After 40 hours of research—including interviews with three kitchen architects, four chefs, and three luxury-appliance specialists—we’re convinced that the Wolf Dual Fuel Range is the best 36-inch pro-style range for most people. For kitchens that can fit a 48-inch range, we recommend the Thermador Professional Series Pro Grand Dual Fuel range. Both ranges offer the best balance of features, power, aesthetic potential, and long-term service reliability we’ve found.
Our research showed that most people designing a luxury kitchen want a 36-inch pro-style range with dual fuel—namely, a gas cooktop and an electric oven. The Wolf Dual Fuel Range (DF366) combines one of the most spacious ovens in the category with one of the most versatile cooktops; it has a 20,000 BTU power burner, the lowest simmer output we’ve seen (300 BTU), and more convection options than other ranges its size. We like that it has straightforward physical controls, and we think the simple but timeless stainless steel design will look great in a variety of kitchens. It comes with an above-average five-year warranty, and our research into years of service records shows that Wolf has one of the best records for dependability among several competitive brands. This range also comes in 30-, 48-, and 60-inch versions (which we also recommend). Because it’s made in the US, parts are reliably available for maintenance.
For 48-inch spaces, we suggest the Thermador Professional Series Pro Grand Dual Fuel (PRD48JDSGU). The gas cooktop is even more powerful than that of the Wolf Dual Fuel, with six burners, including a 22,000 BTU power burner and unrivaled low simmer temperatures. It has two ovens and is one of the only pro-style dual-fuel ranges we’ve found with full steam-cooking capabilities (in the smaller oven). The Pro Grand Dual Fuel also has an elegant stainless steel design and easy-to-use physical controls. Like Wolf, Thermador manufactures its appliances in the US, so maintenance issues are slightly less of a hassle than for some import brands.
The Miele Dual Fuel Range (HR 1934 G) is another strong choice for 36-inch spaces, but its digital controls and cooktop look slightly less impressive compared with the Wolf Dual Fuel. Miele is one of the few brands (along with Wolf and Jenn-Air) to offer dual convection, and this oven has a modified steam feature that’s good for baking artisan breads, steaming vegetables, and making roasts. Miele also enjoys a strong reputation for long-term reliability.
Wolf’s 48″ Dual Fuel Range (DF486G) is a great option for 48-inch spaces, although we ultimately preferred the Thermador’s cooktop and secondary steam oven. The Wolf 48-inch Dual Fuel is very similar in features and specs to the 36-inch version, plus it includes the option of a fixed griddle, charbroiler, or French top. Like the smaller version of this range, it has a 20,000 BTU power burner, a low output of 300 BTU on all the burners, a timeless style, and Wolf’s record of reliable customer service.
For smaller kitchens, we recommend Wolf’s 30″ Dual Fuel Range (DF304). It’s the same width as a standard slide-in or freestanding range—but compared with the gas range we recommend for most (nonluxury) kitchens, it’s about six times the price. This model is narrower than Wolf’s other dual-fuel ranges and has only four burners, but it basically comes with the same features as you’ll find on the larger models. The cooktop has a 20,000 BTU power burner, and all the burners go down to 300 BTU for simmering, plus it has dual convection in the oven. You get the same style, design, reliability, and service as with the other Wolf ranges in this guide.
I spent more than 40 hours researching high-end ranges, looking at how they’re used, who buys them, what makes a good one, and why anybody should buy one. We compiled data for more than 50 different pro-style ranges, comparing the results and following up on inconsistencies with retail experts, specialists, and manufacturers. To get an idea of what someone should look for in a luxury range (including whether the appliance is worth the price), I interviewed the following experts:
I’ve written and reported about large appliances for several years now, and I wrote The Sweethome’s guide to the best electric and gas freestanding ranges. Before joining The Sweethome, I worked as a staff writer and product tester for Reviewed.com.
You don’t have to be a pro chef to own a pro-style range, but you should probably know what you’re doing. These are big, powerful machines that take up a lot of space and can dramatically alter the aesthetics of your kitchen. They also cost a lot of money—like, upward of $8,000. But if you’re willing and able to spend that much, the value that a pro-style range can add to your cooking experience is pretty great. It won’t necessarily improve your cooking skills—that’s on you—but it will add power and versatility to your craft, and it will improve the look of your kitchen in the process.
Whereas the average freestanding or slide-in range features four cooktop burners at a 30-inch width, pro-style ranges typically fit into 36- or 48-inch spaces and have at least six burners. Compared with average freestanding ranges, pro ranges almost always have more powerful burners (typically 18,000 to 22,000 BTU) and offer accessory options for griddles, charbroilers, and French tops. Most have dual-fuel capability, which consists of a gas cooktop and an electric oven (really, the best of both worlds), and the bigger ones (48 and 60 inches) tend to have two or three ovens. All this adds up to a cooking device that is comparable to ranges in most professional kitchens, offering slightly faster boil times, more responsive burners, more consistent oven temperatures, more space for pots and pans, and more options for grilling and griddling. These machines are for serious cooks and bakers with serious budgets. Oh, and they look beautiful, too.
