grade stoves are kinda silly, myself. When we remodelled we got a *great* stove -- a GE Profile -- and I love it to bits. It's got a convection oven option, and the lower drawer is also a fully functional oven, it has five gas burners including a high powered burner and a central, oblong burner that comes with a griddle attachment that we've ended up using constantly. It's very easy to clean and I'm in love with it, literally looking for excuses to use it. Looks pretty much exactly like this: http://www.geappliances.com/products/introductions/gas_ranges/ (I'm not at home right now to see what the model is). I think it was about $1300 a couple years ago. Love That Stove!

Bosch or GE Profile range?

March 2007

We are in the market for a new gas stove. I'm leaning toward the GE Profile, my husband toward the Bosch. I'm hoping you can share your experiences with either -- does your Bosch or GE range work well for you? Have you had problems with it? Also, for the realtors in the crowd -- is it worth investing in stainless? I think white looks better in our kitchen, but my husband thinks stainless will go over better when we sell our house (probably 3-5 years from now). Thanks!


I'm a huge fan of Bosch, and I also prefer simple appliances, so when we bought our stove last fall we got the lowest model of Bosch from Galvin on San Pablo in Albany. I've been very happy with it (it includes convection, really great). As for white or stainless, our Bosch is black top with stainless front. I was advised by a friend to not choose white because ''you can never get it clean.'' I think that's true. There are already some ''invisible'' stains on our black stovetop. Letitia

Wolf vs. Viking Range - Opinions?

March 2007

We are remodeling our kitchen. I would like to splurge on a professional-style range. I have narrowed my choices to either a 48-inch Wolf or Viking range. I would like a gas top and am undecided on the whether the oven should be gas or electric. I would love to hear from those who have purchased these ranges and what you think of them. My main concerns are these: -- I like to broil foods, so I am wondering whether I should get a gas oven. Also, both models have an option for a stovetop grill, which really intrigues me. Are those good to use? Too messy? A fun fad that will end up unused because of hassle? -- Does electric really bake that much better than gas? I am leaning toward gas because I feel electric broiling dries out food. Is that just because I currently have a crappy electric oven? Do those of you with good electric ovens get great broiling results? Any other input on Wolf vs. Viking ranges would be much appreciated. I have not been able to find any reviews on the topic.


I have a 30'' Viking range which I love, but I went for the electric oven as supposedly it is best for baking. I wish we had not done ''dual'' fuel as it takes so long to warm up for baking. It, however, does a fabulous job with broiling, etc. Love love love the gas stove portion. Water boils so quickly! go for the gas oven
The place I go for advice on appliances is That Home Site! They have a forum for appliances and a forum for kitchens, and people discuss high end ranges a lot. The site is here: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/

We did our kitchen a couple years ago and went with separate gas cooktop and double ovens. We bought DCS and have been very satisfied so far. First time I have really used electric ovens, but they work well, and the sealed broiler is nice. One thing I wasn't really prepared for is the noise--there is a cooling fan that runs when the oven is hot, and these big, insulated ovens take a long time to cool down. But otherwise, we are happy with our purchase Bryan


I have a 36'' Viking gas range and gas oven. I also wondered about gas vs. electric but everyone told me the difference was small, and the price was better with both being gas. I've had no problems at all with the gas oven and I can't imagine how electric would have improved the great performance I am getting already. I use my range every day, bake and broil several times a week, and I love it. A couple comments... It is cool to have two ovens, which you get with the 48'' wide range, but what I liked about the 36'', which has a single oven, is that the oven was wider than the biggest one on the 48'' range, so you can really fit a lot inside, like two large pans on one rack. I cook a lot for big family gatherings and always thought I needed 2 ovens, but I've come to appreciate the roomier single oven. About the grill - I got a griddle, not a grill, which I like a lot. My friend who has a grill told me that she rarely uses it because of all the smoke, and also because the surface area gets go hot when the grill is on, that she finds it uncomfortable to use the burners at the same time the grill is on. Also, I thought that since we live in such a temperate climate, if I want to grill, I can just use the BBQ outdoors and just not grill when it's raining! Ginger
I have no experience with electric, but can share my overblown research results when I selected my stove. Stovetop, the Viking bettered my friends' performance on every other model. I picked a Viking over a Wolf for the stovetop simmer. The Viking's lowest flame is VERY low and covers a large area, rather than a small pointed one. It's improved many of my stock dishes.

After seeing a couple of friends' stovetop grills in action, they are definitely messy and smelly, despite quality overhead fans. I opted for 6 burners rather than 4 and now use them all. I grill outside and broil inside.

I broil often. The Viking gas broil is extremely hot and fast, so I generally have to lower the grate below what you'd usually do and check it way sooner. But it works very well and I use it often and the food's never dry. I'd also wonder what splattering grease does to electric coils.

If you're going solar, an electric stove is worth something. Perhaps also if you mainly bake. Dacor had the best ovens (but I didn't like their stovetop at all). The Viking oven I have is a bit shallower than I'm happy with, takes awhile to preheat, and gets hotter near the sides. But if you're mainly broiling, baking forgiving dishes (like roasts and chicken or lasagna or vegetables), and cooking stovetop, the Viking oven's fine.

Also, consider the high end of the non-professional stoves. Since I bought the Viking 4 years ago, I've been impressed with the performance and new features of many of the regular brands (continuous burners, high-heat burners for wok cooking, timers, etc.) and doubt I'd pay thousands more for a professional stove today. Lenore


I've had a Wolf range for 7 year and like it a lot. I'd planned to get the griddle but the stove was mistakenly delivered with 6 burners instead - and I'm glad! I didn't think I'd ever use 6 burners but whenever you're preparing a large meal or need to keep several things going at once they are a blessing. To make up for the mistake the appliance store gave me an All-Clad grill, which I find much more efficient and easier to use than the built in griddle. My old stove had a built in griddle and we used it a lot but it was annoying to clean. BTW be prepared to make adjustments to your baking and roasting habits. These stoves are very efficient so you may find things cooking faster than you're used to. Good luck and enjoy your new stove! Happy Wolf Owner

Which range is best>

Jan 2006

Professional Style Ranges: Does anyone have a recomendation on which range is best. I have a Thermador that I'm not happy with. I understand that all professional style ranges have cooling fans, but the Thermador is really loud. Is dual fuel better than gas? Any first had experience would be helpful.


This is a reply to the person looking into professional ranges. The second question, is dual-fuel better?, depends on how much baking you do, and how elaborate your baking is. Gas is fine for baking but electric is much more precise on the temperatures. (But gas for the oven isn't nearly as horrible as electric for the stove top! though I'm not a professional baker...)I researched many of the pro. ranges and heard second hand that they all have many problems such as you mentioned with your Thermador, I now really think they are gas guzzlers and unneccesary unless you are doing cooking where you really need those 20,000BTU burners. The higher end "regular" appliances have great features and don't use so much gas and are getting pretty good looking (albeit not quite as cool-looking as Viking, Wolf,etc.) Probably a lot of people get these appliances for the same reason I wanted one- they look great, but for me I actually only love to cook sometimes and didn't justify the expense for me. Chris
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