April 4, 2010

'Pro-style' range rarely needed at home

By DEREK DONOVAN McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Brenda Knehans checks out a six-burner, 36-inch Bertazzoni range. The commercial-style home appliance retails for $4,699, though a more standard size from the line can be found for around $2,000.

McClatchy Newspapers


• Prioritize your needs. "I would like to have five burners, or a burner in the middle that would turn into a griddle or a grill," shopper Sharon Riley said. "And definitely gas."

• Spend smartly. You can get more now in the average range, said Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman of Consumer Reports. "In a 30-inch, you can get five burners instead of four. ... It's really a matter of finding the features you're going to use."

• Stainless might look cool, but it can be difficult to keep clean. "If you're a person who doesn't mind a smudge or two but wants a very good showpiece and are willing to clean it up, then I think stainless is great," said Steve Swayne of Whirlpool Corp. "If you have six kids and want a great look and don't have the time to keep your kitchen clean, you might want to look at something different."

• Remember one size doesn't fit all. Many kitchens can't accommodate larger, commercial-style appliances without major alterations to existing cabinetry, countertops, exhaust, electrical and gas services. Some may even require extra bracing to floor joists.

• Consider new technology. Consumer Reports is impressed with the new generation of induction cooktops, which work by magnetically heating the cooking vessel, not the element itself. They boil water very quickly and hold temperatures precisely. However, they don't work with all cookware and may demand upgraded electrical service.

"A lot of people wanted the big ones strictly for show," he said. "A lot of home cooks don't use a 48- or 36-inch range when they can get by with a 30-inch range just fine.

"That high end has shriveled up quite a bit."

Some kitchen-design professionals think stainless appliances are already looking a bit passe. "You want to avoid things that will be dated in your remodeling, so you don't want a range that screams 'recession casualty,' " Kuperszmid Lehrman said. "Those pro-style ranges can be the Hummers of the kitchen."

"If you're talking progressive design, the all-stainless look is already gone," said Geri Higgins, president of Portfolio Kitchen & Home.

She said her company tries to assess a client's needs instead of copying a look directly from a movie or magazine.

"We have many clients from all different perspectives and price points who would like the ambience of working on a professional range."

There are many ways to cater to home cooks' needs, she said. To save money, for example, there are professional cooktops without the ovens underneath. "There is a product from Italy called Bertazzoni that functions fabulously, and the price point is in the $2,000 range.

"It's important to do your homework and see the range of products out there to get the most bang for the buck."


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