But as far as practical considerations go, that’s about it. If you’re an avid cook and you can’t bring yourself to spend this much money on a pro-style dual-fuel range, you can still find plenty of 30-inch slide-in and freestanding ranges that are almost as powerful as the most luxurious machines available. Remember that high-end ranges are as much about “luxury” as they are about cooking. They are made from premium materials and designed with spacious, upscale kitchens in mind.
You really need to think about how you cook before deciding which type of range is right for you—just as you would with freestanding ranges. Steve Sheinkopf, CEO of Yale Appliance and Lighting in Boston, said he always tells people “to focus on how they cook and what they would use, versus what they would never use.”
And this factor is important, because it directly influences the relevance of specs like cooktop power, convection type, oven capacity, controls, and griddle configuration. To that end, all the same characteristics that define a good average range apply with equal measure to high-end models; the key differences are in size (or counter width), power, and design. Our intent with this guide is to cast the widest net possible while still keeping our sights thoroughly on upscale homes and kitchens.
Most people who buy a pro-style range do so as part of a remodel, and they work with their kitchen designers and builders to pick it out. If you’re purchasing the range yourself, we recommend going through a local showroom, which you can often find through the manufacturer’s site. You won’t find these appliances at a typical big-box retailer like Best Buy, Home Depot, or Lowe’s. We have found some high-end ranges on AJ Madison’s site, but that company has a spotty reputation when it comes to shipping and handling. These ranges are just way too expensive to risk damaging at such an early stage. And AJ Madison charges a 30 percent restocking fee—which could cost you thousands on a return of a high-end range.
High-end ranges come in four standard widths: 30, 36, 48, and 60 inches. Every expert we spoke to told us most people are looking for 36-inch machines, followed closely by 48-inch models (we also confirmed this through research). For this review we focused on the 36- and 48-inch categories, with a backup 30-inch pick for smaller spaces. Many ranges come in multiple sizes, so even if you find a model you like that isn’t the right width for your kitchen, you may be able to find a version that is. Just be prepared for changes in the price and the cooktop size.
We considered only those ranges that come with dual fuel, meaning a gas-powered cooktop and an electric-powered oven. It’s a feature that’s difficult to find for less than $2,000, but in the high-end category you should expect it. Professionals and amateurs prefer the response and power of a gas cooktop with the temperature consistency of an electric oven. Some high-end ranges come with induction cooktops, but they’re almost entirely limited to the 30-inch size, so we didn’t look at them for this guide.
We looked for cooktops offering at least one power burner with an output of 18,000 BTU or more. (That output would be exceptional for a $1,000 range, but it’s par for the course for pro ranges.) The burners should reach reasonably low temperatures for simmering or reducing—ideally an output of 500 BTU or less. For 36- and 48-inch models, the cooktop should have at least five (but probably six) burners. As with regular freestanding ranges, 30-inch pro ranges generally come with four burners.
Most of these ranges have cooktops with sealed, as opposed to open, burners. This design closes off the interior of the oven and parts of the burner from the open air of the kitchen, making the appliance easier to clean. But we found that some cooks prefer open burners because they’re exposed to more oxygen and so tend to produce a larger, more powerful flame. We looked at ranges with both types of burners.
You should expect a pro range’s oven to have convection, which is simply the use of a fan to spread heat around the cavity for a more uniform temperature. Standard convection ranges have two heating elements in the oven—one on the top (the broil element) and one on the bottom (the bake element)—with a fan on the back wall. Most high-end, dual-fuel ranges have “true” or European-style convection, which features an extra heating element wrapped around the fan on the back wall of the oven.
Nicole Parmenter of Yale Appliance told us that true convection is better than standard, particularly for bakers. Although a standard-convection fan spreads heat around, most of that heat is still concentrated in the area of the engaged heating element. True convection creates more uniform temperatures from top to bottom, which is better for multirack baking.
Some ovens have dual convection (which is also a type of “true” convection) with two fans—and their own heating elements—for added temperature consistency. But this design is more than most people need. According to Parmenter, “One fan will more than suffice, and most people won’t know the difference.”
Most of the ovens we looked at have multiple cooking modes, including convection versions of bake, broil, and roast, plus settings for tasks like proofing dough, dehydrating fruits, or baking pizza. But both Parmenter and Wolf’s Brian Rizzo told us that the stand-alone convection mode—which engages only the convection heating element and fan, not the top or bottom elements—is the go-to choice 90 percent of the time.
Parmenter described other convection settings as “finishing modes.” The most useful of these is likely convection bake, which engages the convection fan and heating element, along with the bottom heating element cycling on and off. Parmenter said this setting was particularly good for making pies. “Usually when people make a pie (with stand-alone convection), the bottom ends up soggy. So when you use convection with the bake element or bake setting you’re getting a little bit more heat from the bottom, so it will help brown or dry out the bottom a little bit more.” In contrast, convection broil uses the convection fan and heating element with the top element steadily on, while convection roast uses the convection fan and heating element with both the top and bottom heating elements cycling on and off.
Having different convection modes also tends to mean having more control over the speed and direction of airflow. Susan Reid, chef and editor at King Arthur Flour, told us this is a huge advantage for serious bakers. “When convection first came out they were all home versions of restaurant stuff and people were baking cookies that were getting blown onto the door,” she said. “So convection bake is obviously a lower speed, and the nice thing about convection bake is [that they usually] have dehydrating racks.”
Most high-end ranges have a self-cleaning function, but some vintage-style models from AGA, Bertazzoni, La Cornue, and Viking don’t. Self-cleaning has its ups and downs, specifically the concern that high-heat (pyrolytic) self-cleaning runs the risk of damaging electronics because it blasts the oven with temperatures of up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Some models have a steam-based self-clean, which is ideal, but we did not require that feature in making our picks.
As for oven size, we set the bar at 5 cubic feet. Relying solely on a manufacturer’s advertised capacity can be misleading, though. To measure capacity, manufacturers typically fill a mold of the oven with water and record the volume of the liquid, a result that doesn’t necessarily correspond to usable oven space. That’s why, if you’re really concerned about space, we recommend inserting a full-size cookie sheet into any oven you’re considering buying. Don’t be embarrassed to bring one of those things into a showroom—this is important research! In 48-inch ranges, which typically have two ovens, space is compromised even more.
While researching for our freestanding range guide, we found that the more electronic components a range has, the more likely something will go wrong. The same holds true for high-end ranges. “Less is more,” said Jeffrey Adkins, a repair technician for Appliance Repair Experts in Las Vegas. “A lot of newer stuff has a ton of electronics in it, and in most cases that’s just more stuff that can break,” he said. We avoided models with excessive connectivity features or digital supplements (like Wi-Fi or tablet-style controls).
Finally, we looked at brand reliability and extra features like fixed griddles, steam ovens, and warming drawers. We considered price as a secondary concern. If you’re willing to spend about as much on a pro range as you would for a secondhand Civic, we figure money probably isn’t a huge issue. But there is an upper limit. We found plenty of excellent options for less than $10,000—or $13,000 if you’re looking at the 48-inch category. We excluded ranges such as La Cornue’s Grand Palais 180, which can cost almost as much as a Tesla Model S.
Yale Appliance maintains a blog that assesses service calls and support for most appliance brands, providing a helpful look at what buyers should expect from their ranges in the long run. From our research into Yale’s records of hundreds of service calls, we learned that Thermador, KitchenAid, and Wolf tend to be the most reliable brands. Warranties vary slightly from model to model—most come with a full two-year warranty for parts and labor—offering another point of consideration for keeping your range in tip-top shape.
Based on these parameters, we looked closely at 50 different high-end ranges and then narrowed our list down to five 36-inch and five 48-inch contenders. While we were not able to do any hands-on testing, we did consult performance reviews from Reviewed.com, Consumer Reports, and CNET. Just as with freestanding ranges, we don’t think the mild performance discrepancies that may exist between models will make a huge difference for the average buyer. Instead, we looked at this data in combination with a variety of factors—including price, availability, and design—to make our picks.
If we were buying a brand-new 36-inch pro-style range, we would get the Wolf Dual Fuel Range (DF366). It has the right combination of burner power and simmering potential, with the lowest output (300 BTU) we’ve seen on a cooktop. It has one of the biggest ovens in the 36-inch category, and it’s one of the few ranges we liked that also comes with a stand-alone convection mode. Its simple push-button controls are more intuitive, timeless, and, according to some of our sources, less likely to break than panels with digital frills. This Wolf model also has an attractive stainless steel design and style that will look good in any kitchen for years. We consistently found Wolf to be one of the most reliable brands making high-end ranges, with one retailer showing just 16.4 percent of units sold in 2016 requiring service. Although we didn’t actually cook on this range, we did look at it up close, and we were impressed by its sturdy build and subtle, professional look. We also recommend the 30-inch version of this range for smaller kitchens.
While the Wolf has a few standout specs and features, its main appeal is that it offers the best combination of features we can find, meeting all the most important criteria while leaving very little, if anything, to dislike.
The 36-inch Wolf Dual Fuel Range has a six-burner cooktop with a max output of 20,000 BTU in the power burner. Complementing that are two 18,000 BTU burners, two 15,000 BTU burners, and one 9,200 BTU simmer burner. This isn’t the most powerful cooktop we found (KitchenAid, Thermador, and BlueStar offer hotter burners, and professional kitchens typically have nearly twice the capacity), but we think 20,000 BTU is more than enough for most people. For reference, our top freestanding gas range pick maxes out at 18,000 BTU, and even that is considered above average for the price.
The other thing this Wolf cooktop has going for it is its simmering potential. You can reduce each of its six sealed burners to a very low output of just 300 BTU—lower than on any other contender we looked at. As Sam Sifton, food editor of The New York Times (parent company of The Wirecutter and The Sweethome), told us, “One of the big issues home cooks end up having with pro-style ranges is simmering and low-heat situations. The low end is as important as the high.”
Down below, the Wolf Dual Fuel has a 5.4-cubic-foot self-cleaning electric oven with dual convection, two standard racks, and one gliding rack—plenty of space relative to other pro-style ranges (it has the fifth-biggest oven of the 26 ranges we looked at in the 36-inch category). While you shouldn’t have any problem fitting a big ol’ Christmas ham in this oven (it will fit a full-size baking sheet), you should still bring a tape measure with you to the showroom.
Wolf’s dual-convection system features four heating elements and two fans. That’s one more heating element and fan than what you find in “true,” or European-style, convection. The added fan and heating element probably won’t make a huge difference for most people, as Nicole Parmenter of Yale Appliance told us. But the oven should deliver very consistent temperatures, and the dual convection is better (particularly for baking) than standard, single-fan convection. A few other dual-fuel ranges have this two-fan, four-element configuration (including the 36-inch Miele Dual Fuel Range and Viking 7 Series), but most do not.
This model’s oven has 10 cooking modes; most important, however, it has stand-alone convection, which will be good for cooking almost any recipe. “In that mode, the bottom bake element and the top broil element are not used. All of the heat is solely derived from the convection elements wrapped around the fans,” said Wolf’s Brian Rizzo. Both Rizzo and Parmenter told us that stand-alone convection is best for cooking most dishes, and some ranges (like our runner-up, the Miele Dual Fuel) don’t have it. “When in doubt, convection—not the convection variants of other modes, but convection on its own,” Rizzo said.
The Wolf’s other cooking and baking modes are similar to what you find in other ranges at this price, including convection bake, convection roast, convection broil, bake, roast, broil, bake stone, proof, and dehydrate. Most people will use these modes infrequently, but they can come in handy if you want precision.
The Wolf Dual Fuel Range has a simple push-button interface that’s unlikely to confuse you or to break in the long run. The controls also make for a timeless design that you can expect to hold up over many years. The cooktop and oven, both of which you control via Wolf’s iconic red knobs, are easy to handle. While a few of our other top contenders (like the 36-inch Thermador Professional Series Pro Grand and GE Monogram Dual-Fuel Professional Range) have straightforward controls, many have digital touch displays. The Dacor Discovery, for one, even has a tablet interface, which is just silly. Cooking is complicated enough; you don’t need the controls to be complicated, too.
While Wolf ranges come exclusively in stainless steel, it’s hard to imagine a kitchen that would not harmonize with this sleek, pro-style design. (If you’re going for a more vintage or eclectic look, check out our section on design.) Aside from offering alternative models with a built-in griddle or charbroiler, Wolf also sells the Dual Fuel Range in 30-, 48-, and 60-inch versions (which is why it’s also our recommendation for a 30-inch range, and our runner-up for a 48-inch range), without losing any design or performance specs. In case you don’t like those red knobs, they come in black and stainless steel, as well. Also, if you’re a fan of appliance suites, a Wolf range would easily complement any fridge from its sibling company, Sub-Zero.
Wolf is a reliable brand, both in long-term dependability and in customer service. The people at Yale Appliance in Boston keep data on their service calls and compile a list of the most reliable (least serviced) brands, which they assess by comparing the number of sales versus the number of warranty-service calls within one year. Wolf, Thermador, and Miele were the only three high-end range manufacturers to make Yale’s 2016 Top 10 list, with Wolf registering 253 service calls among the 1,543 units sold (16.4 percent). Compare that with Viking, which in 2013 saw 60 percent of units sold through Yale requiring service at some point. Some of these service calls are based on delivery and installation errors, but it still renders an impression of how reliable some brands are next to others.
Adding to the range’s long-term reliability, Wolf has one of the strongest warranties we’ve seen for the category: a full two-year warranty on parts and labor, and a limited five-year warranty on parts. As far as we know, this coverage is matched only by Viking. And because Wolf ranges are made in the United States, local authorized service providers may be able to get replacement parts easier than for foreign brands such as Miele and Bertazzoni.
Finally, the Wolf Dual Fuel Range enjoys some solid reviews from third-party testers, including Reviewed.com and Consumer Reports. Reviewing the 30-inch version, which has the same cooktop tech as the 36-inch version, Reviewed.com recorded simmer temperatures as low as 118 °F, which is insanely low for a gas-powered burner and ideal if you spend a lot of time reducing sauces, poaching eggs, or just keeping sauces warm while you work on something else. Results in Reviewed.com’s tests for boil and preheat times proved middling, but we don’t put as much stock in those tests, because the differences between ovens and cooktops when it comes to how fast water can boil or how fast the oven can reach temperature are fairly marginal (especially in the high-end category) and unlikely to make any tangible difference for the average cook. Similarly, Consumer Reports praised the Wolf Dual Fuel in its performance tests, but it also had minor complaints about performance issues that we don’t think matter much in a real-world situation (for example, “Unable to simmer tomato sauce on largest burner set to low.”).
Flaws not dealbreakers
If you’re shopping for a high-end dual-fuel range, chances are, you have a big enough budget that the price differences between options are somewhat negligible. That said, the Wolf Dual Fuel Range is a notably expensive appliance. The standard six-burner 36-inch option starts at $9,200, nearly $1,000 more than our runner-up pick.
We’d like to see a bit more variety in color and aesthetics. BlueStar offers a full suite of customizations, including nearly 200 color finishes. Viking takes a different approach by offering an entire new line of vintage-style ranges (Tuscany). Wolf offers the following options: red knobs, black knobs, stainless-steel knobs.
But Dacor, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, Thermador, and most other pro-range manufacturers also limit their options to the generic stainless steel. There’s nothing wrong with stainless steel; it would just be nice to have a few more options.
The 36-inch Miele Dual Fuel Range (HR 1934 G) has a lot going for it, but despite all its strengths it doesn’t quite measure up against the Wolf’s timeless design, versatile cooktop, intuitive controls, or impressive warranty coverage. More than anything else, we don’t like the Miele’s electronic touch display, which may function smoothly now but adds a bit of a timestamp to a device you want to last for decades. We think the cooktop is slightly inferior to the Wolf’s, too, in that it has five burners with a max output of 19,500 BTU and one 12,500 BTU burner (compared with the Wolf’s variety of burners ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 BTU, including an industry-low simmer output of 300 BTU)—not a huge difference, but worth noting. The Miele also comes with only a one-year warranty.
But you might prefer the Miele 36-inch Dual Fuel Range over the Wolf equivalent, for a few reasons. It’s almost $1,000 cheaper (though an $8,000 range is still an $8,000 range). Despite being slightly inferior to the Wolf’s cooktop, this model’s is plenty powerful. As with the Wolf, you can buy versions of the Miele with a griddle or charbroiler in place of two of the burners, and it also has dual convection. Reviewed.com even gave the Miele slightly better scores than the Wolf, finding it reached simmer temperatures of 115 °F to 127 °F (though compared with the Wolf’s reading of 118 °F to 120 °F, that difference is negligible). We also respect Miele’s long-term reliability: Yale Appliance in Boston ranked Miele fourth in its 2016 list of the top 10 most reliable (least serviced) appliance brands, with just 10.2 percent of units sold through the showroom requiring service within a year of purchase.
This 36-inch range was the only one we found that had some sort of steam or humidity function in the oven. Depending on the settings, the “moisture plus” steam feature allows you to release bursts of steam into the oven cavity. For a lot of cooks this feature will prove entirely unnecessary, but bakers will like it. King Arthur Flour’s Susan Reid, a baker, went so far as to argue that if you make artisan breads and are willing to spend thousands of dollars on a new oven, “you damn well better be able to put some water in there.”
Like the Wolf Dual Fuel, this Miele has a dual-fan convection oven, featuring individual heating elements wrapped around each fan. In addition to the steam function, the Miele appliance has 13 other cooking modes, most of which, as with the Wolf, utilize slight differences in air circulation and heating-element intensity to cater to specific kinds of dishes. The Miele has bake, roast, and broil modes, as well as convection versions of each. Unfortunately, it lacks a stand-alone convection mode that engages only the rear fan elements; we definitely viewed that as a flaw, since experts told us stand-alone convection is a safe bet for any cooking situation. But the Miele’s variety of modes should cover any cooking or baking scenarios.
We do think that a couple of the Miele’s modes seem redundant. For example, we could see no difference between the “surround” mode and the “surround roast” mode other than the default temperature, which is slightly higher in the latter. (They both engage the top and bottom heating elements.)
We don’t like the Miele model’s touch display. We can only see it posing more and more problems as the machine ages, and it was one of the main reasons why we disqualified this range as our top pick. And honestly, this is one of the major friction points between the disparate worlds of appliances and electronics: There’s nothing wrong with physical controls, but for some reason a lot of appliance manufacturers (such as Dacor, with the ridiculous tablet interface on its Discovery range) seem committed to loading their machines with Silicon Valley–inspired controls. Maybe it’s a form of planned obsolescence, but it does little to improve user experience.
KitchenAid 36” 6-Burner Dual Fuel Freestanding Range, Commercial-Style (KDRS467VSS): You may want to consider this roughly $6,000 range if your budget is large enough to afford a 36-inch pro-style dual-fuel range but not quite large enough for a $9,200 Wolf or an $8,500 Miele. The cooktop isn’t quite as powerful or nuanced as that of our main picks, but it has a 20,000 BTU power burner and another burner that goes as low as 500 BTU for simmering. This model is American-made, and it’s Consumer Reports’s highest-rated pro range. It comes with Whirlpool’s well-reviewed warranty and customer service, with reliability ranked first in Yale Appliance’s top 10 based on the number of service calls. (However, Consumer Reports has given KitchenAid poor reliability rankings for its gas cooktops.)
Thermador 36-Inch Professional Series Pro Grand Commercial Depth Dual Fuel Range (PRD366JGU): This range has a lot going for it (and indeed, the 48-inch version of the Pro Grand is our top pick for a 48-inch range). But we think the Thermador oven falls short of what the Wolf and Miele models offer.
Viking 7 Series 36″ Dual Fuel Range (VDR7366BSS): This is a great range on paper—probably more “pro” than “luxury.” It comes with three 23,000 BTU power burners, plus a spacious 5.6-cubic-foot oven with self-cleaning and true two-speed convection. But for $10,500 we think the design is somewhat forgettable. Viking also has a so-so reputation for customer service and reliability. Yale Appliance reports how, in 2013, 60 percent of the Viking units it sold required service at some point, a much higher percentage than our pick.
GE Monogram 36″ Dual-Fuel Professional Range with 6 Burners (ZDP366NPSS): This GE model has six 18,000 BTU burners capable of reaching as low as 140 °F for simmering—not quite as impressive as the Wolf, Miele, or Thermador, but still pretty powerful. It has a really big, 5.75-cubic-foot oven with true “reverse air” convection (the fans can reverse direction and operate at multiple speeds). It has solid reviews from Reviewed.com and Consumer Reports (subscription required), which has ranked GE ranges highly for reliability. This model is a great range, but its specs fail to stand out in comparison with our top picks.
If we had the space for a 48-inch pro-style range (which our research showed is the second most popular size among buyers), we would get the Thermador Professional Series Pro Grand Dual Fuel (PRD48JDSGU). Although it doesn’t offer the widest selection of cooktop configurations, it does have one of the most powerful gas cooktops and some of the lowest advertised simmer temperatures we’ve seen. It has one of the most spacious double-oven arrangements, and the only oven we’ve found in a 48-inch range with a full steam function. We also really like the sleek stainless steel design (more so than the Wolf’s); it’s timeless, and we imagine it would look good in any kitchen.
We’re most impressed by the Thermador’s cooktop. It features a 22,000 BTU power burner complemented by five 18,000 BTU main burners; four of those burners are capable of simmering at a notably low 375 BTU. That isn’t quite as low as Wolf’s Dual Fuel Range can go, but Thermador’s so-called Star Burner can cycle the flames on and off to average temperatures as low as 100 °F. This feature may not make a huge difference compared with the 120 °F to 130 °F simmers you’ll find on other cooktops, but it does speak to the low-powered potential of the burners. If you spend much time reducing gravies and sauces, poaching eggs, or melting chocolate, this is a key feature. Yale Appliance did a number of tests comparing Wolf and Thermador models for their simmering capabilities, and Yale concluded—fairly confidently—that when it came to simmering and heat-sensitive cooking, Thermador won. And when you add in the power of a 22,000 BTU flame (a spec that only the Viking 7 Series beats when it comes to dual fuel), the span of temperatures this range can hit probably makes it the most dynamic gas-powered cooktop available.
Most 48-inch pro-style dual-fuel ranges feature at least six burners. The differences between cooktops usually come down to options in the combination of burners, griddles, and grills. Whichever configuration you choose (a decision at the time of purchase), the cooktop will feature continuous cast iron grates with sealed burners.
All of the 48-inch dual-fuel ranges we looked at feature two ovens. Because the space is usually compromised by the addition of another oven (and usually a warming drawer, as well), the main oven cavity tends to have a slightly smaller capacity. However, the Thermador Pro Grand still manages to meet our minimum requirement of 5 cubic feet (the only one of our top contenders to do so). The primary oven is advertised at 5.1 cubic feet, while the second oven measures 1.4 cubic feet. The appliance also has a 1.1-cubic-foot warming drawer. Only one other 48-inch range (the GE Monogram ZDP486NDPSS) has a larger primary oven. Keep in mind, however, that these specs can be deceiving. Thermador claims its 48-inch ranges can fit a full-size commercial sheet pan, but they cannot fit a full-size catering tray—only the 60-inch version can do that. If you want to maximize space, Thermador has a version of the Pro Grand with a 5.7-cubic-foot main oven and a 2.5-cubic-foot secondary oven, which together make for the most spacious oven arrangement we’ve found in the 48-inch category. But that version of the oven doesn’t come with a steam function or a warming drawer.
Beyond size, the Thermador’s two ovens also differ in convection type and cooking modes. The larger oven has standard (single-fan) convection and simpler cooking modes than what you’ll find in the Wolf Dual Fuel (just bake, broil, roast, convection modes for each, keep warm, and self-clean). But the smaller oven has true (third-element) convection and a steam feature. The combination of convection and steam make this oven unique, ideal for multirack baking and any baking or cooking tasks where steam can help. Among the 48-inch ranges we looked at (nearly 30 of them), Thermador’s model is the only one that features steam cooking. Unlike with the 36-inch Miele Dual Fuel—which releases a burst of steam only during a conventional radiant electric cook cycle—the Thermador’s smaller oven cooks exclusively with steam.
The smaller oven also has more cooking modes, including steam, stand-alone true convection, steam convection, reheat, proof, slow cook, defrost, and “easy cook” modes. A few of these modes are simply temperature presets, including the defrost (110 °F) and proof (100 °F) modes, but others are more complex programs, and we think they’ll be particularly useful for cooks and bakers. The “easy cook” programs set temperature and humidity for specific dishes (like hard-boiled eggs or steamed shellfish). The convection steam mode allows you to braise meats or vegetables simply by bathing the food in consistent heat and steam. Bread bakers can use the proof mode to help their dough rise, the steam convection mode to crisp the crust, and the true convection mode to finish baking loaves.
Representatives from Thermador told us that the cooking modes are partitioned between the two ovens because some modes work better with steam. Even though the smaller, steam oven is really what stands out, we think the larger oven, with its standard convection, will do perfectly fine at high-heat roasting or broiling, tasks that don’t require steam and don’t benefit as much from the temperature consistency of true convection.
We looked at the 48-inch Thermador Pro Grand at Yale Appliance in Boston, and its design impressed us—probably more so than any other stainless steel model we’ve seen. The sleek, simple design would complement any modern kitchen. We particularly like the analog-dial thermostat on the front: Along with the sturdy stainless steel knobs and the straightforward LCD interface, it manages to evoke a sense of both old and new. If you’ve never seen one of these things up close, 48 inches is pretty huge, so if you’re thinking of getting such a range, make sure your home is able to fit something that is likely to serve as the centerpiece of your kitchen.
Wolf’s 48-inch Dual Fuel Range (DF486G) is a scaled-up version of our 36-inch main pick. It’s every bit as capable and impressive as the 36-inch version, and nearly as impressive as the Thermador 48-inch model. Ultimately we gave the Thermador the edge in this size category because of its more powerful, more dynamic cooktop and the steam-cook option in its smaller oven. We also like the look and feel of the Pro Grand just a bit more. But even then, the discrepancies are slight and partially subjective.
The 48-inch Wolf Dual Fuel offers five cooktop configurations: a four-burner with a charbroiler and griddle, a four-burner with a double-size griddle, a four-burner with a French top, a six-burner with a charbroiler, and a six-burner with a griddle. Each is powered by a 20,000 BTU power burner, as well as one or two 18,000 BTU burners, one or two 15,000 BTU burners (depending on configuration), and a 9,500 BTU burner. As on the 36-inch model, each sealed burner is capable of simmering at 300 BTU.
This model also features a 4.5-cubic-foot primary oven with a 2.5-cubic-foot secondary oven. Those specs are slightly less impressive than the Thermador’s, but the larger oven should be enough to handle a 24- to 26-pound turkey. The larger oven has dual convection, while the smaller oven has only standard (single-fan) convection. That’s the opposite configuration of the convection that the Thermador offers. The Wolf’s larger oven will likely be better for multirack baking than the Thermador’s standard-convection larger oven. But unlike with the Thermador, the Wolf’s smaller oven doesn’t have a steam feature.
As with all of Wolf’s dual-fuel ovens, we like that this model has a stand-alone convection mode, which experts told us is what you should use 90 percent of the time. You can control the whole system via a minimalistic, physical control interface.
As far as price goes, this Wolf model is in the same ballpark as the Thermador. The standard price is about $800 less, but that isn’t much when you get into the $13,000 price range.
KitchenAid 48″ 6-Burner with Griddle, Dual Fuel Freestanding Range, Commercial-Style (KDRS483VSS): If you’re shopping for a pro-style dual-fuel range but would like to spend a bit less, we recommend the 48-inch KitchenAid KDRS483VSS. It has a similar cooktop with two 20,000 BTU power burners and simmering output of just 500 BTU. KitchenAid is American-owned (Whirlpool), this model has a fixed griddle and multifan true convection, and it’s relatively affordable for the category at $8,200, about $5,000 less than the Thermador Pro Grand. We don’t like its digital touch controls (which aren’t likely to age well), and compared with our top picks, it has a smaller oven and slightly weaker cooktop.
Viking 7 Series 48″ Dual Fuel Range (VDR7488BSS): This 48-inch Viking range features eight burners, including four 23,000 BTU power burners, and a relatively spacious 4.7-cubic-foot true convection oven. It’s not the sexiest-looking range, and Viking’s reliability rating is not great, but the specs are all there.
Jenn-Air 48″ Pro-Style Dual-Fuel Range with Griddle and MultiMode Convection (JDRP548WP): Jenn-Air is owned by Whirlpool, which bodes well for long-term reliability and customer service. Beyond that, this is a great-looking pro range with a fixed griddle, two 20,000 BTU burners (six total) capable of simmering at 700 BTU, and dual convection in both ovens. However, we don’t like its digital touch controls or its middling simmer rating of 700 BTU. It also has smaller oven capacities than our two top picks.
We didn’t spend as much time looking at the 30-inch category, because our research overwhelmingly pointed to 36- and 48-inch ranges as the most popular. If you have the budget for a high-end pro range but the space for only a slide-in or freestanding range, we recommend, once again, going with a Wolf Dual Fuel Range.
One of the things we like about Wolf is how consistent its machines are from size to size. With the 30-inch Dual Fuel (DF304), for example, you still get the 20,000 BTU power burner and the 300 BTU simmer, only just with four burners total instead of six. You also get the dual convection, the 10 cooking modes (including dehydrate, stand-alone convection, and three convection modes), and the simple physical control panel, a combination that’s unique to Wolf. Only the 30-inch Miele and Viking dual-fuel ranges have a dehydrate function, while we found dual convection only in the Miele dual-fuel range.
As a popular, American-made brand, Wolf can also be relied upon for parts and service—and the whole machine is about $3,000 cheaper than the 36-inch version. Of course, $6,500 is still a lot to spend on a range, but this is a luxury appliance. The only reason to splurge on a 30-inch pro-style dual-fuel range is because you have the money and want to make an aesthetic statement but your kitchen allows only 30 inches for it.
Clearly, design and aesthetics are extremely important considerations for people who are willing to spend anywhere from $6,000 to $14,000 on a machine that heats food.
If you are building a new kitchen from scratch, we recommend starting with the range. This is the approach a lot of designers take in planning a build-out, so having an idea of how you want your range to look—which is, for the most part, the centerpiece of the modern kitchen—can go a long way in planning the look of the entire kitchen.
“Appliances are the number one infrastructure of [the] kitchen,” Bradley Cashin, lead designer at New England Design & Construction in Boston, told us. “Appliances tend to be the first thing that we select, because we kind of build the kitchen around the appliance.”
Ryan Fujita, of Fujita + Netski Architecture in Honolulu, agreed: “The range or cooktop is a central component to a kitchen design and its location and size are determined early in the process. With ranges being a central object of the kitchen design we encourage our clients to be bold with colors or finish for this appliance.”
But some design trends are fleeting, and they may end up dating the look of your kitchen sooner than you expect. (If you’ve ever doubted this, watch an episode of The Sopranos and dwell on how passé that family kitchen looks.) If you are concerned, stainless steel is a safe bet, and that’s a key reason why it is the most popular finish on ranges, from Samsung models all the way up to Thermador, Viking, and Wolf designs. It’s also another reason why we shied away from giving too much consideration to vintage-style ranges.
“People still like the very clean stainless steel look,” Cashin said. “It still dominates most of the market.”
Cashin also told us that eclectic looks are popular right now. “Vintage colors are making a big push the last few years,” he said. “If you look at BlueStar ranges, they come in 50-something different colors.”
As helpful as this input might be, it doesn’t make the design factor any less subjective or idiosyncratic. For that reason, in making our recommendations we decided to focus on more tangible things like features, specs, performance, and reliability. And we deliberately avoided considering vintage-style ranges like those from AGA, Elmira, Lacanche, La Cornue, Viking (the Tuscany line), and some of the Bertazzoni ranges (the Heritage series). These machines are absolutely gorgeous, but they’re really more about aesthetics than cooking, and their technical specs tend to reflect that. Bertazzoni ranges, for example, are limited to just five burners—that includes the 48-inch models—and their power never exceeds 18,000 BTU. That’s plenty for most people, but if you’ve budgeted for more than $7,000, you should expect a bit more. (A Bertazzoni range also proved so-so in Reviewed.com’s performance tests.) AGA and La Cornue ranges, while beautiful, have similarly middling specs—often without self-cleaning or options for griddle/grill configurations, and usually at prices north of $10,000.
Another point to consider is the suite of appliances you plan to use in your kitchen. A lot of homeowners like to have the same brand for each of their main appliances because it makes for a consistent aesthetic. Brands like Bertazzoni, BlueStar, FiveStar, and La Cornue produce only ranges.
We suggest that you try a range out before you buy it (if you can). Some elements of design are more experiential than aesthetic, and it takes hands-on use to appreciate the differences.
“Some people like quick knob placement—people don’t want to reach forward to grab the knobs. Small things like that might draft the decision for you,” Cashin said. “But I think that if you’re looking at that Miele or Wolf kind of range, you’re not going to go wrong in terms of quality—it’s just personal preference and setup.”
You need a hood, without question. Even if you opt for a low-powered 30-inch Bertazzoni or Verona range, cooking produces too much heat and gases to leave to window and room ventilation. Hoods not only remove excess heat from the cooktop but also keep the air in your kitchen clean and free of pollutants, and they offer better lighting for cooking.
Sam Sifton, food editor at The New York Times (parent company of The Wirecutter and The Sweethome), told us that buyers also have a design consideration when it comes to the vent hood. “The integration between the range and the range hood is important,” he said. “There’s no point in having one of these ranges, really, if you don’t have a range hood that ports exhaust to an outside vent, and there’s little point in having a range hood that does that if it doesn’t extend far enough over the stove to pick up smoke from the high-BTU burner.”
The good news is that some brands, including Thermador, will throw in a free range hood with certain purchases (in this case, the purchase of both a range and refrigerator). We plan to produce a separate ventilation guide in the future, but for now you should know that a hood is a purchase you should absolutely make with any pro-style range.
For more information, check out Yale Appliance’s Ventilation Buying Guide.
Whether you go with Viking (less reliable) or Wolf (more reliable) or something in between, the possibility of something breaking is very real. The best way to prevent this outcome is to periodically clean, calibrate, and service the range—but even then, a lot of it comes down to sheer luck of the draw. Fortunately, every bit of advice we included in the maintenance section of our freestanding range guide applies with equal measure to the high-end category. We recommend reading through that section to learn about properly calibrating the range, “burning out” manufacturing residue, and using the self-clean cycle.
What is different, when it comes to the high-end category, is how you get the thing serviced. A lot of these high-end machines feature imported parts that are difficult to find or impossible to replicate. (This was a key reason why we slightly favored domestically produced ranges.) Import brands, such as AGA, Bertazzoni, Lacanche, La Cornue, Miele, Smeg, and Verona, tend to have a longer lead time to complete a repair.
Most issues, however, you can bring to the attention of a local dealer or large regional service provider. BlueStar, Dacor, GE Monogram, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, Miele, Thermador, Viking, Wolf, and pretty much every other brand you can think of will each have its own online resource for locating authorized service technicians in your area. If you decide to purchase locally, confirm that the dealer has parts and service. If you purchase online, you may not have that local service support.
Originally published: January 24, 2017